Star Wars vs Star Trek vs Battlestar Galactica vs Babylon 5 (open spoilers)

So, what’s your favorite sci-fi and why?
I’m sure I missed some great sci-fi but that’s the four main ones I know. If you think there is some other great sci-fi I should have included, please mention it.

I did not include Firefly because it’s the JFK of sci-fi.

Used to be Star Wars, but the new BSG topped that for me (possibly soured by the SW prequels). B5 was OK in the middle of its run, but I never loved it and it started and ended badly. Star Trek I’ve always found a little bland, although there are some great episodes and Wrath of Khan was a decent, solid flick.

Doctor Who’s top of the list for me, though. Biggest sci-fi show in the world’s got be on the list. :slight_smile:

I’ve never watch BSG. In the 80’s I got into Star Trek: TNG and have watched every series since. I see B5 to be a more mature and realistic version of Star Trek’s utopian society. I like Star Wars, but I watched it when I was basically an adult so it doesn’t have some magical, nostalgic hold on me.

It’s a toss up between Star Trek - some of them - and B5. I like B5 because it has a beginning, middle, and an ending, and it has episodic continuity, something that grates on me incredibly in Star Trek, which wanders all over the place and doesn’t necessarily have continuity.

It’s telling that my favorite Star Trek is DS9, which is a spiritual sister to B5.

I hate BSG.

And truth be told I don’t really think Star Wars belongs here until it has a proper TV show.
All of these are left far in the dirt by the glory that is Doctor Who.

Of the four choices listed, my vote goes to Babylon 5. I’ll pop this in the dvd player to re-watch more often than the others. (Actually, I’ve yet to re-watch BSG. Don’t think I could sit through that again.)

I think Babylon 5 is the best space station sci-fi ever, and if it were a question between DS9 and B5, B5 would win out with a very small margin. However, overall, I prefer Star Trek. It’s a bigger “world”, with more species and a more optimistic outlook. B5 has a fair amount of species, but all but about four of them are shunted into a very second-class role, and if the main cast hadn’t included humans and Narn, there would only be two species of any note, besides the demideity Vorlons and Shadows.

Star Trek, OTOH, has a lot more species equality than B5…species other than humans and Vulcans actually have a large say in the Federation, to the point where the Federation president in several incarnations of the franchise is non-human/non-Vulcan. People actually GO places in ST…they do in B5, too, but it doesn’t feel like they’re actually anywhere very far from the station most of the time. B5 seems like a much smaller “world”.

Star Wars is out of the running because, while it’s similar to ST in the size of its universe and species and all that, that’s primarily in the literary medium rather than the television/movie medium.

BSG I never watched…I saw part of one episode and wanted to slit my wrists. Horribly, dystopianly dark. Bleah.

Doctor Who.

Otherwise, B5 wins on quality and Star Wars wins on childhood nostalgia. Star Trek is OK (I too like DS9 best but when we tried to re-watch it, it was awful!), and I’ve never watched BSG.

I picked B5 too. The acting, writing and plot isn’t awesome all by itself, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The biggest draw for me is that B5’s space battles is way nicer to watch than that of Star Trek or Star Wars. Lightsaber is cool, but most Jedi vs. Sith plot-lines involved the Jedi being bigger morons than the Sith.

I tried BSG for two episodes, but it was too dark for me. Upon hearing that the plot stumbles towards the end, I gave it up.

Never watched Doctor Who before. Something tells me I am missing lots.

I’m going to give the cowardly milquetoast answer and say that each choice is entertaining in its own way. But I had to make a choice, and mine was based on its optimistic vision of the future - no racial bigotry, no poverty, a united Earth, no real need for money at all. So Star Trek, step up and take a bow - you have been a pleasant obsession for me since 1966.

(And Doctor Who really should have been one of the choices. I like it too.)

This with the exception of BSG - loved the original but though the new one was crap and never got by the first 3 episodes…

OK, so if the Doctor is excluded then the question becomes really favorite “Modern Space Opera”

Star Trek balances out what can be both an unfair advantage AND an unfair disadvantage of spanning at least eight versions in TV, animation, and feature film, across half a century of production with distinct Young Gene/Old Gene/post-Gene visions and depending on how you look at it what could be half a dozen continuities (sometimes barely held together by cross references or transplanted characters). So people can narrow to a specific version (say the II-TWOK/III-TSFS/IV-TVH triad, or DS9) and discount weak points. It would be almost unfair to the more limited-run shows.

But it **is the older of the “parents” - every other modern space-op gets judged in part by how succesfully they avoid being imitations of Star Trek and Star Wars. All said, ** among the two big ongoing franchises it’s Trek for me. It’s the one I’ve known all my life and that I feel good when the latest version’s done well and I go :smack: when they come up with a ST-V.
Star Wars as someone else mentioned is not IMO really a comparable because though its scale is grand and epic, it is a different idiom than the TV shows (except for the CloneWars cartoon). The off-screen extended universe however never really grabbed me, and I could not get too worked up about the prequel trilogy’s weaknesses (because I knew anything would look weak compared to the originals). But the original trilogy is impressive to this day and it was indeed transformative in its time - without it we may not have had a revival of Trek in films, which led in turn to TNG and the other shows here discussed.
B5 has the aforementioned elements of coherent vision though its beginning and end were weakened largely due to production uncertainty (as in: will we be picked up at all? the first year, and: will we get to finish this before we’re shut down? the 4th and 5th). Considering the resources available at the time it was extremely well executed, and at the time it was kinda ballsy to step into the turf of the mighty Trek franchise. **As a fixed begins-and-ends run **(as opposed to ongoing extended franchise) it still wins me, though it got a good run for its money from…

…the recent BSG, which did a very, very good example of a succesful reinterpretation of the concept. Though one could say it also has a somewhat “unfair advantage” of coming AFTER all of the others so it could learn from their mistakes, and incorporate lessons from the genre in general as well as the evolution of the series idiom in the cable era.

Funny how I still hated BSG. Too dark. Too damn dark. And I love dystopic novels and movies, but I think I prefer my TV shows to be a bit lighter.

I didn’t mind about dark - if I wanted Sunnybrook Farm I’d be watching TNG where everything always turns out both hunky and dory. I do mind dark for dark’s sake. Gratuitous dark. Smacks of WIBCI* I hate WIBCI. Always drags me right out of the story.

I don’t think that was BSG’s problem. The dark is there in service to the story: in that situation you’re going to show some pretty damned dark or you’re wimping out. The episode “33” was a beautiful example of how you can have dark, but it’s not gratuitous dark.

No, my problem with BSG was that R.D. Moore clearly had no idea that it was going to run so long, and had no idea how to end it. No unboxed spoilers in this post, but as the series went longer the frequency of WTF increased until it was nearly incomprehensible.

But those early episodes have some beautiful stuff:

“I swore an oath. To defend the articles. The articles say there is an election in seven months. Now, if you are telling me we are throwing out the law, then I am not a captain, you are not a commander, and you are not the president. And I don’t owe either of you a damned explanation for anything.”

*Wouldn’t It Be Cool If

Well, that was another thing. I really, really hated the Starbuck character. And they kept focusing on her, and I felt that she was far too flawed for me to like her at all. And I wanted to see Adama, or the kid, or - what was the Asian chick’s name?

And then the end of Series 2 came and the rapes and attempted rapes and the fratboy jerkish mentality on the other surviving ship…and I was horrified and didn’t care if I never saw another episode again.

Seriously, I could have taken the violence. The rapes definitely pushed it over the edge for me. [/spoiler]

Star Trek’s been a minor obsession with me for most of my life. Got hooked with Next Generation, and followed most of the following series - at least until Voyager fell flat and Enterprise never really grabbed me.*

That being said, I had to chose Babylon 5. I’ve always been a far of the more serialized series. It gives you a reason to keep coming back, and often the payoff is good - but the journey is better. Same reason why I like DS9 the best of the Treks. BSG was solid as well, if a very muddled in the last season or two.

However, I have to agree with everything above: Doctor Who beats it all, by quite a distance. With Who, you get it all - there are dark parts, and there are lighter parts. There’s camp and fun and there’s serious and stormy - and there’s continuity. For someone who likes a long, epic story - the Doctor often delivers.

  • Though I recently watched it on Netflix and appreciated it more now - especially the much-admired Manny-Coto-4th-season - but originally, but that point, I was long gone.

Of those 4 choices, I’d go with B5. Because Starfuries and spinning for gravity, that’s why.


My favorite (of those listed) is Babylon 5, because of the writing.

Babylon 5 gets the nod from me:

  1. It had a preplanned arc that stayed reasonably true to course (albeit with adjustments due to network BS and staff changes.)
  2. It wasn’t afraid to address big issues in a big way without pussying out.
  3. Kosh
  4. Excellent writing.
  5. Physics.

Second place would be BSG, until Ron Moore went insane. Third goes to Star Trek and Star Wars equally, because each is less than 50% good when considered as a whole, and the visionary behind each is either criminally insane or an idealistic dreamer, neither of which makes for good story-telling.

Dr Who is my favorite, although I haven’t kept up with the modern incarnation. Some storylines are weak (antimatter is evil? :blech: ), but for the most part it’s good science fiction. My teen years were spent waiting in anticipation for the Saturday night Dr Who episode.

As a kid, I was a Star Wars fan. Sometimes accused of only have the accoutrements of science fiction, it does have some substance to it. Things like a multi-species society, where advanced technology is ubiquitous and well-worn. Still, I love it more for the story than the science-fiction. (I’m speaking of the originals. I like the prequels, but I’m not a fan.)

I like Star Trek, too. I watched most of the originals when they were syndicated. They were fun to watch, and had some good science fiction, but were way too campy for me to be a big fan. When the Next Generation came out, I watched the regularly. It had much better stories. But they didn’t do action as well as Star Wars and didn’t do science fiction as well as Dr Who.

Of course, I’ve always gotten my science-fiction fix from reading Analog. TV shows and movies can’t really do more than a gloss.

B5. Barely. If the Treks had been broken down by series, DS9 probably would have gotten the nod.