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Sci Fi TV History in a Nutshell… September 22, 2007

Posted by Chris in Shows I Like.

Over the years there have been very few science fiction shows on TV that I would praise.  It seems like once every 10 years or so, a show comes along with intelligence and depth, but even then you can’t be sure it will survive the ratings wars.  Here are the series I would hold up as life-rafts in a sea of mediocrity.  As I see it, quality science fiction TV began with the original Star Trek series.  No doubt there were other series before it had merit, and perhaps if I thought about it more I could come up with some worthy predecessors, but my gut always leads me back to Star Trek.

Star Trek’s Enterprise

Any good science fiction is also good social commentary.  The genre sends fictional characters to imaginary worlds decidedly different from our own, but good science fiction always uses those imaginary worlds as a mirror so we can see ourselves.  How many times did the original series take the viewers to a another world, only to find that it was another Earth?  A parallel universe?  A world of shadows that looked so familiar.  I would argue that “the final frontier” in Star Trek was actually not alien at all; not a fictional creation of something completely different from our world, but it was rather the frontiers of our understanding ourselves.  Star Trek was and is outstanding TV Sci Fi because it had something to say about the world we lived in in the 1960s and the parts of that world that persist today.  This is one reason why Star Trek was and is a great show. 

The second reason is that it was good (perhaps not great, but good) literature.  The plots were interesting, well-executed, and often character-driven.  Too often, Science Fiction relies on the intricacies of made-up technical doo-dads and half-baked physics to generate plot points, tension, and conflict.  Star Trek certainly had it’s share of techno-babble and psuedo science-driven plot — it was, of course, science fiction after all — but it also had character development and tensions that were compelling. 

To be continued….



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