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. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Yep, I saw that too. A friend of mine said it was great; I thought it was awful.

    Maybe there is something generational at work here, but it's far from universal.
     
  2. Ian Keldon

    Ian Keldon Fleet Captain

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    Horsecrap! Modern Trek has plenty of "bell ringers", and B5 is practically a carillon.
     
  3. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Gotta agree there. I bow to no one in my affection for TOS and TZ, but let's not fall into the nostalgic trap of assuming that everything was always better back in the good old days.

    There's been plenty of classic episodes produced over the last few decades--on TNG, FARSCAPE, X-FILES, FIREFLY, nuBSG, LOST, THE WALKING DEAD, BUFFY, XENA, etc.
     
  4. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    It's nigh impossible to compare a nework series from the late '70s shown at 8PM on a Sunday night to a recent cable series that lastest for four seasons. But without some support from fans and very quality of what they put out you wouldn't have had the new series.
     
  5. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    When BSG aired, I thought it was so awesome... finally a sci-fi TV show with Star Wars quality SFX. Yet it failed to deliver good stories. So much potential. I really thought I'd find TOS "stale" after getting hooked on BSG. But as the show meandered across a number of directions, and showed so much repetitive SFX, I realized that it could never hold a candle to TOS. I enjoyed UFO and Space:1999 (to a degree), but their production values and episode plots seriously paled in comparison to Star Trek. Space:1999 had a lot of potential, what with Brian Johnston and Derek Meddings working their SFX and model magic. But Anderson once again stumbled with the premise, at first trying too hard to appeal to the intellectuals, then swinging too far in the other direction of appealing to the youth craving easy to digest entertainment (partly due to Fred Freiberger).

    I think part of the reason why such a strong fan base built up around Star Trek was the very lack of alternative sci-fi TV programs that could match it.
     
  6. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If original BSG is some shining example of great science fiction, then anything and everything is. BSG was light insubstantial space adventure for kids. If our standards are such that an intelligent show like Sp:99 year one is actually criticized for it ("intellectual" was just used as a criticism), then I guess mediocre is what we're supposed to be shooting for.

    what do Buffy and Xena have to do with science fiction?!
     
  7. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Both UFO and Space: 1999 had lots of potential. I was an Anderson fan before kindergarten, being turned on by Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet.

    1999 is an especially sad case, since its second season provided an opportunity for improvements, but the writing was (for the most part) so much worse than it was in the first season, that the show had nowhere to go but off the air.
    I agree. With respect to Anderson, the Supermarionation shows were pigeonholed, at least in the US market, as children's shows, but neither UFO nor 1999 could compete with Star Trek.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  8. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Like the M*A*S*H reference.

    It's true that since original Trek was the only real example of a well-done science-fictionish (non-anthology with regular characters) show back then, that satisfied the requirements of escapist space adventure as well of those of more adult SF drama, it became the focus of a huge fandom. In more recent years, these different kinds of fans might have latched onto different shows.

    I don't think this makes original Trek any less great a program, though. I think it helps to show how great it was, to draw in so many different types of viewers.
     
  9. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Okay, I'll lay out my reasoning. It's not a generational thing at all.

    First, while Twilight Zone was not always strictly sci-fi in its original run, during that run it presented some of the most incredible science fiction stories I've ever seen. "Where Is Everybody?," "The Invaders," "The Lateness Of The Hour," "Two," "The Odyssey Of Flight 33"...I wasn't old enough to see them in first runs but the first time I saw them in reruns as kid I was enthralled, literally enthralled, by those little amazing half hour dramas, in a way that I haven't been enthralled by any sci-fi show since.

    By contrast, I saw my first Trek TOS episode when I was about six, and I found it dull. I've grown to appreciate it as I've gotten older, but nowhere near in the way I latched on to the TZ:TOS and never let go. Star Trek is good, but let's be honest: All it really is is Gene Roddenberry trying to redo "Forbidden Planet" over and over again every friggin' week. And Forbidden Planet is one of my favorite movies. And Trek has never been as good as that either.

    Now with BSG:TOS, my reasoning is actually simpler and less high-falutin'. No, it's not great science fiction. In fact, it suffers from trying to be both Star Wars and Star Trek at the same time, which I always had a problem with, and one of the reasons why I liked nuBSG was that it bled all that trekkie/warsie nonsense out of the story. Haters can hate it all they like, but new Galactica was more "Galactica" than the original.

    And yet, I still take it over Trek for these simple reasons: I like big-ass aircraft carriers. I like big-ass spaceships. Galactica is the first big-ass carrier spaceship I'd ever seen on the small or big screen. In my mind, everything else gets owned by that, and I tuned in RELIGIOUSLY to watch that big gorgeous beauty spit out vipers and blow Cylon raiders to smithereens. What? The plot was stupid? It wasn't about the characters? What's your point?

    I'm Admiral2 and I approved this message.
     
  10. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks.

    Yes. This is all true too.

    Star Trek also proved that a non-anthology series with serious pretensions could succeed. If Star Trek had never existed, I have to wonder how long it would have been before sci-fi TV got out from under the shadow of the likes of Irwin Allen.
     
  11. DWF

    DWF Admiral Admiral

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    Derek Meddings only worked on UFO not Space:1999. Star Trek and Space:1999 have Fred Freiberger in common.
     
  12. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is a bold oversimplification. Yes, a great deal of the concept of Trek was inspired by Forbidden Planet, but to say it "remade" the film every week is absurd. By this standard Space:1999 remade 2001 every week and Battlestar Galactica remade Star Wars every week. It's just as untrue and does them all a disservice. All of these shows used a familiar and successful film as the jumping off point to create their own stories, both good and bad. Your enjoyment of each series depends on what you're looking for. If your thing is "big honking battleships," BSG will be your favorite show.

    TV science fiction is never as good as true, literary sci-fi. Trek wasn't amazing science fiction, but it was good at taking sci-fi from the kiddie pool and bringing it into the adult table without talking down to people. The Outer Limits, by comparison, would spend huge chunks of each episode explaining theories and technology, before tossing in a monster. Star Trek would spend less time on the tech and more on the adventure. The ideas were present in both programs, but Trek's presentation was an easier pill to swallow. It was more fun.

    1999, in its first year, was concept oriented with plot and characterization taking the back seat. It emphasized mood and atmosphere and often left things unexplained. It was a great show to watch at 2am, it was so damned weird. But the SFX were the main showcase there. In the second year, it went to Saturday Morning Cartoon Land. I still loved it, but with the lazy area of my brain, the same part I use to watch Irwin Allen's TV shows.

    BSG wasn't interested in sci-fi concepts beyond the premise of killer robots and space battles. It was more "Wagon Train to the stars" than Trek ever was. It was a space western before Firefly took it too literally. Critics (the kinder critics anyway) called it Battlestar Ponderosa, and they were right. Yet, when it was at its best, it tackled larger themes (faith, mans place in the universe) and had some amazing episodes of high adventure. The two parters were easily the best, most epic shows, but the final episode, the single part "The Hand of God" was one of the finest episodes of the series. The original BSG had a great deal of potential that was just starting to be fulfilled before ABC pulled the plug.

    The Invaders was at its best in the first season, when they were trying to terrify the audience. It was a great, moody sci-fi take on The Fugitive. The second season slipped out of that and into adventure, but it was a dead end concept. Fun and adult, but not in Trek's class.
     
  13. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, really? The premise of Forbidden Planet begins with "Ancient technology disrupts the lives and mission of future space explorers."

    "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Ancient technology disrupts the lives and mission of future space travelers. "Shore Leave." Ancient technology disrupts the lives and mission of future space travelers. "Return of the Archons." Ancient technology disrupts the lives and mission of future space travelers. "The Paradise Syndrome." Ancient technology, etc., etc. "For the World is Hollow, and I have Touched the Sky." Ditto. "The Doomsday Machine." Ditto. "Return to Tomorrow." Mega-dittos. "Turnabout Intruder." Giga-dittos.

    Simplification? Maybe. Over-simplification? Hardly.

    Not all of it. Just the moonbase and transport sequences. Everything else was a Trek rehash.


    Like I said. I watched BSG religiously. In terms of the Viper-Raider sequences that's exactly what it did.

    Carriers, not battleships. There's a difference.

    Agreed.

    And Twilight Zone was more fun than both of them.

    And those were the eps when it was Trek. Like I said, it tried to be a mash up of Trek and Wars.

    Agreed.

    I was talking about the Twilight Zone episode "The Invaders" with Endora from Bewitched fighting off little astronauts, which had nothing to do with The Fugitive, and was cooler and more imaginative than most of the things Gene and company ever came up with.
     
  14. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Written by Richard Matheson. (Ahem.)
     
  15. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, the Invaders episode better than 99% of TOS episodes because it's little spacemen and they turn out to be from Earth. it's a twist!

    It plays out very logically as well from beginning to end.

    Seeing how they land on this planet and find one structure in the middle of nowhere and decide to torment this giant haggered woman.

    Roddenberry could never have come up with something that good!
     
  16. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Well, Dennis is right about one thing: no text can stand up to a hostile reading.

    "The Invaders" is a classic, and a rather exceptional twenty-five minutes of television (of any era) in that it has almost no dialogue.
     
  17. John Mason

    John Mason Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    TJ Hooker:guffaw:
     
  18. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    It is classic, it's a suspense piece and super well-done, but it could never hold up to the kind of scrutiny that virtually every episode of TOS is put thru.

    Humans going light years to another world and finding it inhabited by a giant race and then going to her shack and shooting her with their ray guys?

    What kind of logic is that.

    It's a viseral piece of fantasy TV that is ridiculous in retrospect.


    'I Shot an Arrow'--astronauts take off from earth, crash land and ASSUME they're on another world--even though it has the same atmosphere, gravity and landscape as California? And they're in a rocket not a starship that would make them a least think another star system. They think they're on an asteroid--with the same gravity as Earth?


    'Where is Everybody' astronaut goes bonkers after 136 hours in isolation? Really? Literally thousands of humans have been in solitary confinement for months and come out sane. An elite astronaut goes bonkers after 6 days? Man they made a poor choice--he sure had the wrong stuff. They even said he had access to entertainment tapes. Shoot, I could survive for a couple of weeks with my Blu-ray collection and no company.

    They're great, thought-provoking dramas, but great sci-fi?
     
  19. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Oh absolutely (Though I've never had any great love for Red Dwarf, I must give it another try, as my SciFi cmedy taste has likely changed since I've tried it. I did really like what little I've seen of the Cat)

    Having said all that, you've forgotten one of the parameters is "Before 1985"
     
  20. Sindatur

    Sindatur The Grey Owl Wizard Premium Member

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    Yup, I've got a friend who LOVES TOS, but, would be savaged on this board. Amongst his favorites are Miri, Charlie X (Really any Yoeman Janice One), And The Children Shall Lead, "The Space Hippie one" and he HATES Trouble With Tribbles, The Doomsday Machine and City On The Edge of Forever