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#18247 - 02/19/07 03:29 AM Science Fiction On Television
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334
I was watching Doctor Who (the new series) last night when it occurred to me that the best sci fi on TV comes from EVERYWHERE but the United States. In fact, I don't think a good sci fi show has come out of the States since The Night Stalker (starring Darren McGavin), and before that Star Trek.

The problem appears to be that American writers simply take tried and true soap opera plot devices, throw a few robots and spaceships in, and call it science fiction.

Doctor Who by comparison is positively bubbling with mind-stretching stuff. Yes, the effects are cheesey, but hey, the stories are great!

#18250 - 02/19/07 06:29 AM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: Kate]
Amaranth Rose II Offline


Registered: 12/16/06
Posts: 962
Loc: Southeast Nebraska, USA
At least you get to see Dr. Who. I don't have any access to mainstream television at all. I make do with DVD's and VCR's. Not too bad, though. I'd have to agree with you about the good Sci-fi stuff. I think we peaked out after Battlestar Galactica.

It's good to know the good Doctor is back in production. Enjoy him for me too! smile

If you don't care for reality, just wait a while; another will be along shortly. --A Rose

#18254 - 02/19/07 07:06 PM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: Amaranth Rose II]
redewenur Offline

Registered: 02/14/07
Posts: 1840
My favourite TV Sci-Fi was Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, from the late Douglas Adams. Hilarious. My 'first contact' with the book was in King's Cross railway station, London. I was at a book stand absently rotating it and just happened to pick up that book. I read a paragraph at random. I started laughing. Couldn't stop. That's not so bad when you have company, but lurching across a crowded railway station, alone, practically doubled up with laughter, is not to be recommended!

Following that I read the rest of his books. Hope they reach TV one day.
"Time is what prevents everything from happening at once" - John Wheeler

#18256 - 02/19/07 07:59 PM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: redewenur]
dr_rocket Offline

Registered: 12/06/06
Posts: 196
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
Good Morning All,

The British Sci-Fi is great in spite of the somewhat less than special special effects. However, the effects never were the point. Dr. Who (all of them) and Hitch Hiker are the best. Don't forget Red Dwarf!

American Sci-Fi, especially TV, is in the pits. I think that this is due to a number of reasons. "Reality" shows are cheap to make. The amateur song and dance shows sell soap. safe formula Sci-Fi such as Battlestar are also pretty good at selling soap. (Sorry Amaranth - no offense intended.) However, I thought that the original series was just Wagon Trains in space. Easy to understand and identify with, but no real content. The new series is like the old but with a "gritty adult theme", i.e., it is a soap opera. Star Trek the industry is even worse. Beat that horse to death! and again! and again!

Sci-Fi is supposed to be about imagination. I am not expecting any good Sci-Fi on US tv any time soon, sorry to say.

Dr. R.

#18262 - 02/19/07 10:47 PM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: dr_rocket]
terrytnewzealand Offline

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 1031
Loc: Whangarei New Zealand
Dr-rocket wrote:

"Dr. Who (all of them) and Hitch Hiker are the best. Don't forget Red Dwarf!"


Redewenur wrote regarding "Red Dwarf":

"Following that I read the rest of his books. Hope they reach TV one day."

Ah, but they have. Follows the book quite closely. It originally started as a radio play, then TV, finally the books. Recently a film was made. Not very good at all. They claimed Douglas Adams had started the screenplay but I think he was just partway through the second paragraph when he died. I know Blacknad is a fan of the dwarf too. He even posted some quotes from it somewhere on SAGG. "The Algebraist" page 2.

Edited by terrytnewzealand (02/19/07 11:05 PM)

#18268 - 02/20/07 03:49 AM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: terrytnewzealand]
Kate Offline

Senior Member

Registered: 10/16/04
Posts: 334

Sorry to hear of your Doctor deficit. The new series are fab. He's already been regenerated twice!

Also, the Daleks can now FLY! Which makes them truly scary.

Better still, the sets are rubbish and the digital special effects still maintain that element of cheesiness that I mentioned before. I think this is vital to the show's success asit keeps the tongue firmly in cheek. The only off-putting element in the first of the new series was the appearance of a boorish American Rambo type who travelled with the Doctor for a couple of episodes. Obviously stuck in at the behest of the American distributor to try and make the show more appealing for US audiences, he doesn't work at all. He tries (hard) to maintain a balance between gun-wielding hero and humorous sidekick but it doesn't work and he disappeared eventually (thankfully). Anyway, check out the new series, it's well worth it.

Red Dwarf is indeed worth mentioning. The Cat would have to be my favorite. That actor had cat-behavior pegged!

#18271 - 02/20/07 05:34 AM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: Kate]
Ellis Offline

Registered: 01/08/07
Posts: 1490
Loc: Australia
The American type was a character that is going to be in a new series called Torchwood (mentioned in Dr Who now and then, especially the last episode of series 3) We haven't had Torchwood here yet, but the flyboy didn't fit into Dr Who very well.. .nothing is ever that gung ho in Dr Who!!!! I loved the new episodes, and can only say it was as good as, and maybe even better than the original and that's high praise indeed.

I always enjoyed Red Dwarf, I really like the character observation in it, but I always preferred the Hitchhiker books or radio programmes and the film was disappointing. It's the 2 heads I think. Although I enjoyed the Star Trek New Generations and Voyager, I really can't get into the others---they've run out of ideas I think.

I used to watch a Canadian ( ?) programme which had bluish aliens taking over Earth and flying transparent planes. It was great fun at first but then seemed to start taking itself too seriously. I think it was called the Visitors or Companions or something. The aliens were very well done!!!

#18426 - 02/25/07 10:32 PM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: Ellis]
Wolfman Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 264
Loc: Pago Pago, American Samoa
Hello, Hello, ain't nobody here never heard of "V"?

Just Joking.

#21162 - 05/02/07 03:53 AM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: Wolfman]
Mitthrawnuruodo Offline

Registered: 04/05/07
Posts: 30
Loc: Empire State
I loved the tv mini movie "V" in the early 80's... then I revisited the film last year and what a SOAP OPERA it is!! LOL I just love how in EVERY Earth invasion movie the aliens get fended off! I want to see a film where the "invaders" rout the defenseless humans and there is no uprising (at the last minute) to fend off the, oh I don't know 10 million year advanced species LOL.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Carl Sagan

#22290 - 06/23/07 05:21 PM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: Mitthrawnuruodo]
belladona Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/23/07
Posts: 2
Loc: Melbourne, Australia.
British SF is mostly superb with the occasional bad episode. American SF is mostly bad with the occasional superb episode.

But as far as monsters go, I will never ever -ever- forget the Ood.

I think a good part the difference today is that the American SF pysche was profoundly influenced by Star Trek where the British had Dr. Who (and Douglas Adams) - most more recent series have grown out of one or the other and with such different philosophical backdrops for their imaginations, the directions each country has found interesting to write in have become profoundly different.

Oh, and British actors are, on average, better. I've seen way too many -wooden- americans spoil what could be a decent plot and plenty of examples where brilliant acting made a cheesy plot and terrible effects seem irrelevant.

#22568 - 07/01/07 06:03 AM Re: Science Fiction On Television [Re: belladona]
MikeBinOK Offline

Registered: 06/30/07
Posts: 67
Loc: Oklahoma
I'm surprised nobody mentioned Babylon 5....I thought it was pretty decent science fiction, and it did come from American tv, admittedly not the major studios.
Mike B in OKlahoma

"Never confuse with malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."


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