Which film or TV series has the most accurate depiction of space and science?
Which film or TV series has the most accurate depiction of space and science?
Apollo 13 is pretty good. They went above and beyond. But that's because it was potrayimg a historical event. Taking the liberties a lot of sic fi does with space, would have been unacceptable.
One sic-fi that actually tries was battlestar galactica (revamped). At least with a few moments, such as when two crew member had to jettison themselves out into space. They didn't explode, nor did they freeze, and they survived. The way they approached everything, such as how they maneuvered their craft, had a lot of scientific thought put into it. "The science of battlestar galactica" explains a lot of it.
Therefore Battlestar Galactica "TOS" was one of sthe worsed thing I have ever seen. Sci-Fi (at least the so called hardcore Sci-Fi) and being realistic is basicly contradictionary. Kubricks 2001 wasn't to bad on the technical part.snip...One sic-fi that actually tries was battlestar galactica (revamped). At least with a few moments, such as when two crew member had to jettison themselves out into space. They didn't explode, nor did they freeze, and they survived. The way they approached everything, such as how they maneuvered their craft, had a lot of scientific thought put into it. "The science of battlestar galactica" explains a lot of it.
Almost all stuff I have ever seen violates basic physics. (And I do not mean WARP or other FTL travelling). WW I dog fighting without taking into account zero gravity and the absence of atmosphere is the most common I can think of.
Last edited by AndreH; 2011-Oct-21 at 11:03 PM. Reason: putting quote marks right
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
For the knockout best TV/DVD about space and science, I would offer up BBC's "The Planets". That has to be right up there with Cosmos.
For off beat films:
"Happy Accidents" although it depicts very little sci-fi; it does depict how a normal person may react to a possible time traveler. It also has Marisa Tomei which is a big plus.
The Andromeda Strain (1971) was pretty good. There were some glitches, but over all the story was pretty good.
'That was tops! Who's not good at math? I was all, "Four!"' - Finn, Adventure Time.
Are there films that deal with space better than 2001 and Apollo 13?
Babylon 5 did a decent job of realistic space, outside of hyperspace and the more exotic stuff and older race abilities.
Cjackson, where does 2001 and particularly Apollo 13 fail for you? What are you looking for in a space film to give realism?
I must put in a good word for Star Cops; a mostly forgotten 1980's tv program, set in the 2020's
Another good one
although the storyline in that one was secondary to its quasi-documentary nature.
I thought Babylon 5 was an interesting mix of the very good and the very bad.
The most technically accurate science fiction show I've ever seen: Planetes (an anime series). There were a few points I can quibble about, but it's generally about bending rules slightly to tell a story. Things even down to space suits are done realistically (the suits are made to do the job, not to make the characters look good, as you often see in TV shows and movies), and there is not a single "new physics" element in the story - no FTL, no magic space drives, etc.
I'd put Star Cops a little behind that. There were a few minor issues with Star Cops (for instance, communication between the Earth and Moon was instantaneous though it wasn't ever said this was FTL - it was probably only done because it made for faster dialogue and most of the audience probably wouldn't understand why there were pauses in the first place) but it was another show that had a highly realistic background.
The best thing about both these shows is that they put a lie to the claim that you can't have a good science fiction story with a realistic science background. Both of these shows are well worth watching.
Last edited by Van Rijn; 2011-Oct-27 at 12:56 AM. Reason: title correction
The film Destination Moon, based on a Robert Heinlein story and produced with him as technical advisor.
(I have a Planetes DVD that I haven't watched yet. Sounds like it might be worth a look.)
STARGAZING: All I see are the lights of a billion places I'll never go. --Howard Tayler, Schlock Mercenary
It is important to distinguish between mistakes, compromises and imaginative elements. A lot of people can't do this, I've noticed - these are generally people who do not frequent BAUT.
In Doctor Who, the TARDIS is obviously an imaginative element. It wasn't as if the writer thought police boxes really were bigger inside than out and could travel in time and space.
Many series feature faster-than-light travel. This is either an imaginative element (e.g. to demonstrate how advanced a civilisation is) or a compromise (because without FTL travel, the story would lose the drama of contrasting the cosmic with the domestic, and the hero wouldn't get to visit a broad range of planets) or both.
Sound in space was a mistake in the past, but its continued use has become a tradition which makes it a compromise. In UFO (and, I think, Firefly) they got around this by having sound effects for spaceships, but they made it clear that the characters couldn't hear it.
The lack of a linguistic barrier was clearly a mistake in the original Planet of the Apes film - who needs the Statue of Liberty to clue you into the fact that you're on Earth when you've got apes speaking English? Nowadays it's more of a compromise; we typically see a short scene of hero and alien unable to communicate, after which a magical device is introduced to make the problem go away.
Other compromises include budgetary and other limitations where special effects are concerned - in UFO, the dust on the Moon billowed whenever it was kicked up, presumably because Gerry Anderson couldn't afford to film it in a huge vacuum chamber. And as in 2001, his characters tended to walk around normally without making any effort to pretend they were in a one sixth gravity environment - probably because it would have looked ridiculous.
Mistakes are those things that the writers simply get wrong, ranging from trivial details that don't affect the plot to egregious errors that jerk the reader or viewer out of the experience.
In answer to the thread's question, I would have to agree with Apollo 13, and some of the other non-fictional suggestions. When it comes to fiction, it is a less straightforward matter. If we include wormholes and force shields, we are dealing with fantasy elements, but it's equally unrealistic to suppose that we'll be limited to present day technology in the space-faring future. The best science fiction is likely to introduce exotic devices, but the writers will know their limitations and think through the consequences of them existing.
I can't say it is the most accurate depiction of science, but it is certainly a very different one and one of my favorites, is the movie The Man in the White Suit, with Alec Guinness. It is certainly very different from the usual evil mad scientist usually seen in the movies.
I had real problems with the sociology in that movie, believe it or not.
"Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"
"You can't erase icing."
"I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"
The best science fiction is likely to introduce exotic devices, but the writers will know their limitations and think through the consequences of them existing.
While there is a lot of science fiction that uses FTL or other fantasy/new-physics notions that I like very much, to me the very best science fiction is a good story that I can believe could really happen. It's not the only type of story I like, but it is a very important type of SF.
One of my biggest annoyances with science fiction today is how few do near term space-themed science fiction these days. That is: No FTL, no aliens, just humans living in and exploring the solar system. It was common in the Golden Age science fiction era, and I miss it terribly. Shows like Planetes demonstrate such stories can still be done, and done well, even on TV, not only in written form. They just need a bit of updating for what we've learned in the last few years, and people who pay attention to technical advisors.
He used existing physics and technology to get men into lunar orbit. We know it wouldn't have gone to plan, given the sudden acceleration involved, and he made other mistakes. But he was quite disparaging about Wells' Cavorite.
There's a lesson to be learnt here, I think. If we try to project our existing science and technology into the future, we can end up writing stories as ludicrous as those which feature impossible breakthroughs.
Nevertheless, I agree it would be nice to see some nuts and bolts space fiction now and then.
Jupiter Moon was an awful series (it's a space teen soap opera, of all things) but the awfullness didn't stem from their breaking every law of physics.
The dog, the dog, he's at it again!
There are more of these.
Indeed a "realistic" scifi show would likely be even more expensive to produce than a space operatic one ("so John, you want to simulate zero G for every scene of this entire season, do you..?") and since nobody is going nowhere fast you'd need a pretty good script to keep things interesting while that happens. Plus the true reality freaks (you know who you are!) would scream blue murder over each and every detail regardless ("zOMG did he just use a cellphone -- in the supposed year 2030 lol")...
That said, I think Defying Gravity would've worked equally well as a realistic show without the angels or whatevertheyweresupposedtobe, and it might not even tanked completely if it wasn't so insipid.
EDIT: with --> without
Last edited by tnjrp; 2011-Nov-01 at 05:56 AM.
The dog, the dog, he's at it again!
That's why animation would be the ideal way to produce it, at least at this time.
Look at Cowboy Bebop, the Gundam series, or any of the numerous other shows that've depicted zero gee*, or environments and technologies that would make Avatar's budget seem like an indy film in comparison if they were to be produced photo-realistically.
*Not always accurately: Cowboy Bebop has cigarette smoke convecting upwards in zero gee.
Of course, because of the difficulty, they avoided a lot of the problems by having the team move to a moon base instead of a space station. The one place where that was an issue for me was that transportation seemed to be incredibly easy, and in one episode there were multiple scenes taking place on the Moon, in orbit, and on Earth, with main characters moving back and forth very quickly. That particular story could have been done better, but I'll happily forgive minor issues like that given all the good things they did in the show.
Either they weren't aware that air doesn't convect without gravity, or they chose to depict it that way because the truth would be oddly unfamiliar to audiences. Similar to how S. Kubrick chose to have moving stars in 2001 to indicate Discovery's motion--he knew better.
Probably weren't aware. Fire-in-space doesn't have the same recognition in the media that floating objects and blobs of liquid do. There haven't been that many experiments with it.
"For shame, gentlemen, pack your evidence a little better against another time."
-- John Dryden, "The Vindication of The Duke of Guise" 1684