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July 16 2007

Buffy voted fifth best sci-fi show of all time. Three thousand readers of the British magazine 'Radio Times' voted in the poll.

I've never seen Red Dwarf, so I don't really know about it and can't comment, but hurrah for Buffy and I totally agree with X-Files being at #2 (seeming I can't judge RD enough to say 'no, it should be lower').
I like how they had to bar Doctor Who so it wouldn't win again.
I don't know about Lost being #3..and this comes from a person who really loves Lost. I feel like I need to see the complete series before I'd dream of putting it ahead of Buffy.

[ edited by draculatte on 2007-07-16 20:17 ]
The interesting thing about Doctor Who is that if this were an American poll I doubt it would be on the list if it had been in the running anyway.

Though I am so very happy to see Life on Mars on the list. It's not the sort of thing you'd traditionally call sci-fi but it's definitnely a "genre" show, and it is absolutely incredible. It's easily my favorite show to ever come out of the UK and would likely rate quite quite high on a list of my favorite shows ever.
Too bad Buffy isn't sci-fi (except season 4).
Lost is #3?? That's bullocks. That show is bloody awful. IMO of course.

Buffy isn't scifi??
Oh my god, doing the dance of Red Dwarf wins. Cause seriously, I love that show with all of my heart.

Yay for Buffy too, for somehow magically squeezing its way into this poll.
I don't think there was a voting campaign for this from fans, either. Go Buffy.
I don't get the Red Dwarf appeal. It's not funny, it's not good drama, it's not imaginative, it's not well-made, the cast isn't funny (I recently saw one of them live and I'm even more convinced of this), it's not entertaining in any way...

It disturbs me greatly (like that wasn't enough) that Firefly is nowhere to be seen on this list (although in all fairness, it was never shown here!). Methinks some peers o' mine need educatin'.

[ edited by daylight on 2007-07-16 21:00 ]
Strange thing to say that Red Dwarf is not good drama when it never was/is supposed to be a drama but a comedy.

As for Lost being in third position when it hasn't even got to the end of it's run that's just ridiculous
Red Dwarf has a curry monster. That, for me, justifies its place.
Smoke me a kipper, i'll be back for breakfast ;). Quite a surprise to see 'Red Dwarf' at number 1. Haven't really watched it since it was on (apart from the odd repeat here or there) but I loved it at the time, though there were a couple of series where it lost its way a bit - be interesting to see how it stands up.

And yay, Buffy at 5. Despite very clearly not being sci-fi (in any season) - if SF is to be seen as separate from Fantasy at all that is.

Although, that said, I read a definition of sci-fi in an introductory book of SF criticism (by Adam Roberts - quite good) which talked about science-fiction not necessarily being explainable with science but acting as if it is i.e. carrying on as if its universe is a rational one even if, by our standards, it isn't. The Buffyverse with all Willow's talk about how physics lies at the heart of magic - she even mentions entropy and energy conservation at one point I think - and consequences for most actions could maybe slip in under that definition.
Sure, if you consider it to be a parallel world where magic developed as a result of physical changes in the universe and so on, but if that's the case all fantasy could then be considered SF. Except maybe Rainbow Brite. :D

I think Lost got so high solely because it's current and popular. I was shocked to see X-Files at #2 after all this time. Perhaps it's all the talk about the new movie...
Go Dwarf!

I am, however, heartbroken that Farscape didn't make the list.

It disturbs me greatly (like that wasn't enough) that Firefly is nowhere to be seen on this list (although in all fairness, it was never shown here!).


SciFi UK showed it a number of times and the DVD boxset was released here too.
Rainbow Brite is totally sci-fi. The entire (awful) movie is about aliens, who also appear in the (much better) TV series.

Of course, I personally wish everyone would use "speculative fiction" instead of either "sci-fi" or "fantasy" as labels.
Dang! How on earth did I miss the Rainbow Brite movie?
Luck? I thought it was stupid when I was six. I preferred the TV show, which was actually produced afterwards. Hmm, that sounds familiar...
The trouble with 'speculative fiction' is it's pretty all-encompassing. Isn't being speculative what makes fiction fictional in the first place ? Doesn't all fiction ask "What if ... ?" ? Might as well just throw everything under the equally all-encompassing 'Fantasy' in that case (or maybe SF&F).

Sure, if you consider it to be a parallel world where magic developed as a result of physical changes in the universe and so on, but if that's the case all fantasy could then be considered SF.

Playing devil's advocate (cos personally I don't think Buffy is sci-fi), if sci-fi is only that which is either based on or plausibly extrapolated from current science then there aren't many sci-fi films or even novels out there. Star Trek, fantasy. Star Wars, definitely fantasy. Any novels/TV shows/films with FTL travel or communications, fantasy. Farscape, fantasy. Babylon 5, fantasy, and on and on...

But Star Trek, B5, Farscape and a load of novels get back in if you take SF as not requiring real science but as only requiring the world-view of real science (i.e. the external universe is real, it's consistent and we can know it by our senses. It is, to some extent, 'solvable'). Consistency is where Buffy would fall down, even by the new definition (lovely as it is, the Christmas miracle in 'Amends' for instance is inconsistent, as is Angel busting into Kate's apartment in 'Epiphany').
I think it rather great The X Files is placed 2nd so long after the series finished - it looks as if there will still be an audience for a second movie!

Nice to see Twin Peaks there too. Of course it would be even nicer if Angel and Firefly had featured as well.
Reasons why Buffy is obviously scifi:

tazers

dimensional portals

snot monsters from outer space
Consistency is where Buffy would fall down, even by the new definition (lovely as it is, the Christmas miracle in 'Amends' for instance is inconsistent, as is Angel busting into Kate's apartment in 'Epiphany').


One might say these events are consistent with a higher being or one of Ps That B taking a rather more obvious hand in events and thus, er, consistent :) Devil's advocate, me.
I have sadly never seen Red Dwarf.

I guess Buffy fits into sci-fi, because of the handful of episodes that dealt overtly with sci-fi elements, though generally I would consider it fantasy.

So if we're excluding Buffy/Angel, Firefly is definitely my top choice. And I'm not just saying this out of bias (well, okay, maybe a little bit), I have never seen a better sci-fi show.

Following Firefly, I'd put the current Battlestar Galactica and, yes, Lost...
Lots of shows that are long-since gone placed well:

Top 20: 1 Red Dwarf 2 The X Files 3 Lost 4 Life On Mars 5 Buffy The Vampire Slayer 6 Star Trek: The Next Generation 7 Stargate SG-1 8 Star Trek 9 The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy 10 Quantum Leap 11 Heroes 12 Blake's 7 13 Twin Peaks 14 V 15 Torchwood 16 Babylon 5 17 The Prisoner 18 Battlestar Galactica 19 Thunderbirds 20 Lost In Space.


We could spend a lot of time bemoaning shows that should have made the list, placed higher, or the fact that "Buffy is Not Sci Fi!" but take it for what it is: A current snapshot of mostly UK responses to "What is your favourite Sci-Fi show not including Dr. Who?"

The one thing I found most interesting is that The Prisoner fared so well. It's between B5 and BSG for Pete's sake, and it's FOURTY YEARS OLD! THAT is some staying power--it's as old as Star Trek, had like 1/7th the episodes, no follow up in the form of movies or spinoffs, and yet... there it is. Fascinating.
Threads like this are gifts after a not-so-good day. Scifi debate!!

Buffy borrows heavily from many genres, but if it has a real home, it's in horror. It's all about the monsters, both literal and figurative. It isn't really a scifi show, but it plays with some standard scifi elements pretty comfortably (robots! invisibility!) and to my great amusement.

Home #2 would be a soap opera. But clever. And with that British guy to make it all seem so plausible.

Farscape is scifi. Farscape should be on that list. Does anyone remember The Tomorrow People? I used to love that show as a kid, but we only got it in limited runs in the U.S. on cable.

We could spend a lot of time bemoaning discussing shows that should have made the list, placed higher, or the fact that "Buffy is Not Sci Fi!"

Please?
Invisibility rays! I forgot all about the invisibility rays!

And freeze rays...
Not that you asked, but I'm gonna do it anyway...

1.a. Battlestar Galactica - awesome-o

is tied with

1.b. Firefly - doubleplus awesome-o

2. Life on Mars - also wonderful
3.The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - from the little I've seen of it
4. Twin Peaks - all that and cherry pie, too
5. The Prisoner - I'm sentimentally attached to the Secret Agent Man/Danger Man turned Prisoner
6. Thunderbirds - 'cause it cracks me up, and life without being able to say "Thunderbirds Are Go" would be a paltry thing
7. Star Trek - 'cause Mr. Spock was my second crush ever, which says altogether too much about me
8. Heroes - I'm so iffy on this...
9. Lost in Space - but only because of the costumes and the Model B-9 Environmental-Control Robot ("Danger! Warning!) and the cheesy acting...

Oh, and I find it most odd and a little disturbing that all I have to read is, "Smoke me a kipper, i'll be back for breakfast..." and I know it's Saje.
Yes deird, I better get the freeze ray outta here.
All I have to read is "devil's advocate" in a thread where the definition of sci-fi comes up, and I know it's Saje.
Just have to say that I am g;ad to see "Life On Mars" om the list. I am almost as addicted to it as I am to Buffy/Angel/Firefly
Damn, seems like i'm getting predictaFlurbbleooblewazzitmcorrity. There didn't know that was me, did ya !

Signature at the bottom you say ? ... Bugger.

Reasons why Buffy is clearly not sci-fi:

vampires
werewolves
magic
gods

Good game ;-).

(using the odd sci-fi trope doesn't make you sci-fi just as sci-fi isn't only 'having spaceships and/or lasers in' - some of the best barely features technology at all, especially if you count stuff like alt-history as SF)
Gotta say, Saje, I think using a word like "predictaFlurbbleooblewazzitmcorrity" is a sure sign that the post came from you...
Don't think that it means that you're predictable, Saje, just that you have a discernible and unique writing style.

'Zat better? ;>

Kippers!
Red Dwarf! Definitely the funniest sci-fi show ever. I love Red Dwarf :D
Cool QG, i've always wanted to be unique, seems like everyone I meet is and I felt totally left out ;-).

(and deird, it was the 'flurbbleooble' wasn't it ? Knew that'd blow my cover)
I've often argued that Battlestar Galactica (my favourite show currently airing - with Heroes a close second) isn't really scifi - despite the spaceships and robots...

I think it's because it's (stealing from Jane Espenson here) "story driven" rather than "concept driven". It's all about the characters and their interactions rather than about the robots and spaceships etc.
BSG is a special case IMO. If it turns out that the (apparent) supernatural interventions are supernatural then it's fantasy, if there's a naturalistic explanation in the end then it's sci-fi (it's just "story driven" sci-fi, more along the lines of Bradbury than Asimov - though there're some that say Bradbury's a fantasy author, YMMV ;). Same may apply to 'Lost', i've not seen enough of it to tell.

In the sense of examining current society and issues through a 'futuristic' lens though, BSG is sci-fi all the way (in fact, i'd say it is very concept driven, it's just the concepts are more sociological than technological - religious extremism, the function & purpose of a standing army, political responsibility, the nature of humanity - all pretty 'big' ideas).
Gotta say, Saje, I think using a word like "predictaFlurbbleooblewazzitmcorrity" is a sure sign that the post came from you...

Not just using it, but using it correctly. So many people treat it as an adverb.

[ edited by barboo on 2007-07-17 20:52 ]
I think it's fair that Dr Who is excluded. Simply the fact that it's so popular and mainstream in the UK at the moment, and the lack of any other UK sci-fi shows, would mean that it would probably win any poll it was put in, even though that wouldn't have been the case before the current revival. I think it's nice to be able to view a show, like Buffy or Angel, as a whole now that they've been completed [for now...]

At the moment, I'd definitely have to say that Battlestar Galactica is my favourite sci-fi show. The 4400 is also great. I haven't seen Heroes yet but I fully intend to.
...but even with Asimov's reputation as a hard scientist, he was always exploring how human beings might deal or not deal with the changes science might bring. Some of his robot story's for instance, were little logic puzzles, but many others were examinations of how humans individually and as a society react to what they percieve as a possible threat and to their environment in general. I don't think I have ever run across a science fiction writer who did not indicate that they thought that good science fiction was actually about people. Meanwhile everytime the general public decides that a piece of work that has all the hallmarks of science fiction is high quality fiction, suddenly it is not science fiction anymore. /beginning of Fairness Girl rant

Oh, and I tend to think Buffy = fantasy and horror rather than science fiction...but still just about people.

I have not seen a lot of the shows on that list, but I am planning on getting Netflix so, talleyho!

Saje, never doubt, you are unique. You are are one of various people on this board whose posts I can usually pick out within a couple sentences, even without going so far as to use a flashy (fishy?) word like predictaFlurbbleooblewazzitmcorrity.

Fess up folks, how many times do you start to read a post, and look at the signature to double check to see if it was written by who you think it was...and are right a lot of the time?
OK, i'll settle for "unique ... just like everyone else" ;). And yep, you can often get a handle on the regular posters comments without reading too far in.

True about Asimov and people (e.g. the 'Foundation' series hangs its metaphorical hat on sociology) but I still think he, along with most 'hard' sci-fi authors, tended to use people as a way of exploring an idea whereas I see e.g. Joss as using ideas (and metaphors) to explore people (Truth almost always gives way to truth in Joss' stuff and i'm very glad of it). or maybe they're both doing the same thing but Joss is just better at creating people we can view as 'real'.

All good fiction is ultimately about the human condition though IMO. Strangely, the most realistic genres have to ask the questions in a very roundabout way, the most fantastical (and seemingly furthest removed from 'real' life) can ask them much more directly but they're the same questions at the end of the day.

(and I guess maybe realist fiction has to take reality as a given whereas less realist or fantastical fiction can question even that)
Fess up folks, how many times do you start to read a post, and look at the signature to double check to see if it was written by who you think it was...and are right a lot of the time?

I know if I laugh halfway through the first sentence it's pretty good bet it's from Saje.

And Saje, on the differences between Asimov and Whedon, what you said.
I agree with barboo.

I can pick Saje's comments a mile away, usually because I've suddenly got a huge grin on my face.
Aww, you guys ... ;).
This is the first sci-fi/fantasy thread I've read anywhere that didn't devolve into an unresolvable back and forth. I have all these points, one about evil lint, and no one's arguing.

I'm not really complaining, though. We are in agreement, and therefore we rock.

I can pick out Saje's posts by the combination of large thoughtful words and random silliness. It's really the kipper opening followed by mention of concepts such as entropy and energy conservation that is the dead giveaway.
Pretty damn good for a show that's not even technically science fiction.

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