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March 06 2007

Firefly 17 in Boston Globe's Top 50 Sci-Fi Shows. Boston Globe ranks the top 50 Sci-Fi shows of all time. Firefly comes in at 17, and Buffy makes the cut at 27. What no Angel? (May need to register to view).

You know, I am a die hard Trekkie. Really I am. But in no universe, anywhere, is it acceptable for Star Trek: Voyager to come above Firefly. That show was insipid and dull. Also, Deep Space Nine should be is the top ten. That show is amazing.

[ edited by Andy Dufresne on 2007-03-06 18:53 ]
I agree I would have traded ST:DS9 for Voyager, and I wouldn't have included SG:1 at all (I'd have substituted Farscape), but basically I think that being #17 is pretty respectable. I can live with our BDHs being within the top 20.
Am I crazy or is Farscape not on that list? There's no way there are 50 sci-fi shows better than Farscape.

Also, neither Buffy nor Angel is in fact sci-fi (except Buffy season 4). Discuss.
The high notation for Babylon 5 is a great redeeming quality, but seeing them not including DS9, the best Trek series, and placing Voyager above Firefly still is quite upsetting.

I also really like that Futurama is included, though I my opinion it should be much, much, higher on the list.

While I'm not the biggest Farscape fan (I never made it past the first half of the third season) , I agree it is one of the better sci-fi shows out there and should have been on the list.

And I don't think all those fantasy shows like Buffy are sci-fi, but if you have to include Buffy it should have a much higher place ;)
I'll second, or fourth the lack of DS9. Voyager was weaker, but at least Enterprise wasn't included. Like Groosalugg, I was unable to continue watching Farscape. I'm pretty pleased with a ranking of 17. As much as I love Firefly, I'll admit to having trouble placing it at number one on a scifi list.
Farscape's absence really undermines the credibility of this list. Like many such lists, it tries to grab from a lot of eras and a lot of sub-genres. This is generally a good thing, but it means the list is thin in both core and peripheral areas.

There are far more supernatural-themed shows that could go in, however. And if fantasy/horror/supernatural are included in sci fi, why is Space: Above and Beyond (a war show set in a sci fi environs) left out? The list seems to not be overtly biased towards shows that lasted forever.

And how about Red Dwarf? Granted, it's a sitcom in space.... The Prisoner? Doesn't have much in the way of futuristic gadgets, but what an interesting premise.

MST3K and Futurama are funny additions, but they take up spots that could be otherwise be used by real shows. If we could throw out MST3K and fit Farscape somewhere in the top 30, I'd be a lot happier with it, even if their #1 is predictable and #2 perhaps overly trendy.
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one outraged about the lack of DS9 - Angel should have been on there for sure and Voyager above Buffy is insipid, but they're hard to compare. But Voyager instead of DS9? Just no.
This list lightly disturbed me. Firstly, Voyager on a list like this at all is a crime. No DS9, the best of the Treks (even though I have an eternal fondness for TNG), is an even bigger crime. I haven't seen Farscape (even though I know a lot of sci-fi fans love it) so I can't comment.

Why is Buffy even on this list? It's not a sci-fi show. If they're to include Buffy it should be in the top 5 and, if it were me, #1. Buffy but no Angel is silly too.

But what bugs me the most about this list (and most lists like this) is that they gave #1 to Star Trek. It's like an honorary #1 just because it started a lot of other, much better, stuff. ST should be listed as "honorary" and off the rest of the list. It's really not all that great a sci-fi show (it's kind of fun though). TNG and DS9 were much, much better just for starters. This kind of reminds me of how much I'm annoyed by when people say Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the best Zelda game simply because the franchise was, more or less, successfully tansferred into 3D. But, ummm, it's not even close to the greatest Zelda game! The first three are much better than it (along with the new Twilight Princess)! I hate it when people give out ludricrously high accolades and perfect scores for something that just deserves an honorary mention. Grr....
I love Ocarina of Time, mikejer, I'm sorry. ;) It's my favorite Zelda, although probably because it's the first Zelda I ever played.

I'm also disappointed that DS9 did not make the list. If I were to rank what I've seen, DS9 would be first (only because it was successful), Firefly, X-Files, TNG, Angel, Buffy, The Twilight Zone, Futurama, Mystery Science Theater 3000, 3rd Rock From the Sun, Voyager, Earth: Final Conflict, SeaQuest, Andromeda, Enterprise, Lois and Clark, and Batman.
Angel might not be mentioned but Lorne is. Lorne Green was Adama on the original Battlestar Galactica.
Whoever made this list has obviously never seen Buffy, but was told that it should be on the list, from what he wrote all he knew was that it stared SMG and that she fought vampires in LA (oops). So how can I blame him for not knowing its great?
The list has many other faults like not having Farscape, or DS9, having Voyager. Mostly the ranking was not that good. Sliders deserves to be in the top 30, not number 10. Futurama should be ahead of Jetsons.

But it's not as if it was posted last week, so it can stay.
My big oops. It was linked from the news page when I went to read the Scooter Libby verdict, so I assumed it was current. If there's anything on there showing the original date I'm still missing it.

Either Buffy is sci-fi and it's pretty much #1 (or at least close to it), or it's not and it's not on the list. Similarly, if Buffy is on, Angel is. It's that simple.

Firefly being 17th wouldn't bother me that much if they didn't include other very short-lived series high on the list.

And yes, including the fairly insipid Voyager and not the good-with-flaws Deep Space Nine is pretty much criminal.

Often lists like this are interesting for the insights one gains from the descriptions of the contenders, but the descriptions of the shows are lackluster. ("A great show with a solid cast"--thanks.)

I used to watch "Sliders" but, as I was about 10 or so at the time, don't remember it well. Maybe I'll look back into it....
I don't consider BtVS scifi either but if it's placed in that catergory I would definitely put it at number 1.
I was going to read the whole list to see where Farscape was. Glad I read the comments first. I would say that Farscape and Firefly are my personal two favorite sci fi shows. That they wouldn't include Farscape in the best 50 is unimaginable. It can be a hard show to get into and I wasn't expecting it in the top ten, but...

I don't really consider Buffy sci-fi, but it does have a decent amount of androids.

And Zelda: Ocarina of Time makes me motion sick.
Gotta say if the term sci-fi has any meaning at all as a separate genre from (or sub genre of) fantasy then a lot of these shows just shouldn't be on there.

Buffy was fantasy, pure and simple. Sometimes it used sci-fi elements (as in Season 4 though even then Adam was ultimately defeated by magic - and if anyone trots out AC Clarke's quote about 'sufficiently advanced technology' i'll scream ;-) but it didn't share sci-fi's world view i.e. that the universe is a rational, explainable place that can be 'solved' with enough time and effort (usually by straight white males but that's another topic ;).

And Xena FFS ? Definitely an SF&F list, even if the author apparently didn't know it.

'Voyager' appearing while 'Deep Space Nine' doesn't is just madness IMO. Not even mentioning 'Farscape' seals the deal. Bonkers ++.

Course, all these lists are totally arbitrary and individual, that's partly what makes them fun and at least they largely avoided the modern shows only trap.
Since I see that Futurama's on there and they're open to including cartoons, here's a question---where would shows like all the titles in the DC Animated Universe (Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, Justice League, etc), X-Men, and Spider-Man fit in (preferably the `90s animated series for those last two picks) ?

Not where would they fit in a Top 50 list (though sure, hash that out too if you like), but are they sci-fi or fantasy ? For the most part, both Batman and Superman (and their spin-offs/crossover shows/evolutions) involved sci-fi plots. The tone of each episode was almost always dictated by the villain(s) of the week. Same with the Marvel `90s cartoons. There's magic in both those 'verses though. It's just that science and scientific explanations for the bizarre are what dominate reason in those comic book worlds. So they're like the Buffyverse in that they're combos of sci-fi/fantasy, it's just that DC/Marvel lean more heavily toward the sci-fi and Buffy leaned big-time on fantasy.

If it came up in casual conversation I'd peg the DCAU/Marvel properties as sci-fi and Buffy as fantasy (though all those universes are multi-genre or not-easily-defined), but this thread's got me thinking about it more in-depth and realizing that all three franchises take place in anything-can-happen realities where the rules can be broken or explained away for the purposes of the plot when necessary.

[ edited by Kris on 2007-03-07 11:14 ]
Ah, the old "is it SciFi or is it Fantasy , or is it a little of both"? IMO, since these lists always blur the distinctions .... and you can make a good case for doing so .... they should specify that what they're actually rating are the "Top 50 SciFi and Fantasy shows".
If you're going to include The Jetsons, The Man from Uncle, Lost and Xena on the list, you've definitely deviated from "hard SciFi". In which case Buffy should be number 1 & Angel should be way up on the list, instead of nowhere to be found .... WTF???

That being said, they redemed themselves by putting Battlestar Galactia at #2 with the caveat that it might have made #1 if it had been around a little longer. And double redemption points for listing Babylon5 at #5.
But I agree that giving the #1 spot to the original Star Trek, simply because it opened the door for more mainstream accptance for "hard" (outer space with aliens) SciFi, is getting pretty lame.
Might've been on an early thread about the 'Physics of...' book (or it may have been another 'sci-fi' list with Buffy on it) but there was a discussion about this previously.

I think the end result was that a sort of spectrum with pure fantasy at one end and pure sci-fi at the other makes the most sense. Most superheroes fall somewhere near-ish the middle (Superman is more fantasy - especially in his 'planet moving' phases, Batman is more sci-fi, Spider-man could go either way since a limited version of his powers is kinda-sorta-ish explainable by science) but that was a discussion of the characters only. Re: the universes, well, to me any universe which has arbitrary rule changes (i.e. magic or gods) can't be a pure sci-fi universe, it's fantasy with (possibly) sci-fi elements so that both the DCU and Marvel universe are fantasy.

An example that came up in the Buffyverse was Angel entering Kate's apartment without invitation in 'Epiphany'. It was a powerful moment, no doubt, but it was a completely arbitrary change to a long-standing Buffyverse rule which, IMO, reinforces the idea that BtVS/Angel are fantasy shows. In pure sci-fi ('hard' sci-fi already means something slightly different) you'd need to show some logical reason for the rule change and, probably, a progression from the universe's previous state to the current (changed) one i.e. it couldn't just happen (note though, i'm glad Joss chose the path he did, to me the moment 'just happening' makes it more unexpected and emotive).

Ultimately I think sci-fi can be recognised by the way things are explained (or that they're explained at all). For instance, I recently read a book called 'Already Dead', a hard-boiled detective story, which had vampires and zombies in it. But because the 'vampires' were people infected with a virus and the 'zombies' were people infected with a bacterium it falls into the sci-fi camp (nothing actually happens in the novel that you couldn't explain with some - admittedly exotic - chemistry and biology).
Leaving aside the is it sci-fi or fantasy discussion, yes, BtVS should be #1, with Firefly and Angeltvs right up there. And Farscape, don't forget Farscape. These lists are very subjective and who knows, the newspaper staff may have been high when they put them together. Also, I think Superman needs to be higher on the list. At one time it had a 91% audience share, numbers that will never be seen for TV ratings again.
And the Bionic Man and Woman? Proves my point about the writing staff being high.
The mention of MST3K and Futurama do bring up the big problem with lists like these, in that it's a bit hard to say what to do with such cross-genre creations. Futurama actually does explore sci-fi concepts from a humourous and satirical perspective, so I'd argue that it gets points for being a sci-fi comedy, but MST3K is, what, a comedy/variety show that happens to be set in space with robots? Or does it get extra sci-fi cred for the fact that most of the movies mocked are bad sci-fi films? And I mean, I really don't even know where to begin trying to compare the quality of MST3K to, uh, dramatic sci-fi shows.

And I second the mention of The Prisoner.

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