Is TOS the best sci-fi TV American series until 1985?

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Grant, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Excluding any of the Trek spin-offs, no love for Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica Farscape, Firefly, or The X-Files?

    Widening to comedies, I'd also point to Futurama and Red Dwarf, although the latter is a British series and out of bounds of the discussion here.
     
  2. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In terms of surpassing Trek TOS? No.

    Farscape, Firefly and Buffy are probably my favorite skiffy shows since Trek TOS, though.
     
  3. T'Grinch

    T'Grinch Romulan Curmudgeon Administrator

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    Other than Star Trek, I really liked Farscape, Babylon 5 (loved that show) and I'm a new convert to Firefly.

    So since the original series, I'd rank them (including some of the Trek spin-offs):

    - Deep Space Nine
    - Babylon 5
    - TNG/Farscape/Firefly (tie)

    **

    I saw very little of that for some reason, so I can't really judge. I'll take your word for it, though.
     
  4. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    I've liked other shows, but I don't think those shows topped TOS or Twilight Zone.
     
  5. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    The seventies and early eighties were a dark time. But, as others have already pointed out, there's been plenty of good stuff since: the Trek spinoffs, Farscape, Firefly, etc.

    And there's even more if you broaden the net to include stuff like Buffy, Xena, Warehouse 13, etc.
     
  6. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think that you and Greg are both right. For me, TOS is the best sci-fi series from that era (but I'm biased in that direction), and I would definately put the original Twilight Zone as number two.

    But, I also like all four of the Irwin Allen shows, so what do I know?:lol:

    And, since you picked 1985 as the cutoff date I want to add the original Battlestar Galactica and the Gil Gerard Buck Rogers to my list. Niether are as good as TOS, but I thought both were fun shows.

    I see you also like The Invaders. That's one that I only have a passing familiarity with, but was thinking of getting the DVD's. I assume you recommend it?
     
  7. UFO

    UFO Captain Captain

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    I can't recall seeing much of Twilight Zone but I can accept it as first or second. However after (say) TOS and TZ, I always liked Planet of the Apes.


    And

    I just want to say one thing: AHEM! :vulcan: ;)
     
  8. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't see the reason for the automatic qualification of "until 1985". That's really damning Trek with faint praise, isn't it? For one thing, there were hardly any serious, legit, American SF series before 1985. Stacking original Trek up against a dozen tacky (but sometimes fun) space adventure shows, some meant more for children probably, sort of misses the point of what Trek is. Is it better adult science fiction drama than Land of the Giants? Well of course, let's move on...
    Original Trek is clearly the best for me, no time limit necessary. The only real competition would be Babylon Five, DS9 and Outer Limits. Honorable mentions to The Invaders and year one of Lost In Space, and Time Tunnel.
    Talking about British shows, 1970s Dr Who and Blake's Seven were brilliant, and year one only of Space:1999. Eliminate that second season of Sp:99 (which on its own would be in the running for worst SF series ever...) and you have SF just as it needs to be done on television. It's about time hasty viewers stopped dismissing year one, just because they associate it with that bastrdized second season.
     
  9. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    None of the series I listed surpass its influence, nor (I'd say) the quality of their characters. But in terms of the consistency of the series, from episode to episode? I'd say the only series in the lot I named as inconsistent as the original Star Trek (mainly speaking about seasons 2 and 3 here) was The X-Files. The rest have a better track record.

    The Twilight Zone is a great series, though, no doubt about it. Even the "bad" episodes attract my full attention in a way that most other series do not.
     
  10. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    The good and bad merits of a series is up to the viewer and there were some good shows in the '70s at least to me. And as far as British shows go I'm surprised The Prisoner hadn't been mentioned yet.
     
  11. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    I do, it ran concurrent with TOS season 1 & 2 and featured many of the same guest actors as TOS and TLZ.

    I jusr really like 1960s TV in general. It isn't FX heavy and it really only has 1 recurring character, but I find it very refreashing--just straight up no apologies sci-fi that isn't campy or self conscious.
     
  12. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    By the way, the only reason I left out The Prisoner, The Twilight Zone, and The X-Files was that the first just wasn't science fiction at all except for that bodyswap episode, and the other two had SF content far less than half the time. X-Files was mostly supernatural with aliens thrown in occasionally. TZ was almost always about creepy, otherworldly, basically magical events. That's why we needed The Outer Limits. the SF version of TZ!

    The Prisoner was an abstracted, semi-surreal criticism of humanity and politics and power abuse. Science fiction isn't defined as just "anything sort of strange". I may be wrong about The Prisoner though-- as I think more, science and new technology did figure largely into some stories, even if the science wasn't based on anything real... their various brainwashing techniques for instance.
     
  13. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    The original Knight Stalker also elements of science fiction thrown in with the horror and fantasy elements. Quark should also get a mention even though it had a very short run.
     
  14. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Consistency is not a criterion I place much value on in entertainment or art. I value it more where fast food is concerned - McDonalds is mediocre but edible and entirely reliable from town to town, state to state.

    Trek TOS has stories like "The City On The Edge Of Forever," Twilight Zone has stories like "It's A Good Life" - and they only have to ring that bell a couple of times before all of modern Trek, Straczynski, etc. are out of competition notwithstanding the fact that I might know that in week 5 of season three of B5 I was going to get pretty much the same thing I got in week 4.
     
  15. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Every TV series has good and bad eps. so that's not a real comparison.
     
  16. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    The mind-machine in "A. B. and C." would be a prime example of this. Through some sort of technological means, it visualizes Number Six's thoughts so that Number Two can watch them.
     
  17. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Fair enough. I think you're undervaluing a good portion of the more contemporary shows you mention, but I'm smart enough to know I'm not going to change your mind there.

    In any event, it's hard to argue over the quality of episodes like "City on the Edge of Forever" and "It's a Good Life." As far as The Twilight Zone goes, I think there are episodes that are even better, but that only speaks to the incredible quality of that series.

    On Star Trek, though, I find myself agreeing with Rod Serling. For every week that the series "rung that bell" as you put it ("The Trouble with Tribbles," "Balance of Terror") there seemed to be a corresponding week that was absolutely dire ("The Alternative Factor," "Spock's Brain").
     
  18. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    I agree alternately there's people who like the ones that fans generally don't like and vice versa, this is true for every TV show IMO.
     
  19. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Toatally agree, consistency is over-valued. In fact, the most daring series risk falling on their faces occasionally, and sometimes do, but it's the price you pay for pushing your work farther.


    JMS did push B5 very far, though, and it wasn't all that consistent. When it was consistently good, though, it was because JMS was writing it all himself.


    For me, the last few Next Gen seasons epitomize that "safe", blander consistency. Their priority seemed to be not to make embarrassing mistakes rather than aggressively pushing the show into challenging, unknown areas.



    DWF responded to Harley:


    Yes. In particular, I've always loved "Alternative Factor" as a chilling, flawed gem. In this, we get the inconsistency within just the one episode. Some awkward moments and lines are mixed with a brilliant, imagination-stretching premise and overwhelming sense of scale. It stands out in season one as being so raggedly executed that many viewers are quickly turned off by it. They were pushing themselves hard to get the best AND most consistently great season of SF TV made. They just barely managed to get these masterpieces out on schedule. Give them a break...
     
  20. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    ---

    As to the OP's question. I'm going to concur, from the standpoint of writing (to pick an essential standpoint) that the original The Twilight Zone wins. I must fully disclose, however, that while I've seen most original TZ episodes, I haven't seen them all. What I have seen, though, leads me inescapably to conclude that there is a huge variety of solid, exceptional, moving, and memorable episodes.

    Star Trek TOS is very definitely second.

    ---

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_science_fiction_sitcoms has a list of comedy science fiction shows. Personally, I'd add Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie to that list.

    Interesting also is that Saturday morning/children's shows seem to have been excluded from discussion. To name a few, off the top of my head:

    Star Trekā€”The Animated Series
    Land of the Lost
    Far Out Space Nuts
    The Lost Saucer
    Space Academy
    Jason of Star Command
    The New Adventures of Flash Gordon
    Johnny Quest
    Ark II
    He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
    Super Friends