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Top Science Fiction Series August 26, 2008

Posted by oldboy in : Science Fiction, Anime/ Manga, Best Ever , 7 comments

Star Trek

…to bodly go where no man has gone before.

Star Trek

80 episodes, 22 animated episodes 6 movies, 4 spin off series.
What makes Star Trek so great is that it deals contemporary issues, even though it’s a science fiction space opera it’s more relevant to the world’s issues than most Television shows are, even watching episodes from the Original series you can still find something that’s relevant to what’s happening in our world today. It has become a mythology in of itself. People not so familiar with Star Trek may find this strange but when you consider Star Trek’s vast history and mythology, even going as far as to create one of the worlds fastest growing languages “Klingon” it’s easy to see why it’s so deeply held in the hearts of so many people.

In as much that the Lord of the Rings and the Arthurian legend is the mythological history of our past, Star Trek could be seen as the mythological history of our future. It’s a modern legend.
The real pull though are the Characters, their humanity and friendship as shown through James T. Kirk, Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Spock, each presenting a different facit of Gene Roddenberry’s ideology through their interactions, presenting each others arguments they debate the philosophical and moral complications of what they are doing out their in space. Often they are in conflict yet are the most loyal of friends. This is the glue that keeps Star Trek together.

A lot of people do not see this as a show about exploring space, they see it as exploring ourselves. Notable episodes do contain a lot of action and swashbuckling adventure but they hold a simple piece of Human nature in them also, that we strive to better ourselves continually.

Favorite Quote:
“In this galaxy, there’s a mathematical probability of three million earth-type planets. And in all of the universe, three million million galaxies like this. And in all of that, and perhaps more, only one of each of us. Don’t destroy the one named Kirk.” - Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy                                                                                 

Battlestar Galactica

The Cylons were created by man, they rebelled, evolved, they look and feel, human, some are programmed to think they are human. There are many copies, and they have a plan.

BSG
1 Miniseries, 2 TV Movies, 75 Episodes, 1 Spin off series.
Like Star Trek this show makes it into my top Sci-Fi list because it also deals with contemporary issues in a very real way and does not shy away from the brutality of our current society. However while Star Trek deals with moral issues from the outside view of an utopian society Galactica deals with it from within the realm of it’s imperfect characters and their interpersonal conflicts. The end result is not always a happy or just ending, characters are usually left tormented by their actions even if they were for the better good.

It’s one of those few rare shows that takes a stance not just on the issues of modern society but also against the standard norm of what television and story telling should be. It totally rebels against the standard camera angles, music, character development, story and constantly tries to pull the rug from under the feet of it’s viewers. To me, this is the only one show that really makes you sit up in your chair dumbfoundedly at the events you watch unfold. Indeed, even this show is on a epic scale. While watching episodes back to back it no longer feels like a Television series but more like a Movie. The production values are so high, it’s incredibly rare for the show to dip in quality as in re-using shots or plot lines that has plagued the most recent Star Trek spin off shows.

In a way you could almost say this is DS9 without the training wheels on. That is no criticism of DS9 but it is a case that when BSG came along to be re imagined it had free reign to do whatever it wanted. A lot of the elements echo parts of DS9, the themes of war, paranoia thanks to the cylons and changelings been able to look human. The arc typial and Epic storytelling. Even a lot of the staff from DS9 such as writers and effects artists are on the show along with the leading man Ron Moore who after  working over a decade with Star Trek had matured into a fine writer and producer. In fact the writing on BSG is amazing. Constantly our own logic and view of life is been challenged by the writers of BSG.

But unlike other arc based shows the writing is kept sporadic, stories aren’t planned out years in advance like B5 was, this fluidic style helps keep episodes and ideas fresh and relevant in the series without dragging itself down to committed ideas.
The acting is solid and for a large cast it is amazing that the producers can afford this much talent. But the reward for the actors and everyone involved in production seems to be working on a show as powerful and thought provoking as this.

Favorite quote: My name is Saul Tigh, I am an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else it means, that’s the man I want to be. And if I die today, that’s the man I’ll be. - Saul Tigh

                                                                         Cowboy Bebop
See you space Cowboy

CB

26 Episodes, 1 Movie, 4 Manga

Sci-fi, Jazz, Martial arts, Film Noir, John Woo gun play, 70s cops shows, Japanese Drama, Westerns. This show takes inspirations from so many genres, and in every episode you’ll find a Homage or nod to some movie, whether it be a fight scene from a martial arts movie or a sign in the back round that references some science fiction movie or TV show. It’s an amalgamation of everything that we hold iconic in the history of pop culture. The setting is post-modern, the gorgeous backround scenery is based on cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York etc.
Personally, I feel it has all my viewing interests in one show.

In the future Bounty Hunting is legal. The story follows 3 Bounty Hunters: Spike, Jet and Faye, a computer hacker kid called Edward and a Dog named Ein on the spaceship Bebop. The majority of Episodes are stand alone but parts of each character’s past is sprinkled throughout till it catches up with them in the present. The real meat of the series is Spike, his past, how his philosophically views it and his life, considering himself to be a man who is already dead or living in a dream and that death is the waking of that dream.

The series can be deeply symbolic yet also hilariously funny at times. Overall this is an outstandingly beautiful and heartfelt series that will stick with you long after you’ve watched it.

Favorite Quote:
“Whatever happens, happens.” - Spike

                                                                                 Legend of the Galactic Heroes

銀河英雄伝説, Ginga Eiyū Densetsu

“In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same”

LOGH

10 Novels, 8 side story Novels, 11 Manga Volumes, 110 episodes, 3 Movies, 52 side episodes.

This Epic Animation is based on a series of Novels written by Yoshiki Tanaka. It is Divided into 4 Seasons. It was originally released as an OVA “Original Video Animation” which was not broadcast but released directly to Video. The Story is about the War between the Free Planets Alliance and the Galactic Empire and is told mostly from the perspectives of it’s two main Characters on opposing sides, Yang Wen-Li of the democratic Free Planets Alliances and Reinhard Von Lohengramm of the autocratic Galactic Empire which is partly based on 19th century Prussia. Unlike other anime and manga LOGH is a rather down to earth series, to quote one of the series characters “this isn’t an animation, if someone dies they don’t come back to life!”. But this is a highly diverse series of plots and drama with a lot of epic Space Battle scenes which are in part based on real sea ship battles. The background music too is almost all composed of classical works.

Predating Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine and Battlestar Galactica, this is a Science fiction series that they aspire to be. It’s a long series though. Prepare to be dedicated. Stick with it and the devotion will pay off big time. It takes numerous episodes to set up the characters and events with such fine detail. Minor Side stories that seem to hold no relevance spin off from the series main story but later come back as major plot turning events. Watching Minor characters grow into highly important ones is engaging stuff and there are a large number of characters in this, but each one plays a role in the events of LOGH. The portrayal of War in the series is often Brutal and graphic to the heights of Speilbergs “Saving Private Ryan”, but yet the characters still hold a sense of nobility during battles and pride in their respective values and views of society. Other noteworthy themes are the differing forms of government on both sides and that while there may be a better system of Government it can largely depend on the people in power at that time for it’s success or failure. Interwoven between the two are the actions of a Terrorist Earth Cult that leave their mark on both enemies. Yet both sides are determined to not let Terrorism change the course of their History.

What is highly unfortunate is that this series has not been officially dubbed or subbed in English, nor have any of the Novels or Manga been translated into English. The only way of finding this is to search for bootlegs or fan subs that are across the Internet. I have no doubt this is a series that would sell if released in English. Although there is a large number of episodes in the series to tackle is it any different to the likes of Translating all of the Dragon Ball episodes, movies and Mangas.

Favorite Quote: “There are few wars between good and evil; most are between one good and another good.” - Yang Wen-Li

                                                                            Star Trek Deep Space Nine

It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions.

DS9

176 Episodes

A Star Trek show that tried to avoid the norm of a space fairing series. Perhaps the most original Star Trek series since the original 1966 series. Where as TOS was a Wagon Train to the stars Deep Space Nine was the western town that drifters and alike dropped into. I personally consider this the best Star Trek series since the original.

DS9 contains far more story arcs then any of the other series which made for far more interesting characters who had to still deal with events from a previous episode rather than wiping the slate clean. Particularly for Commander Sisko, a firm starfleet commander with no beliefs in the beginning but as the series progresses his battles against the view that he is a spiritual leader becomes less and less and he starts to embrace the title of Emissary given to him, ironically he begins to fight against his Duty as an officer of Starfleet and what is expected of him as a Captain against that of been the Emissary.

The themes of War become heavily prevalent later on in the series and is not shyed away from by the producers and writers. Although this may seem to go against the idea of the utopian society created by Gene Rodenberry I think it is a necessary move forward in Star Trek. Each series had so far been about exploration. DS9 was something different. It was a Space Station based show with a far wider variety of characters who did not all think like Starfleet officers, it gave us a broader view of the Star Trek universe and showed us that while Earth may be perfect it didn’t mean that all was right with the galaxy and at times it seemed that starfleet’s righteousness got in the way of dealing with bigger issues. War in this series was necessary to preserve the peace and haven of the Federation and the ideals that were first mentioned way back in the original series.

Unfortunately DS9 never seemed to get the due attention it deserved. Being squeezed in between the end of “The Next Generation” and the beginning of “Voyager” it never got to stand as the lead Star Trek series. The finale of the series ends on a note that tells us we will never see this station or it’s characters again on screen. However, the continuing story of these wonderful characters is told in a continuing series of books which relaunched DS9 past it’s seventh season.

Favorite Quote:
“The trouble is Earth .On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see Paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in Paradise, but the Maquis do not live in Paradise. Out there in the demilitarized zone, all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints — just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not.” - Commander Sisko

                                                                             Babylon 5

Babylon 5 was the last of the Babylon stations. This is its story….

B5

110 Episodes, 6 TV Movies, 1 Spin off series, 1 Spin off TV Movie

Set on a Space station consisting of different alien cultures. A five year arc that was rumored to be planned out from the very beginning however the final product changed somewhat over it’s course and seemingly for the better which makes this rich series highly satisfying for those who stuck with it for all five years. J. Michael Straczynski had an idea of where he wanted to go and drive a 5 year outline for the series with a definite ending and fate for it’s characters. Although it does take a while to get going, such as it is with any story that has been planned out for 5 years, you have to first put all the puzzle pieces into place before you can appreciate the full picture.

There are numerous story arcs, the two main ones been The coming  Shadow War and the Civil War against Earth. Inbetwen that each Character has his own story arc to deal with which adds to the complexity of the series.  Although there are quite a few cheesy moments, usually the characters trying to be funny or just plain egotistical and it never comes off well.

Some of the large arc stories of this series are continued in Canon Novels, in particular the story of Londo which I would have loved to have seen completed onscreen. Many have compared B5 to Lord of the Rings noticing many similarities between the two which seems partly intentional by JMS.
There have been Spin offs which never got the chance to reach there potential and JMS has also noted that he will no longer continue doing B5 unless it moved to the Big Screen, referring to his “Memory of the Shadows” movie. Obviously there are many stories about B5 and it’s characters left to tell but we may never see them due to the fact that Babylon 5 just isn’t that popular outside the Sci-Fi fan base.

Favorite Quote: “The war we fight is not against powers and principalities – it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. “ - G’Kar

                                                                            Doctor Who

He never raised his voice, that was the worst thing. The fury of the Time Lord. And then we discovered why, why this Doctor who had fought with gods and demons why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind.

DW

751 Episodes, 2 Movies, 2 spin off series, 1 spin off pilot

One of those Science Fiction shows that is absolutely fun, that you don’t criticise heavily nor ever take totally seriously yet you can be moved by it and take serious points and moments from it’s characters.
In todays TV drama and Entertainment what kind of shows would deal with the morality and consciousness of wiping out the existence of an entire race even? the Doctor has faced this decision on more then one occasion and has had to question which is the greater evil, allowing his most deadly enemy (The Daleks) to live or wiping out it’s entire civilisation? He questions himself “Do I have the right?”. How many TV shows aimed at young and old audiences can be as thought provoking as that?

The longest running Sci-Fi show in the world. Doctor Who first started in 1963 and ran until 1989 when it was cancelled, it came back briefly for a TV movie in 1996 but it  exploded back onto TV in 2005 with it’s newest series Produced by Russell T Davis. The success of Doctor Who today is credit to the 9th and 10th Doctors, the fantastic Christopher Eccelstone and Brilliant David Tennant who have captured the hearts of young and old.

Favorite Quote : It’s like when you’re a kid, the first time they tell you that the world’s turning and you just can’t quite believe it because everything looks like it’s standing still. I can feel it, the turn of the Earth. The ground beneath our feet is spinning at a thousand miles an hour and the entire planet is hurtling around the Sun at sixty-seven thousand miles an hour, and I can feel it. We’re falling through space, you and me. Clinging to the skin of this tiny little world, and if we let go….That’s who I am. - The Doctor

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