I've been a fan of sci-fi since my wee days. I cut my teeth on reruns of Gene Roddenberry's original Star Trek and spent much of my formative years looking for another good sci-fi TV series. Lost in Space definitely wasn't it and neither was Space 1999. Battlestar Galactica filled the vacuum for a while for me until the debacle that was Galactica 1980 robbed me of a my innocence about television. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century came and went with a whimper. There was little to watch other than Doctor Who episodes -- many of them quite good -- on PBS until V came along. The V mini-series was entertaining but the TV series just kept going downhill after a couple of episodes.
Finally, Star Trek: The Next Generation came along. At first, I was reluctant to accept that another series could carry the Star Trek name. And with good reason, the first season of TNG was terrible. I tuned in intermittently for couple of years until the series started to improve. TNG finally turned into good, and occasionally hour of TV that I could really enjoy. Capitalizing on the success of TNG, Paramount rushed Deep Space Nine and Voyager onto the airwaves. DS9 would turn out to be my favorite Star Trek series of them all. Voyager would turn out to be a sick joke perpetrated on the fans by a cynical new network. Most recently, they've tried to foist Enterprise on Star Trek fans. enterprise is strictly Star Trek lite at this point but it's a huge step the right direction for the aging franchise.
ST:TNG helped open things up for sci-fi/fantasy on television. J. Michael Straczynski's ground breaking series Babylon 5 has a cult following to this day. I enjoyed its long-term arcs but found the characters to be rather stiff and dull at times. Nevertheless, it was an excellent plot-driven show in its first four seasons. Highlander was fantasy rather than sci-fi but it really drew me in and grew up to be an excellent show. The X-Files was the first sci-fi series to break into the TV "mainstream." It was a great show for a few years but Chris Carter just never knew when to quit and when the X-Files died, it went not with a bang but with a whimper.
For a long time, while Voyager was sucking wind and The X-Files was wheezing to the finish line, my favorite sci-fi show was the animated series, Futurama. Meanwhile, Gene Roddenberry's widow Majel was managing to crib together enough of his notes to give us two sci-fi series, Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda. EFC got off to promising head start and was promptly destroyed by executives at Tribune entertainment who insisted on retooling and recasting it every year until it was one the worst television ever made. Andromeda may yet follow the same path, it's first season was uneven but showed promise as did its second season but the removal of Executive Producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe at the behest of star Kevin Sorbo implies that the inmates are in charge of the asylum on board the starship Andromeda.
Anyway, the reason for all this nostalgia is Firefly, Joss Whedon's new series; summaries below.
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