Science fiction fans have been treated to some very good programs on television over the last two decades, some of them rivaling the fare on the silver screen. Even those, victims of the ratings wars and the schedule makers, have fallen prey to the axe.
~ After the end of the runs of The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone, good sci-fi, if any, was difficult to find except for a few B-movies on Saturday mornings. The only competition that those low-budget black and whites of the 50's faced was a film with a man in a lizard suit. Time and time again, Godzilla leveled Tokyo on those weekend mornings, challenged only by The Three Stooges reruns. Back then we had to be satisfied with the likes of Plan 9 From Outer Space, Attack of the Saucer Men, The Phantom Planet, etc. But there a few good sci-fi B-movies like The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and When Worlds Collide.
~ Star Trek, the savior of science fiction on TV, arrived in the nick of time. Prime time was ready for the likes of Godzilla, but a "space western" was just what the doctor ordered! Although Spock's Vulcan mind-meld failed to persuade a larger audience, it did plant the seed for the best to come. To date, the best sci-fi series was Star Trek: Generations. While Picard, Riker, Data and Troi patrolled our galaxy, Kirk, Spock and Bones hit the big screen. It was then that probably the best TV franchise ever was born.
~ The TV schedule became a weekly menu for the palate of every science fiction consumer. We ate it up! We were treated over the next several years to a plethora of excellent science fiction. TV served us Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, and Quantum Leap to name only a few. In the meantime, Star Trek spun off two more series, Deep Space 9 and Star Trek: Voyager. We were not satiated though, we were ready to devour as much as they could cook up. There were some fair but campy offerings too: Buck Rogers, Lost In Space, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Lucan. There was also a revival of The Outer Limits.
~ The Movies also were feeding our habit. Not great, but a few good ones included The Last Starfighter, War Games, Enemy Mine, Superman, Batman, and The Abyss. With the presence of Ahnold, we saw The Predator, The Running Man, and Total Recall.
~ Meanwhile, two giants were about to change the face of science fiction forever! George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, whether in collaboration or on their own projects, redefined special effects and film making. Star Wars, need I say more? Try these on for size; Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, ET, Jurassic Park, and of course, The Terminator.
~ I am sure that you, as well as myself, will think of some I haven't mentioned like: Time Tunnel and Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea from TV. The movies also had Event Horizon, Mission To Mars, and The Red Planet.
~ The new season of films will feature a remake that only Spielberg could hope to make as good or better than the original, War Of The Worlds. We also are going to see The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, The Fantastic Four, Batman Begins, Mind Hunters and the long awaited Star Wars-Episode III-Revenge Of The Sith.
~ Sci-fi is alive and well at the movies, but what awaits us on our TV sets? For the sci-fi fan are not looking so good, at least for the near future. Star Trek: Enterprise has already stopped production, its last few episodes airing this month. We do have an up-dated version of Battlestar Galactia, but I dare say, it falls short of the original series. We can watch Andromeda, which is faring okay in the ratings for the Sci-Fi channel.
~ An article I read in the entertainment section of the newspaper predicted there is a looming replacement for the Star Trek franchise. I am skeptical of that forecast myself. Serenity is in production for the big screen. It is a film from a failed TV series, Firefly. I must admit that I never saw a single episode of this program. In fact, I don't recall ever even hearing of it. Joss Wheldon, who gave us Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel is the man behind Serenity. I am familiar with, but not a fan of either Buffy or Angel, and if this one bears any resemblance to them, we Sci-fi fans are in for a long famine. Like the original Star Trek, this program is leaping from TV cancellation to the big screen. I don't know if this film will actually create a franchise to replace the popularity of Star Trek, but only time will tell.
~ If any one is listening, I am borrowing MTV's ad line; I want my Sci-Fi! (I am perplexed. That is why it sounds like "Sigh-Fi!")