TV Genres And Trends

Unforgettable 70s Sci Fi TV Shows

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The 1970's was a decade that dazzled when it came to science fiction, after a couple of shining examples in the 1960's it seemed that the world had developed a buzz for science fiction, here are some of the best offerings:

Blake's 7

Designed as competition and maybe even a replacement for Doctor Who, Blake's 7 followed the adventures of Blake, Avon, Villa, Gan , Jenna, Cally, and Zen (a computer) as they raced through the galaxy in the stolen space ship Liberator. Having all been victims of the rise of new galactic power known as The Federation, Blake's ragtag outfit set about giving the Federation something to think about.

Running for four years Blake's 7 went in darker directions than the BBC's Doctor Who, its line up changing often dramatically with each new series. Although initially its star Blake (Gareth Thomas) quickly jumped ship on the show due to the pressure of acting, and so the show goal changed with Avon becoming an unopposed leader, as they began a quest to find Blake. As characters left usually due to death, the show became more and more popular more so with adults than with children the original target audience. Children found the shock of just who might die too much, often losing some of their favourite characters.

Come the third series and the much loved Zen, onboard computer of the Liberator died as the ship was destroyed, this was the final blow for the children. And the shows final series saw new ship Scorpio (much more jazzed up for the new decade, as the show hit the 80's) and onboard computer Slave join the crew, the final few casual children's viewers dropped off leaving the adults and diehard fans watching the show. This was not a good place to be as Blake's 7 sat in a primetime Saturday night spot. The show was dramatically concluded, when after 50 stories the Federation succeeded in their goal leaving the entire crew of Scorpio, and the final remaining original members executed after being trapped, by their one time leader Blake. Blake's 7 was the masterwork of Dalek creator Terry Nation.

Space 1999

After Gerry Nation's Thunderbirds proved a success across the world and especially in America his next live action drama featured a cast of English and American stars in the popular science fiction offering Space 1999. In 1999 (then many years away) a team of scientists on a moon base are experimenting when a massive explosion causes the moon to swing out of the Earth's orbit and travel continuously through the galaxy, leaving ours and entering others. Led by Commander John Keonig (Martin Landau) each new show allowed the space adventurers to meet new alien life forms, most of which were bad.

There was a massive illusion that surrounded Space 1999 and that was that people assumed that it went on for longer than it did, with shows being screened for years despite the fact that only two series featuring 48 episodes were ever made. Yet the series was spread out over more than a year, and commonplace on TV until the mid 1980's.

Space 1999 was quite flawed, with a limited amount of crew, more people died than actually were on the moonbase at the start of the series, with only one new character being introduced. Add to this the fact that characters just disappeared and were effectively forgotten when they left the show. But the flaws were acceptable Space 1999 although dated through fashion, still has stories that are so fresh they look like a product of today.

Battlestar Galactica

Starting as a movie and through popularity adapting into a TV show, running for two years (before it was axed then redeveloped) the original story followed an army of rebels trying to escape an evil force known as the Cylons. They have a goal and that is to travel through the galaxy in search of a mythical planet known as Earth.

Regarded as a classic of the 70's there were only ever 24 episodes of the original show, featuring a decent cast including Lorne Greene, Dirk Benedict, Jane Seymour, Ed Begley Jr., and Patrick Macnee as the narrator.

The show's adventures chiefly surrounded Apollo (Richard Hatch) and Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), although its massive cast allowed others to shine. The show was confusing in its timelines, because it was never evident where in time it was sent, you get the impression it spawned from way in the future, but the first redesign of the show was set in 1980.

The stories were never memorable, though frequently Gallactica was seemingly irreparably damaged, only to be repaired before the 45 minute episode was up. Due to limitations and the frequent implications that the show ripped off other science fiction classics the shows final episodes were very much the same, the result the viewers simply stopped watching.

Fantasy Island

Running for a massive 158 episodes Fantasy Island was a strange place off maps that we earthlings understood; it was a holiday resort that nobody knew the location of. Guests paid a massive sum of money in order to visit the island where their wildest dreams could come true.

The island ran by Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), and his sidekick Tattoo (Herve Villechaize). Roarke had supernatural powers and it was often hinted at that he could in fact by the devil and those following their dreams might be paying more than money. In the shows return in the 1990's this fact was more than hinted at.

Originally an inspiration with groundbreaking storylines by the time the show reached the 1980's it had become predictable and often incredibly silly. Whichever the case Fantasy Island was popular amongst the whole family, a popular TV show with an even popular catchphrase as Tattoo welcomed each new arrival with the familiar hail of "Da Plane, Da Plane!"

The Survivors

Set in a new distant future (now our past) the Survivors began when a strange virus spread across the world. A flu like virus only 1 in 1000 people was spared from the disease, the results caused the world to effectively come to a standstill. Those that survived had to return to a back to basics style of living, raising crops, and animals for the production of food.

Chiefly following the exploits of Greg, Abby, and Jenny; the series took its time telling a very complex story, opening with a slow four to five week run before all the shows heroes even met up. The show was unlike anything else mixing science fiction style adventure, with a feel of popular family shows like The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie. Amazingly the show managed to make minor issues look impressive, for example running out of water.

But The Survivors which ran for three years (and is returning in 2009) caused as much upset as it did enjoyment. Focusing on issues like rape, murder, and even hinting at child abuse the show was constantly being slammed by the media. In one particular story a woman was murdered, and Greg, Abby, and Jenny as leaders of a new community had to create a jury that needed to stand judgement over an innocent man with learning difficulties, who confessed to the crime believing he was in fact confessing to something else. The result was that the man was sentenced to death, and the BBC received more complaints than any other show during the decade, with critics calling for its demise.

The Survivors was often heartbreaking, with death of favourite characters only a heartbeat away, only one of the original survivors making it to the final episode. Created by Terry Nation, The Survivors was not only a revolutionary show, it actually ranks as my personal favourite of the shows I have listed, if you get chance to see it, you really should.

More about this author: Spencer Hawken

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