DISCLAIMER: I’ve no idea if “Science Fiction” is still allowed as a term around here or even if it’s applied to the shows I’ve listed below. If not, shake your heads in incredulous wonder at my lack of skillz man. I thank you. Oh: ans the usual SPOILER ALERT applies, natch.
This will come as a shock to you.
Are you sitting down?
I like Science Fiction. Okay, SF. Futuristic stuff. Whatever it’s called these days. I don’t know loads about it, I haven’t even watched ALL of the series around and I’ve never laid eyes on Battlestar Galactica because I don’t have Sky. But this sort of thing has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time. Alright, over a decade. Bar a couple I only dipped in and out though. And I was thinking of crime drama the whole time… ; )
X FILES (1993 – 2002, 9 seasons)
I was at school when X Files began and was one of “those”: if it was popular, then I didn’t like it. I think there’s still a little bit of that left over, hence my never listening to chart music and being uncool in general. I’m still listening to the same music I was at 14 though: NIN, Tool, Korn etc. My mother’s still telling people I’ll grow out of it. Thrown out the black though, it made me look like all washed out. Cripes, did I actually say that??
But even in the midst of my moody Goth rebellion against anything anyone else actually liked, even I could not resist The X Files. There was something about the dynamic between Mulder and Scully that really worked; not just in terms of the characters’ role functions of believer/cynic – It’s an alien! No there’s a logical explanation! – either. Peripheral characters were every bit as vibrant, such as the legendary Smoking Man or the “antagonist of the week”. There was just enough conspiracy theory to keep suspicious teens like me happy without bamboozling them with politics, kind of akin to L’oreal’s “Here comes the science…”
Like all good things however, X Files had to come to an end sometime… and actually I kind of ran out of steam and bailed around the 1999 mark, though friends tell me the episodes without Mulder were good. Episodes that really stick in my mind include Scully’s seemingly sudden conversion to Catholicism so she could understand the problem of the Nephilim after it attempted mating with a human host (a social worker as the devil! Who’d have thought it?) and the alien guy who’d tear out your liver and eat it in order to regenerate AND had the nerve to try and frame Mulder for the murder of one of his own victims. Talk about antisocial.
FARSCAPE (1999 – 2003, 4 Seasons)
I know Good Dog doesn’t like this because of the high muppet content, but it was kind of inevitable I would, having grown up on a diet of Jim Henson mania during the 1980s like most my age. And if you like muppets, what wasn’t there to like about this? There was men and women in leather, flashing lights, much bulging cleavage and fluffy creatures everywhere. Sounds like my house this New Year’s Eve just past.
What attracted me most to Farscape was unlike many other series of its genre at the time, it leant more towards the “lone protagonist” model in John Kryton as opposed to the more ensemble casts of things like Star Trek: Voyager. As regular readers of this blog know, I happen to like this former notion more as a personal preference; also as a “fish out of water” story, it hit the target dead-on for me. You get shot down a worm hole, into the depths of space. Anything can happen. And suddenly, as a human, John was considerably weirder than blue people, insectoids and other…stuff. Fancy imagining you’re on your own in the universe! There was a dry humour to Farscape that I found irresistable, yet at the same time it mirrored such conflicts as Kosovo with their own “Peacekeeprs” and tackled such philosophical concepts like Plato’s Forms with aplomb and without alienating the portion of the audience who would not recognise such references. Then there of course was the whole “Will they–Won’t they–Oh they did and who is the father of the baby” saga between Aeryn and John. Nice. Too bad humans can’t pause pregnancies like Aeryn; could come in well handy.
TORCHWOOD (2006 – present)
I don’t like Doctor Who. I know that makes me like, a social pariah and insane and probably the best thing for me to do is bury myself in a big hole so I can never see the light of day again like the dog I am, I get it. Even as a kid I would turn over and watch The Bill. Yes The Bill. I’m not saying this to inflame anyone by the way, just point out that the last thing I expected to like was Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin off.
And to start with, I didn’t. I was positively underwhelmed. I only watched it because — well, I’m not sure why. I didn’t have digital at the time? Because my son is a Dr Who fanatic and I didn’t realise Torchwood would have sex and swearing and bloody acts of violence in? Because I quite fancied Captain Jack?
That was it! It didn’t matter that he was clearly gay, everyone in Torchwood seems to be and this fluidity of sexuality is really refreshing, for aren’t these the boundaries that we set ourselves anyway? And why shouldn’t we be both and neither? I think it’s really interesteding and don’t recall another programme of this genre doing this, or if it has I didn’t watch or perhaps notice.
I’ve never quite bought the notion Captain Jack *might* feel the same way for Gwen as she clearly does for him, but there is something sexual about him: I’ve never felt that way about any of The Doctors, they’re not mysterious enough for me to want to – I never bought the chemistry between The Doctor and Rose, even one way. The fact too that even Jack is not sure *what* he is draws me to him in a way The Doctor doesn’t, probably because he seems so sure of what’s he’s doing and where he’s going, hence his catchphrase on the ads, “Do you want to come with me?” Jack seems more appealing to me as the tortured hero, doing what he does on good faith yet not always sure he isn’t leading blindly.
It changed for me with the episode where Captain Jack meets the real Captain Jack whose name he stole in that dancehall. There was something quite poignant about that episode, especially with the knowledge that not only did the real Jack never admit his true sexuality, but the fact that he would die in battle the next day. I think that was the pivotal moment for etsablishing this present series, which I think really has its own voice. I thought the addition of Captain John – not to mention that great snog and the fight that came after – was fantastic and really set the seal for what is to come next…
…And what is to come next? The Scribosphere’s very own James Moran has scripted an episode. I can’t wait to see it. I put in an order for some boobs to level up the score after all that man-on-man action last week, but apparently he’s gone for “violent pandemonium” instead according to the Radio Times. Violent Pandemonium, plus boobs? We live in hope.
Wednesday January 23rd, BBC 2, 9pm people. Watch it.
OTHER SF TREATS:
BABYLON 5 (1994 – 1998, 5 seasons)In the year 2258, it is ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. Commander Sinclair takes command of a giant five-mile-long cylindrical space station, orbiting a planet in neutral space.
The notion of space diplomacy I thought was inspired; I was less enchanted with the series itself. I really liked various notions in it – like the Telekinetic Corp – but it failed to hold my attention long term. Having said that, it was always on in the background whilst I was having dinner of an evening, so there was something about it that made me come back for more. Certainly without it I don’t think we’d have had Farscape.
STAR TREK: VOYAGER (1995 – 2001, 7 seasons) Pulled to the far side of the Galaxy, where the Federation is 75 years away at maximum warp speed, a Starfleet ship must cooperate with Maquis rebels to find a way home.
My son went through a phase when he was about three when he was an ardent Trekkie. Though I never cared for the original or the other one with Jean Luc, I actually did get into this one. I think it was the female characters; a female captain in Janeway was long overdue and even though Seven of Nine was supposed to non-emotional, there was something enigmatic about her. I always liked The Borg, but here they really came to life and the grudge match between the Borg Queen and Janeway with Janeway crossing time and space and her younger self to kill the Queen once and for all was fantastic I thought.
DARK SKIES, (1996, 1 season) 20th century history as we know it is a lie. Aliens have been among us since the 1940’s, but a government cover-up has prevented the public from knowing this.
I go in for all those conspiracy theories re: Area 51 and off the back of X Files, this was a natural choice for a viewer like me at the time. There was a sense of foreboding about it that seemed quite infectious and those Majestic agents were scary. I was surprised it didn’t get re-commissioned, but thinking about it now I think it’s strength is intact because it stood alone – had it run on, the premise might have weakened maybe?
Any fave spacey alien type dramas? Don’t be shy…