Ask Dayton #10 – Sci-Fi’s Best & Worst
Question: Dayton, since it is obvious you are the wisdom and font of knowledge on this bizarre show, please tell us your five favorite sci-fi series, and what makes them so awesome as to be on your list, and your five most hideous sci-fi shows, and why they deserve our scorn, sneers and disgust.
Hmm. Choices, choices, choices.
I suppose it’s easy to pick out a couple of favorites and one or two that I think really suck. After that, it gets tough to narrow down a list, because there are just so many candidates from which to choose, both good and bad. Still, I was able to knuckle down and come up with five favorites and five shows I loathe. In no particular order:
Five SciFi Series I Think Suck Donkey Balls
- V (2009-2011) – How do you go wrong with The 4400’s Joel Gretch, Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell, the exquisite Morena Baccarin from Firefly, and a premise that’s already worked at least once? You give it to the people behind the re-imagined V. Based on the acclaimed1983 mini-series and subsequent television series, you’d think this story could be updated in a kick-ass manner, either as a continuation of the original series or—as was ultimately decided—a total reboot. Nope! Instead of resistance fighters hammering alien lizards, we get week after week of people standing around talking about hammering alien lizards, unless the people doing the talking turn out to be alien lizards themselves. Then we have to start all over again. Though things started to pick up toward the end of the first season, I’d given up by then and never even bothered with the second season, having come away frustrated with the lost potential.
- Baywatch Nights (1995-1997) – Take a cheesy yet ultimately harmless show where the best thing about it is a bunch of sexy lifeguards running across the beach in slow motion wearing tight bathing suits. Create a spin-off of that series, and then take away the best thing we just talked about, and you get Baywatch Nights, a show about the dudes from Baywatch going through a midlife crisis and forming a detective agency. Why is this listed here? Because in the show’s second season (Yes, you read that right; this show got a second season), they decided to add an X-Files flair to the mix. Wait…what the hell happened to the girls and bikinis?
- Flash Gordon (2007-2008) – So, you want to do a science fiction show about a guy who travels through wormhole to another planet, where he faces off against all manner of aliens and creatures, and do it on a budget that wouldn’t get you a Happy Meal? Give it to Syfy! Premiering in 2007 on what used to be called the Sci Fi Channel, this version of Flash Gordon mostly dispensed with the actual…you know…sci-fi aspects of the story, opting instead to have our hero be a guy who lives with his mom. Ming the Merciless, perhaps one of the great SF villains of all time, is portrayed here as little more than that asshole office manager most of you have at your jobs. The show lasted only one season, quickly allowing Syfy to put on more wrestling in its place.
- Galactica 1980 (Uh, 1980) – While the original Battlestar Galactica series is not one of my absolute favorite shows, I still have fond memories of it, which makes the existence of this puddle of liquefied dog shit even harder to take. The idea itself—Galactica finally making it to Earth only to find that humanity has no hope of surviving a Cylon invasion—is actually a pretty damned nifty premise. Too bad they wasted it on this uninspired sequel. The only “good” episode of the entire run is a flashback featuring Starbuck from the original Galactica. Everything else? You can flush it.
- Homeboys in Outer Space (1996-1997) – Yes, that’s a real title. Two astronauts tool around the universe in their spaced-out big rig, getting into various hijinks. Everyone involved with the creation of this show should be tarred, feathered, and forced to stand as background extras in every Lady Gaga music video from now until the end of time.
And now, to cleanse your palate, here are five of my all-time favorites:
- Alien Nation (1989-1990) – An above average hybrid of the science fiction and buddy cop genres, this series, to me at least, is superior to the feature film which spawned it. Though it carried a lot of humor and covered much of the same ground as most other police procedurals, it frequently used its premise to examine intolerance and bigotry, using the alien “Newcomers” as stand-ins for African Americans, Hispanics, and even gays and lesbians. I’m not one to call for reboots or sequels, but I’d definitely love to see a continuation or even a new take on this show.
- Firefly (2002-2003) – It may have only lasted for 14 episodes, but there’s a lot packed in there. Delightful characters, wonderful dialogue, and crisp writing gave the show a singular identity which separated it from pretty much every other SF show out there. Totally ass-hammered thanks to the ineptitude of the suits at Fox who didn’t know what to do with the damned thing, the show (and its follow-on motion picture, Serenity) continues to attract and entertain fans every bit as loyal as Trekkies or Whovians.
- The Prisoner (1967-1968) – Patrick McGoohan stars as a secret agent who, after resigning his post in anger, is kidnapped and taken to a mysterious “village” populated by people who possess no names, only numbers. Now called “Number Six,” he endures numerous attempts by his captors to learn the reasons for his resignation. The Prisoner is part psychological drama and part allegory, with some SF elements thrown in for flavor. The constant battle between the individual and the state drives the entire series, raising as many questions as it answers along the way. More than four decades later, people still debate the show’s multi-layered themes. The Prisoner is a true masterpiece.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) – Three words: Edward James Olmos. Okay, three more words: Adama Fucking Rocks.
And, of course,
- Star Trek (1966-1969) – No bloody colons, no freaking subtitles. The original and daddy to all the others, this one is still my very favorite of the bunch.
I’d also like to add an honorable mention to the list, for The Six Million Dollar Man. When I was in single digits, this was my other favorite show. I’ve rediscovered it thanks to the DVD set collecting the entire series, and I’ve been having a ball watching it with my daughters, who can’t get enough of it.
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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