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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old October 21 2012, 11:59 AM   #61
stj
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Anthologies and series are really two different kinds of shows. As a series, committed to a repeating cast and setting, Star Trek was the best series. Twlight Zone was the best non-realist anthology. But it had plenty of dogs and tough competition from The Outer Limits.

TZ indeed had lots of SF but more was fantasy or fable or allegory or even surrealism/absurdism. The Outer Limits was committed to a SF mode of storytelling but focused more narrowly on the horror genre. So technically, Star Trek wins as the best SF series.

But it's all moot in one sense, because opinions are not created equal. No one is required to bother to exercise the best objectivity they can when making this call. As a result, nostalgia trips are mixed in. If Twilight Zone were being broadcast now people who like things like Farscape, Firefly and Buffy would despise the moralizing, sentimentality, obtuse lack of self-awareness and general unhipness of Twilight Zone. Or, for that matter, Star Trek. But those shows inspire nostalgia, which is assumed to mean goodness. When Voyager shoe-horned in a Twilight Zone episode into a series format*, very few people liked the results, no matter what. Many specifically and explicitly criticize the "episodic" structure!

(Some episodes that would have been right at home on Twilight Zone, just by changing character names around: Emanations; The Thaw; Innocence; Ashes to Ashes; The Chute;
Remember; Memorial; Retrospect, even 11:59.)
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Old October 21 2012, 04:48 PM   #62
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

stj wrote: View Post
If Twilight Zone were being broadcast now people who like things like Farscape, Firefly and Buffy would despise the moralizing, sentimentality, obtuse lack of self-awareness and general unhipness of Twilight Zone.
The more recent shows are filled with self-awareness? For sentimentality, substitute unapologetically adult drama. I like Farscape more than the others you mention, but shows these days seem embarrassed to deal with human issues straightforwardly, and think they need to add a sort of ironic wink as if to say "It's all just TV, don't worry about it". Ironic, dark humor is great, and Farscape had some of that. Buffy and too many other contemporary shows, though, went for a sort of light, teenage, often witless jokiness, that got irritating.

These shows certainly seem certain that they represent some sort of "hipness"... to me it's a sort of mass-produced, lighter substitute.
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Old October 21 2012, 09:05 PM   #63
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

At times The Twilight Zone could be quite sentimental, but that overlooks a great deal of episodes with a much bleaker worldview.

Like all television, the series was a product of its time. It is, of course, being frequently broadcast now, but if new episodes were being produced they would be quite different (witness the differences between the original series and the revivals that were produced in the mid-80s and early-2000s). The original series really is quite good and appreciation of it hardly comes down to simple nostalgia.
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Old October 21 2012, 09:10 PM   #64
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

stj wrote: View Post
Anthologies and series are really two different kinds of shows. As a series, committed to a repeating cast and setting, Star Trek was the best series. Twlight Zone was the best non-realist anthology. But it had plenty of dogs and tough competition from The Outer Limits.
This is exactly how I'd view it. And while I'm not a writer, I would imagine that it's easier to have a regular rota of continually turn out independent, self-contained and unrelated stories (brilliant one, it must be said) for an anthology show than to get writers to write stories set within the confined settings of a regular series with its own premise, setting and 'rules.'

Plus for all the undoubted brilliance of TTZ, I don't imagine that many fans can have the same sort of affection for it, the way that they do for Trek, with its regular characters, its iconic spaceship and optimistic take on humanity (though you can't deny the uniqueness of Serling's own vision).
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Old October 21 2012, 09:27 PM   #65
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Captaindemotion wrote: View Post
'

Plus for all the undoubted brilliance of TTZ, I don't imagine that many fans can have the same sort of affection for it, the way that they do for Trek, with its regular characters, its iconic spaceship and optimistic take on humanity (though you can't deny the uniqueness of Serling's own vision).
I don't know. The fact that a fairly primitive black-and-white TV series from over fifty years ago is still airing regularly on cable and is still burned into the memories of generations of fans has to say something. I mean, I suspect that everybody on this board is familiar with most of the classic episodes and would quickly recognize any reference to some of the show's more iconic images or plots: the monster on the wing of the plane, Burgess Meredith breaking his classes, little Anthony sending people to the cornfield, "To Serve Man," etc.

As to whether it trumps TOS . . . well, it really is an apples-and-oranges comparison, given that one was an ongoing series and one was an anthology. How about we just say that they're both the crown jewels of that era's genre programming, and are of more or less equal stature?
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Old October 21 2012, 09:41 PM   #66
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

The original Twilight Zone owns the title Best Science Fiction Show until 1978, when the original Battlestar Galactica debuted. Trek is good, but it's never been "best" hands down.
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Old October 21 2012, 09:50 PM   #67
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
The original Twilight Zone owns the title Best Science Fiction Show until 1978, when the original Battlestar Galactica debuted. Trek is good, but it's never been "best" hands down.
To each their own, I guess, but I confess that my mind boggles at the idea that the old BSG is the "best" anything.

Never saw the appeal, even back in the eighties.

Maybe this is a generational thing?
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Old October 21 2012, 09:57 PM   #68
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
The original Twilight Zone owns the title Best Science Fiction Show until 1978, when the original Battlestar Galactica debuted. Trek is good, but it's never been "best" hands down.
To each their own, I guess, but I confess that my mind boggles at the idea that the old BSG is the "best" anything.

Never saw the appeal, even back in the eighties.

Maybe this is a generational thing?
I liked the original BSG, but better than Trek or The Twilight Zone? They're not only not in the same ballpark, they're not even in the same national park as far as quality goes.
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Old October 21 2012, 10:00 PM   #69
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
The original Twilight Zone owns the title Best Science Fiction Show until 1978, when the original Battlestar Galactica debuted. Trek is good, but it's never been "best" hands down.
To each their own, I guess, but I confess that my mind boggles at the idea that the old BSG is the "best" anything.

Never saw the appeal, even back in the eighties.

Maybe this is a generational thing?
I don't think so. I was 12 in 1978, and at the time I thought BSG was a Star Wars rip-off. Three years earlier, I had found the first season of Space: 1999 to be much more engaging than I'd find BSG to be. At the time, I found that both BSG and 1999 paled in comparison with Star Trek. We never had The Twilight Zone syndicated on any of our three network channels. I didn't get to watch TZ until high school, when we got cable.
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Old October 22 2012, 12:19 AM   #70
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
As to whether it trumps TOS . . . well, it really is an apples-and-oranges comparison, given that one was an ongoing series and one was an anthology. How about we just say that they're both the crown jewels of that era's genre programming, and are of more or less equal stature?
I thought I did.

The failure of the subsequent Twilight Zones speaks for itself, I think.

The classic episodes that everyone is supposed to know and love is a small fraction of the series.

Even the bleaker episodes have what would today be perceived as sentimentality. The monsters on Elm Street episode today would be like Spielberg's War of the Worlds, about the tragic need to unleash our inner monster to survive the threat. Etc.
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Old October 22 2012, 12:38 AM   #71
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

You know I think the weakness of 1970s sci-fi is perhaps in part one of the reasons Star Trek did so well in reruns. Neither Space: 1999 (which I did like) nor Battlestar Galactica could come close to Star Trek firing on all cylinders.

Conscious Circuits wrote: View Post
There were exceptions: Forces of Nature, Dark Page, Lower Decks, and Relics, just to name a few. But overall, yeah, that was personally my impression of TNG's last -say- two seasons, as well.
The thing about TNG's last seasons was that while its first years could be hilariously, mind-boggingly, painfully awful ("Code of Honor", "Up the Long Ladder") it was rarely if ever bland.

But I'd still say that overall TNG was a series that consistently provided a mix of good-to-excellent episodes and I'm surprised how well it's aged for me considering there's pretty much nothing I watched at eight I can watch now and still respect quite that much. When TNG was great - "The Inner Light", "The Measure of a Man" - it remains a touchstone to me for what great sci-fi TV is.


Interesting also is that Saturday morning/children's shows seem to have been excluded from discussion.
Even if we agree that there are cartoon shows from the period that can be called good, it'd be hard to claim that any of them can be called best, I think that's basically the issue there. Nobody's going to put Filmation's Flash Gordon or their Star Trek over TOS or TTZ.


Greg Cox wrote: View Post
I don't know. The fact that a fairly primitive black-and-white TV series from over fifty years ago is still airing regularly on cable and is still burned into the memories of generations of fans has to say something.
That's true. Compare it to the fate of the highly respected, Emmy-award winning and socially conscious The Defenders: There's a single episode on youtube and unless you request to see the prints at a university (or watch snippets from that one Mad Men episode that aired part of its episode on abortion) the show might as well not even exist.
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Old October 22 2012, 12:43 AM   #72
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Kegg wrote: View Post
Interesting also is that Saturday morning/children's shows seem to have been excluded from discussion.
Even if we agree that there are cartoon shows from the period that can be called good, it'd be hard to claim that any of them can be called best, I think that's basically the issue there. Nobody's going to put Filmation's Flash Gordon or their Star Trek over TOS or TTZ.
Of course. I was mentioning them more for the point of filling out the ballot than actually voting for them. My point was that aren't those children's shows science fiction too (or at least some of them, if say one excludes super hero shows)?
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Old October 22 2012, 01:43 AM   #73
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

stj wrote: View Post
The classic episodes that everyone is supposed to know and love is a small fraction of the series.
Hardly surprising given that the series was on the air for five seasons, broadcasting 156 individual episodes. Compare this to, say, Dallas, which is also an important series to American television, and one hat most viewers were probably still aware of even before the current follow-up. Yet if you asked all but the most hard-core of viewers to recall certain episodes they'd likely run out of answers pretty soon after "A House Divided" (where J.R. is shot) and "Return to Camelot" (where Bobby shows up in the shower).

Even the bleaker episodes have what would today be perceived as sentimentality. The monsters on Elm Street episode today would be like Spielberg's War of the Worlds, about the tragic need to unleash our inner monster to survive the threat. Etc.
Do you mean "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street?" I think it's quite a reach to label such an episode sentimental. Moralizing, yes, but hardly sentimental. (Considering this is a forum devoted to Star Trek, it stands to reason most of the posters here don't have a problem with television engaged with moralizing.)

If it's your point that contemporary film and television is far less sentimental, I don't think it's very useful to trot out Spielberg as an example. Even the darkest entries in his filmography are ripe with sentiment, including his lousy version of War of the Worlds (in which Tom Cruise wins and his family survives...somehow, because a happy ending must be reached).
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Old October 22 2012, 03:27 AM   #74
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

^^^No, the point is that there is a widespread perception that Twilight Zone's (and Star Trek's and Outer Limits') humanism (or liberalism or optimism, if you wish) is sentimentality. The subtext is that it is weakness or even treason.

But, as to War of the Worlds, the survival of Cruise's family is as much a well earned triumph given by the moral universe (subtext here, God, though it was text in the Pal adaptation.) Why overlook the suicide bombing effort, though? Of course, what I was thinking of was the fate meted out to Tim Robbins.
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Old October 22 2012, 04:05 AM   #75
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Re: Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

stj wrote: View Post
The classic episodes that everyone is supposed to know and love is a small fraction of the series.
I don't know. Couldn't you say the same of TOS? Or most venerable cult series?

In both cases, you're going to have the knowledgeable fans who can reel off chapter and verse about umpteen episodes. And the more casual viewer who is only going to remember a few classic episodes or moments.

"Let's see, there's the tribbles, and the one with Joan Collins, and that time Spock had to mate with a Vulcan chick or die, and the one where Kirk outsmarted some sort of computer . . . ."
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