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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Sci-Fi Adventures Awards 2016

Over the past 9 months of Sci-Fi Adventures I've reviewed 46 episodes of television, 10 movies and a teaser trailer, and now that we've reached the end of the year it seems like a good time for me to look back and try to remember something, anything about them. It's lucky I've written all these words about them really or else I'd have no chance.

In fact I'm giving out awards, for as many categories as I can think of! Though all winners will be chosen by me without much deliberation for purely subjective reasons and therefore you should probably just ignore them all.

I should mention that those episodes were all from season 1 Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5, and series 9 Doctor Who. I also reviewed Doom, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Aliens and a whole lot of Star Trek movies. This is important information, because as much as I'm trying to minimise SPOILERS, I'm sure I'm going to end up letting slip something about these stories someone might have preferred not to learn from the internet.

Worst Alien

I thought I might have started with a difficult one here, difficult to remember anyway, but now all the terrible aliens are flooding back to me. There's that nightclub owner that acted like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer demon in Babylon 5's Born to the Purple, the fire-breathing lion in Doctor Who's Before the Flood, Rumpelstiltskin, the Wadi, the Grand Nagus and Rao Vantika in Deep Space Nine, and that Yoda rip off in Search for Spock who says "Genesis is planet forbidden!" Unfortunately I don't think the sleep monsters in DW's Sleep No More count as aliens and neither does the Guyver suit in B5's Infection, even though it is biotechnology, and it does have the personality of that alien scientist in it…

Click to reveal the first winner of the night.

Best Alien

Okay this is a ridiculous award, because of how many movies and episodes I've seen where some of the best characters in the main cast are aliens. There's Odo, Kira and Quark in DS9, Londo, G'Kar and Kosh in B5, Worf and Spock in the Trek movies! Plus Gul Dukat, Christopher Lloyd's Kruge, Zathras, the guy who turned into snakes in Doctor Who, the guy who pulled his head apart to get his wallet out in Doctor Who... the Doctor himself from Doctor Who! A lot of these folks would be way up near the top of a 'greatest aliens in anything ever' list, so this is a hard choice.

Click to see the winner.

Best Robot

Aliens have been everywhere in the stories I've watched this year, robots on the other hand not so much. I can't remember a single robot showing up in Deep Space Nine and the closest Babylon 5 got was a cyborg and that alien biotech suit. Final Fantasy, Doom and the original Trek movies were pretty light on robots as well, but Aliens has Lance Henriksen's Bishop and First Contact has Data, so there's at least two big names in this race.

Click to see who won.

Worst Costume

It's 80s movies versus 90s television for this one. Star Trek: The Motion Picture has Dr. McCoy’s disco outfit, but Babylon 5’s Deathwalker has Abbut’s hat. Wrath of Khan has David Marcus with a sweater tied around his neck, but Deep Space Nine has everything that Jake Sisko's wearing in season one. Though it could be that I hate The Doctor’s jumper with the holes in it more than any of them.

And the winner is...

Best Costume

Uh... maybe this award was a bad idea, as all I can remember liking right now are the uniforms. Wrath of Khan made the classic Trek crew look great in their new red jackets and First Contact gave the Next Gen crew the smart new grey shoulder look. I’m also keen on the Babylon 5 uniform with the leather stripe on the front and the epaulettes, and DS9's black pyjamas which were later adopted by Voyager.

I'm sure there's extras all over the background in these series and movies wearing amazing costumes that deserve to be pointed out, but none are jumping to mind. All I can picture right now are all the folks wearing weird little hats on Babylon 5. If I'd known I was going to be having awards at the end of the year I would've kept notes!

Click to reveal the winner.

Best Fight Scene

I'm disqualifying any fight scene where I can see the walls wobbling, so that puts most of Babylon 5 out of the running straight away. Then Doctor Who and Deep Space Nine disqualify themselves by having barely any fighting in their seasons (though Sisko decking Q was great). But the Trek movies do better, with Kirk getting to use Starfleet-fu on an alien in most of his films, and Doom had a few proper fights in it too, so it has to be between them really. It’s Kirk vs. The Rock!

Click to see who won.

Best Scene of Characters Staring at a TV Screen for Minutes at a Time Contemplating Sci-Fi Things

The thing that separates truly thoughtful speculative fiction from trashy sci-fi isn't necessarily the way it explores its concepts, or the classiness of its presentation. Sometimes it all comes down to long stretches of movie where basically nothing happens, and the characters (and audience) get to contemplate... something. 2001: A Space Odyssey is an obvious example of this principle in action, but I haven't reviewed that, so it seems like the Star Trek films have the best shot of walking away with the prize. Though the question is, which scene in which Trek movie?

Click here for the winner.

The "Wait, WHAT?" Award for Exceptional Absurdity

This award is for the explanation or turn of events that did the most damage to my own personal suspension of disbelief during a story. Everyone’s willing to accept a different amount or variety of bullshit from their fiction, so what bothers me may not be what bothers you, but I’m sure everyone will find something to shake their head at in my choice of winner… even if I can’t actually explain why it wins, because of spoilers.

Click for the shocking reveal.

Most Intriguing Science Fiction Concept

I reviewed 46 episodes this year and most of them came from 90s series at their most episodic, so there's got to be at least one really smart premise here that’s still half-way interesting today. Like an alien that’s genetically engineered to want to be hunted for sport. Or a holographic field that makes everyone on a street appear to be the same race. Or a device that creates an external physical manifestation of a group’s mental state to trick them into coming together and thinking positively. Or a virtual reality cybernet that uses cybernetic implants to tie someone up in a cerebral matrix!

Click to see the winner.

Video Game Movie that Most Completely Misses the Point

Only two choices for this one, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and Doom, and they're both fighting hard to get their hands on this award. Final Fantasy has a vague similarity with the video games it’s based on, with its team of heroes going on a quest to collect a number of items on an airship, but its team of Space Marines and the giant alien boss battles could’ve just as well been taken from the 'Doom' games. Doom on the other hand tries to throw in more nods to the games its based off, and the art design is cleared inspired by ‘Doom 3’ at times, but it doesn't have demons or Hell in it! They made a Doom movie without demons or Hell!

Click here.

Best Spaceship

No point leaving you wondering on this one. I didn't review any Star Wars movies this year, so the refitted Art Deco Starship Enterprise basically steamrolls over everything. In my opinion anyway.

Okay let's try this again...

Second Best Spaceship

Competition is fierce for second place, as lots of great iconic designs showed up this year. There's the ironically named starliner Harmony and Redemption from Doctor Who's Christmas special, the Klingon Bird-of-Prey, the Klingon Battle Cruiser, the Minbari War Cruiser, the Cardassian Galor class, the USS Excelsior, the USS Reliant, the USS Enterprise-E, the Sulaco and its dropship from Aliens, the TARDIS, and Final Fantasy's fantastic Black Boa. Plus DS9's got its comfy runabouts and B5's bringing its NASA-approved Starfuries. It’s a shame that there can only be one winner in the end. Well, two.

Click to see who got second place.

Best Space Station

I can't simultaneously watch two seasons of two different space station shows and not have a space station award. But Babylon 5 and Deep Space 9 have some competition here, as there's also the Zeus Cannon from Final Fantasy, Gateway Station in Aliens, Regula I in Wrath of Khan, Space Dock and Other Space Dock in Search for Spock and Star Trek '09, Le Verrier Station in B5's Sleep No More, and B5's older brother Babylon 4 even made a small cameo.

Click to see what I picked.

Best Movie Soundtrack

I'm having to limit this to the movies because I can't remember the music from 46 episodes of television. I'm not sure Deep Space Nine even has music! So to me this really comes down to Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture score, James Horner's music for Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock and Aliens, Cliff Eidelman's soundtrack for The Undiscovered Country, or Michael Giacchino's score for Star Trek. So I've narrowed it down to just over half the films I've watched then, that's... helpful.

Click for the result.

Worst Visual Effect

I was actually going to make a category for worst practical effect, but I've been sitting here racking my brains and I can't come up with anything conspicuously terrible. I'm taking that as a sign that I need to review some classic Doctor Who. Fortunately Babylon 5 means that I never need want for bad CGI and I'm sure that Deep Space Nine must have leaned a little too far over the cutting edge at times as well.

Click to see the worst effect.

Best Looking TV Series

It's Doctor Who! No point leaving you in suspense here, as current television vs. 90s television isn't even a contest.

How they manage to pull off what they do with their budget is some kind of miracle, but I'm sure that shooting on HD cameras and being able to rely on modern visual effects helps. They're able to be far more ambitious with their cinematography, cleverer with their editing, spend more time on lighting, and use digital colour timing in post-processing. Plus being able to film location shots in the Canary Islands is kind of cheating.

Babylon 5 was also shot in widescreen, but the botched DVD release almost makes me wish it hadn't been, as the image gets fuzzy any time that a visual effect or transition is involved. Plus both DS9 and B5 have been relying on bottle shows taking place on the standing sets, and B5's sets look like they've been borrowed from a school play when the camera gets in close to them.

Best Space Battle

I've reviewed a lot of the Trek movies this year so they're dominating this category. There the nebula fight in Wrath of Khan, the Bird-of-Prey battle in Search for Spock, the dramatic climax of Undiscovered Country and Starfleet vs. the Borg cube in First Contact. Oh, plus all the pew pew pew in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. But Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine also brought the space battles on television, with B5 showing off dynamic dogfighting in Signs and Portents and Voice in the Wilderness, and DS9 showing off that nebula from Wrath of Khan again in Vortex.

Click here to see who wins.

Most Memorable Overacting

This is a tough one. You've got Avery Brooks vs. William Shatner, Londo vs. G'Kar, The Doctor vs. the Daleks. Plus there's Christopher Lloyd in Search for Spock, Hudson in Aliens, and that guy in Doom... the one who killed Bruce Wayne's parents in Batman Begins, I can't remember his character's name. I can't remember much of any of their scenes in fact, which is going to make this challenging.

And the winner is...

Worst Season (Up to This Point)

It was easy enough to narrow this down to three (as I've only been reviewing three series), but picking a winner here is tough. Sure it seems kind of obvious that it should be either Babylon 5 or Deep Space Nine as I'm still at their first seasons and the first seasons of sci-fi series are almost always terrible, but Doctor Who's been really trying to put me off this year. Almost every episode in season 9 has featured something so dumb that it's kicked me out of the story, and the episode Sleep No More on its own makes it a contender.

But after five minutes of thought I have to give the award to...

Absolute Worst Episode

Speaking of crap episodes, I'm going to figure out which of them is the worst, the absolute nadir, and I'm going to give it an award! I've narrowed it down to Grail, Born to the Purple and Infection from Babylon 5, A Man Alone, Q-Less and Vortex from Deep Space Nine, and The Woman Who Lived, The Zygon Invasion and Sleep No More from series 9 Doctor Who. But I might suddenly remember a scene I particularly hated and pick something else entirely, you never know.

And the worst episode is...

Best Episode

Now that I've spent a bit of time giving people's hard work a kicking I'm going to switch gears and shower an episode with praise! This time my shortlist features Signs and Portents, A Voice in the Wilderness, and Babylon Squared from Babylon 5, Emissary, Past Prologue, and Babel from Deep Space Nine, and I guess my favourite Doctor Who eps were The Girl Who Died, The Zygon Inversion, and Heaven Sent.

I'm really struggling to choose between them though, so I'm going to rely on technology to make the choice for me! Specifically I'm going to use a program that matches up each episode with each other episode and asks me to choose my favourite each time, and then I'll go with whatever story wins the most points in the end.

Click to reveal the computer calculated winner of Best Episode.

Subjectively Greatest Movie

The final award I'm giving out this year is 'Subjectively Greatest Movie', for the film I personally liked more than other films for my own personal reasons. I decided to skip having a 'worst movie' award because I already did one for 'rubbish video game film' and that's basically the same thing. So this isn't going to be Doom, it's not going to be Final Fantasy, and I wouldn't count on seeing Babylon 5: The Gathering written down there either. 60% of the films I saw this year had Star Trek in the title, so odds are that the winner's going to be one of them, but then I also watched Aliens so that's not a sure thing. Would I really put a Nicholas Meyer or Jonathan Frakes movie over one of James Cameron's best?

Click to reveal the final winner.

So that was 2016 then. I wish I could say that Sci-Fi Adventures' rubbish first season is finished now, but I started in April so there's still three months of this crap to go before I grow a beard and get good. Stick around though, as I'll hopefully be covering more than just the same three series very soon (because one took a year off and another is starting to feel like hard work).

Also you should think about leaving a comment with your own thoughts about what should have won and whether this awards thing was even a good idea. Or you could just complain about the Javascript being broken on your browser so none of the 'click here' buttons work.

Happy New Year! May 2017 not entirely suck for you!


  1. Hang on, you're wrong; Aki Ross has a chocobo logo on her t-shirt. I call foul. Or fowl. Ho ho.

    1. It also appears on a briefcase, so I was doubly wrong. I'd fire myself for this massive oversight, but then there'd be no one left to write the words.