Science Fiction: in TV

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
this is an essay on sci-fi in television. now, where as this topic is brad, it manly focuses on the early 60's, and the dawn of modern science fiction. the main part of the essay is an abridged history of: Doctor Who, Star Trek, and The Twilight Zone; the three main inspirations for so many stories today.

Submitted: June 17, 2015

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Submitted: June 17, 2015



Science fiction, what a remarkable genre. Many people all over the globe think, eat and breathe science fiction. Books, graphic novels, plays, TV shows, movies, poems, music, art, games, and video games; they all have sci-fi in common. What is sci-fi? How can it be classified as one thing when so many things share it? Surely a novel and music can’t be judged with the same scale. Because of this, sci-fi is difficult to decipher. The history is relatively un-documented, aside from the works themselves. Considering how broad the term “sci-fi” is, I will be showing the TV part of sci-fi.

What is Sci-Fi?
Science fiction is a category of speculative fiction. Speculative fiction is any fiction that includes: time travel, space travel, supernatural elements, fantasy (like fairytales, and Lord of the Rings), mystery, crime, horror, etc. In other words, all science fiction is speculative fiction, but not all speculative fiction is science fiction. All of the following are sub-genres of sci-fi: Alien Invasion, Alternate History (SF), Alternate/Parallel Universe, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Artificial Intelligence, Colonization, Cyberpunk,  Dying Earth, Dystopia, First Contact, Galactic Empire, Generation Ship, Hard SF, Human Development,  Immortality, Light/Humorous SF, Military SF, Mind Uploading, Mundane SF, Mutants, Mythic Fiction (SF), Nanotechnology, Near-Future, Pulp, Robots/Androids, Science-Fantasy, Singularity,  Slipstream, Soft SF, Space Exploration, Space Opera, Steampunk,  Terraforming, Theological, Time Travel,  Uplift,  Utopia, and Virtual Reality. All of the above can be made into ether hard sci-fi, or soft sci-fi. Hard sci-fi is based in scientific fact, and the writers for this kind of sci-fi go above and beyond to achieve scientific accuracy with all technological advances. Soft sci-fi tends to be looser with technology, and focuses more on the human element, rather than cold hard facts

The First Sci-Fi in Television
The first sci-fi television program was Captain Video and His Video Rangers, it was a kid’s show that ran from 1949 to 1955, and was created by Lawrence Menkin. The plot of the show, was that a scientist by the name of captain video was assisted by his teenage apprentice who happened to be the commander of the “video rangers”. Together they fought bad guys in the far off future. This show doesn’t sound all that different from the kid’s sci-fi we have today. Other early sci-fi shows in chronological order include: Space Patrol; Tom Corbett, Space Cadet; Captain Z-Ro; Tales of Tomorrow; The Quartermass Experiment; Rod Brown of the Rocket Rangers; Flash Gordon; Rocky Jones: Space Ranger; Quartermass II; Science Fiction Theater; Quartermass and the Pit; and Men Into Space. All of the shows listed ran within 1949-1960.

The birth of modern sci-fi
In the 60’s, many science fiction shows were made, and some were very popular, like: The Jetsons, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Lost in Space, and more. But there are three in particular that come to mind almost instantly when someone says sci-fi; Doctor Who, Star Trek, and The Twilight Zone. These shows were the inspiration for most modern science fiction stories, whether it be in print, on the big screen, or on television sets.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who was first aired on November 23 1963 in the UK, and was created by Sydney Newman. The show is based around the adventures of a Timelord from the planet Gallifrey. He travels time and space in his time machine/spaceship called the Tardis that looks like a police box. He goes by the name The Doctor, and usually travels with a companion. Most of the time they are a female human, but sometimes they are male, and others not a human at all. Generally, The Doctor and his companion, try to stop aliens from harming the earth. One of the many things that make Doctor Who stand out from other sci-fi shows is that The Doctor can change the way he looks by regenerating. If a timelord is about to die, they regenerate, which is the process of changing every cell in their body to new ones. They never know what they will look like, they could be old, or young, female, or male. The original series ended 1989, concluding its 23 year run. The show had and 7 Doctors and 26 season. It is impossible to see every episode of the original show, because some of the episodes were accidentally destroyed, or lost. In 2005 the show was re-booted with the 9th doctor and the original story line continued, except it takes place several hundred years in the future, and the doctor is now the last of his kind due to a time war among the Timelords and their greatest enemy the Daleks. The show is in production today, with 9 seasons, the 12th doctor; who is over 2,000 years old, and his companion Clara. Even though the show ended temporarily from 1989-2005, in the 16 years of non-production, reruns were regularly played, comics made, toys and collectibles sold, and they even made a TV movie in 1996 that had the only appearance of the 8th doctor. Because people never stopped celebrating, watching, and loving the show during hiatus, it is considered the longest running sci-fi television series at 50+ years on air. During the 50+ years, the BBC had produced a cartoon miniseries and movie starring the 10th doctor. They also made a show called Torchwood in 2006 that ran until 2011. The show was more adult oriented at an age rating of TV-14, rather than PG (Doctor Who), or TV-Y7 (The Sarah Jane Adventures). Another show they made was The Sarah Jane Adventures staring a previous companion Sarah Jane Smith, which ran from 2007 until Elisabeth Sladen’s untimely death from cancer in 2011.

Star Trek
The premier of Star Trek was September 8th 1966 in the US, and was created by Gene Roddenberry. The plot of the show is best described by the opening monologue: “Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before”. The show is mainly focused on the characters: Captain James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. Leonard H. McCoy, Lt. Nyota Uhura, Lt. Montgomery Scott, Lt. Hikaru Sulu, and Ensign Pavel Chekov. After 3 seasons and 80 episodes, the show ended in 1969. On September 8 1973, Star Trek: The Animated series debuted, as the first and only part of the Star Trek series aimed at children (not including products). The show ended the next year in 1974 with 2 season, totaling only 20 episodes. On September 28th 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation, also created by Gene Roddenberry, premiers. The show ended up being more successful than the original, coming after a long line of movies. The show ended in 1994, after 7 seasons. On January 3rd 1993, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered. It ended after 7 seasons in 1999. In 1995, on January 16th, Star Trek: Voyager began its run. In 2001, the show ended after 7 seasons as well. On September 26th 2001, the prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise premieres. In 2005, the series ended after 4 seasons, thus ending the 18 years of almost constant new Star Trek content. After that, Star Trek almost left the pop-culture wagon. In 2009, J.J. Abrams directed a reboot movie for Star Trek called Star Trek. It hit theaters on the 8th of May 2009, and was the highest grossing movie in all of Star Trek history. With this new movie, Star Trek became more popular than ever, and regained its spot in pop-culture. In 2013, J.J. Abrams directed another film in the reboot movie series, Star Trek into Darkness. The third Star Trek film in the reboots is said to premiere July 8th, 2016, and is directed by Justin Lin. September 8th, 2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek.
The Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone first aired on October 2nd, 1959, and was created by Rod Serling. Every episode of The Twilight Zone starts with eerie music and cryptic narration. Once the intro has passed, you see the host/narrator/creator/writer, Rod Serling introduce the story. Every episode has a different story, and each story is centered on a lesson; but how they convey that lesson is usually a bit twisted. The Twilight Zone ended in 1964 after 5 seasons. In 1969, Rod Serling released a show similar to The Twilight Zone, called Night Gallery. Night Gallery ran for 3 seasons, then ended in 1973. In 1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie was made, and grossed over $29,500,000 dollars in US box offices alone. After that, Rod brought back The Twilight Zone in 1985, but with a few changes. Instead of Rod being the narrator, it was a different star from the time. That also ended in its 3rd season in 1989. In 2002 a short lived reboot was made. The show only had one 43 episode season before it ended the next year in 2003. It has been 56 years since the original Twilight Zone captivated America, and during its long history there were many shows like it, some successful, some not so much. “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”- Season 1 intro, The Twilight Zone.

Sci-Fi Today
 Science fiction is all the rage in today’s world, no longer is it seen as solely a geek’s interest. Shows range from making fun of the whole concept in a humoring way like Futurama, to hard core drama sci-fi like Orphan Black. Looking at the origins for lots of today’s science fiction, you can see how The Twilight zone, Star Trek, and Doctor Who, have made a major impact on today’s pop-culture. If you have seen any of the three, or, any of the shows I have listed, you will recognize many things from these in other shows, movies and books. Like I said in the beginning, the history of science fiction is a difficult to put in one paper, let alone find all the info. So it’s best to look at it one subject at a time.

“Live long and prosper”- Mr. Spock, Star Trek.

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