TV Guide's 60 Best Sci-Fi Shows

Yesterday, the Doux Reviews virtual writers room was abuzz with the news that there was another top 100 (or in this case, 60) list to rip apart and discuss -- TV Guide's list of the 60 best sci-fi shows. But surprise -- the list is actually good! We've reviewed nine out of the top ten shows, and a respectable number of the remaining 50.

But then I took a good look at the entire list and came to the conclusion that maybe there just haven't been that many great sci-fi shows on television; if TV Guide had tried for a hundred, they'd probably have included FlashForward and The Cape. And it's sad that the list includes so many early sacrifices to the idiotic policy of networks only continuing to air shows that people were actually watching in large numbers. Fools.

The aforementioned conversation in the Doux Reviews virtual writers room was mostly about the fact this is obviously not a list of just science fiction shows, because it includes a lot of fantasy and horror. People who are not geeks such as ourselves rarely understand the difference. In fact, as Josie said, labels like "sci-fi" seem to be just a secret code for "stuff geeks watch". Geektoization.

Without further ado, here is TV Guide's top ten. Well, there could be some ado.

1. Star Trek/Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek in the top spot makes a lot of sense. But why combine it with Next Gen? And then not include the rest of the Star Trek series in the melee?

Ben P. Duck and I reviewed the original series fairly recently, and we suffered for it. We joined the infamous Star Trek One discussion list and got slammed and harassed every time we didn't uniformly praise every moment in every episode. All for you, readers. All for you.

2. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

We haven't reviewed this one, mostly because it's an anthology series that went on forever. But I'll acknowledge that it's a great classic series. Even though there are only a handful of episodes I know well.

3. Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)

I'll agree with this one being on the list. Although maybe not at number three. Ten, maybe?

4. The X-Files

A classic. Our reviews of The X-Files are still a work in progress, but stay tuned for some of that progress by "Team X-Files" later in 2013.

5. Lost

I remember all those fans saying that Lost had taken over their lives, because I was one of them. I doubt that I was as totally obsessed as some, but I swear it felt like every review I wrote was in danger of turning into a thesis.

6. Doctor Who

We feature both current and classic Doctor Who here at Doux Reviews. Paul Kelly (with a little help from me) has covered the entire seven seasons so far and has no plans to stop no matter how many times the Doctor regenerates, and Mark Greig has been contributing classic Who reviews for some time now and is currently enmeshed in the Tom Baker years.

7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy is my favorite show ever, but clearly, it is not science fiction. What is Buffy? Officially, I think it's horror/fantasy, but it's so much more than that. (Are you participating in our Buffy ReWatch? We're having a great time!)

8. The Walking Dead

This show is awesome, no doubt about it. But is it one of the ten best sci-fi/fantasy series, ever? Maybe lists like this should make a point of not including currently running shows. If they had published this list in 2000, would Buffy have been on it? It became a critical favorite because it endured. Will The Walking Dead endure? Well, it might. But we don't know yet.

9. The Prisoner

The Prisoner usually makes the top ten lists of great science fiction shows because it deserves it. Ben P. Duck and I reviewed the entire run of the show together last year.

10. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is undoubtedly a Huge Frakking Deal (that I don't watch, but thankfully, the brilliant Josie Kafka reviews for us). But see above re: The Walking Dead -- it's still NEW. Will Game of Thrones stand the test of time? No, that was actually a question. Do you think Game of Thrones will stand the test of time?

Here are the rest of the top 60 in alphabetical order (and thanks to our Sunbunny for typing that list for us). We've covered so many of these shows, and will probably get around to a few more.

Adventures of Superman

Amazing Stories

Angel

The Avengers

Babylon 5
-- I was obsessed with Babylon 5 back when it ran, and I even wrote very brief reviews for my friends on a discussion list that is now lost in the ether.

Batman

Batman: The Animated Series

Beauty and the Beast
-- I'm okay with this. As long as we're talking Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton. We are talking Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton, right?

Being Human (BBC)

Charmed

Dark Shadows

Dead Like Me
-- This one is on my "I'm going to review it someday" list.

Eureka

Falling Skies

Farscape
-- Interestingly, J.D. recently got bored with Falling Skies and dropped it, but is planning to start working on the rest of Farscape. I would go with the "test of time" argument again here. And by that I mean Farscape is a classic. We don't know yet about Falling Skies.

Firefly

Fringe

Futurama

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Heroes
 -- See my comment in the closing paragraph.

The Invaders
-- I'm assuming they are referring to the brief sixties show?

Invasion
-- I had completely forgotten this one; it was very short and canceled, as so many sci-fi shows are. I don't even remember if it was any good.

The Jetsons

Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Life on Mars (BBC)
-- We don't have a full run of reviews, but I love this series and wish we did.

Lost in Space
-- Seriously?

Max Headroom
-- Matt Frewer still rocks.

Night Gallery
 -- The Twilight Zone lite.

Once Upon a Time
-- Definitely a cool series, but again, it's still relatively new.

One Step Beyond

The Outer Limits
-- I remember years ago Stephen King highly recommended this series. (And he meant the one from the early sixties, not the remake.) It doesn't get the air time or the respect that The Twilight Zone does, but I saw several episodes way back when, and I clearly remember three or four that knocked my socks off.

Pushing Daisies

Quantum Leap
-- Ah. Loved Quantum Leap. A very special show. I'm not sure I'm up for reviewing it, though.

Roswell

The Six Million Dollar Man
-- Again. Seriously?

Smallville

Space: Above and Beyond

Stargate SG-1
-- We don't have SG-1 reviews, but we do have Stargate: Universe. I did watch all of the Stargate series and you know, I think this one should be a group entry.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Supernatural
-- My favorite currently running show, starring the two hottest guys on television. With eight seasons and the ninth airing next fall, I don't feel that the "but it's new" thing applies to Supernatural. But then again, I'm partial.

Tales from the Crypt

Teen Wolf
-- I'm assuming they mean the cool version that's running now, not the brief series that ran in the eighties that I never saw?

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
-- The very first series on Doux Reviews reviewed by someone other than me! (Thanks, Jess.)

Torchwood
-- Sigh. Captain Jack Harkness, you stone fox, you got me into Doctor Who.

True Blood

V (both old and new)

The Vampire Diaries

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
-- We haven't covered this show, but back in 2006 when the site was new, Ben P. Duck wrote a very funny essay about submerged and submarine sci-fi called Voyage to the Bottom of the Ratings.

Wonder Woman

Xena: Warrior Princess

Opinions? Critiques? Do you agree or disagree with the list? And (of course), which favorite of yours did they leave off? (Personally, the fact that they included Heroes but not Highlander was the deal breaker for me.)


19 comments:

J.D. Balthazar said...

The Farscape project is definitely underway. I'm looking forward to getting back into this wonderful show.

I totally agree that currently running shows might not qualify for the list, but I agree with most of the ones that are.

Highlander is a snub, even though it had some questionable quality, it was way better than Heroes.

I can't think of anything off the top of my head that's missing, but a much better list then the EW TV list. Of course, I'm biased.

I do wish to apologize for dropping Falling Skies, it just lost me entirely. It became a chore to watch, let along write about and that's not conducive to good reviewing.

sunbunny said...

So happy to see Futurama on the list! It's so underrated; the Simpson gets all the critical love.

The list had years on it, but I got lazy about typing them. For clarification: Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990), The Invaders (1967-1968), Teen Wolf (2011-present)

Anonymous said...

Love to see a SG1 review, still watch the show in reruns

Billie Doux said...

Anonymous, ten seasons of SG-1 is pretty darned intimidating. Now if I'd been reviewing it while it was running and didn't know it was a ten year commitment...

percysowner said...

I'm sorry that Star Trek Deep Space Nine didn't make the list. It is hands down my favorite Star Trek. I love that Dark Shadows made it because I love that show.

a.m. said...

It's too bad they didn't include Red Dwarf. It's one of my favorites.

Mark Greig said...

I agree with percysowner and a.m. that DS9 and Red Dwarf should've both made the list.

I'd also make the case for other British and sci-fi series like Blake's 7, Merlin Sapphire and Steel, Robin of Sherwood, Ashes to Ashes, Misfits, and Ultraviolet (still the best vampire series not made by Joss Whedon).

Anonymous said...

Agreed about Ultraviolet..it even has Stephen Moyer in the cast-pre True Blood. Typecast much?
Lost in space? Um..no.
Anna

ChrisB said...

I can speak from personal experience that typing out these lists can be time consuming. Well done, sunbunny.

What I liked about the top ten is that they are shows that appeal to a wider audience than just the geeks that we all are. The more people we can bring to the party, the better.

pucklady said...

I think they missed a few.

Red Dwarf, mentioned above, and I totally agree. It's a classic

Speaking of classics, how about My Favorite Martian? If the Honeymooners made the Best TV list, I think this early SciFi should have been on this list.

Logan's Run. I loved that show.

And my current favorite show, even beating out Supernatural (and believe me, that is saying A LOT): Continuum.

Jess Lynde said...

I'm so glad to know that Farscape is underway again. I continue to feel awful about having to let that one go, because I love it so. Knowing it is in good hands and coming back soon makes things better. Definitely a better choice than Falling Skies, J.D. :)

Re: Lost in Space and Six Million Dollar Man --- they may not be what we would necessarily consider quality nowadays, but I think that they have certainly endured in the public consciousness as sci-fi classics. They've "stood the test of time" in that respect. And I suspect that The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones will as well. They are certainly as ground-breaking and pioneering as Star Trek was in its time. It does feel too soon to put them in the Top 10 (especially over Babylon 5!), but given their cultural cache and growing popularity, I think they'll long be remembered as SF/F/H classics.

Scott Riggan said...

As "best of" lists go, this isn't so bad. And since I think it's sometimes hard for non-genre fans to articulate the difference between fantasy and sci-fi, I don't object to Buffy being on the list. A lot of what's called "sci-fi" blends fantasy storytelling traditions with sci-fi milieus (Star Wars, for example). How would an outsider to these genres know where the line is when that line is so frequently blurred anyhow?

And let's face it, Lost In Space deserves a spot on this list for nostalgia reasons. Yes, it's pretty horrible (I tried to re-watch an episode on Hulu a couple of years ago. Holy cow that was lame...). But I remember watching the reruns as a kid and being caught up in it (knowing full well it was cheesy).

M said...

Huh...I am actually pretty ok with this list (sci-fi/fantasy distinction notwithstanding)!

I would bump "Charmedl"

Quantum Leap is special to me, too. I remember fighting with my dad about my bedtime every week so I could stay up to watch it.

I forgot about Max Headroom! I can't even remember what it was about, but I know I loved it.

My current favorite not on the list: Orphan Black. Obviously, it is too soon to say if it will stand the test of time to be list-worthy, but I predict it will be memorable if only for Tatiana Maslany.

a.m. said...

I finally got around to actually reading the Entertainment Weekly top 100 edition. (ChrisB did such a great job discussing it here that I'd decided not to spoil her reveals by reading the magazine first.) One of the interesting things in the magazine is that they made a few "top 10" lists to go along its their top 100s. One of their lists was top 10 "greatest sci-fi shows." They were very similar in some respects to TV guides top ten but the differences in order are interesting:
1. Buffy
2. The Twilight Zone
3. Lost
4. The X-Files
5. Doctor Who
6. The Prisoner
7. Star Trek: TNG
8. Battlestar Galactica
9. Mystery Science Theater 3000
10. Star Trek

For this particular top 10, and many of the others, they just rewrote these shows in the same order that they were listed in the top 100 but pulled them out into their own list.

As a new Buffy fan, it's fun to see it at the top of the list but, in terms of sci-fi shows, I would have put something else as number one.

Juliette said...

I think Game of Thrones will endure. The books have been around since 1996 and it has the advantage of not being contemporary (or future-set) so it won't age so badly. But I agree it's hard to see things clearly while they're on, as it were.

I just finished watching all of Farscape in about 3 weeks (for work) - sort of exhausting and I started expecting to see puppets in every corner (and actually thought 'arn' instead of 'hour' to myself at one point) but man, I'd forgotten how good that show was!

Anonymous said...

Charmed was good when Shannen Doherty was on it..then it went rapidly downhill..so I'd leave it out too.
Farscape will endure. Great show.
Game of thrones will stand the test of time as well. Maybe I'll find a Tardis and see..
The movie version of Lost in Space was so bad it was almost funny..poor Joey from Friends and Gary Oldman..
Anna

David Bobzien said...

No SPACE: 1999. Shame on TV Guide !

Anonymous said...

I was always recommend a little seen and little loved series called 'Defying Gravity' - simply brilliant and but before it's time. It was shown at random times incredibly late and night and I was fortunate enough to come across it.

I'd also like to have seen Stargate Universe on this list; by far the least loved of the franchise, but it's the one I keep going back to, and it's the one I really wish they'd make more of. Simply one of the best Sci-Fi endings of all time - much missed.

Docnaz said...

I like lists like this. I love so many of the shows listed here.. Lost is in my top 5 shows of all time and led me to this site when I was looking for a good online review site.. I have started watching Buffy and Angel because of this site and I have not been disappointed. I do think they left out a very important show, however. To me, the greatest Sci Fi TV show of all time, based on my favorite Sci Fi book of all timee (forget the lame movie version) is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.