Probic Vent Ood For Thought

18Aug/100

Doctor Who sweeps board in SFX sci-fi poll

The Doctor has been voted 'Best Hero' in an SFX poll of its readers; with the Daleks voted Best Monster; and The Master voted Best Villain; with various other Whoniverse characters peppered around various other polls.

I'm biased, but it's tough to see how any other genre character can really compete with the Doctor – eleven faces and personalities; bigger-on-the-inside time machine; anywhere in time and space; mysterious background and abilities. Who could compare?

Blake's 7, Babylon 5 and Farscape, three other series I have big soft-spots for, get a few mentions in the poll too, which is mainly dominated by the Trek franchise and various tedious vampire stuff.

Elsewhere The Master was voted best villain. A right and just result considering the brilliance of Roger Delgado and the sheer evilness of Anthony Ainley. Simm had his moments too. In his less interesting stories, including some of the recent ones, The Master is just a generic pantomime villain.

But gven something more interesting to do, all the actors who played the part have brought something new to the role in the way that every Doctor does. Seven shades of evil. Again, who could compete?

As it goes, I don't really have much interest in the Daleks. Every new appearance since Remembrance of the Daleks - barring Dalek - has been an exercise in diminishing returns and I'm frankly rather bored of them now.

The Daleks, yesterday

Daleks have arguably been rebooted three or four times now, but beyond that original concept there's not a huge amount to them. Most of the best Dalek stories since the 60s have concerned how people react to their presence and existence as much as anything - Genesis, Revelation and Remembrance specifically - although Day of the Daleks is brilliant sci-fi fun.

RTD and Helen Raynor failed completely in doing anything of interest with them in my opinion, and while Victory of the Daleks had some nice moment, it was pretty incoherent stuff.

Nevertheless, Daleks are slightly beyond that now. They're such a massive icon it doesn't really matter any more.

And now, in an SFX poll, they've trumped something called Lorne from Angel, the Aliens, Gollum from Lord Of The Rings, Gizmo from Gremlins, and the thing from, er, The Thing.

I wonder what Ray Cusick, designer of the Daleks, makes of it all. Legend has it he got an ex gratia payment from the BBC that amounted to £50, while Terry Nation bought a massive house in the country and a fleet of sports cars.

Cusick may not be rich, but designing the best monster ever isn't a bad legacy.

Other Doctor Who-related results in the SFX poll include:

• K9 named fifth-best robot
• Cybermen named 13th-best monsters
• Davros voted fifth-best villain
• Captain Jack Harkness voted 11th-best hero
• Donna Noble, Rose Tyler and Sarah-Jane Smith are voted fourth, eighth and tenth as Best Heroine respectively

23Feb/100

What are the best Babylon 5 titles?

I've been rewatching Bablyon 5 for the first time since it showed on Channel 4 a good 15 years ago - and enjoying it immensely, for the most part.

It really is quite excellent in parts, but it's horribly uneven and marred by some poor central performances, cliched scripts, dubious direction and bizarre narrative twists.

Famously creator J. Michael Straczynski had pretty much the whole series sketched out from scratch and had to shorten his opus when it looked like B5 was going to get canned. As a result the pacing over the series is pretty disjointed, and the diminishing returns of TV movies and spin-offs rather marred the original vision to my mind.

Among B5's many weirdnesses are a predilection for stilted British character actors, bad fake accents, detours into fantasy episodes featuring mythical ancient characters, what's ostensibly deliberate sabotage of pretty much any line Bruce Boxleitner is required to speak and increasingly bombastic incidental and title music.

Still, any scenes featuring the wonderful Peter Jurasik, Stephen Furst and - particularly Andreas Katsulas as Londo, Vir and G'Kar knock the socks off most genre TV of the time, and I'd include DS9, a much more polished and satisfying series, in that.

Uniquely, its possible to date every single B5 series by its titles, which vary enormously in quality. I've arranged them all below, in what might be a nice little trip down memory lane, or a terrible assault on the senses - depending on your point of view.

One and three are clearly the best by miles.

Babylon 5 Series 1 opening titles

 

 

 

Babylon 5 series 2 titles

 

 

 

Babylon 5 series 3 titles

 

 

 

Babylon 5 Series 4 opening titles

 

 

 

Babylon 5 Series 5 opening titles

 

 

 

   

Hush child stop addlepating me!

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