Top 25 SFX TV Shows

We asked you to tell us your favourite SF and fantasy TV shows ever. Here are the ones that made the Top 25…

So, what are SFX readers’ favourite SF and fantasy shows of all time? That’s what we asked you lot to tell us (voters each named their top three shows) and here are the Top 25 collated from over 1,000 responses. So, who is number one (is he? not telling…)? Who is number two? And where did Number Six come? Is Deep Space Nine ninth? Is Babylon 5 fifth? Did Flash Gordon or Crime Traveller make the cut (well, what do you think?).

And with each entry we've given you their IMDB keywords… frivolous and pointless, yeah, but it’s kinda fun checking out the weird and wonderful things people have decided to highlight.

Anyway, have fun!

25 ROBIN OF SHERWOOD

Number of seasons: Three (1984-1986)

IMDB keywords: Outlaw Magic Swashbuckler Fencing Cult Figure Archery Medieval Character Name In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Ethereal Horned Pagan God Timotei Hair

Influences: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), pagan mythology

Influence on: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (they stole the totally made-up character of Nasir, assuming he was part of the original legend)

Theme tune: “Robin... the hooded man!” Clannad’s finest hour.

Title sequence: Slo-mo shots of Michael Praed looking pretty in a forest, replaced for series three by slo-mo shots of Jason Connery looking pretty in a forest

Catchphrases: “Nothing’s forgotten. Nothing’s ever forgotten.”

Biggest misstep: Jason Connery not being able to act or the rubber monster in “Cromm Cruac”

Which season should you buy on DVD? Two, for Praed’s excellent final episode

24 TRUE BLOOD

Number of seasons: Three so far (2008 - present)

IMDB keywords: Vampire Louisiana Murder Small Town Sheriff Southern Accent Perversion Sex TV Series Exorcism Interracial Relationship Gay Interest Attraction Nudity Southern Gothic Werewolf Sex Talk Shape Shifter Brother Sister Relationship Small Town Telepathy Bar Interracial Friendship Waitress Female Nudity Based On Novel

Keywords SFX would add: Orgies Pigs Terrible Table Manners Religious Nutters Black Contact Lenses Really, Really Long Scenes

Influences: Buffy The Vampire Slayer , Six Feet Under (you can almost tell it’s from the same showrunner), Angel Heart , the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (kinda obviously)

Influence on: Too early to say, but we reckon The Vampire Diaries has been taking a leaf or two out of its book…

Theme tune: “Bad Things” by Jace Everett, a wonderfully down and dirty country rock track that sets the murky, Southern scene perfectly.

Title sequence: A barrage of disturbingly icky images – rotting things, bloody things, dying things, dead things. Basically it’s saying, “If you make it past this opening montage without throwing up, this is the show for you.”

Catchphrases: “Jessica, you will obey me!”, “Sookie is mine!”

Biggest misstep: Only highlight the space after this sentence if you’ve seen season two: Killing off Godric

Which season should you buy on DVD? Season two! Season one was a case of how do you top? Season two was the answer.

23 THE TWILIGHT ZONE (original series)

Number of seasons: Five (1959-1964)

IMDB keywords: Anthology Supernatural Famous Opening Theme Surrealism Cult Favorite Surprise Ending

Keywords SFX would add: Suit Cigarette Monochrome Beauty

Influences: Frank Capra, Norman Rockwell

Influence on: M Night Shyamalan, Tales Of The Unexpected and every other anthology show that ever followed it, Twiglets

Theme tune: Doo–doo-DOOO-doo… Doo–doo-DOOO-doo,

Title sequence: Black and white expressionistic weirdness

Catchphrases: “You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Biggest misstep: Moving to an hour-long format.

Which season should you buy on DVD? One

22 FUTURAMA

Number of seasons: Four, five or six, depending on how you’re counting (1999 – present)

IMDB keywords: Alien Robot Delivery Boy Future Doctor New York City Actor Playing Multiple Roles Professor Destiny Scientist Hologram 30th Century Technology Cult Comedy 31st Century Surrealism Futurama Cult TV Adult Animation Science Orphan Lobster Man Hero From The Past Different Gags During Credits Psychotropic Cult Cartoon Spacecraft Sitcom Alien Creature As Pet Cult Favorite Love Interest Altered Version Of Studio Logo Asian Woman Disembodied Head Disembodied Celebrity Heads Pneumatic Tube Computer Cyborg 3000s Cyclops Anti Hero Alien Love Mutant Tank Top One Word Title Invention

Keywords SFX would add: Pink Skin Bloody Hilarious Cyclops Nicking Characters Names Off Of Doctor Who

Influences: The Simpsons , The Jetsons

Influence on: Robot Chicken , Family Guy , Big Bang Theory , the Ood

Theme tune: ”Wild Thing” on dustbin lids by drunks

Title sequence: A delirious flight through the future ending with a crash

Catchphrases: “Bite my shiny metal ass!” “Woop-woo-woo-woop-woop!” “Sweet [something] of [someplace].” “Good news everyone.”

Biggest misstep: The movie-length specials

Which season should you buy on DVD? Season two

21 TWIN PEAKS

Number of seasons: Two (1990-1991)

IMDB keywords: Pie Donut Dead Girl Talking Backwards Split Personality Incest One-Armed Man Double Identity Log Lady Mysterious Past Film In Film

Keywords SFX would add: Owls Not Being What They Seem BOB WTF?

Influences: Peyton Place , Laura (1944), Blue Velvet (1986)

Influence on: Eerie, Indiana , American Gothic , The X-Files , all of David Lynch’s subsequent works, The League of Gentlemen

Theme tune: Angelo Badalamenti’s dreamy, slow-jazz “Falling”.

Title sequence: Hypnotic, sepia-toned shots of logs, waterfalls and trees in the Pacific northwestern USA

Catchphrases: “The owls are not what they seem.” “Who killed Laura Palmer?” “Damned fine [insert beverage or snack].”

Biggest misstep: Solving Laura Palmer’s murder midway through season two, thus ruining the show’s biggest lure

Which season should you buy on DVD? One – if only for the pilot, which is better than 99% of modern TV.

20 BEING HUMAN

Number of seasons: Three (because there’s definitely going to be another (2008 - present)

IMDB keywords: Vampire Werewolf Ghost (oh come on, must try harder)

Keywords SFX would add: The Real Hustle Tea Cage Vampires Anonymous Dodgy Coppers Flashbacks Bloodbaths Excellent Choice In Music

Influences: Buffy The Vampire Slayer , The Odd Couple , American Werewolf In London , Ultraviolet , Bareback

Influence on: Misfits, the US Being Human

Theme tune/ title sequence: Sadly the show is a victim of the modern trend for not bothering with an opening title sequence. The logo’s in a very nice font, though…

Catchphrases: " The Real Hustle ’s on at 8.30!” “I’m [name] and I’m a [insert supernatural being].” “We’re not the monsters.”

Biggest misstep: Killing off Herrick. Oh, hang on…

Which season should you buy on DVD? Toughie… one probably, because season two did have a couple of less than brilliant episodes.

19 LIFE ON MARS (UK version)

Number of seasons: Two (2006-2007)

IMDB keywords: Car Accident Hospital British TV Hallucination Gender Issues Female Police Officer Title Based On Song Police Coma Role Reversal Surrealism Culture Shock Buddy Cop Father Son Relationship Ford Cortina Time Travel Detective Outsider Police Brutality Hit And Run Manchester Racial Issues Manchester England Cult TV Ambiguity 1970s

Keywords SFX would add: Chalky Dog Pooh Brown Flares One Character Who’s In Every Scene

Influences: The Sweeney , Philip K Dick

Influence on: Ashes To Ashes , the US Life On Mars

Theme tune: A strangely not-quite right synthy sounding affair; never sounds quite ’70s enough

Title sequence: A kaleidoscopic barrage of brown and fractured images, kinda like when Top Of The Pops first discovered video trickery. Great voiceover, too: “My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973…”

Catchphrases: “Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time?” “You’re nicked.” “You are surrounded by armed bastards.”

Biggest misstep: Finishing. Or not finishing properly…

Which season should you buy on DVD? One

18 THE PRISONER (original version)

Number of seasons: Two (1967-8)

IMDB keywords: Information Prison Secret Number Government Car British Individuality Balloon Secret Agent Repression Murder Mind Control Psychedelic Old Man Paranoia Trickery Dystopia Unnecessary Medication Communism Secret Society Chess Fallout British Secret Service Free For All Boat Bell Tower Helicopter British TV Schizophrenia Dream Demon Penny Farthing Bicycle Harmony Post Modern Kafka-esque General Funeral Dance Of The Dead (hang on, they’re just quoting episode titles now) Gadget Schizoid Man Cult Favorite Animus Magic Election Paganism Male Female Relationship ( er, doesn’t that cover about 99% of everything on IMDB? ) Heathen Realization Resignation Kidnapping Cult TV Secret Plot Secret Master Villain Self Referential Drugs Allegory Secret Island Critically Acclaimed Anvil Big Ben London Devil ( they’re just making them up now ) Manipulation Hammer Totalitarianism Disharmonious Conversion London England Hate Surrealism Conspiracy God Spy Hero Voyeurism Change Of Mind Spy Traitor

Keywords SFX would add: Balloon Running Crazy Camera Angles Boating Shoes Deckchairs The Beatles Baffled Viewers

Influences: Kafka, Danger Man , Alice In Wonderland

Influence on: Every SF show that’s ever had a conspiracy theory, Two Point Four Children

Theme tune: Another absolute classic from Steptoe & Son and Doctor Who theme composer Ron Grainer. Quirky, jazzy, bongo-driven genius, like two tunes fighting for control over your psyche.

Title sequence: BEST. TITLE. SEQUENCE. EVER. And ridiculously long. 15 times longer than the Lost opening title logo. Every week we got this mini epic – the thunder clouds, the green and yellow sports car, the resignation, the undertakers, the gas through the lock, the first glimpse at the Village, the Rover attacking, the sprint across the sand, the final rant – and never did we tire of it. And the duologue between Number Two (a different Number Two every week, of course) and Number Six remains TV most iconic voiceover ever: “Where am I?” “In The Village.” “What do you want?” “Information.” “Which side are you on?” “That would be telling. We want information, information, information…” “You won't get it.” “By hook or by crook we will.” “Who are you?” “The new Number Two.” “Who is Number One?” “You are Number Six.” “I am not a number. I am a free man.” “Ha, ha, ha, ha....” Okay, we know you know it off by heart, but even just reading it again give you a chill?

Catchphrases: “Be seeing you.” “I am not a number, I am a free man.”

Biggest misstep: Patrick McGoohan buggering off to film Ice Station Zebra and being replaced by Nigel Stock for an episode.

Which season should you buy on DVD? Well, season two was hardly a season, more a five episode rump, so you can only ever buy the whole 17 episodes in one box set. Which, by the way, you should.

17 ANGEL

Number of seasons: Five (1999-2004)

IMDB keywords: Vampire Redemption Vampire Slayer Powers That Be Supernatural Demon Actress Spin Off Lawyer Vampire vs Vampire Karaoke Returning Character Killed Off ( spoiler! ) Dark Comedy Cult Hero Hell Hallucination Sex Monster Vampire Detective Haunted Apartment Good Versus Evil Homosexual Karaoke Bar Billionaire Evil Child Prophet Curse Dark Hero Police Brutality Rogue Demon Hunter Cult Favorite Physical Abuse Street Gang Attempted Murder Vampire Human Love Self Sacrifice Attempted Child Murder One Word Title Gypsy Curse Resurrection Anti Hero Police Doomed Romance Dark Fantasy Neo Noir Dead Sister Evil Lawyer Host Hero Alternative Reality Magic Vampire Driving Car Interracial Relationship Oracle Rich Girlfriend Homosexual Demon Former Cheerleader Los Angeles California Cult TV Death Ghost Conflicted Hero Stake One Man Army Computer Genius Dungeons And Dragons Character Name In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Talking Hamburger Bromance Sexy Blue Chick Dodgy Irish Accent Dodgy English Accent Poetry

Influences: Forever Knight , Buffy The Vampire Slayer , film noir

Influence on: Blood Ties , Moonlight (a virtual rip-off), Being Human

Theme tune: Spooky, emo rock, a bit like the Buffy theme played at 33 1/3 instead iof 45.

Title sequence: One of those standard US-style montage jobbies, enhanced a bit by gothic typography.

Catchphrases: "Angel Investigations. We hope you're helpless.” “The Powers That Be.” Inserting the word “hero” randomly into sentences…

Biggest misstep: The way Cordelia’s plot line just fizzled out

Which season should you buy on DVD? Two. Unless you're a Spike fan, in which case five, which is pretty bloody good too, anyway.

16 TORCHWOOD

Number of seasons: Three so far (2006-present)

IMDB keywords: Cardiff Renegade Investigation Bisexual Male Spin Off Doctor Who Boyfriend Boyfriend Relationship Bisexual One Word Title Alien Technology Gay Relationship Immortality Coworker Relationship Gay Interest Anti Hero Shipper Wales Gay Kiss Monster

Keywords SFX would add: Management Issues Daddy Issues Cute Gapped Teeth Catalogue Poses Pizza Delivery PC Andy Improving In Leaps And Bounds Every Season Cybernorks

Influences: Doctor Who , Buffy The Vampire Slayer , Quatermass , Queer As Folk , Marvel comics

Influence on: Primeval

Theme tune: Not so much a tune as a mobile phone ring tone with pretensions

Title sequence: Little more than flashing names and credits, and brief to the point of non-existent by “Children Of Earth”.

Catchphrases: “Fancy a shag?” Well, it might as well be…

Biggest misstep: Cybernorks and Ianto’s histrionics therein

Which season should you buy on DVD? Three. No contest.

15 STARGATE SG-1

Number of seasons: Ten (1997-2007)

IMDB keywords: Military Alien Race Back From The Dead Time Travel Alternative History Good Versus Evil Wormhole Cult TV Alien Egyptology Punctuation In Title Tragedy God Woman Relationship Female Doctor ( good grief, not a female Doctor? How extraordinary ) Space Travel Egyptian Mythology Hieroglyph Man In Uniform ( but not female in uniform? How odd ) Babe Scientist False God Shipper Based On Film Evil Plot ( is that a keyword or a criticism? ) Humor Megalomaniac Evil God United States Air Force Hyphen In Title Norse Mythology Parallel Universe Authority Cult Digit In Title Ancient Egypt Warrior Race Cult Favorite Unrequited Love Number In Title ( which is different to “digit in title” in what way, exactly? )

Keywords SFX would add: Glasses Planets That Look Like Canada Great Comedy Episodes Farscape

Influences: Stargate , Star Trek , The A-Team , Thunderbirds , Thor comics

Influence on: Stargate Atlantis , Stargate Infinity , Stargate Universe , Sanctuary , Flash Gordon (worse luck)

Theme tune: Majestic, sweeping, cinematic, mythic, and just a tad pompous

Title sequence: Started off as almost Stargate pornography, with loving, slow, graceful shots that caressed the titular prop, then suddenly became a frantic, spinny, slightly nauseating rollercoaster ride.

Catchphrases: “With all due respect…”

Biggest misstep: Thor – he never looked anything more than a naff puppet

Which season should you buy on DVD? Four

14 BLAKE’S SEVEN

Number of seasons: Four (1978-1981)

IMDB keywords: Cult TV Spacecraft Digit In Title Wobbly Sets Futuristic Number In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Curling Tongs Fishtank Christmas Tree Lights Leather Shoulder Pads Terry Wogan Fodder One Guy Doing All The Computer Voices Brilliant Last Episode

Influences: Star Trek , The Magnificent Seven , Nineteen Eighty-Four , Star Wars , Thunderbird 3 (which is The Liberator in reverse), Gerry Anderson in general (for the launch sequence of the Scorpio), Barbarella (if the costumes in season four are anything to go by)

Influence on: Babylon 5 , Firefly , Terry Wogan’s Radio Two show

Theme tune: A kind of cut price Star Wars (but stirring in its own way) that sound so similar to a section of John Miles’s 1976 hit “Music” (click here and fast forward to about three minutes 20 seconds into the song and you’ll see what we mean) it’s a wonder there were copyright lawsuits flying about

Title sequence: Started off with “Big Brother’s watching you” security camera footage of Blake interspersed with shots of (slightly 2D-looking) spaceships. By season four though, it had become a pilot’s POV of a ship flying low over a giant Cocoa Pop. Not sure why…

Catchphrases: “Confirmed.” “Can we trust [insert character name]?” “Shut up, Vila/Orac (delete as per who’s being most irritating at the time).”

Biggest misstep: Most of season four

Which season should you buy on DVD? Two

13 THE X-FILES

Number of seasons: Nine (1993-2002)

IMDB keywords: FBI FBI Agent Alien X-Files Conspiracy Female FBI Agent Romantic Tension Partner Federal Agent Clone Glock Cloning Paranormal Phenomena Mother Son Relationship Father Son Relationship Supernatural Power Female Agent Extrasensory Perception Traitor Cover Up Cult Female Character Roswell Cult Male Character Shapeshifting Paranormal Investigation Alien Abduction Cult Cancer Fictional Government Agency Shipper Alien Contact Cult TV Cell Phone Implant Male Female Relationship Basement Office Federal Bureau Of Investigation Cult Favorite Father Daughter Relationship Mother Daughter Relationship Famous Opening Theme Government Coverup UFO Sexual Tension Explosion

Keywords SFX would add: Oil Porn Mags Poncy Foreign Episode Titles Autoerotic Asphyxiation

Influences: Kolchack: The Night Stalker , urban myths, Roswell, The Manchurian Candidate

Influence on: Fringe, Supernatural , Torchwood , The Burning Zone , First Wave , Sanctuary , any sci-fi series with conspiracy arc plot

Theme tune: Spooky, mournful, atmospheric and instantly memorable. Possibly the greatest mood-setter since the original Doctor Who theme

Title sequence: A montage of blurry images of press clippings from issues of New Scientist and The National Enquirer

Catchphrases: “The truth is out there.” “I want to believe.” “Trust no-one.”

Biggest misstep: Carrying on after Duchovny left

Which season should you buy on DVD? Four

12 STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

Number of seasons: Seven (1987-1994)

IMDB keywords: Captain 24th Century Klingon Security Security Officer Star Fleet Famous Score Academy Cult TV Heroic Captain Admiral Andorian Engineer Brig Navigation Visor Computer Mother Son Relationship Omnipotent Spacecraft Teleportation Alien Species Empath Bar Warp Speed Impulse Engines Lieutenant Outer Space Bartender Borg Hologram Starbase Cat Evil Brother Tea Spaceship Romulan Counsellor Lieutenant Commander Alien Technology Sensors Space Travel Ferengi Star Trek Spinoff Tractor Beam Famous Opening Theme Warp Engine Cult Favorite Warp Core Space Gaseous Anomaly Exploration Commander Space Shuttle Extraterrestrial Robot As Pathos Positronic Brain Holodeck Alien Civilization Alien Federation n Investigation Wanting To Be Human Android Space Exploration Commanding Officer Father Son Relationship Alien Contact Phaser Doctor

Keywords SFX would add: Bumpy Forehead Everyone In The Cast Wanting To Direct Borg Fishtank Airport Waiting Lounge For A Bridge Shirt-Tugging Child Genius Save The Day Magic DNA Reset Button

Influences: Star Trek , but not any Star Trek movie from Wrath of Khan to The Undiscovered Country , oh nosiree…

Influence on: Star Trek: Voyager , Star Trek: Enterprise , Stargate SG-1 , Galaxy Quest , Andromeda , Farscape

Theme tune: Nicked off of the first film, a euphoric fanfare of space exploration courtesy of Jerry Goldsmith

Title sequence: A journey through the solar system and beyond into the unknown

Catchphrases: “To boldy go where no-one has gone before.” “Make it so.” “Fire at Will… no, not Will Riker! Though on second thoughts…” “You will be assimilated.”

Biggest misstep: Wesley Crusher. Or maybe men in skirts, but that was quickly abandoned

Which season should you buy on DVD? Three

11 RED DWARF

Number of seasons: Nine (if you include “Back To Earth”) (1988-2009)

IMDB keywords: Anti Hero Cat Red Dwarf Space Mining Ship Computer Disaster Deep Space Android Hologram Color In Title Virtual Reality Futuristic British Comedy Douche Alien Love Nanotechnology Spacecraft Parallel Universe Alien Planet Time Travel Sitcom Far Future Slacker Slapstick Alien Cult TV Role Reversal Alternative Reality Chase

Keywords SFX would add: Smeg Curry Eeeeeeee-owwwwww! Guitar Better Than Life Despair Squid Duane Dibbley Starbug Who Gives A Flying F**k About Continuity?

Influences: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy , Doctor Who , Come Back Mrs Noah (erm, probably not), Son Of Cliché , Whoops Apocalypse

Influence on: Hyperdrive , Star Trek from Next Gen onwards (no, really – you wouldn’t believe how many plots are similar!), The Strangerers

Theme tune: “It’s cold outside, there’s no kind of atmosphere!” Although technically that jaunty pop song was only ever over the end titles. The opening titles always had a instrumental version – a slow, majestic, atonal version for two seasons, then a rock version for the rest of its run.

Title sequence: First two seasons: a lonely astronaut paints the outside of the Red Dwarf (wonderfully understated). Season three onwards: a Gatling gun barrage of clips.

Catchphrases: “Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast.” “Smeghead.”

Biggest misstep: Losing Rob Grant from the writing team

Which season should you buy on DVD? Two or three, depending on how badly you need that original title sequence

10 SUPERNATURAL

Number of seasons: Five, with season six on the way (2005-present)

IMDB keywords: Mutilation Brotherly love Splatter Demonic Possession Blood Mercilessness Car DC Comics and about a million others (you honestly don’t want to see the lot)

Keywords SFX would add: Angels Kick-ass Accidental homoerotic subtext

Influences: Every horror movie ever; The X-Files ; The Outsiders by SE Hinton

Influence on: Lost (protection from the smoke monster is the same on both shows, but Supernatural did it first); Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles being cast in Friday The 13 th and My Bloody Valentine respectively.

Theme tune: None, just general spooky noises that change from season to season. The show’s soundtrack is firmly classic rock, though

Title sequence: Changes every year – the word “Supernatural” with a different effect

Catchphrases: “Saving people, hunting things – the family business,” and regular use of the expressions “son of a bitch” (usually directed at demons) and "dick" (usually directed at angels)

Biggest misstep: “Bugs” – you can probably guess what that episode was about...

Which season should you buy on DVD? Four, because the myth-arc went all apocalyptic

9 STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES

Number of seasons: Three (1966-1969)

IMDB keywords: Starship Space Computer 23rd Century Vulcan Cult Favorite Futuristic Security Star Trek Time Travel Famous Score Engineer Exploration Klingon Romulan Spacecraft Famous Opening Theme Alien Species Beautiful Woman Cultural Diversity Photon Torpedoes Shipper Interracial Relationship Male Bonding Prime Directive Phaser Cult TV Teleportation Lieutenant Warp Engine Warp Speed Security Officer Cult Sci Fi Alien Planet Doctor Sensors

Keywords SFX would add: Plastic Rocks Tricorders Very Short Skirts Colour Coding A Girl In Every Port Vaseline Close-Ups Ship Being Hit Acting

Influences: Wagon Train , Forbidden Planet , pulp SF magazines, Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech

Influence on: Every single space opera since – Blake’s Seven , Star Wars , Galaxy Quest , Andromeda , Farscape , Babylon 5 (though certain showrunners would hate to have to admit it), etc, etc – not to mention four more Trek series and 11 Trek films. Also, anything with teleporting ( The Tomorrow People ) or spaceships that aren’t just saucers or rockets (though, to be fair, the Enterprise is a actually saucer with rockets)

Theme tune: Space sirens wailing over an orchestra in almost orgasmic optimism at the thought of space exploration

Title sequence: Simple, but effective – the Enterprise continually flying out of the screen at you leaving the credits in its wake

Catchphrases: “That is illogical.” “I’m a doctor not a…” And, “Beam me up, Scotty” which we know was never actually used in the show but it’s undeniably become an iconic catchphrase nonetheless

Biggest misstep: “Spock’s Brain”

Which season should you buy on DVD? One

8 FARSCAPE

Number of seasons: Four (plus the mini-series “The Peacekeeper Wars” (1999-2004)

IMDB keywords: Alien Space Fugitive Technology Villain On The Run Female Warrior Spacecraft Spaceship As Character Shrinking Cult Favorite Multiple Monsters Alternative Reality Miniaturization Hero Love Living Ship Lost In Space Neural Clone Shipper Lost Warrior Illusion Joke Warrior Race Friend Muppet Death Criminal Human Relationship (gosh, not a human relationship!) Diabolical Alien Race Obscene Finger Gesture Cult TV

Keywords SFX would add: Bodily Functions Sex Muppets Cartoon Kinkiness Farting Really Long Episode Titles PVC

Influences: Cartoons, Star Wars , Blake’s Seven , Star Trek , Barbarella , The Muppet Show , The Dark Crystal , The Wizard Of Oz , Russ Meyer films

Influence on: Stargate SG-1 (which nicked half its stars)

Theme tune: Not exactly hummable – a cacophony of discordant drumbeats, orchestral synth stings and odd wailing noises. Sort of like a bunch of cyborg cats trying to fight their way out of a dustbin

Title sequence: A bit of a voiceover (“My name is John Crichton… An astronaut… A radiation wave hit and I got shot through a wormhole
Now I'm lost in some distant part of the Universe, on a ship… A living ship, full of strange alien life forms… Help me…” etc) then a frenetic bunch of clips.

Catchphrases: “Frell!” “You’ll never know the wonders I have seen.” “[insert word] for dummies.”

Biggest misstep: Rygel giving birth…

Which season should you buy on DVD?: Three. Or “The Peacekeeper Wars” (despite the Rygel giving birth stuff)

7 STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE

Number of seasons: Seven (1993-1999)

IMDB keywords: Wormhole Klingon Changeling Emissary Prophet Space Station Epidemic Cloning Civil Rights Vengeance Murder Mother Daughter Relationship Galactic War Computer Demon Doctor 2370s ( which, would you believe, there are no other entries for on the whole of IMDB? ) Admiral Visitor Space Battle Star Trek Spinoff Dream Hippocratic Oath Shape Shifter Genetic Enhancement Surrogate Mother Battle Of Britain Oppression Grudge Teleportation Fictional War Terrorism Warrior Bigotry Spacecraft Racism Alien Operation Clone Coffee Suicide Shipper Religion Traitor Hologram Faith Future Romulan Ascension Captain Hallucination Writer Honor Religious Tolerance Interracial Relationship Time Travel Cult TV Father Son Relationship Interracial Engineer Battl e Brother Brother Relationship Ostracism Morphing Drug Addiction Exile Based On Cult TV Series Unholy Book Biracial Bar Visionary Military Organization Spirituality Treasury Widow Slavery Culture Clash Genetic Engineering Bartender Power Shrine Loyalty Baseball Rival Occupation Outer Space Self Sacrifice Locust Pregnancy Race Relations Tailor Father Daughter Relationship Explosion Christ Allegory God Uncle Nephew Relationship Cult Favorite Novel Fictional Drug Claustrophobia Gambling Disease Botany Commander Family Relationships Narcotic Spy Hostility Major 24th Century Mother Son Relationship Space War Human Duplication Warrior Race Conspiracy Intelligence Agency Dart Number In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Tribbles Bald Latinum Boldly Standing Still The Defiant Bucket Morn Round Doors Not Babylon 5

Influences: Star Trek , Starship Troopers , Dune , baseball, the Rat Pack, the Tower Of Babel, but not Babylon 5 , nosiree…

Influence on: Andromeda , Farscape , the door to Torchwood ’s Hub, but not Babylon 5 , nosiree…

Theme tune: The musical equivalent of rolling thunder

Title sequence: A slow fly-by, through, and over the titular space station, ending with the wormhole opening

Catchphrases: “I am just a simple tailor.” “The [insert number] Ferengi rule of aquisition states [insert absurd greed-based advice]”

Biggest misstep: Keiko O’Brien, irritable bowel syndrome in human form

Which season should you buy on DVD? Six

6 LOST

Number of seasons: Six (2004-2010)

IMDB keywords: Plane Crash South Pacific ( ah we’d love to hear Kate singing, “I’ve Got To Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” ) Survival Doctor Flashback Student Mentor Relationship Criminal Escaped Prisoner Castaway Surrealism Head Butt Father Son Relationship Loss Of Father Cult Favorite Soaked Clothes Drug Addict Desert Island Parent Child Relationship Cooperation Interracial Relationship Drugs Brother Sister Relationship Fate Parental Relationship Beach Death Number Stations Scientific Experiment Pregnancy Wet Jeans Family Relationships Airplane Accident Mother Son Relationship Shipper Boeing 777 One Word Title Hunter Frenchwoman Husband Wife Relationship Time Travel Title Spoken By Character

Keywords SFX would add: Made-up Band Names Flashforwards Flashsidewayses Numbers Crossovers Dynamite The Virgin Mary Polar Bear Blurred Titles Questions Questions Questions Every Season Ending With An Explosion Close-ups Of Eyes

Influences: Kafka, The Prisoner , Swiss Family Robinson , The Crystal Maze (possibly), The Wizard Of Oz , the Enlightenment, Jacob’s Ladder

Influence on: FlashForward , The Nine , a glut of slow-moving US dramas with massive casts and one-word title (ie, Surface )

Theme tune: Not really a tune, just a whoosh and some bibbling

Title sequence: Not really a title sequence just the word Lost, a bit blurred

Catchphrases: “Dude.” “We gotta go back.” “You can’t tell me what I can’t do.” “The island wants us here.”

Biggest misstep: Nikki and Paolo, the dull tailenders who nobody cared about and even got their own episode (where they die, thank God); or that tedious episode about Jack’s tattoo

Which season should you buy on DVD? Five – the hardcore SF one with time travel. Maybe six, which is great so far, but might all go hideously wrong

5 BABYLON 5

Number of seasons: Five (1994-1998)

IMDB keywords: Space Space Station Saga Empath Head On Stake Father Daughter Relationship Religion Rangers Futuristic Intolerance Fascism Spacecraft 23rd Century Political Oppression Ethnic Conflict Alien Garden Bisexuality Telekinesis Alien Technology Lesbianism Digit In Title Mass Destruction Interracial Relationship CGI Russian Space Opera Inter Species Romance Tolerance Transformation Philosophy Psionic Power Political Persecution Cult Favorite Dictator Father Son Relationship Time Travel Number In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Big Hair Cool Spaceships Really Long Episode Titles Encounter Suit Bald Women Rousing Speeches

Influences: The Lord Of The Rings , Star Trek , The Bible , Thunderbirds (honestly, the FX guys cited Anderson as an influence, and that’s why the hardware is so colourful)

Influence on: Stargate (any series) and any other SF show that suddenly developed an "arc” – it was hugely influential in making TV sci-fi more ambitious

Theme tune: It changes from season to season, but only from one racket to another. Some bloke from Tangerine Dream was responsible

Title sequence: The new voice over read by a different actor every year (and a whole bunch of them in the final season) was a great touch, helping to emphasis the passing of time (each one finishing with, “The year is 22XX, the place Babylon 5”). Aside from that, it was pretty standard montage clippage stuff, though they had the good sense to show off lots of the fantastic CG FX

Catchphrases: “Out last best hope for peace.” “Commander, we have a problem.”

Biggest misstep: Finishing the Shadow war way too early (though there were behind the scenes shenanigans that made this a necessity) – it felt like far too much like it was treading water after that

Which season should you buy on DVD? Four, the conclusion of the Shadow war

4 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

Number of seasons: Four (and a half?) (2003-2009)

IMDB keywords: Remake Cylon Refugee Robot Guilt Space Shipper Ménage À Trois Resistance Insanity Loss Of Child Cliffhanger Humanoid Robot As Menace Radiation Atheist Terrorism Nuclear Holocaust Alcoholic Apocalypse Armageddon Action Heroine Love Female Pilot Female Protagonist Alcohol Space Carrier Spaceship Name In Title Mole Father Son Relationship War Against Machines Survivor Explosion Space Travel Destiny Loss Of Son Dogfight Religion Karma Reincarnation Fighting Made For Cable TV End Of The World Moral Ambiguity Female Prisoner Ambiguity Morality Deception Interracial Relationship Action Hero Interrogation Theology Death Cult Favorite Unfaithfulness Chase Human Robot Hybrid Kidnapping Totalitarianism Female Soldier Dead Brother Mechanic Mysticism End Of The World Scenario Extinction Paranoia Femme Fatale Woman In Uniform Evil Robot Father Figure Ancient Ruins Murder Of Wife Fighter Pilot Spacecraft Space Battle Android Torture Human Android Relationship Villainess Meaning Of Life Betrayal Assassin Polytheism Battle Loss Of Fiancé Heroine Hybrid Female President Moral Choice Male Female Relationship Inhabitable Planet Fictional War On The Run Religious Differences Cult TV Violence Faster Than Light Diaspora Female Killer Prisoner Of War Secret Agent Pursuit Prophecy Hallucination Escape Rescue Artificial Intelligence Cult Sci Fi Terrorist Civilian Fleet Military Life Space Western Space Marine Lie Creator Creation Relationship Nazi Occupation Cancer Nuclear Space Opera Breast Cancer Female Assassin Soldier Spaceship Loss Of Brother Dead Son Man In Uniform Post Apocalypse Genocide Uxoricide ( yeah, we had to look that one up too ) Passion Nuclear Weapon Vengeance Aircraft Carrier Good Versus Evil Nuclear War Quest Real World Metaphor Planet Spaceship Setting Survival Military Fleet… and breathe

Keywords SFX would add: There’s not much left to say, is there? Um, Pebbles? There must have been sone pebbles in it…

Influences: Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars , The West Wing , Firefly (in terms of the look of the FX)

Influence on: Caprica , Stargate Universe … and time will tell what else

Theme tune: An ethereal call to prayer followed by an explosion of burundi drumming… extremely effective

Title sequence: A montage of misery of destruction. Yeah, it’s clippage but it works really well with the music, first contrasting with it then merging with it. What some fans didn’t like, though, was that the drummy bit went over a montage of clips from the upcoming episode! SPOILERS!

Catchphrases: "So say we all.”

Biggest misstep: The last season felt a little padded

Which season should you buy on DVD? Two

3 FIREFLY

Number of seasons: One (2002-2003)

IMDB keywords: Alliance Pilot Captain Doctor Future Psychic Spacecraft Space Preacher Companion Mechanic Fugitive Soldier Smuggling Outer Space Infirmary Morality Mercenary 26th Century Unrequited Love Mandarin Space Travel Mythology Husband Wife Relationship Spaceport Clever Dialogue Future War Shepherd Dystopia Sexual Humor Wisecrack Humor Female Soldier Cult TV Medic Old War Buddies Civil War Interracial Marriage Warrior Woman Man With No Name Cult Favorite Femme Fatale Action Hero Wit Terraforming Space Shuttle Interracial Friendship Psychic Power Fictional War Class Conflict Reavers Space Western Spaceship Name In Title ( erm, in best nerdy voice, “I think you’ll find…” ) Cryogenics Mysterious Past Nose Bleed Cargo Space Colony Brother Sister Relationship Gun Nut Space Exploration Space Opera Space Fight Spaceship Space Battle Anti Hero

Keywords SFX would add: Tightpants Adam Baldwin Grimacing Metal Parrot

Influences: Westerns, space operas… you'd never guess, would you?

Influence on: Battlestar Galactica

Theme tune: A good’ol’ slice of country slide guitar, yeee-haw! ”The Ballad of Serenity” was written by Joss Whedon and performed by Sonny Rhodes.

Title sequence: Mainly clippage, but the glowing typography is very fancy and the final shot of the Serenity swooping low over a pack of spooked horses is sublime

Catchphrases: “Ai ya, wo mun wan leh!”

Biggest misstep: Getting cancelled

Which season should you buy on DVD? Hobson’s choice, sadly

2 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

Number of seasons: Seven (1997-2003)

IMDB keywords: Demon High School Vampire College Chosen One Destiny Death Crypt Angst Bereavement British Interracial Relationship Alternative Reality Werewolf Ex Demon Homosexual Teenager Enemy Bad Girl Forbidden Love Popularity Heroine Father Daughter Relationship Clique Super Strength Dead Parent Witchcraft 1950s Supernatural Power Lesbian California Doomed Romance 1800s Tutor Teenage Girl Cult Favorite Teacher Student Relationship Vampire Slayer Martial Arts Band Cult TV School Principal Geek Monster Microchip In Head Small Town 1970s Bisexual Divorced Parents Vampire vs Vampire Girl Power Beautiful Woman Cheerleader Action Heroine Master Vampire Cult Mythology Drowning Carpenter ( eh? Charisma, maybe? ) Ex-Girlfriend Bleach Blond ( that’s just getting personal ) Anti Hero Bug Woman Boxer Rebellion Key To Life Librarian Doll Lied To By Parents Based On Film Stake Impalement Friendship Vampire Human Love True Love Corpse Deception Teenage Love Cowardice Unrequited Love Curse Principal Resurrection Magic Evil God Mentor Jewish Commando Female Vampire Good Versus Evil Student Principal Relationship Female Protagonist Prophecy High School Friends One Woman Army Dark Humor Military Vampire Sex Boots Dorm Life Violence Witch Graveyard Body Sharing Vampire Driving Car Male Female Relationship Peer Pressure Leather Coat Dark Side Dark Hero Dead Teacher Undead Love Triangle Character Name In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Just five words: “ Out for a walk… bitch .”

Influences: The Lost Boys , Clueless , Buffy The Vampire Slayer the movie, decades of horror movies

Influence on: Xena: Warrior Princess , Firefly , Blood Ties , Moonlight , The Vampire Diaries , True Blood , Twilight , Being Human , Glee

Theme tune: Emo rant by Nerf Herder

Title sequence: More clippage, more gothic typography. No Whedon show has ever really attempted anything more, which is odd for a guy who stretches formats in so many other ways

Catchphrases: Just general valley speak, inverted into something much more witty

Biggest misstep: Some of those potentials in season seven were downright dire, and Buffy’s speeches in the same season were hard to stomach too

Which season should you buy on DVD? Two

1 DOCTOR WHO

Number of seasons: At least 31 (1963-present)

IMDB keywords: Time Lord Alien Renegade Companion Police Box Eccentric Doctor Who Exile Time Travel Cliffhanger Indifference Time Machine Extraterrestrial Pastiche Pacifism Self Sacrifice Man With No Name Christ Allegory Anti Hero Hero Chroma Key ( we think they mean mean chromakey, the special FX technique, and not the Key To Time, but you never know ) Dark Hero Extraterrestrial Hero Scientist Hero Cult TV Experiment Human Alien Robot As Menace Monster Multiple Actors For One Character Space Hero Gadget Famous Opening Theme Anti Conformity Ethics Corridor Self Respect Moral Illuminati Reincarnation Space Travel Sacrifice Megalomaniac Super Villain Robot Cult Favorite Humor Character Name In Title

Keywords SFX would add: Suit Simmering Sexual Tension Jelly Babies Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics Physics

Influences: HG Wells, Quatermass, RUR

Influence on: Bill And Ted , Blake’s Seven , Torchwood , The Sarah Jane Adventures , K-9 And Company , K-9 , The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy , Merlin , Primeval , Demons , Sapphire And Steel

Theme tune: That distinctive bass rhythm (revealed, after 45 years as the heart beat of a Time Lord) and soaring melody are so powerful they sound great whatever the arrangement (though it did have a struggle with the comb-and-paper version for Colin Baker’s last season)

Title sequence: The vortex of the Tom Baker years is still the classic, while the gaudy starfield of the McCoy years (with that dreadful logo) was the nadir

Catchphrases: “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow!” “Would you like a jelly baby.” “Exterminate!” “Delete!” “Excellent!” “Fantastic!” “Allons-y!” “What? What? What, what, what, what, what?” “I love a little shop.”

Biggest misstep: Bonnie Langford

Which season should you buy on DVD? Well, technically there are only six “season” box sets for sale (Tom Baker’s “The Key To Time”, Colin Baker’s “The Trial Of A Time Lord” and each season of New Who) because classic Who isn’t released season-by-season. And both those classic Who season aren’t exactly classics, so the choice is a bit unfair. But if classic Who was released in season box sets, then we'd go for season 14 – Tom Baker and the height of the gothic period.