Friday, May 04, 2007

SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU

As the regulars here know, I'm not much of a sci-fi fan. But, life being the funny thing that it is, I seem to have a fair share of sci-fi fans among the readership.

And why is this worth mentioning? Why am I not informing you, for instance, that I like purple, while 54% of Neighborhood visitors prefer red? That I often choose a hearty stout or doppelbock, while most opt for a pale ale or thirst-quenching pilsener?

(What the hell am I talking about?)

I mention it because the repository of art & culture we know as "Entertainment Weekly" has rated the Top Science Fiction Movies & TV Shows of the Past 25 Years, that's why. They rated The Matrix #1. Sounds good to me. I liked The Matrix a lot, partly because it didn't seem too Sci Fi to me. But I wonder what others think.

Or think about some of the others that EW rated: "X-Files" (I never watched it), "Battlestar Gallactica" (same), Wrath of Khan (loved it when I saw it 25 years ago), Brazil (many years for me, but I was very impressed), Blade Runner (never understood the hoopla), ET (WTF???), Aliens (never saw it -- is that Sci-Fi? Set in Space makes it Sci Fi?).

And while we're at it, any thoughts regarding flicks or shows from beyond the last 25 years (I predict Applesaucer names 2001: A Space Odessey)? That gets "Twilight Zone" into the mix at least.

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Toast said...

Uh... #25 V: The Miniseries??? #24 Galaxy Quest?????? Are you shitting me?

The realm of possible choices is admittedly smaller than it is for other genres, but it ain't that small.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Toast said...

OK, the list is actually pretty good once you get near the top. BSG (2) is my favorite sci-fi series ever and The Matrix (1) and Wrath of Khan (5) are both in the Toast Top Five. However, I have to ask: Am I the only sci-fi fan on the planet who didn't care for Bladerunner? It's one of those movies I've watched multiple times, trying to see what others saw in it, and I just can't.

Seeing Brazil there was a pleasant surprise. I was shocked to see some piece of crap animated Star Wars show make the cut. If you're going to go animated, then Star Blazers absolutely should have been on there. I never watched Babylon 5 or Stargate regularly, but either show seems more appropriate than some of the dreck they've got in the bottom 15. Finally, I'd have slotted in a personal favorite, Pitch Black in the lower ranks.

(sidebar: Much as I loved Pitch Black, it actually points out a pet peeve of mine: Following the success of Alien, it seems like 80% of the sci-fi movies made were of the sci-fi/horror sub-genre. That was kind of a shitty trend, in that it sucked all the oxygen away from more hard-core offerings.)

9:02 AM  
Blogger Smitty said...

I was disappointed by The Matrix. The first movie made such amazing headway and set a great foundation that deteriorated in the other 2 movies. I loved the whole Buddhist trip that seemed to be going on, and it ended with this Jesus thing. Hell, he even died in a crucifix pose. Pft.

Starship Troopers?? One of the owrst movies of one of the best books. Book - great. Movie - lame.

I love Total Recall. The book was really dark and cool (a guy wakes up on a span of ironwork, stands up, and immediately kicks 3 guys' asses...and wonders how he knew how to do that). But the movie was really fun.

Firefly was the best show that nobody watched. Go rent it on DVD.

Lost is Sci-Fi???

And there is not enough room here for me to say why I think the new Battlestar Gallactica on the sci-fi channel is the greatest drama on television now and in recent history. But it is. If you're not watching it, then put down that velvety-smooth bourbon-barrel-aged stout and go get at least the first season on DVD. If you're not hooked in the first 1/2 hour then you may not be living.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Mort said...

The Matrix, yep, Brazil, yep. X-Files, I hated at first but now I like it okay, they really don't take themselves too seriously. Whenever a movie or show gets too worked up about providing support for the plausibility of the storyline or underlying technology it ruins it. Just tell me what's going on and run with it.

10:14 AM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

I love Galaxy Quest, but I don't think of it as sci-fi.

Firefly and Serenity should have two separate entries on this list, and they should both be higher. Firefly should be in the top 10, for sure.

ET should be much lower on the list, if it has to be on the list at all.

Missing from the list: 12 Monkeys; Space: Above and Beyond (short lived but really terrific).

Toast: my brother-in-law also hates Blade Runner. He's like your mirror image, I'm telling you, aside from the fact that he's a total winger, you two are exactly alike.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Okay, The Matrix is too high. I agree with Battlestar Galatica -- it's a fantastic show. And it's good sci-fi in that it works in lots current themes into a futuristic aspect -- that's why the right wingers hated it so much this year when the Cylons were occupying a desert plan and the humans they were occupying were a bunch of terrorists.

Agree with Twelve Monkeys -- very underated. And liked Brazil a lot. I got to meet Terry Gilliam when he showed the film at the UH when he was fighting Universal to get it released.

10:37 AM  
Blogger DWilkers said...

I guess I'm the only one that liked Bladerunner.

Didn't care for Twelve Monkeys myself. I watched it a second time a few years after the first just to see if I missed something - no help.

I loved the 1982 remake of The Thing as well as the original movie. Fantastic stuff.

Funny thing to me is I don't think I've seen more than 5 of their top 25 films. I'm sort of a fan of the genre too. Did I miss it or is 2001 not even on the list?

10:58 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Mike - get thee BSG on DVD. It is great. I agree with smitty, best drama on TV. Political, topical, great stories.

I gotta look at the whole list. Early X-Files was good. Later years, not so much. It was appointment TV for a while.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Shane Rollins said...

HUGE Problems with this list...HUGE! We're not gonna mention that Lost and Eternal Sunshine are no where near being sci-fi. Hell, we're not gonna mention how Clone Wars, where I enjoyed it, doesn't deserve to be on this list and not Farscape. Heroes is not a sci-fi show, if it is then Spidey, Superman, X-Men and others should be on this list.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Anyone urging Mike to watch the BSG DVDs or any other Sci-Fi is wasting his breath. Mike is agoraphobic when it comes to venturing from his entertainment comfort zone, except on the very rarest of occasions.

Now I've got to go check out the list.

11:16 AM  
Blogger maurinsky said...

dwilkers, I liked Bladerunner a lot.

You know, I don't think of myself as a sci-fi fan, though. Obviously I watch plenty of sci-fi stuff, but some of the cornerstones of televised sci-fi (read: Star Trek and all subsequent Star Trek franchises) I find incredibly boring.

And 2001 isn't on the list because they only went back 25 years. 2001 is older than I am.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

OK, I've been through the list and here's what I have to say (this will be too long for me to proof read -- sorry). Maybe later I'll mention some things that I think are missing:

25. V -- started off great; ended really poorly.

24. Galaxy Quest -- Never saw it. Not really dying to see it either.

23. Dr. Who -- I used to kind of dig it when I was a kid. Liked the theme song.

22. Quantum Leap -- Lighthearted. kind of fun. Not sure I'd call it Science Fiction though.

21. Futurama -- I saw the first few episodes and they bored me.

20. Star Wars Clone Wars -- saw a couple episodes actually and they looked interesting.

19. Starship Troopers -- haven't seen except for something here and there on cable a few years ago. No desire to see.

18. Heroes -- I haven't seen this yet but I'm planning on figuring out a way to so I hear so much good about it.

17. Eternal Sunshine -- Excellent. I tend not to think of it as Sci Fi, but I guess it fits the bill.

16. Total Recall -- A fun movie for sure.

15. Firefly -- I liked this series, but not as much as its cult following does.

14. Children of Men -- I haven't seen it but I want to.

13. Terminator -- I love it, of course. I love the cheesy music.

12. Back to the Future -- A fun movie.

11. Lost -- I haven't seen it, except for the first episode, which bored me. Everyone else seems to love it.

10. John Carpenter's The Thing -- I love it. Great pulsing music.

9. Aliens -- this is about as sci fi as it gets, Mike. It takes place in the future, in space. This is an action packed, thrill ride. Better than the plodding, though good first movie and the best of the series.

8. Star Trek -- TNG. I guess it deserves to be on the list. I liked it, but it was too goody-goody for me. I liked the Original Star Trek much better.

7. ET -- Please.

6. Brazil -- Excellent. Bizarre and "arty."

5. Wrath of Kahn -- very good. I liked Star Treck IV as well. Heck, I even liked the dreadful Star Treck VI. Star Treck I, III and V bored me.

4. X Files -- I could never get into this show.

3. Blade Runner -- I didn't like this when I first saw it -- it bored me. Over the years it's grown on me to the point where I really like it. Much has to do with the atmosphere it creates -- particularly with how its incredibly detailed sets depicts its futuristic dystopia. It's similar to Apocolypse Now in how effective it is in setting "mood."

2. Battlestar Galactica -- Boy do I have a lot to say about this one. The first season-and-a-half was some of the most compelling TV I've ever watched. The last season-and-a-half has been heartbreakingly disappointing melodrama. The brilliant opening sequence each week says:

"The Cylons were created by Man
They Rebelled
They Evolved
There are many copies
And they have a plan"

OK, well, I think everyone who watches the show is going to have to admit THERE IS NO PLAN at any time that extebnds beyond the next ten episodes. This goes for the Cylons and the writers.

Characterization and past events are totally subordinated to dramatic impact in this show. They use ridiculously conceived poorly executed dramatic devices to create dram -- like the season-ending trial.

1. The Matrix -- I loved this movie, but probably in the same way that I loved the Terminator and The Thing. It's loads of fun, for sure.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

I, too, liked Blade Runner.

I also liked Galaxy Quest, though not sure this is really sci-fi. Yes, there's space ships, and alien creatures and lasers and transporters, but it's more of a movie that makes fun of actors who are typecast forever after being in a TV-show. Tim Allen's a drunk Shatner. Alan Rickman's the Shakespearian actor who takes a Spock-like role on a TV show and is never taken seriously again. Signourney Weaver was the eye candy who can't quite take the whole aging thing.

Then again, maybe it's just me.

1:21 PM  
Blogger DED said...

This list is at least half crap. And why is it so full of new stuff? How can they the new stuff is the greatest of all time if it hasn't been around long enough to stand the test of time?

Where's 2001, Silent Running, Dark Star, or THX-1138?

Starship Troopers made the list but none of the original Star Wars flicks made it? That movie was so bad that Heinlein's widow threatened to sue the movie studio if they didn't pull his name off the title.

Lost and Heroes aren't sci-fi. They're contemporary fantasy. That doesn't mean they're bad, just not sci-fi.

V? Total Schlock. If it came out now it would be relegated to the Sci-Fi Channel Saturday Night Schlock ghetto.

ET made it over Close Encounters of the Third Kind?

Firefly was good but nowhere near Babylon 5, Farscape, or even Stargate SG-1. There were only 13 episodes and the movie!

The people who came up with this list need to be schooled.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Using applesaucer's list as a template...

25. V -- I thought it was pretty cool as a kid. But does it really hold up? I doubt it.

24. Galaxy Quest -- Didn't see it, don't think it belongs here. Blatant attempt

23. Dr. Who -- Never saw it. I have my limits as to dorkdom.

22. Quantum Leap -- A good show, but seems like it's here just to round out the TV shows.

21. Futurama -- I saw the first few episodes and they bored me. Agreed. I was already becoming disenchanted with The Simpsons by then, and had now use for it.

20. Star Wars Clone Wars -- Nope, never saw it.

19. Starship Troopers -- Utter crap.

17. Eternal Sunshine -- Haven't seen it.

16. Total Recall -- Entertaining Arnold vehicle, but not the "Best of" anything. "Predator" was a far better film.

14. Children of Men -- I haven't seen it but I want to.

13. Terminator -- Should be higher. Much higher. T2 deserves to make the list on it's own as well.

12. Back to the Future -- I'll allow it.

11. Lost -- I haven't seen it, and it looked like an interesting premise when it started, but I see the ads now and think, "Glad I didn't get roped into that!"

10. John Carpenter's The Thing -- Fucking fantastic movie.

9. Aliens -- I actually like the first movie better, but it's too old for the list. I'll go with this one, but some others probably bump it out of the Top 10.

8. Star Trek -- TNG. As an original Trek devotee, I was resistant at first, but it was good. Damn good.

7. ET -- Could sneak in at the end, but 7? No way.

6. Brazil -- Excellent. Bizarre and "arty."

5. Wrath of Kahn -- Damn straight.

4. X Files -- Great show. And it had the good fortune of ending before it went too far downhill. I pretend the film never happened.

3. Blade Runner -- Count me as a fan, and I'd keep it up at the top too.

2. Battlestar Galactica -- (along with 18. Heroes, 15. Firefly) -- Never seen any of them, but pople whose opinions I trust love them all.

1. The Matrix -- Cool concept, great effects,good story even. But the best? No way.

3:33 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

imbd.com classifies "Highlander" as Action/Fantasy. What say the rest of ye?

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Toast said...

imbd.com classifies "Highlander" as Action/Fantasy. What say the rest of ye?

One of my favorite movies ever. Certainly not sci-fi.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Smitty said...

imbd.com classifies "Highlander" as Action/Fantasy. What say the rest of ye?

Fantasy. Not sci fi at all.

4:04 PM  
Blogger George said...

I'm not a sci-fi guy, so it's hard for me to say much about this list. It is kind of good to see they limit it to the past 25 years, though, for too often people make "all-time" lists that skew to the more recent--check out AFI's Top 100 Hollywood films, for instance, that managed to leave off Buster Keaton altogether.

Blade Runner is too in love with its own moodiness, but it does capture LA in a way I get even more now that I live on the West Coast. Brazil succumbs to Terry Gilliam disease--it's over-imagined and art-designed to death, so it leaves nothing for a viewer to do.

And if Futurama counts, where's MST3K? One of the funniest things ever on TV.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Yeah, I agree, I suppose. When I looked at Toast's Top Five, I thought it's omission here was a travesty. But you're right, it's not really sci-fi...

So what makes something sci-fi? Space? Aliens? Time travel? Robots? According to wikipedia...

Science fiction is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current science or technology. It is commonly abbreviated as SF or sci-fi. Science fiction is found in books, art, television, movies, games, theater, and other media.

[...]

Science fiction often involves one or more of the following elements:
1. A setting in the future or on an alternative time line.
2. A setting in outer space or involving aliens or unknown civilizations.
3. The discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots.
4. Political or social systems different from those of the known present or past.
5. Exploring the consequences of such differences is the traditional purpose of science fiction, making it a "literature of ideas".


Hard to see where Lost (what I know of it) fits in there)

4:57 PM  
Blogger Ben Varkentine said...

I think science fiction shouldn't have too rigid of a definition, so my list of favorite shows of all time would include:

"Doctor Who"

"The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" (TV version)

"Batman: The Animated Series"

"The Twilight Zone" (both the original and the 1985 revival)

"Babylon 5"

"Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (but only the first five years)

And "Angel," though I bailed out somewhere in the last third of season four.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Blade Runner seems to split the crowd. Excellent.

Artsy? Too artsy? Overrated? Those are the questions.

And I think I need to see Carpenter's The Thing

Obviously Mort liked Total Recall. Wait, or are those pics from Running Man.

DED - This list was only for the last 25 years. They may still need to be schooled, but only for the abominations of the last quarter century.

Smitty - I never saw the 2nd & 3rd Matrices, so they ruined nothing for me.

(Never saw the 5th & 6th Star Wars either.)

Anyone urging Mike to watch the BSG DVDs or any other Sci-Fi is wasting his breath. Mike is agoraphobic when it comes to venturing from his entertainment comfort zone, except on the very rarest of occasions.

I fear Applesaucer is correct on this. But today's comments supplied a few of the rare occasions.

And nice use of "agoraphobic" there.

Oh, by the way: as to my comment regarding the Sci Fi fans among the readership, this thread proves it.

8:43 PM  
Blogger DED said...

I agree that Highlander is action fantasy.

I liked Blade Runner. As for which version I prefer, I liked the original over the director's cut.

And I think I need to see Carpenter's The Thing

IMO, excellent movie.

DED - This list was only for the last 25 years. They may still need to be schooled, but only for the abominations of the last quarter century.

Doh! Missed that part. Ok, so that means anything since 1982. That does leave out alot of my complaints.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Otto Man said...

Damn, I'm late to this party. But let me cast a vote for Bladerunner -- one of the more realistic-feeling visions of a dystopian sci-fi future I've ever seen. Still great today.

11:22 AM  
Blogger DWilkers said...

Great thread, it helps me with my Netflix queue, which I'm updating with a few titles now.

We watched The Good Shepherd last night. I found it an extremely tedious 3 hours and I'm not sure what it was about even now.

Also we watched The Last King of Scotland last weekend. I'm not sure it deserves the critical acclaim it received but it was fairly engaging. It gets really gruesome, so be warned.

I'm going to add Brazil, Children of Men and Eternal Sunshine (NetFlix calls this a 'romantic comedy BTW).

7:33 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Eternal Sunshine is a romantic comedy by some definitions. It's also an excellent movie. One of my favorites of this decade actually.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Mr Furious said...

Dwilkers,

I hope that means you've already seen Carpenter's "The Thing" if not, throw it in the queue as well. You won't be disappointed.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

Ah, some more Highlander fans. Excellent. Have to agree, not sci-fi.
The third movie never happened. Neither did the next one.
And I need to find a copy of the directors cut of 2. He excised the alien concept apparently.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

There was a rip-roaring debate on Highlander over at Toast's place.

8:29 PM  

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