Friday, May 04, 2007

SciFi Countdown

Entertainment Weekly in one of its frequent paeans to its inner geek has compiled a list of the top 25 science fiction movies or series of the last 25 years. The time limit keeps Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back out of the running and the three prequels don’t make the cut. Being a little discriminating and not quite a total a complete nerd, I am only familiar enough with about twelve of the list. Here are my opinions on ones I can give a valid opinion on. Click on the links to see what EW had to say.

24. Galaxy Quest: The best fanboy homage ever. Non-fans can view it as mocking the genre. True believers recognize the truth. The meta-casting of Sigourney Weaver alone is brilliant.

21. Futurama: Unevenly funny. It takes a real shotgun approach to the cultural references by throwing everything against the wall, but only a few things stick.

19. Starship Troopers. Despite it’s attempt at social satire, it’s still a bunch of kids shooting at giant bugs.

18. Heroes: Right now, one of my few must-see shows. The real test will be in Season 2 to see if they can hold the momentum.

15. Firefly/Serenity: Avery good show that suffers from raised expectations by its rather rabid fan base. It’s a very entertaining series, but it’s not THAT good.

13. Terminator/Terminator 2: As a pair, perhaps the best time travel paradox story ever filmed. And plenty of great kick-ass action.

12. Back To The Future: Another excellent time travel story that appeals to all genders and generations. This one was marred instead of enhanced by the sequels.

8. Star Trek: The Next Generation: In quality, breadth, and scope the TNG franchises eclipse TOS. The mid-run episodes (Seasons 3 to 6) were often great 45 minute long mini-movies that were better than most theatrical releases. I prefer Deep Space 9, but I know I’m in the minority. Voyager is where the concept ran out of gas and they should have never attempted Enterprise.

7. ET: A Citizen Kane level work of genius. “Happy” Spielberg at his pinnacle.

5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: I actually prefer ST:IV, but without the second movie showing that a good Star Trek movie can be made, the series would have ended here.

3. Blade Runner: A paradigm shifting work of art direction. The sheer denseness of the look inspired a lot of good (and bad) cyperpunk literature. It’s not often cinematic science fiction affects the written versions this significantly.

2. Battlestar Galactica: The Best Show On Television™. As I mentioned in a previous blogpost, it shows what ST:Voyager should have been and then kicks it up another level. For gritty political intrigue and commentary it tops even The West Wing. Season 3 stretched on a little long, but the first three episodes and the season finale are worth the entire season.

1. The Matrix: Another paradigm shifter from a special effects point of view, but not a lot of new grand was broken storywise. The legacy of the original movie will be forever marred by the increasingly awful sequels.

The notable omission on the EW list is Babylon 5. I never watched it enough to become involved in the storyline because the truly dismal acting drove me away. I know Deep Space 9 was a complete rip-off, but the Federation folk did it better. Also missing are Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Dark Angel. I guess the editors at EW have something against kick-boxing hotties.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: What would you add to the list or demote?


Anonymous said...

Having been out of the country for 8 years, I can't comment on a lot of the more recent stuff like Firefly or Galactica, but let's see.

Terminator/T2 is placed just about right. It is often underestimated, but it really is well done. For native Angelenos the opening sequence in T2 has an unbelievable impact.

BtoF ought to moved down a bit. It's fun, but the exposition is incredibly heavy-handed.

ST:TNG is OK as long as you ignore the first 2 seasons. DS9 was way better, though.

ST:II probably is the best of the movies, including the TNG films. ST:IV is good and fun, but it was the point at which the TOS storylines reached the threshold of self-parody.

I'd kick ET completely off the list. It's Spielberg at his schmalziest. It certainly has nothing to do with SF, let alone science. Heavy-handed use of emotional manipulation.

The Matrix ought to be downgraded, too. The story was kind of weak and the impact of the special effects was far less than that of Star Wars.

B5 belongs on the list. The writing was the tightest of any serial TV show ever. (Some individual original Twilight Zone episodes were excellent.) The acting was better than you give it credit for after the first season.

Other stuff on the list: V. Gimme a break! It was terrible! Worst moment was when the human teenage girl had a passionate kiss with the teenage lizard boy and didn't notice that his tongue was a foot long and forked.

The Thing is probably a little too highly rated. It came closer to John Campbell's original story than James Arness' giant vegetable, but it still wasn't good enough to come in at # 10.

I hope you'll let us know if they do come out with a readers' top 25.

Anonymous said...

DS9- Absolutely the best ever.

2fs said...

Re your comment on BTVS: one of the best shows ever...but it's not on the list (and shouldn't be) because it isn't SF and never pretended to be. There's no "science" involved - not even pretend-science. Incidentally, I don't get why - other than from a marketing standpoint - science fiction and fantasy get lumped together: in some senses they're almost oppositional in terms of the basic defining premises.

yellojkt said...

Fantasy and science fiction are usually mixed together (at least in book stores) because the target markets overlap so much. I agree that BTVS is not science fiction.

And thanks f-b and d-x for representing DS9.

The worst line in ET is when one of the scientists screams "It's got DNA." Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

Looks that all my favorite movies have listed down. But i'm side on which Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not listed up. Only one thing i disgree is that, the stupdity of Startrek the wrath of khan is not so noteable.

YouCanCallMe...T said...

Ds9 was fantastic. Galaxy Quest was brilliant and when you think about it, as parody, is a wonderful compliment to the genre. The new Battlestar is a remarkable show. But I don't know that Voyager could EVER have been that. Different mindset entirely. However, I do think that Voyager is too often underrated by even Trek fans. To me, it did quite well in capturing the original spirit of trek, with some good story arcs, interesting character development, standout episodes, and finally finally being free of klingons/romulans/ferengi 24/7. That's what I loved most about Voyager. The episodes were at least a little liberated from the standard formula. Firefly: there's no accounting for taste and this is why we have 55 different brands of cereal. But for me firefly struck an emotional cord. I never saw it when it was broadcast so I was one of those who kept walking by it in the dvd section at Best buy till one day I decided to give it a hot. And, boy, it blew me away. By the twelfth episode, I felt enriched by it and very very sad to see it go.

Anonymous said...

I'd have ditched ET altogether. I was a little surprised that the Dune miniseries didn't make the list.

Also, I'm just going to pretend that the list isn't in any way sequential.

I don't see an email link for you; please drop me a line.

Malnurtured Snay said...

DS9 is amazing - fantastic - excellent! Actually, about a month ago, I started watching the series again from the beginning. I'm about a third of the way into season 3 now. Such an excellent television series!