The Ambassador, The Mad Scientist And The Doctor


What do these series have in common, Babylon 5, Fringe and Doctor Who? Well obviously all those are science fiction. But they are also very  different from one another. Babylon 5 is all about politics on a spacestation in the far future when Fringe is about parallel universes and strange science. Then there’s  Doctor Who, this lovably childish show about a guy who travels all around space and time with his beautiful police box, Tardis. I’d like to discuss these three shows, what makes them good science fiction and why they are some of my favorite shows and why you should watch them too, if you already haven’t.

The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. – Babylon 5, s.2 opening speech

Mentioned as the ambassador in the title of this post, Babylon 5 is a show created in the 90’s and its story takes place in 2257 and some years after that. Babylon 5 is the meeting point of all kinds of different people and aliens, but in the spotlight are the lives of the ambassadors and the crew. The story of Babylon 5 is epic and most of the episodes are rather well written and they handle very interesting subjects such as propaganda, religion, freedom of the individual and many others.

Why would anyone kill a scientist?  What did we ever do?  – Fringe,  Walter

Compared to Babylon 5, Fringe is very different kind of science fiction. It starts of as a show about a detective, a mad scientist and his son looking looking into strange death cases (flying freaking porcupine human, anyone?) but very soon it progresses into a more interesting story about parallel universes and not to spoil anything, but in the series we also get to see world in the future. In a very Fringe future.

Time isn’t a straight line. It can twist into any shape. You could be born in the 20th century and die in the 19th and it’s all my fault. – Doctor Who, 9th Doctor

Doctor Who. Nothing can go much more sci-fi than Doctor Who. Okay Star Trek and Star Wars probably can, at least in some aspects, but as a current TV show Doctor Who plays in its own league. It goes both back and forth in time, the show is all about strange alien races and technology and the overall feeling of the show is very futuristic. In my point of view its biggest differences compared to B5 and Fringe are the changing main characters (or at least actors…) and that it’s the only show that is actually family-friendly. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that makes it also easy to watch. Some of the episodes try to teach great lessons, and sometimes they even succeeds. But I’d like to emphasize that when I say sometimes, I really mean sometimes.

All these series are full of great acting, fun sci-fi waffling and more than anything they are entertaining and very rewatchable. None of these series tries to give a realistic picture of the future, but the stories are nonetheless thought-provoking. Out of these three Fringe was the first one I watched. It’s actually one my very first sci-fi series and it has inspired me a lot to try out different shows and genres. If it wasn’t for Fringe, I would had never even tried Doctor Who or Babylon 5. So I think I could recommend Fringe especially for people who are just starting out with sci-fi. Whereas some people fall in love with Doctor Who right away, it wasn’t like that for me. DW actually felt really unapproachable when I tried it the first time. Matt Smith was my first Doctor, but Eccleston will always be my real Doctor. Babylon 5 though… I’m not sure if it’s a good starting point for sci-fi or not. But I think that everyone who likes space sci-fi should watch it, it’s just that good.

Out of these three Babylon 5 is hands down my favorite, because it has such interesting characters and stories and its great, well thought out plot makes it one of the series I keep on going back to. True, it’s a bit old and it’s not visually perfect but its other aspects make up to it. Fringe on the other hand has very fascinating science, it’s visually very pleasing and the whole vibe of the series is just so cool and creepy. Then the last… I can never really put Doctor Who anywhere on my favorite lists because I love so many things about the show and I hate nearly as many things as I love, so it’s pretty difficult. Does anyone else have this problem? Sigh.

I just want to celebrate the beauty of different kinds of science fiction series, and there’s more to come. Much more.

Day’s translation note:

The name of the series in Finland is Doctor Who, though the Doctor is always mentioned in the subtitles as “Tohtori”.




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