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March 09 2006

The top 6 best Sci-Fi/Fantasy movies from TV shows. Serenity stands alongside such luminaries as Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and The Muppet Movie in this list that highlights the top movies that come from genre shows.

What, no 'Dukes of Hazzard' love ?


(I assume she's only picking one film from each show since, much as I enjoyed First Contact and consider it the best TNG movie, Trek 6: Undiscovered Country has to be more enjoyable)
Heh, nice list. This reminds me I need to work my way through the muppet movies, though. I'm bound to love 'em to bits.

All in all a fun little list. I agree with her two pics for Star Trek movies. As for Trek 6, it sure was a good movie, but I enjoy rewatching both Kahn and First Contact much more, simply because they're better.

Anyway, I'd have put the X-Files movie in there as well, I think, because it got released at the hight of the X-Files franchise and was a pretty good movie (which, admittedly, could hardly be fully understood if you haden't followed the shows buldging plotlines). Still a fun ride, though.
Strak Trek: The Motion Picture as the worst of the Trek movies? Has she seen Trek 5? ;-)

Other than that, I had an odd experience with Lost in Space. I couldn't even finish watching it the first time, because I felt it was just too bad to sit through (and, also, Matt LeBlanc's acting kept reminding me of Joey's 'smell the fart'-acting he explained on Friends ;-)).

But then, a couple of years later, I rewatched it as it aired on tv, and I found I was actually enjoying myself. Still not sure what happened there, but I liked it fine the second time 'round. Not going to try to watch it a third time, though, that'd probably jinx it ;-)
And to the worst list I again say 'What, no 'Dukes of Hazzard' love ?' (maybe not sci-fi but taking those jumps and then driving off ? Surely fantasy ;).

If anything GVH, i'd put X-Files: The Movie into the worst list (maybe at 6 since she seems to owe us one). It wasn't all bad but as a stand-alone movie it was convoluted and, to me, felt and looked like a long TV episode. Where they could've taken the opportunity to clean up the mythology they only made it more complicated.

In fairness, I haven't rewatched First Contact as much as Trek 6 but I always felt like the original cast worked better on the big screen. Kirk was already almost operatic and so it felt natural to see The Shat hamming it up, 60 feet tall. Picard et al (maybe apart from Riker) always seemed more life size and I think sometimes the movie screen was too big for them. Also, the original crew felt less by the book and closer to one another so that you could believe them stealing a starship just to fly off and rescue their friend or disobeying orders to break their captain out of prison. The TNG crew seemed too professional (and basically moral) to convincingly carry that off (though they tried it in Insurrection). Obviously, all just my IMO tho' ;).

'Lost in Space' made me laugh out loud at one point. I remembered a Friends where Joey described 'smell the fart' acting to one of the others and, sure enough, LiS actually has a bit where Le Blanc's character has to look brooding and pensive and, yep, he uses the 'smell the fart' trick ! Hi-larious. Apart from that though a very dull mess of a picture (and the Bugs Bunny in the sky bit ? * cringe, hugely *).

ETA: Ah, GVH beat me to the fart, so to speak. I hereby invoke the ancient playground law that 'he who smelt it (first) dealt it' ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2006-03-09 12:48 ]
Saje, I agree that X-Files: The Movie was a missed opportunity to clean up the mythology and it did feel like a tv episode, mostly because it was so mixed up in the show's continuity. Still, though, as a fan of the tv show, I couldn't help enjoying it.

Also: yes, I prefer the original cast in movies because of the closer bonds of friendship and more rogueish tendencies. But although I didn't much enjoy the other TNG movies (whereas I even liked watching Trek 5), First Contact is just a great ST movie. Funnily enough, TNG is my favorite Trek show. Heh.

As for the 'smell the fart' acting: that's priceless! I always thought I was the only one who noticed that. Guess it wasn't just me, then :-)
I watched The X-Files movie again recently, and it is indeed an extended TV episode. When Mulder gets shot in the face by the ambulance man, that's totally where the credits at the end of the episode should have rolled.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-03-09 15:32 ]
But Mulder got to say "shit." It was *so* a movie. ;-)

(I kid. I liked it, too. Extended episode or not.)
(whereas I even liked watching Trek 5)

*shiver* We hates it, precious!
Pennies from Heaven? How obscure. Plus it sucked. Usually love Steve Martin, but this was just bad.
Actually, I'm surprised that the Addams Family was left off the good list. It may not have been as great as Wrath of Khan, but it was far better (and less obscure) than Pennies From Heaven.
hmm, well Pennies From Heaven definitely has its fans. it's an unexpected turn from Steve Martin, very dark, and the dancing is great - Christopher Walken getting an opportunity to show off well before Fatboy Slim came along.
I actually thought Addams Family Values was far better then the first. But either way, since The Addams Family was originally a comic strip, it's not really based on a TV show. However, the first Naked Gun should have been on that list!
The only good thing about the recent full length remake of Lost in Space was Oldman as the professor. He did good despite the bone soup of a script that was placed before him. Everything else from how they dealt with the robot to the special effects to LeBlanc's long distance phone-in of a performance - oh it was painful.

Pennies From Heaven was a novelty. Adore Bernadette. Steve Martin can rarely do wrong by me. However, the premise doesn't carry a full-length.

The X-Files movie was ok for me until Mulder & Scully almost kissed and then she got bit by a bee. Being an anti-shipper I was so ready to leave the theater at that point, and pretty much stopped being a diehard Chris Carter fan that day.
Oh. Best ST movie ever was Wrath of Khan, followed closely by First Contact. Worst was Insurrection, followed closely by Final Frontier (Spock never had no brother, and using a false god as a deus ex machina is just bad form. Flying Spock? Uhura Dance Party? oh. my. gawd.)
Couldn't agree more Zachsmind (unless you maybe paid me, which, y'know, let's not dismiss out of hand). Mulder and Scully should never have got together. Why couldn't they just have a platonic love for each other as partners ? Like say Maverick and Goose or Starsky and Hutch. OK, maybe not the best examples but you know what I mean ;).

I'm worried that Apollo and Starbuck could go the same way in BSG when they so shouldn't ('brothers' in arms doesn't mean in each others arms - besides he doesn't really seem her type). BTW, i'm only up to episode 12 of season 2 so if they've already gone and done it I don't want to know.

And Gary Oldman is pretty much always worth watching, even if the rest of the film is dreck.

But then you go and put First Contact ahead of Undiscovered Country. Clearly the sort of thing a maniac would do. Really. There are crazy people all over the world nodding and saying 'Yup, First Contact in second place, makes sense' (and many of them are not even reading this board - that's how crazy they are). I'll give you joint second place and i'm cutting me own throat at that.

The X-Files movie was ok for me until Mulder & Scully almost kissed and then she got bit by a bee. Being an anti-shipper I was so ready to leave the theater at that point, and pretty much stopped being a diehard Chris Carter fan that day.

Boy, you best be prepared for when Mal and Inara have sex in Serenity 2. Mal explodes afterwards, thus revealing the secret that Inara makes men explode in all the wrong ways.
Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as a really random, narrow topic? Like someone doing a "Top 5 romantic weepies that used a classic novel as source material" or whatever other constraints you want to impose. Just a little odd, as lists go. Can't really comment on it beyond that - other than to say I'm glad Serenity is at #1, of course! - not having seen most of the movies. Of course, the Muppit Movie and Wallace & Grommit are great, though I don't really think of either as sci fi/fantasy...
Next up, Top 5 Things You Might Find in Your Kitchen Drawer That Aren't Egg Whisks.

No. 1 - Serenity DVD

(hey, it's where I keep mine)
Though it isn't really ''from a tv-show'' I would put Monty Phytons Holy Grail on the list, since I would put Phyton on any list if remotely possible, and it sort of meets all the conditions. There are conections with a tv-show (flying circus) and the movie is lots more fantasy than W&G and the Muppets (think Tim the Enchanter, the tree-headed guy, etc.)
First of all, I'm going to have to agree with the "First Contact" being a better movie than "The Undiscovered Country". ST6 was tied to much to the history of the time and its Perestroika atmosphere appears dated, now. "First Contact" is a fun romp that deals more with classical themes like aging and revenge--basically the same themes as TWOK--that allows it to remain relevent.

As far as the list goes, I'd have to place "The Fugitive" in my top five favorites.
"Pennies From Heaven" is extraordinary.

"First Contact", not so much.

"Holy Grail", good call, maybe the single best.

"Untouchables" is pretty high up there for me. (In this category.)

Things in "Lost In Space" That I Liked: The costumes and production design. Hurt and Oldman in the ghetto phases of their careers (especially since they're both back from that abyss). MATT LEBLANC. You heard me. I think he knows exactly what movie he's in, and goes with it. It's almost old-fashioned. And when he points a gun at Doctor Smith he is cool.

Things I did not like so well: Don't have that much time. The Jar-Jar monkey and everything after the crashlanding might cover it for now.
...all I remember from Lost In Space is a CGI monkey. Is that sad?
Ah, Joss, it tickles me that you post here while debate is raging on the other thread about fan v. creator control. If deliberately so - probably a wise decision. If not - very amusing timing.

Was the movie of Pennies really that good? Haven't seen it in a good while; I do, however, revisit the TV series, which I have on a set of battered VHS tapes, every now and again.
That monkey was CGI ? Amazing.

If we're having 'Holy Grail' I might put 'Life of Brian' in above it. It is fantasy after all.

(oh, i'm burning for that one ;)

I dunno if we can have Untouchables without being a bit creative with the fantasy parameters (maybe we could fit it in on the grounds of Big Sean's fantasy Irish accent ?). Sounds a bit like an Egg Whisk to me. Not a bad film though, good soundtrack.
Ah, yes, Holy Grail. It's endlessly quotable and rewatchable. You can always tell the people you're going to like when you quote Python and they just join in ;-).

I actually prefer it to 'Life of Brian', by the way. Which is a movie I'm still hoping'll get a decent DVD release. The Grail 2-disc set is great stuff (including the classic feature 'subtitles for people who don't like the movie', which some movies could really use ;-)), so I'm still holding out hope Life of Brian'll get the same treatment sometime.

Surprised to see joss doesn't like First Contact that much, though. Heh.
I think to some extent Joss' opinion vindicates my, some may say slightly unreasonable, 'you are all maniacs' position on First Contact though I did put it into close third/joint second so by his lights I too am probably of a maniacal bent.

Been considering the Python Box set but as you say GVH 'Brian' seems a bit light on extras (though it has been remastered). Still, at 14 for 4 films (including the two disc Grail) it's a pretty good deal. In truth it's hard to draw a line re: Python, both Grail and Brian are great films and even Meaning of Life has great moments.
Funny, as I was typing how much I thought PiH sucked, I thought to myself, "I'll bet Joss likes it, though." *sigh* We'll agree on something, someday, Joss. I'm sure of it. ;P

And Python? Sometimes I get parts of Grail and Brian mixed up because for years I always loved watching them back to back. They're like one big movie to me.
Heh. Probably the longest we've gone after a joss post without posting a multitude of comments right away :-). Like SNT, I'm amused. I had no clue joss posted here - or that any other threads were even having much discussion - since I was so engaged on the creator control one...
Do I lose all credibility if I admit I've never even heard of "Pennies in Heaven", nor know the TV show it's based on?
"Life of Brian" is easily Monty Python's masterwork - and while its current edition might be light on extras, I have the out-of-print Criterion edition. Ah, sweet Criterion :-)

There was never a really good Next Generation movie - maybe Insurrection, sort of, because I missed the TV series. Generations is good for the cross-generational aspects, but that's about it. First Contact is not very good - and Nemesis, we shall never speak of it.

[ edited by Keith G on 2006-03-10 06:09 ]
Don't get all the First Contact hatred, especially from Joss. Of the Next Gen films I think it was easily the best.

And acp, no loss of credibility. I saw the film Pennies in Heaven when I was younger but hardly remember anything about it at all. And I certainly had no idea that it was based on any television series.

And as long as we're talking about sci-fi/fantasy TV turned into movies, why no Beavis & Butthead Do America love? ;)
Just FYI: the series Pennies from Heaven (not "in") was Dennis Potter's first serial-length TV drama, and incorporated the layers of meaning and music that he later used in The Singing Detective. It starred a younger Bob Hoskins in the Steve Martin part, and is just beautiful. Dennis Potter is, in fact, the only TV writer than I would rank alongside JW - so different in style, but so damn good.
I have to agree with the big "meh" for "First Contact." It just seemed like a lengthened episode, not much danger, not much happening, and if the highlight was Troi getting drunk? Then really, really not so much. :-(

But much, much love for "Holy Grail." Most. Quotable. Movie. Ever. :-)

Has anyone seen "Spamalot"? Does it do HG justice?

I really liked "The Singing Detective" (wonderful Robert Downey performance) when it was on cable; it sounds like we have to add "Pennies from Heaven" to the Netflix list!

Ah, the good old days. I loved the original series. I never got into the other Trek series but I think it was just the obstinacy and misguided loyalty of youth.

Life of Brian. One of the all time genius movies. So much to say and so so funny saying it. The stoning scene. Brilliant.

Holy Grail I loved as a teenager but when I got older I just couldn't take all the spurting blood anymore. Weird. I can't watch it anymore.

While we're on the subject how about TV series that spawned really crappy movie sequals after themselves being spawned by somewhat decent movies. The Crow and Highlander. I mean really.
Just so they could have Sean Connery in Highlander 2 they changed the whole premise of their own mythology. Then just ignored it for the third one and for the series. Spit. We speak of it no more.
That monkey was CGI ? Amazing.

This is my new favourite Whedonesque post.

Also, I totally confused First Contact with Contact. I thought people didn't like Contact then. I loves me that film.

[ edited by gossi on 2006-03-10 12:28 ]
Aw, shucks gossi ;)

billz, The Singing Detective was originally a BBC series from the mid-80s starring Michael 'Dumbledore' Gambon. By most accounts i've heard it's better than the Downey film (which I haven't seen) so could be worth tracking down (might have a look myself, since, to be honest, I was in my early teens back then and so only watched it for the 'rude bits' and didn't really pay much attention to the, y'know, plot/story/writing/acting - hey, i'm shallow, sue me ;).

Grail is excellent but Brian just always makes me laugh a little bit louder, and longer. Maybe it's the undercurrent of naughtiness at raising two fingers to the establishment or just the sheer (literal ;) irreverance but it's like reading Catch-22 for me. Every time I watch it I wonder why it's taken me so long to watch it again.

BTW, there is no Highlander 2. I often wonder why they went from 1 to 3 (some kind of prime number thing ?) but, nonetheless, that is what they did. In my mind.
Has anyone seen "Spamalot"? Does it do HG justice?

Its a somewhat different beast, but it is hilarious, especially as I saw it, with Alan Tudyk. On a sidenote to the HG/LoB discussion, Brian will always be my favorite Python, though Grail is always right there behind it. And I think First Contact was probably the best of the Next Gen movies. As a sidenote, looking back, the good eps of next gen were never enough to outweigh the bad in my estimation. DS9 is my trek. I mean come on, DS9ers have also gone on to give us BSG and the 4400 :)
Heh, I agree that DS9 was better, characterwise, storywise, and well, on almost all level. But TNG was the first sci-fi show I ever came into contact with (yes, I was born in 1980) and the cool concepts (warp bubbles, time travel, layered realities, phase-shifted people and whatnot) just blew my mind, since I had never seen anything like it on any other show before. I think that show actually had a direct influence on igniting the science spark in me, and as such put me on the path of getting my Masters degree in Astrophyisics this year. So to me, TNG'll always be my favorite Trek.

But objectively, DS9 was the best one, yes.

Also: I agree, there is no Highlander 2. I've always loved the show more than the movies, by the way, even though the first Highlander movie is actually very decent. There's a new Highlander movie gearing up right now. Here's hoping it won't be crap like the last one (which, come to think of it, also does not exist :-p).
Dennis Potter is definately a brilliant writer. It took me a bit to get through the series The Singing Detective - I felt confused and got a somewhat impatient, but it was worth it in the end. Have you seen the film version directed by Keith Gordon starring the extremely talented Robert Downey Jr?
zeitgeist, thanks for the Spamalot report. Alan Tudyk was in it? KEWL! :-) I'm also voting for DS9 as the best Trek series. People weren't so nice all the time, and things were messy (not as antiseptic as the Enterprise, any edition), which made it really "real" to me.

Also, I agree "Life of Brian" is definitely great, even if I still place "Holy Grail" first (maybe because I saw it first? maybe because I can quote every line?). ;-)

Thanks for the "Singing Detective" series recommendation, Saje. Sounds like it could be worth a rental, too! :-)
I didn't know they'd remade The Singing Detective as well as Pennies from Heaven. Both were masterly in the original BBC versions. I've never seen the US variants, but have learned to be wary of remakes on the whole. Think Men Behaving Badly if you want a reason.
Possibly my favourite bit of television ever (though favourite maybe isn't the right word. 'Powerful' is better.): the interview Melvyn Bragg did with Dennis Potter on Ch4 just before he died. Swigging morphine and champagne to battle the pain he was suffering, he explained how his doctor kept him alive on a cocktail of meds and painkillers just to allow him to finish writing his final two tv series. If I remember anything from my college years, it would be Potter's Singing Detective (unfortunately, I'd missed most of Pennies from heaven) and Lynch's Twin Peaks.
I saw that too Caroline. Very moving. Potter was drinking liquid morphine from a flask and Melvyn Bragg, clearly emotional at points, had to light his cigarettes for him because his hands were stuck in clenched fists. I remember his defiantly unrepentant 'ode to nicotine' appealing to me at the time (though i've since quit, maybe I just don't have Potter's courage ;) and the way he managed to be funny and clear eyed in the face of what must've been an agonising death was inspiring and uplifting.
Indeed. I was also very impressed with the way he continued being fascinated with modern technology (his final series involved cryogenics), when he could have been wallowing in self pity. His wife died of cancer before him.
I agree with zeitgeist about Spamalot-- it starts out as the Holy Grail tale and throughout the show evolves into a show that playfully pokes fun at the whole Broadway musical genre (especially Andrew Lloyd Webber). The endings are mixed up a bit too, as there is no way the end of the movie could be represented on stage like that.

I thought both were great in their own right, especially after seeing it with Alan Tudyk in Lancelot/FrenchTaunter/Knight-of-Ni/Tim role. :)

[ edited by megaloo on 2006-03-13 19:51 ]

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