Ah, yes, the ubiquitous “Best X of All Time” debate. Never can we get enough of these, and if we are honest, we admit that we tolerate (love) them only because we love to argue with them. And I’m nothing if not honest. I’m here for the argument.
The British genre magazine SFX took a poll of British fans to ascertain the “250 greatest moments in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.” (They appear to have limited these moments to media moments.) They report receiving 96,000 replies, a pretty good sampling, one would guess. (Only the top ten choices were released publicly.) So how do 96,000 people come up with this?
1. DOCTOR WHO The Doctor and Rose say farewell at Bad Wolf Bay in “Doomsday”
2. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE “Puny god!” The Hulk owns Loki
3. ALIEN The chestburster
4. FIREFLY Mal Reynolds kicks a bad guy into Serenity’s engine intake (“The Train Job”)
5. STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Luke learns that Darth Vader is his father
6. BLADE RUNNER Roy Batty’s “Tears in rain” speech
7. GAME OF THRONES The Red Wedding: “The Lannisters send their regards”
8. THE MATRIX Neo dodges bullets in the bullet-time scene
9. HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE Dumbledore’s death
10. BACK TO THE FUTURE “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”
Where to start? Okay, the beginning. Not a bad choice, and considering it’s a British poll, not surprising. But I think there’s room for argument. As opposed to say, no. 2, which is just plain silly. And Mal kicking a bad guy ranks higher than Vader & Son? Really?
Rather than dissect the entire list (which is largely unobjectionable, if controversial), here’s mine. I don’t know that these are the top ten moments in genre history, but I’d argue that any of them has a place on the list. I’ve limited each movie and TV show to one entry to avoid overconcentration (I’m talking to you, Twilight Zone!). They are presented in no particular order, except No. 1, which I would argue should have been no. 1 in the SFX poll, as well.
1. STAR TREK “City on the Edge of Forever” The death of Edith Keeler
2. SUPERMAN Superman: “Don’t worry, miss, I’ve got you.” Lois: “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”
3. YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN The candle scene
4. TWILIGHT ZONE “Time Enough at Last” Burgess Meredith loses his glasses
5. STAR WARS Han saves Luke at the Battle of the Death Star
6. FORBIDDEN PLANET Anne Francis [swimming]: “Come on in.” Leslie Nielsen: “I didn’t bring my bathing suit.” Anne: “What’s a bathing suit?”
7. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) Kevin McCarthy in the final scene
8. ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. The animal skin bikini
9. SMALLVILLE Clark puts on the suit
10. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE My wife’s turn as an extra. I defy anyone to watch her performance and say she wasn’t a Starfleet officer.
Of course, now that I have a list, I expect you all to argue with it…