The final frontier in the battle of the outer space TV shows may be the Atlantic Ocean.
The folks at the Guinness Book of World Records named the British classic "Dr. Who" as the "most successful" science fiction TV show ever. The announcement, made at Comic-Con, the annual San Diego-based celebration of all things geek, represented a phasers-set-on-stun blast at "Star Trek" fans.
To quote a certain Vulcan, the choice seems highly illogical.
Sure, "Dr. Who," the adventures of a space-and-time traveler, came first, debuting on the BBC in 1963, three years before the Enterprise took flight. The show ran for more than a quarter century, although it keeps returning in one form or another.
Guinness officials cited high ratings for "Dr. Who.”
"Star Trek," of course, was infamously grounded after three season for its less than out-of-this world viewership. But Captain Kirk and crew found new life in syndication, gaining a huge audience in the larger American market and far beyond over the last four decades.
Guinness also took into account Who-related book and DVD sales, as well as iTunes downloads, Variety reports. What they didn't count, apparently, was the many "Star Trek" TV and movie spinoffs – including the summer blockbuster prequel flick that's already earned nearly $380 million worldwide.
The success of "Star Trek" also can be measured in the shows and movies it has influenced and inspired – everything from “Battlestar Galactica” to “Star Wars.” Some have even credited “Star Trek” with having an impact on technological advancements.
That Guinness’ announcement came at Comic-Con amounted to a cosmic joke – the convention likely wouldn't have grown into a behemoth that attracts more than 100,000 fans and Hollywood bigshots without the groundwork laid by the Trekker movement. (“Dr. Who” has spurred many a fan convention, but not on the scale of “Star Trek.”)
Forget about the history and the numbers – it all comes down to the shows. What do you think is the best science fiction TV program of all time: “Dr. Who,” “Star Trek” or another show?
Use the comments section below to beam up your answers.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.