I’m a nerd. It’s not a secret. I’m also a geek, and often a bit of a dork, but I’m not ashamed of any of that. I was even a nerd before all the cool kids were doing it. I’m nerdy, old-school. And one of the main reasons I am the way I am today is because I’ve watched a lot of science fiction. I’ve also read a ton of science fiction, but that’s a whole separate and unbelievably extensive list. I’ve compiled my top ten sci-fi movies and TV shows. In some cases, it’s not necessarily the quality of the show or movie, but how much it influenced how I think about things and look at the world. In other cases, things made this list becasue they are just ridiculously fucking good. Some of these are probably best considered fantasy rather than sci-fi, but it’s my blog, and I’ll genre mix if I want to. Zombie movies, while among my favorite forms of entertainment ever, are also a totally separate list. Watch these things:
- Firefly/Serenity: This TV series was part of the original Joss Whedon trifecta: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. (Dollhouse came much later.) I watched, and loved, Buffy and Angel, but Firefly has my heart. It’s most often described as a “space western,” but that does it such a disservice. Amazing cast, amazing writing, a good balance of humor and drama, and some pretty in-depth and well-planned world building. Unfortunately, Firefly was totally fucked over by Fox (almost a decade later, and fans will never ever stop making mention of that fact), and only fourteen episodes were made, only eleven of which aired. The final three episodes were released, along with a feature film (Serenity), and it will probably never be replaced as my favorite TV show ever.
- Doctor Who: Don’t let the fact that there have been about four zillion seasons of this show and that eleven people have played the (same) main character scare you: this show is completely fucking awesome. The series was “rebooted” in 2005, with Christopher Eccleston taking on the role of the Doctor (the main character is called just “the Doctor.” although when referring to the various incarnations, it’s usually easier to call them by their numbers: Eccleston is Nine, David Tennant is Ten, and Matt Smith is the current Doctor, Eleven). It’s funny, it’s campy, the dialogue is hilarious, and it’s made me cry more than once. Per season.
- The Empire Strikes Back: By far, the best out of the Star Wars movies. Good sci-fi is one thing, but it takes really great sci-fi to be considered a “great” movie, regardless of genre. I choose to pretend that the “prequels” were just mediocre fanfiction that somehow got produced. Empire is where it’s at.
- Dune: Yes, the book was ten thousand times better. Yes, the movie was pretty terrible. I DON’T CARE AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. Patrick Stewart! Kyle MacLachlan! Sting! The film was visually appealing, and the very first time I saw it, I didn’t know enough about movies to know it sucked; I just knew that one of my favorite books was a movie and I loved it. I still do.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Rewatching it twenty years later, yes, it’s dated and more than a little cheesy. But it’s soooo good. It was then; it still is. And you may be starting to notice that having Patrick Stewart in your cast is a good way to make it onto this list. Out of all the Star Trek series and movies, this is easily my #1. It’s more entertaining and less heavy than some of the later series, and I never could get into the original series. TNG is king of the Treks, as far as I’m concerned.
- Farscape: Here’s how good this series is: I’m almost positive I haven’t seen all of the episodes, and it still makes the list. A kick-ass female main character who isn’t a caricature, a male lead who is not always the hero, secondary and tertiary characters that are fully realized and incredibly well-written, and complex and intricately planned world building. Even though this series still has a loyal, one might say rabid, following, it never really got the recognition I think it deserved.
- Battlestar Galactica: The new one. Although it did, admittedly, fall to shit at the end, this series was all of the things good sci-fi should be: gritty, smart, depressing, a little spiritual, and a really harsh study of human nature. BSG was a good enough show that the fact that its cast was 95% unrealistically good-looking (sorry, Edward James Olmos, but you’re still a fucking incredible actor) didn’t detract from the writing. I wasn’t crazy about how it wrapped up, but getting there was really, really good.
- Stargate SG-1: Predictable story lines? Absolutely. Really cheesy special effects? Always. Still one of the most enjoyable sci-fi series to date? In my book, yes. I prefer the original team (Jack O’Neill, Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson, and Teal’c, with General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser), but I liked the show enough that later-season cast substitutions never really bothered me. SG-1’s first spinoff Stargate:Atlantis was also a lot of fun. And neither series ever really pretended to be anything it wasn’t.
- Futurama: Being a cartoon isn’t a disqualifier here. It’s hilarious. It fucks with most sci-fi tropes without really insulting the source material. And I invent reasons to say “Who smells like freaking porpoise hork?” on a regular basis. Special category for the episode “Jurassic Bark,” which has the dubious distinction of having one of the only scenes in the history of TV that makes me cry every damn time I see it.
- Eureka: One word? Underrated. There’s a big focus on the “science” part of science fiction in this show, but the acting is good, the story lines are engaging, if a little predictable, the cast is diverse in a ton of ways, and it’s really just consistently good and almost always guaranteed to be entertaining. I particularly like to recommend this to people who have a hard time with sci-fi, because it’s very relatable, and there are a lot of good stand-alone episodes that don’t require any investment in the seasonal story arcs.
(Also, no Nerd Girl post could be complete without MC Chris:)