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. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    As opposed to, say, "Miri" or "Bread and Circuses"?

    Don't get me wrong. I just rewatched all three seasons of TOS, and it's still my favorite Trek series, but let's not pretend that it was on a whole different level of scientific plausibility than TZ. If one is so inclined, there are any number of popular TOS episodes that can be made to sound just as silly.

    A giant space amoeba? Abraham Lincoln versus Genghis Khan? A transporter beam splitting Kirk into his good and evil halves? A copper-based Vulcan cross-breeding with an iron-based human . . . ?

    Both series had their flights of fancy.
     
  2. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    I just now realized different people like different things differently.

    2. To the OP: define "best."

    Be well, all. (Unless you don't want to.)
     
  3. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    Well, of course TOS had many episodes where the science was awful! But it was a space sci-fi show and the quality fluctuated.

    Of TLZ's stright-up sci-fi episodes which had good attention to science detail-or even cared?

    Mr Dingle
    The Little People
    Elegy
    To Serve Man
    On Thursday We Leave for Home
    Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up


    Serling was telling morality plays--not even trying to do real sci-fi.

    TLZ may well be a better TV show, but better sci-fi--I don't think so.
     
  4. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    But does that really matter? I guess I just don't see why that's worth worrying about. I watched both shows for the stories, not the science.

    Science fiction, fantasy, horror . . . it's all the same to me.
     
  5. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    Does it matter that TOS

    clearly diffentiated between sub-light and faster than light travel and propulsion systems
    spoke of the need for artificial gravity
    clearly pointed out 'Earth-type' planets as being the focus
    reffered to space in 3 dimensions when plotting course
    referred to nebulas, black holes (stars), quasars
    clearly spelled out the difference between our galaxy and other galaxies
    created a beautiful funtional (looking) bridge for each specialty--nav, helm, engineering, science, comm..
    showed plauible looking med tech--hypospray, biobeds, hand held med scanners
    spoke of the difference between carbon life and possible other types


    Yeah, I think it made a huge difference.

    Now if the characters or stories stunk--those things wouldn't mean much and sure they dumped science logic sometimes to tell a compelling story or sometimes out of laziness or ignorance, but it was way better than the science and show before or shortly after had.

    Really.... a nuclear waste dump ignites and propels the earth's moon on a faster than light journey thru deep space????
    And they can either steer the moon or they just happen to pass incredibly close to various planets as the hurtle thru space? That passed for 'science fiction' in the 1970s?
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Well, TOS is certainly to be applauded for getting all that stuff right. I guess just don't attach as much importance to it when it comes to ranking the shows.

    I find TZ and TOS of equal merit, each with their own fair share of classics and clunkers. And, honestly, at the end of the day I don't really care which one had the better science.

    When it comes to science fiction, I'm just more interested in the "fiction" part . . . . :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  7. Grant

    Grant Commodore Commodore

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    I love TLZ too and broke my bank buying it on Blu-ray. In my top 10 shows of all time for sure.

    I think stories of TLZ are so special that the science element is a non-factor.

    In 'Where is Everybody' it matters not that he is actually in a simulator--what matters is the 24 minutes before that and his plight as a lonely confused human being.

    Of course the quality of the fiction is paramount--I'm just playing devil's advocate.
     
  8. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I figured "to this day" opened the floodgates for a broader conversation.
     
  9. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Many of those strike me as the difference between a series with continuing characters (and sets) and an anthology. Neither series could lay claim to very accurate science, which was in both cases discarded whenever it suited the writers.
     
  10. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly! Glad you see my point! :D

    I'll see your logic test and raise you "The Immunity Syndrome," where Enterprise squares off against The Solar System Sized Ameoba OF DOOM!

    Compared to that, "the Invaders" is viagra-hard science fiction.


    And in response I offer "Wolf in The Fold," where the chief engineer of this wonderful sci-fi series of starring and trekking is possessed by - wait for it - the ghost of freaking Jack the Ripper!


    Prisoners in solitary get one hour a day out in the open air. An astronaut in a gemini-sized capsule wouldn't. Who knows how important that one our of outdoors is to someone with no human interaction?

    I thought the definition of great sci-fi was thought provoking drama in a speculative setting?
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  11. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Understood. And I was just trying to stress that the attention to science isn't necessarily the determining factor when it comes to ranking sf shows.

    (A debate which goes back at least as far as Jules Verne and H. G. Wells!)
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  12. Cap'n Claus

    Cap'n Claus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    "Ancient technology disrupts the lives and mission of future space explorers" is a simplification of Forbidden Planet itself. It's the Maguffin that sparks the main plot of that movie, not the plot itself. If Trek did an episode about "a scientists id terrorizes space explorers while he sleeps" every few weeks, I'd agree. Ancient techology is the hook you're hanging these plots on, and Trek dipped into that well often, but they also loved doing stories about "out of control AI" and "snooty godlike aliens." What matters is what they did with these concepts. Remaking the central plot of Forbidden Planet is not one of the routes they took.


    The second year, yes. The first year, no. It was very different from Trek that year. Consciously so.

    Not much, at least not for the purposes of this discussion.

    That's subjective. I find Trek to be overall more fun than Twilight Zone. A bad Star Trek still gives me entertainment. A bad Twilight Zone is just bad.

    Sorry, I thought you meant the Quinn Martin TV series. The Twilight Zone is remembered primarily for the classic episodes, which are indeed classic. However, it also had a HUGE number of flops. For every Invaders or Odyssey of Flight 33, you have a Mighty Casey, or Come Wander with Me, or From Agnes with Love, or What's in the Box. It well deserves its reputation, but people are very happy to forget the (as Serling himself called them) "turkeys." Star Trek deserves the same consideration, but doesn't often get it. Give me Spock's Brain over Mr. Dingle the Strong any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    But, again, it's subjective. I prefer adventure sci-fi. TZ was not that. Apples and oranges, really.
     
  13. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe, but even just using the same Maguffin over and over leads one to question the series' suppposed creativity. even the guy who invented the word "maguffin" didn't use the same one constantly.

    Like hell. Turn the moonbase into a starship and what you have is Trek done by the Andersons, both years.



    To someone who actually knows the difference between a carrier and a battleship, saying there's not much of difference between the two is like saying there's no significant difference between a tank and an airplane.



    First, the question in the first post could only generate subjective answers without a poll that included all science fiction TV shows from the year the first one premiered until the year 1985. Since the OP didn't feel like including one, every respondent had to go with personal opinion. I didn't expect everyone to agree with mine, especially not on a Trek board.

    Second, since this is a Trek board, I'm sure you'll find plenty of people here willing to overlook trek's clankers. I just don't happen to be one of them, cause I think a show with creators that talk up the fact that it inspired real-life scientists ought to be held to higher standards than one - Twilight Zone - whose creator and principle writer said it was strictly for entertaintment purposes.

    Finally, Mister Dingle the Strong is funny and entertaining and is led by a terrific actor, whose main contribution is not flopping around in a mini-dress going "Brain and brain, what is brain?!"

    And Red Delicious apples are tastier than oranges...
     
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    The difference between Trek and many other shows is that I can tolerate the clunkers. Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley make even the most cringeworthy episodes entertaining. :shrug:
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Still, the fact that most of us seem to be able to reel off titles and episodes to support our arguments demonstrates just how enduring both shows are. Even the people arguing that TZ had more clunkers know the clunkers by name. :)

    By contrast, I couldn't name five episodes of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA or THE BIONIC WOMAN if my life depended on it . . . .
     
  16. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  17. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  18. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I think we all know the difference, but old BSG didn't hold to that distinction itself: Pegasus went in to fight the Cylon base-ships on her own, something a r/w carrier would never do. Also, the "fighters" never seemed to have much of a ship-killing role on their own, they just fought each other. The battlestars ended up looking more like a carrier-battleship hybrid than anything else.

    Justin
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  19. UnknownSample

    UnknownSample Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I can see my blood pressure won't let me come back to this thread again. Especially ridiculous and galling is some people's dismissal of original Trek, of all things, as bad SF, just a space adventure. I'm glad someone rebutted that with a list of things Trek got right, things they didn't have to worry about to make a space adventure. No one else on TV cared what a galaxy or light-year was, or cared about the astronomy. They didn't have to care, but they did and got it right.
    I'm sick of this happening: When slamming a show, people will often hold it up to nitpicky, absolutist standards that they don't hold their favorites up to. One technical mistake does not by itself destroy an SF show's value or credibility as SF, even if it's a big mistake.
    Take Sp:99 year one. I also wish that the basic premise of the Moon heading for deep space at warp speed was viable. But once you give them a pass on that one issue, you have a brilliantly conceived SF series which we'd never have had, without that basic premise. And I disagree violently about year one not dealing well with character personalities or human issues. They concentrated on humans' experience of the isolation, disempowerment, desperation, etc, of these people in that bizarre and grim situation. People miss it because it's done subtly and with economy. They don't wallow in personal lives and hobbies and careers like Next Gen, but that's part of what makes Sp:99 yr 1 great. They concentrated on the larger picture.
    The mysterious forces and episode endings were intentional. They wanted you to think and imagine in response to them. Anything we encounter out there won't be wrapped up and understood completely in an hour, and there are things we won't ever understand.
    Someone said that no TV SF can possibly match any written SF. There are many brilliant SF TV episodes, and much horrible written SF. I agree, though, that great, classic, written SF is the standard TV SF should shoot for.
     
  20. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Don't feel bad. I'm starting to feel that way about the whole damn forum. It seems I can't go into any of these boards without being automatically dismissed or ridiculed.

    This place is supposed to be fun, but hasn't been for a while.