Friday, January 22, 2010

sci-fi decades.

there has been a LOT of great (and not-so-great) science fiction over the years. but every decade (or so), it feels like something special comes along that, in reflection, really defines the time. when thinking about this, the past 2 decades seemed pretty obvious, but i thought i'd go a bit further back in this geeky exercise of mine (i would be surprised if this hasn't already been written up somewhere, but this is my blog, and my thoughts tend to be pretty original, as i have too much free time to ponder such things).

while most of these series didn't fall EXACTLY in a decade, i would argue that they permeated the consciousness of the relative decade. and while the intention was never direct, the impression they left on our collective conscious make them feel "appropriate" for the decade.

let's get started:

the 60s: Star Trek (1964-1967)

originally pitched as "Wagon Train to the stars" - the concept that got the show into our living rooms was that space was like the wild, wild, west, "where no man has gone before." at the beginning of this decade, we were still invincible, and could do anything. as a nation, we were just becoming fascinated with technology (albeit the looming threat of mutually assured [nuclear] destruction). no one expected the 60s to be as tumultuous a time as they were, and Star Trek quickly became a running commentary on the very themes that were running rampant in our society (civil rights, war and peace/imperialism, sexism/feminism). and while the show as cancelled in its prime, it was later found out (too late) that the show was quite a money for the network. fascinating, indeed.

the 70s: ???
i'm drawing a blank here (your thoughts?). i was born in 1979 (i saw Star Trek re-runs as a kid child of the 80s), but from what i understand, the 70's mostly sucked. Disco?!? don't get me started (that's another blog entry i'll one day write drawing parallels with modern pop music). the original Battlestar Galactica only existed in 1978 (as a Star-Wars TV rip-off, which endured a loyal fanbase that would re-emerge in the early 2000s), but from what i understand, it too sucked (a very special No-Prize for the first reader to correctly identity the ORIGINAL source of the image shown here). next decade, PLEASE.

the 80s: Star Wars (1977-1981)

a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was us, and them. the Rebellion was the new, the young (morning in America anyone?), the Empire was the old world, corrupt and evil. Darth Vader was a true brother (despite what we saw beneath his helmet), but Lando was the caricature of one (Billy Dee!). sure, we still had enough nukes to blow up the earth multiple times, pointed every which way (not one the Death Star, but two!), but as long as we had friends and family (and a furry Wookie), it was all going to be a-OK. so jump in your X-wing or Millennium Falcon (Corvette?) with your buddies (and R2 went in the X-wing with Luke, so none of this "the X-wing is a solo ship" crap), and let's knock those Ruskies...i mean Stormtroopers out! hell, even a 1980s US-satellite "knock-the-nukes-from-the-air" space program was named after these damned movies. then the hug-a-tree hippies became en vogue, so we got Ewoks on the forest moon of Endor for the kiddies. and lots of toys were made. the force was with us, always.

90s: Star Trek: the Next Generation (1987-1994)

oh, the exuberance, the hopefullness, the optimism. the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise-D (captained by the French Jean-Luc Picard), were on a practical WHALE of a ship, where they ferried their families around, and a holographic playground, machines that could make ANY food you wanted (Tea. Earl Grey. Hot!), a visor cure for blindness, and a Pinocchio-esque robotic friend. they even walked around in cool, multi-colored uni-suits (parachute pants anyone?) least til Jean-Luc got a jacket. the Klingons (Russians) were now our reluctant allies, and all was good in the world. even kids (albeit annoying whiz kids, Wil Wheaton) could operate a starship! technology had saved us, with it we could do anything (remember, "You Will"?), or would it? soon the mysterious, unknown threat of technology would haunt us (the Borg, PC proliferation, the internet). but they ran out seasons before they fully explored it. Worf was pretty cool though.

2000s: Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)

you live under a rock if you haven't at least HEARD about this phenomanal (i hesitated from using "stellar") re-imagining of the campy 70s/80s series. the premise was the same (the last of humanity ferrying their way thru space on the run), but the message was far, far darker. technology was now ubiquitous (the internet, 24/7 media), but it had nearly become our undoing (a near utopian society knocked out by an unexpected missle strike leading to a near-genocide (9/11, anyone?). entire story arcs of the series were allusions to the issues of the day. abortion. torture. insurgency (where the good guys were the insurgents). sensationalism of the press and free speech. oh yea, and our enemies? they could be anywhere, or anyone. they looked just like us (War on Terror, anybody?). this was clearly a powerful show, that took sci-fi BEYOND science and fiction. it's no surprise that it was quickly ranked in many mainstream listings as one of the best shows ever (in my eyes, topped by only one other [non sci-fi] series). if you haven't watched it already, what are you waiting for (start w/ the pilot movie and buckle up!)?!?

20-teens (2010-2019): ???

it's too early to see what's going to emerge here. i really have no idea. but as always, i'm eager to see where the medium takes us.


  1. I certainly hope that a flying saucer shows up at my wedding the Cincinnati Museum Center. Great photo opportunity! :)

  2. is that the Cinci Museum Center, or the HALL OF JUSTICE.

    let's keep this appropriate/relevant to the sci-fi geek stuff, not on your impending real world happiness =)

  3. but a crashed flying saucer at your wedding would be TOTALLY BOSS.

  4. I just finished Battlestar, and it truly was amazing. I now want a flesh-colored eye patch.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...