Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The 25 Greatest Sci-Fi TV Shows

This is an image from the only entry outside of American and British television to place in the Sci-Fi Now 25 Greatest Sci-Fi TV Shows. The image is from Japanese anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion depicting EVA-01 and EVA-00. It's complicated, but you are not alone and clearly I am not alone in this belief.
Evangelion rightfully deserves one of the 25 best spots and understandably notches a spot into the Top 10. This is a stunning and underrated science fiction series many have simply not seen by Studio Gainax and Hideaki Anno. Evangelion fails to receive recognition normally simply due to the fact it was born of anime. It's up to you whether you are open to the following list.
This is a list that is at once brilliant and frustrating. SciFiNow Issue #29 gives us some splendid choices, but omits almost as many in favor of some that could arguably be replaced.
25. Thunderbirds [1965; Two Seasons].
24. Doctor Who [1963; Thirty Seasons].
23. Lexx [1997; Four Seasons].
22. Taken [2002; One Season].
21. Lost In Space [1965; Three Seasons].
20. The Prisoner [1967; One Season].
19. Buck Rogers [1979; Two Seasons].
18. The Outer Limits [1963; Nine Seasons].
17. V: The Series [1984; One Season].
16. The Six Million Dollar Man [1974; Five Seasons].
15. Red Dwarf [1988; Nine Seasons].
14. Space: Above And Beyond [1995; One Season].
13. Futurama [1999; Five Seasons].
12. Quantum Leap [1989; Five Seasons].
11. Farscape [1999; Four Seasons].
10. Neon Genesis Evangelion [1995; One Season].
9. Stargate SG-1 [1997; Ten Seasons].
8. Star Trek: The Next Generation [1987; Seven Seasons].
7. Babylon 5 [1994; Five Seasons].
6. Charlie Jade [2005; One Season].
5. The Twilight Zone [1959; Five Seasons].
4. Battlestar Galactica [Re-imagined] 2004; Four Seasons].
3. The X-Files [1993; Nine Seasons].
2. Firefly [2002; One Season].
1. Star Trek: The Original Series [1966; Three Seasons].
Clearly a few of the Star Trek franchises are just not representin' here. I'm not sure how UFO or Space:1999 miss this list especially for a magazine hailing from the UK. This is the greatest injustice in my mind. Is Lexx better than Space:1999?
Charlie Jade is a popular favorite perennially with our friends across the pond, but that show has to be pretty damn good because it's always making their lists. Otherwise, it has to be a sentimental favorite for some odd reason. I mean, is it better than Farscape? Is it nearly as good as Firefly and more importantly ST:TOS?
And of course, Buck Rogers is selected, but Glen A. Larson's original Battlestar Galactica is slighted over the always favored new series by Ronald D. Moore. Is there no room for both? I love the nod to The Six Million Dollar Man, but Quantum Leap? How about Scott Bakula's Enterprise? I'm still not sold on ST:TNG.
In the final analysis, I have to tip my cap to any magazine that has the balls and intelligence to include Japanese animation on their list. SciFiNow gets the nod for including the best science fiction anime series I've ever seen. It's nice to see I'm not the only one who considers Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion as pure, dead brilliant and it's great to see it in the Top 10 here. I'm just the messenger, but I like the list despite omissions. Time to get to work on my own.
Really, Charlie Jade? Huh.


le0pard13 said...

Interesting list, SFF. Obviously, I appreciate the top 2. There are some that would be in my top 10 that are lower tier, here. OUTER LIMITS (especially for the original seasons) and THE PRISONER (not that horrid A&E re-imagining thingy) would move up big time. All of this makes for some hard choices and lively water cooler fodder. Thanks, my friend.

Porky said...

I'd say it's wrong to try squeezing so many approaches into a single sequence. A series of crisscrossing lists might do the trick more fairly to the ideas and talent involved, and better compensating for subjective emotional attachment.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

L13. Thank you. Outer Limits is a great one, along with The Twilight Zone.

I can't see any reason why Outer Limits couldn't hang with Twilight Zone. I suspect it's always had to play second fiddle to The Twilight Zone which is too bad.

I have never seen The Prisoner. I must do so someday.

Porky- Have you been watching Evangelion? ha. It is a wild and colorful list, but it could certainly be approached any number of different ways.

J.D. said...

No DARK SKIES? Pshah! Oh well, it's a show that always got dumped as an X-FILES wannabe but I really enjoyed and must pick up the new DVD box set of every ep.!

John Kenneth Muir said...


Thank you for posting about this interesting list, which is great food for thought and for debate.

I find it baffling that Buck Rogers and Lost in Space make the list, but Space:1999 does not. Thunderbirds certainly wouldn't be my Gerry Anderson pick. I'd select either UFO or 1999, for sure.

Otherwise, I think there are a lot of solid consensus choices here (Star Trek, , X-Files, Firefly, etc.).

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...


See. Yes. Dark Skies suffers like The Outer Limits from arriving late.


Scracthed my head there too. As much as Thunderbirds is a fine children's series with sci-fi vessel fun. It's hard to place that in the list before UFO and Space:1999, which plumbed legitimate, tougher sci-fi ideas and concepts. I'm with you my friend.

I really can't recall Thunderbirds ever taxing my head with its script ideas. Let's be honest.

Thanks guys.

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

25. Thunderbirds – I loved this show as a child and even as a nostalgic adult, but it does not belong on a list of predominantly dramatic sf.
24. Doctor Who – Is this in the proper order? Doctor Who – which has not been of consistent quality as sf over its many seasons – certainly belongs on any serious sf fan’s top ten list!
23. Lexx – This odd blend of satirical humor and dark drama was not to my liking and would not make my list of top 25.
22. Taken – I was so underwhelmed by this series that I had to look it up to refresh my memory. It was dull even by UFO abduction story standards.
21. Lost In Space – A childhood favorite and it definitely belongs on this list.
20. The Prisoner – I always thought this was somewhat pretentious and just not very good sf. I would not include it on my list.
19. Buck Rogers – A fun series, but I wouldn’t include it on my list.
18. The Outer Limits [1963] – It would definitely make my list and probably in my top ten.
17. V: The Series [1984] – I liked the TV movies, but I always thought the series was too unrealistic. It would not make my list.
16. The Six Million Dollar Man – Sorry, S-F F. I was never a big SMDM fan, even back in the day. It would not make my list.
15. Red Dwarf – A sometimes funny, but mostly annoying show. This would definitely not be on my list.
14. Space: Above And Beyond – A very powerful and underrated military sf drama. This would make my top ten.
13. Futurama – An animated sf comedy? This doesn’t belong on a list of predominantly dramatic sf. I’m not a fan anyway, so I’m not sure it would make my top 25 animated or comedic sf shows!
12. Quantum Leap – I could never get past the unbelievable premise (for me), so I watched very few episodes of this show. It would not make my list.
11. Farscape - This should not be just a cult classic, but a classic – period! It would make my top ten.
10. Neon Genesis Evangelion – I do have a problem with mixing live action with animated genre programs as you are well aware, S-F F. I have not seen this so I can’t judge it anyway.
9. Stargate SG-1 – Certainly one of the most consistently entertaining of the long running sf series, this would easily make my top 15.
8. Star Trek: The Next Generation – Despite its lackluster first two or three seasons, ST:TNG eventually found its own identity and became the second best Trek series. It would make my top 15 as well.
7. Babylon 5 – This is the best written space-opera sf on TV and would easily make my top 5!
6. Charlie Jade – I was disappointed by this show when the Sci Fi Channel finally aired it. It was a well-done mystery-sf-character driven drama, but it would not make my top 25 list.
5. The Twilight Zone – This anthology program was not just sf. It had stories that included all kinds of genres. Even if I were a fan – which I am not – it would not make my top sf list.
4. Battlestar Galactica [2004] – This dark reimagining of the original series was not to my liking. I appreciated its technical excellence, but could not enjoy its darkly negative take on humanity. It would not make my list.
3. The X-Files – I sometimes loved… and sometimes hated this show. Its epidemic inconsistency would force me to leave it off my top 25 list of sf shows.
2. Firefly – This show had more heart, drama and action-driven sf in its one shortened season than most sf shows had in multiple seasons. It would definitely make my top 5!
1. Star Trek: The Original Series – This is a no brainer for any sf fan! At the very least a top 5 choice! 24.

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

So of the 25 shows on this list, I would only place these 10 shows on my top 25 list: Doctor Who, Lost In Space, The Outer Limits [1963], Space: Above And Beyond, Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, Firefly and Star Trek: The Original Series [1966]. I would add Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Blake’s 7, Max Headroom, The Middleman, The Others, Dollhouse, Primeval, Sliders, Threshold, Space Rangers, Alien Nation, Andromeda, Fringe, Eureka and (like you) UFO. I do hope that Sci-Fi Now magazine’s top 25 list does indeed inspire you to get to work on your own list, S-F F, because it has certainly made me think of one of my own.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Enjoyed reading your commentary Doc! Great stuff. i knew they wouldn't sell you on NGE!

Okay that said, I agree with you on Thunderbirds as I noted in my earlier comment. Just doesn't make sense given the substance to be found in UFO and even more importantly in Space:1999. It's really hard to reconcile that.

Okay brother, I'm a serious fan, but I will have to create my own list and see where Doctor Who lands. Not sure it would be in the Top 10.

I have a real problem with LEXX being there before UFO or Space:1999. Agreed.

I think Taken gets a sentimental nod due to Spielberg's involvement, but I can't comment fairly.

Lost In Space - definitely needs to be on the list.

Interesting to hear your take on The Prisoner.

Buck Rogers- I understand what you mean, but I could find a spot for beety beety beety BUCK!

No go on V either. Not a fan really despite Kenneth Johnson's involvement. I haven't seen the whole series so I may not be commenting fairly, but it never pulled me in.

I love how you differentiate Outer Limits and Twilight Zone and I think your remarks are fair. Interesting. I really need to take a look at Outer Limits again.

HA. I understand your reasons on Six MDM. I certainly recall loving it. The Sci-Fi elements are there, but it is certainly steeped in equal parts straight up drama. It would probably make my list.

No Red Dwarf. I can't comment intelligently on the program but it's rare for a British-based program to win me over, UFO, SPace:1999 and Doctor Who being exceptions.

WOW! Shocked about Space Above And Beyond. I may have to check that one out.

Futurama- I know how you feel about animation being on the list. Well, first, I can't get passed the fact it looks like the bloody Simpsons. I just can't get passed that. It's comedic. Enh. Not so much. It just doesn't clear the bar for me either but not because it's animated.

As you could see, I was not a fan of Quantum Leap either. No thanks. No soup for Quantum Leap!

FARSCAPE! Top 10! NO DOUBT! I am right there with you on this. Fantastic stuff.

Evangelion. The Japanese science fiction classic equivalent of a Farscape! Bloody brilliant [but different and animated of course]. You're missing out, but I'm not sure it's your cup of tea based on certain remarks over the past year. Phileas may feel differently.

SG-1. Agree with your assessment and placement.

ST:TNG. Your reamrks are probably spot on regarding the placement of this one. It's hard to believe a series gets away with three seasons before shining. That's an awful long time to cut a series some slack. If it lasted four seasons like Eneterprise I wonder if it would make a Top 25?

Babylon 5. Not Top 5 for me, but liked it - especially certain episodes.

Charlie Jade- You merely confirm my fears that it is a sentimental favorite of the UK publication. I mean better than Farscape?

BG [New]- Boy it was dark too. Great point. Hard to embrace something so pessimistic. I like the original alot but I like this one too. It would make my Top 15.

The X-Files would make my Top 25 but I'd have to watch it straight through and give it some thought.

What about Millennium friends?

Your point about Firefly could easily apply to my feelings on ST:TNG. Thanks for making my point. ;) Firefly was terrific.

ST:TOS. #1 where it shall remain forever. : )