In which Palandine gets hooked on yet another sci-fi program


I didn’t used to be like this. I used to hate my brother for sitting on me and making me watch re-runs of Star Trek. I thought Battlestar Galactica and Logan’s Run were silly. I owned no Star Wars action figures.

And now that I’m a grownup, I can’t get enough of it. Moreover, my timing is bad–I didn’t get into Deep Space Nine until its last season.

And now I’m hooked on another one–a show that went off the air in 1991.

Alien Nation

The Sci-Fi Channel showed 3 of the tv movies on March 3rd. I loved them. They had an episode last Saturday at 8 am; I loved that too. Then they showed five episodes yesterday, and I was in Nirvana.

Yes, they look a little dated, from the mullet-headed human detective to the late 80s clothes to the late 80s technology. But I like it anyway for the little things–they actually went to the trouble to create an alien language and have the Newcomers use it (note to Star Trek series V–subtitles in moderation are not a bad thing). They show alien spirituality. The humans aren’t always the good guys, and neither are the Tenctonese. It’s just a very compelling show, I think, and perhaps before its time. Moreover, it’s that rarest of things–an original premise: the first aliens we meet are slaves that washed up on earth with no way to get home and no choice but to assimilate into the culture.

Sadly, only 22 episodes were made, so once again I’m hooked on a show with a limited run (it happened with my love of “The Young Ones,” too).

Mundane and pointless to the extreme, but I had to share. Anyone else here raised with a hatred of science fiction but likes it in adulthood?

Klingonese was developed for ST:TOS by an actual language expert- so its not just a load of guys coughing up phlegm. And now that you’ve got me started there are too many alien species in ST to subtitle them all, you’d just end up reading the speech off the screen the whole time.

I’m off on another extreme altogether, the first tv prog’ I can ever remember watching is the episode of ST:TOS where Kirk and crew are sent to a planet run by a computer that suppresses society’s tempers and passions and I hooked ever since(shamefully I can’t remember the episode title)

BTW I like Alien Nation too I’m currently catching it on SCIFI channel.

If you are only getting into SF as an adult, you have some treats ahead of you, and somethings to avoid like the plague lest your adult vision be blighted and vomit soil the screen of your television.

Alien Nation is OK as long as you pay attention to the human element and avoid the real genre (I mean after all, things dissolving in salt water? gag) AN was a great lesson in the fact that you can say things about racism without offending anyone if you make up a new race to say it with. Keep an eye out for the TV movies that were made after the series was canceled; the SF channel reruns them occasionally, and they were better made (with better scripts) than the last several of the episodes.

Series to avoid: Earth 2 Many, Space: Abysmal and Bletcherous, Sinkquest. Anyone with intelligence chokes and runs.

Let’s talk about first run, new series. The new crop of SF channel shows are pretty bad. Step on Black Scorpion. Kill it. Spray it with Raid. Old Verne should have been left in the last century. The Invisible Man has some really good moments, especially the first few episodes when they were exploring the tension in his working for the government.

Now to be controversial. Many people like Farscape; I think it has gone downhill. Far downhill. Watch it and see what you think. I will only put up with so much overacting and bad writing for Good Muppets and really sexy Australians.

Earth: Final Conflict had a good first season, and then the suits stepped in. Run away. Run far away. I still watch it, but then I’m a glutton for punishment.

Andromeda has its moments, but they are just far enough apart to barely keep me there. The thought of the bimbo running things is fascinating enough to keep me tuned in. Keven Sorbo has a presence from all those years posturing.

The best science fiction show in production today, by far, is Stargate: SG1. No contest. Good writing, good acting, and a continuing story line that builds from show to show to show. Moreover, it barely ever steps on its own tail. Well, not more than once every third or fourth show. Alien Nation and others would forget their own rules every other week if it suited them; Stargate tries to construct their universe, live in it, and have their characters grow in it. They change. Recently, they had a recurring character who was a kind of bad guy (Colonel Makepiece) pull off a rescue of the Stargate Command and actually reconcile with the main characters. It was a really nice piece of acting and writing, with all the actors handling it very nicely, and it was just tossed off, incidental to the story. Now that’s writing. Find out when this one is on. Look for it. It’s worth the effort.

As for good re-runs: look for the Trek franchise, and watch what suits you. As for me: it goes by age. The Original Series was best (on the Sci Fi channel daily), then The Next Generation, then Deep Space Nine, then Voyager. Some disagree. See what suits you. Some of the TNG episodes are classics.

But the Sci Fi channel is just now starting Babylon 5 from the beginning, and here you should get our your VCR and grab it from the beginning. Savor it. Pour over it. There are a few clinkers in the first season, but consistently over time this is the best there is. It has a whole five year storyline, thought out from the beginning, and it is worth the time and effort. In April, the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade starts on the Sci Fi channel, and you should grab it, too. Sheer joy. Beautiful.

And if you don’t insist on science fiction, but are willing to include vampire flicks in your criteria, don’t pass over Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I know the very concept seems like fluff. But this is the best writing on television today. Really. Truly. I know English professors that stay up over this show. The last show of the sweeps, “The Body”, which showed Buffy’s mother dying, did what it took NYPD Blue an entire season to do with Jimmy Smitt’s heart condition thread to do, did it better, and did it with young actors that have a lot less experience. It was sheer magic. This show has the only continuing lesbian couple on TV today, and it does it without fanfare, naturally, as part of the storyline. It is masterful.

I hereby conclude my pontification.

Hey DLB. Yes, I suppose the salt water thing is a little odd, but it doesn’t bug me too badly. If you can kill a slug by pouring salt on it, why couldn’t salt water fry an alien? I suppose it’s along the lines of an aspirin having the capability to kill a Vulcan. If it’s in the canon, I guess I buy it.

I’ve seen just a few of the shows (5 eps, 3 movies), so I’m no expert, but I like the way they handle racism without banging you over the head with THE MESSAGE as, say, Voyager is prone to do. It strikes me as realistic, even if it is ugly, that these aliens immediately get two epithets used against them–slag and spongehead–and that especially in the earlier episodes these epithets are used openly by people who you know wouldn’t dream of saying the n word in polite company.

If there’s a fault, it seems to play Tenctonese sex for laughs a little too much for my taste, but I really enjoyed other touches like the Tenctonese fondness for sour milk and raw pig parts. I just love this show–it may not be for purists, I guess, but I really regret missing it in its first run.

Umm, I like Earth 2, but I have a letch for Clancy Brown. Other than him, I’ll admit it leaves a lot to be desired.

Lexx also must die. Perhaps they could use the money they’ll save by canning Black Scorpion, Verne, Invisible Man, and Lexx by bringing back Alien Nation–maybe it’s time has come now. I certainly doubt the writers said all they could say about human-Tenctonese relations in 22 episodes and a few movies.

I once read a statement to the effect that once you have to bring in a one-dimensional bad guy who dresses all in black bondage gear, your show is going downhill. I like the earlier Farscapes; I’m not so crazy about the new ones, although I’m willing to give it a few more chances.

I like Andromeda, although I don’t think it’s figured out what it’s trying to say yet. And I agree with critics who say that things in the galaxy seem to be pretty much okay considering that “the dark times have come.”

I’ve never seen it, partly because I thought the movie was silly, but I’ll have to give it a try now.

In the past I haven’t had enough patience for Babylon 5, but I do think I’ll have to make a more concerted effort this time–I’ve heard so many great things about it.

Just what I need–ANOTHER show to get involved in :eek:

Palandine, I second the motion to watch Babylon 5 FROM THE BEGINNING!!! The last two nights(Mar. 12th and 13th) were the pilot, tonight, the 14th, is the first regular episode. I grew up on Star Trek, but when I watched B-5 I converted. It is simply the best sci-fi TV series ever. And do tape it if you can. I have all the episodes on tape THREE TIMES! One is for me, one is for my nephew in a few years(he’s seven) and the third is for lending. Seriously, if you are forced to miss any episodes and you really want to see them email me and I can send you the tape. I cut out most of the commercials so most of the tapes have 6-8 episodes on them. One of the things I liked best about B-5 is that it treats religion respectfully. It isn’t condescending ande it doesn’t ignore it. I’m not just talking about human religion, the non-humans have their faiths depicted too. The fifth epsode(next Tuesday??), titled"The Parliament of Dreams" begins the introduction of this subject. Anyway, let us know, after a while what you think.