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Before 'Caprica' invades our TV time, our top 5 sci-fi shows we cherish

Do you feel a disturbance in the Force? It's as if a million, pale-skilled couch potatoes cried out and then were suddenly silenced.

Why silenced? They're obviously overcome with science-fiction solace because Caprica, the "prequel" to Battlestar Galactica, finally debuts Friday on cable's Syfy network.

The show — starring Eric Stolz and Esai Morales — is set on the planet Caprica 58 years before a robot-driven holocaust sends surviving humans fleeing into space in search of Earth.

Sound too geeky? Relax. Exec producer David Eick told Entertainment Weekly that it's "Dallas with artificial intelligence instead of oil." (Can we expect a "Who Shot Adama" episode then?)

While we ponder the possibilities of soap mixing with space, here are our all-time fave sci-fi shows.

Top 5 favorite sci-fi shows in television history:

1. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2003-2009): The mother ship of modern science fiction. Oh sure, we loved the late '70s version, too, with Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict. But Syfy's reboot (which coolly included original alum Richard Hatch) debated philosophical issues — particularly conflicting tenets of theology — rarely tackled by this genre. And who knew Cylons would be creepier shedding their clunky aluminum bodies and assuming sexy, human forms?

2. STAR TREK (1966-1969): Capt. James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones and the rest of the original crew of the USS Enterprise still occupy the warmest corner of our sci-fi hearts as they searched out new life and new civilizations, boldly going where no man has gone before. You say you prefer the technically superior Next Generation series? Why you green-blooded, pointy-eared hobgoblin!

3. DOCTOR WHO (1963-1989): Remaining a fan of this show, which never seems to die but rather is reinvented each decade or so, is the ultimate test in nerdery. (Hey, that's a compliment!) The show followed a mysterious time traveler who finds evil wherever he goes. We'd explain more of the plot, but we'd have to temporarily halt the space-time continuum (and we have lunch plans today, so that's a no-go).

4. THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964): "You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into … the Twilight Zone." The weekly short stories employed a mix of science fiction, horror, comedy and macabre. Series creator Rod Serling reportedly picked the show's name after discovering the term was used by Air Force pilots when crossing the imaginary border between day and night on a planetary body. Spooky!

5. THE X-FILES (1993-2002): Okay, let's be totally honest. We watched this show mainly for the smoldering sexual tension between FBI Special Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson). Others insist this show was really about alien encounters and government conspiracies. Whatev. The truth is out there!

Top 5 great sci-fi shows you've sadly forgotten

Every sci-fi geek has one obscure show he or she holds close to heart. We're betting it's one of these:

1. SPACE: 1999 (1975-1977): A nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey, this British series followed a group of space explorers stranded when the moon is knocked off its orbit of Earth.

2. THE SIX-MILLION DOLLAR MAN (1974-1978): "We can rebuild him — we have the technology." And we had enough technology left over for the bionic woman, too. Perfect!

3. THUNDERBIRDS (1965-1966): Can rocketship-piloting marionettes really be considered high tech? It was the '60s, gang! Too bad Avatar mastermind James Cameron was only 11 at the time.

4. ULTRA MAN (1966-1967): "Hey, that's Urutoraman" to fans in Japan, where this was produced. We still love the catchphrase: "If Ultraman's light fails to blink, he will never rise again!"

5. QUARK (1978): Buck Henry's short-lived parody, following an intergalactic garbage collector (Richard Benjamin), just arrived on DVD. Awww, maybe next Christmas, gang.

Steve Spears writes the Stuck in the '80s blog for the St. Petersburg Times. Read more at and e-mail him at

Before 'Caprica' invades our TV time, our top 5 sci-fi shows we cherish 01/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 18, 2010 4:44pm]
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