In my last post, one of my "dark" views of human nature and the future of humanity, I mentioned "Star Trek" which, despite its sometimes Pollyanna-ish views of our distant future, I still watched in its various incarnations from my days in grade school until the cancellation of "Enterprise" last year. There's little doubt that the concepts in "Star Trek" and its progeny have had an impact on our society, both cuturally and technologically.
However, just to show that you cannot take cultural icons too seriously, I ran across a website talking about a Finnish takeoff of the sci-fi horse opera genre called "Star Wreck: In the Pikinning". It was made over a seven-year period by students and others on a very low budget, but if the trailer is any indication, "Star Wreck" should be a real hoot. From what little the trailer shows you, "Emperor Pirk" (i.e., Kirk) somehow goes back to our time to insure that the "P-Fleet" will exist in the future and then somehow gets involved with "Captain Sherrypie" of Babel 13 (Captain Sheridan of "Babylon 5"), resulting in a "fragfest" with Federation-style starships fighting a huge battle with ships from the "Babylon 5" franchise in what looked like pretty good special effects.
Now, for those of you who never watched those shows or who laugh at the occasional pretentiousness of them, I have to tell you that anything that spoofs modern culture in the way "Star Wreck" seems to is probably worth watching, if only because it lets me laugh at stuff I've watched over and over and over. My wife can testify that I watched the reruns of "Bablylon 5" until the Sci-Fi channel finally lost the broadcast rights a few years back and I'll still sneek a peek at the reruns of "Star Trek: DS9" on SpikeTV whenever I get home for lunch before 1 PM on weekdays. Yes, sometimes the stories and the physics weren't always so hot, but I'm a sucker for sci-fi horse operas (as the original "Star Trek" was labled by a network suit in the Sixties because of its resemblance to "Wagon Train").
I liked "DS9" (and yes, you can always tell a sci-fi show geek by the fact that they usually refer to the show by initials or acronyms) because it eventually told a fairly good story, albeit with stutter steps and downright weird curveballs. Many of the characters ended up with all-too human failings and some of the plotlines wouldn't have been out of touch with a good dramatic movie set in the present day. B5 (at least the first four seasons) was one of my favorite shows because it didn't try to be all nice and fuzzy about Earth's future; yes, we'd made progress, but we'd also made stupid mistakes that were going to come back and bite us in the posterior. There was a dark side to Earth politics that seems pretty much on the mark to the present day and there wasn't a lot of preaching about our "better nature" that the "Star Trek" universe has occasionally lapsed into.
The kind of Sci-fi that I like is at the very least not another lawyer/cops and robbers/doctors in crisis/formulaic sitcom creation. Those type of shows are few and far between and there's a fine line between drek like "Lost in Space" and on-going sagas like "Stargate SG-1", DS9, B5 and others. The trouble now is that everyone has decided to get on the bandwagon this year after the success of "Lost" last year, so every network has a supposed rash of "sci-fi" stuff that, from what I can tell, may well keep everyone from producing good sci-fi for years to come, once the big crash happens and everything gets cancelled.
Oh well, there's always DVDs, the last resort of geeks like me.