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September 16 2009

The 25 greatest cult tv shows ever. Firefly comes in at number 6 on this EW.com list and Buffy takes the number 2 slot. Huzzah.

Got to the Police Squad entry, and can recite from memory the entire dialogue from the scene in the photo from memory.

"So once fired twice, and then Jim fell?"

I had to find it on Youtube. Police Squad

[ edited by zz9 on 2009-09-16 11:03 ]

[ edited by zz9 on 2009-09-16 11:03 ]
Oh man, I remember "Get A Life". I remember it being hilarious. Although, I guess I was about 13 when it aired, so I may have too fond of memories. I went to Amazon, only to discover the DVD's are discontinued.

Also, wasn't "The X-Files" a little too popular to be a "cult" favorite? Or does that term maybe not mean what I think it does?
I'll still never understand the Who love. Iíve tried and Iíve tried but I just canít sit through it. I get that itís a Ďfamily showí but I just find it so kiddie. Sometimes I wonder if its longevity is why it always ranks so high on the list because I canít find any substance. Perhaps nostalgia wins out in the end? I know Iím in the minority but Iíll just never like it.

Great to see Btvs so high [my fave show ever] but itíd be nice for Ats to get some recognition every now and then.
From next season Doctor Who will have a new showrunner and head writer, Steven Moffat. Every episode he has written for DW so far (Empty Child/Doctor Dances, Girl In The Fireplace, the superb Blink and Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead) have been great, not to mention he wrote the original UK Coupling which is also fantastic.
So I expect great things from DW from next year.

I recently watched some Jon Pertwee era episodes and my god they were bad. I've seen more realistic Dinosaurs in my cornflakes.
I'm not a fan, but no Star Trek?

Hooray for Twin Peaks, Buffy, Firefly, Veronica Mars, The Prisoner, The Wire, etc. Most of my favorite shows are cult.
I thought B&B would have been higher. I would say that was my first person to person fan experience, but it wasn't. That was Doctor Who, happily in the place it should be. Number one.

Actually, having my all time favourite shows at one and two ain't too shabby.

Star Trek isn't a cult. It's a religion.

[ edited by redeem147 on 2009-09-16 12:40 ]
These are "just" genre shows (which is what I think they actually mean by 'cult'). X Files may have started out cult in the small, dedicated viewership sense but a couple of seasons in was getting 10-15 million viewers, in today's TV market it'd be a huge hit, even at the time it was no slouch (same with 'Doctor Who', at least in the UK, where the new incarnation gets around 7 or 8 million viewers a week and about a 30 share - i.e. proportionately, 'American Idol' numbers).

I recently watched some Jon Pertwee era episodes and my god they were bad. I've seen more realistic Dinosaurs in my cornflakes.

The Pertwee ones are among the hardest to rewatch for me, not for the bad effects (if you can't see past that then I dunno how you ever watched Who ;) but for the Ka-ra-tť ! he insisted on doing in most episodes. Cringetastic. Give me a Jelly Baby addicted weirdo anyday ;).

In general, the show is family oriented but there was always an implicit darkness to it which is made more explicit in the relaunch. But yep, it has a strange mix of the absurd and cool, of darkness and clownish levity, world-weariness and innocent joy which isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's always been a show where you kind of have to see a bit more than you're shown and maybe appreciate the romance of the concept enough to overlook the sometimes dodgy implementation.
I think almost all TV from the seventies and eighties now looks very dated in effects, stunts and general production values. I used to love The New Avengers but they just look so lame now.

I watched The Five Doctors and there's a scene where Sarah Jane falls off a road and down a cliff. Well, the writer clearly meant it to be a cliff since he had the Doctor throw a rope down and pull her up but when they shot it the director decided to make do with a slight incline. She was about ten feet away from the road and maybe two feet below road level? If that.
Steven Hawking could have made it back to the road unaided.
Hah, I rewatched 'The Five Doctors' fairly recently and remember laughing at that bit (whenever I see stuff like that my first thought is usually "Oh Vic, Vic, i've fallen !" ;).

(and yep, strange how 'The Avengers' is, by and large, much more watchable than the more modern 'New Avengers'. Reckon it's partly because they're in on the joke with 'The Avengers', it's much more knowing and arch. Black and white also makes a difference I think, maybe it's a visual cue to make allowances or connotes timelessness ? I'd say it was partly Diana Rigg too but then Purdey was one of my first TV crushes so that about cancels out)
I'm currently watching Pertwee episodes for the first time, and I think the Dinosaur episode was hilarious. The last few Jo Grant/first few Sarah Jane episodes are great. Unfortunately, they just returned to Peladon. I watched the first part a few weeks ago and haven't been able to bring myself to watch the rest. The first Peladon episode was so terrible; why give it a sequel? Really, Who, enough with medieval in space. But I think the Pertwee years are worth watching at least once for the wonderful Roger Delgado (original Master). Plus I love the Brigadier.

Am I the only one dying for a sequel to the Celestial Toymaker episode from the Hartnell years?*

A lot of my favorite shows on the list, and a few I've never seen.

* Considering that the episode doesn't even exist in entirety anymore, yes, I'm probably the only person who wants a sequel. While Doctor Who might have a large audience, I think it will get the cult status for the level of passion some of its fans have for it. I didn't start watching until my 20s, so it isn't nostalgia for me but I've become the biggest Doctor Who geek. Perhaps bigger than my husband, who watched it growing up and who tried unsuccessfully to convert me for many years (I absolutely hated the first few episodes I saw and didn't get into it until the new series aired).
I used to watch Who on PBS on Friday nights growing up and I have amassed quite a collection that needs watching/re-watching at some point. I recently watched the first few Tom Baker eps 'Robot' and 'The Ark in Space' and the hilarious/bad/intriguing are all out in force. It is a curious mixture to be sure (Tom was my first Doctor) and I'm interested to fill in the gaps. I have seen random episodes of earlier Docs, but I couldn't bring myself to start earlier than Tom right now and there are eps of his I haven't seen. Heck, there may be a Sylvester McCoy or two I haven't seen, though it's more likely I've just blocked them out- I kid, Delta and the Bannermen lovers ;).
There was a sequel to Celestial Toymaker scheduled, but it was never shot. I believe it would have been a Fourth Doctor episode.

BTW, quit knocking Jon. He was my favourite before Tennant came along. :)
Tom Baker was "my" Doctor as well, but even as a child I didn't watch all of the episodes. The bad SFX I can forgive, today's technology simply wasn't around, but then why chose to do things that needed those effects? I assume people just accepted them then?

And watching New Avengers I now notice that the character of Purdy (which was on at the time I was at school and had a teacher that looked the spitting image of Purdy. Can't remember his name...) would change from week to week depending on what the script demanded. One week she'd be a take no prisoners kickass agent and the next she'd sit around waiting for the guys to tell her what to do. The episode where people are being replaced by lookalikes and she thinks gambit has been killed by his doppleganger is a perfect example. She more or less just bursts into tears and phones Steed to be told what to do.
Peter Davison was "my" Doctor even though Tom Baker is the first Doctor I remember (and arguably the classic Who with the most rewatch value). Maybe because Baker -> Davison was the first regeneration I remember ?

Can't remember his name...

Oh them's fightin' words ! Ghurkas, attack !

... but then why chose to do things that needed those effects? I assume people just accepted them then?

Sure, that's all there were so you had to accept them and thankfully they didn't just avoid stories that needed those effects or else we wouldn't have those effects today (it's not as if they'd just appear fully fledged out of an industry that had previously never used or needed them). Still, it's also partly why TV sci-fi was in a ghetto for decades, people wrote it off as "wobbly set nonsense" which is a pity. The stories were often just as good though, if you squinted a bit (sometimes even the characters, as in one of the uber wobbly-set shows, "Blake's Seven").

I kid, Delta and the Bannermen lovers ...

They've both just struck you off their Christmas card list, I hope you're happy now ;).
Also, wasn't "The X-Files" a little too popular to be a "cult" favorite? Or does that term maybe not mean what I think it does?


"Cult" just means that it inspires devotion, i.e., something fans really love, rather than just watch and enjoy. A cult show can be very popular (The X-Files, Lost), but they tend to have small, obsessed niche followings.
While the effects are dated (having been done way back when), I'm not always (or often) impressed with the big expensive CGI of today. It usually looks more like a cartoon than the rest of the film, and takes me out of the experience.
The thing that gets me about the Dinosaurs one (where they are terrorising London) is that they look terrible, but they are on screen for ages! You have plenty of time to see how slow and wooden they are and to notice that they are not actually moving very well at all. Had they shown flashes of them and concentrated on the people reacting to them, as Spielberg did with Jaws, it would have looked so much better.

It's funny because Doctor Who's most iconic feature, the Tardis, was created specifically because they knew the limits of FX technology and they knew they could not make a spaceship look remotely realistic each week when it landed on a planet, so they made it a simple blue box that just appeared and disappeared. (The same reason Star Trek's transporter was devised).
So they knew the limits of FX technology from the very start and were clever enough to work around it, they just seemed to have forgotten that later on.
Very true Redeem, the best CGI is the stuff you don't notice. When a friend of mine saw Jurassic park at the cinema he said "They didn't have any special effects. They had dinosaurs."

The last three Star Wars just looked like video games.
Also funny (in a similar way), 'Jaws' originally featured a lot more of the shark but it kept breaking down, hence the very effective scattered appearances. It'd probably be half the film it is (or at least have dated much worse) if the effect had just worked as designed. The Trek transporters arose partly because it wasn't cost effective to land the Enterprise every episode (Roddenberry's original idea) and partly because the shuttle wasn't finished when they needed it - it's not that they couldn't (at least by the standards of the day), more that it would've cost too much to do it. I'll bet cost had something to do with the TARDIS too (extremely happy accident though it turned out to be).

And obviously a bad effect is a bad effect, if it doesn't convince the viewer then it doesn't matter if it cost £25 and was made from sticky backed plastic or £500,000 and a massively parallel render-farm. Most of the CGI you see is a perfectly good effect because most of the CGI you see you don't even realise is CGI.

The mistake the last three Star Wars movies made was to have no sets at all and make everything CGI - unless you're going down the deliberately stylised route of a 'Sin City' or '300' it's not going to convince people yet, the technology just isn't good enough to recreate an entire world because evolution's had about a billion years to "train" us to recognise things that are out of place in the world around us. Whether it's the physics of human motion, the inertia of objects, the expressions on a face or the stripes of a Tiger in the grass, everyone alive today comes from a long line of folk whose survival depended on being bloody good at it.

('Jurassic Park' is one of the few films that, at the time, I considered genuinely, in the truest sense, awesome. When we see the dinosaurs for the first time we feel as Grant feels basically, it was an actual wonder to behold. Fantastic)
Ah yes, the troublesome "Bruce", named after Steven's lawyer....
Trek Lost and Quantum Leap should be on this list.
Yeah, I would say Peter Davison is more my Doctor than Tom. When I started watching, it wasn't too long before Logopolis and Davison was the first one where I was "there from the start". WSStm re: fx, their job, etc. It's unbelievable how many fx shots there are now that are not even noticed. Properly used (ie not front and center all of the time for everything a la Star Wars prequels), fx shots can aid the story, for sure.
Yeah, I was watching the extras on the 'House' season 4 set the other day and Katie Jacobs and David Shore mentioned a lot of places where e.g. bleeding had a practical effects foundation but was greatly enhanced with CGI. It surprised me because it a) looked totally convincing and b) didn't seem an obvious place to use CGI (they weren't always "big" effects but often just times where more blood added to the impact of the scene - the magician's nosebleed was one example from "You Don't Want to Know").
So according to the number one spot... Britain is a cult.

Hunh.
I remember loving "Brimstone" which had John Glover playing the devil for all of its short run. It would probably count as a cult show... but I think I was the only person who ever watched it. Can you have a cult of one?

And I was crushed when they canceled "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." It had everything: a western with horses, steam punk, Pete's Piece, the orb, time travel... A most filling show. I mean, how can you go wrong with a character who's a bounty hunter who works only to finance his latest interior decorating project?

I never saw the "New Avengers" and I was definitely drawn to the original series by Diana Rigg. However, in the middle of her run when they started pandering to American audience's taste it lost its edge IMO -- the stories got a bit too childish and silly. Mrs. Peel was still cool though.
This looks like a very good list. I saw what I expected to see on here, even though I've only seriously watched less than half of the shows (Firefly, Buffy, Farscape, Freaks & Geeks, BSG, VM, The Prisoner) Most of the rest of the entries I already know of by reputation--MSCL, The Wire, B & B, Pushing Daisies, MST3K, XFiles, The Tick... I thought Dr. Who was too much of a British Institution to show up on the list, but that's about my only confirmed gripe with it.
I'm a little disgusted by the lack of Arrested Development, but aside from that and the 2 hugely popular shows that are on there, this is a pretty good list.
So according to the number one spot... Britain is a cult.

Yep, clearly nonsense since one way to tell a cult is that it has a charismatic leader.
They had me at Sports Night. Though Arrested Development's non-inclusion is quite sad indeed.
So according to the number one spot... Britain is a cult.

Sure it is. Haven't you seen The Wicker Man?

So according to the number one spot... Britain is a cult.

Yep, clearly nonsense since one way to tell a cult is that it has a charismatic leader.

So it's the U.S. that is the cult.
Everything truly is bigger in America, even a cult can have majority membership.
Don't tell Texas, they'll be very upset.
My favorite cult tv show is CSPAN.
Other options - CSPAN: 1999, CSPAN: PUNKd, CSPAN: 90210, CSPAN: The Next Generation.
CSPAN: PUNKd is a good description of CSPAN1 most of the time. CSPAN2 is better but in dire need of Aaron Sorkin.
So according to the number one spot... Britain is a cult.


Haven't you read Strangehaven?
Surely in Stragehaven we're a number of diverse and disagreeing worldviews that can still go to the pub together?

Which is a nice way of looking at it.
Late, but Saje I just had the hugest flash of recognition when you said that about Jurassic Park. The first time I saw the Bronto - or is it Brachio - sauruses, tears actually sprung to my eyes. I felt exactly the awe the on-screen characters felt.

The music was awe-some, too. :)

And put me down for Pertwee. We used to watch, then go outside and play it.
I was extremely happy to see Firefly, Buffy and very surprised to see Beauty and the Beast but was a little disappointed to see that Angel didn't make the cut. Besides BATB, Angel was my big foray into "cult fandom". (Whatever the heck THAT phrase means! lol)

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