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  1.  (9115.41)
    I'd second a Fringe recommendation. It seems to have one person liking it and another saying that it should apologize for itself, but it's good fun when it's not too monster-of-the-weeky. And another one already mentioned that I'd recommend would be Dollhouse. Despite its pointless episodes for nearly half of the first season, once it gets going, it REALLY gets good. And yes, there's some comic relief, but it's a welcome change from all the fucked up shit that happens.

    Stretching a bit to list some I haven't seen on here yet, I'd say Journeyman from a few years ago was damned good entertainment (sci-fi for its time travel, even if there were no future machines...), John Doe, and Kyle XY (which was for teens, but had a lot of interesting cloning stuff, and its "discovery of powers" moments were great, as well as more frank discussions of teen sexuality than I've seen in almost any other show...). And Space Cases (created by Peter David and Bill Mumy), while for kids (it was on Nickelodeon in the '90s...) was more serious than funny...

    The only VERY serious sci-fi show I can think of from recently is the Bionic Woman remake, which was garbage, perhaps because it lacked that slight humorous edge... It was just depressing and impossible to empathize with any of the main characters. Probably why Chuck has outlasted it by 3 seasons...

    I noticed no one mentioned Jake 2.0 or Dark Angel. I never watched them, which is why I can't recommend them, but I think they're sort of in that vein.
  2.  (9115.42)
    Ultraviolet - ok, maybe it's more horror than sci-fi, but it was a very serious, dour take on vampires in the modern world.

    UFO - nobody smiled much or were very nice to each other in this series!

    Captain Scarlet - it's a marionette show... with few laughs and unseen aliens who kill characters, then make evil copies of their victims.
    • CommentAuthorALE
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2010
    Damn, people awakening show-memories long dormant in the brain, Ultraviolet was a damned interesting show to be sure. And you've dropped Captain Scarlet so my Thunderbirds mention now has backup, sweet. Also they're called the Mysterons dude, c'mon Portishead made a song about them!

    @Frequent I watched quite a bit of Dark Angel, it definitely rates a spot on the list. I'll see your John Doe and raise you a Strange Luck (yet another good show taken out back and shot by Fox).

    Dredging through some earlier couch potato databanks, I also seem to recall that SciFi/Syfy used to air a CG starship troopers show that was far, far, far more adherent to Heinlein's writing than the movies.
  3.  (9115.44)
    ALE - I like the way the vampires are dealt with in Ultraviolet: they're not romanticized and they're not even referred to as vampires - oh, and the show also starred The Wire's 'Stringer' Bell!
    Remember Captain Scarlet's credit sequence? Yes - a machine gun attack in a dark alley - in a kid's show!
      CommentAuthorAL Baroza
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2010
    I'd add Dennis Potter's Karaoke/Cold Lazarus into the mix. God, I wish Potter's miniseries were available in the states.

    It's surprising how much sci-fi Fox has provided over the years. Harsh Realm and VR.5.
      CommentAuthorCameron C.
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2010
    VR.5! I liked the hand painted scenes in VR. I downloaded tv rips of that whole show but never finished it. It has Michael Easton in it, who was also a lead on Total Recall 2070, and also has been writing the short series of scifi/fantasy graphic novels "Soul Stealer" that I love :3
  4.  (9115.47)
    War of the Worlds: the series. That shit was grim, from what I remember. Ultraviolet and Blakes 7 are great suggestions.

    The Prisoner? Does that count? It's quirky and weird, and not really HARD sci-fi, but is it comedic?

    Regarding the suggestions on page one:
    -Star Trek (any of them)
    no. "Are you... fully functional?"
    -Babylon 5
    no. I want to say yes, but... "wanna come back to my place for my favorite thing in the universe?" Maybe if the production value was better, it'd seem less comedic, and more character-driven, though...
    no. every episode had comedic elements.
    no. Comedic vampire episode? Christmas with Lilly Tomlin & Ed Asner?
    -Alien Nation
    no. Many drunk on rotten milk gags.
    • CommentAuthorZJVavrek
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2010
    I think the real issue is on interpretation of Vornaskotti's first criterion:
    - The writers don't see every line as a potential place for a witty joke.
    (emphasis mine)
    Babylon 5 is a show I know well and a good example of ways to interpret this, so I'll use that. The show was very clearly not a comedy program and it had a great wealth of dramatic moments. However, the show's creator and Executive Producer, J. Michael Straczynski, made a point to always include at least one scene that would make him fall out of his chair laughing. (He figured that since he had a high tolerance for humor, anything that'd get a gut laugh from himself would likely kill two or three viewers.) This was done for multiple reasons: Balance, so that even the darkest episodes might have some light; realism, because life itself has comedy; comedic value itself, which can only be realized by the contrast with the dramatic backdrop.

    While this list has plenty of great suggestions for viewing, do we want to go for shows that lack comedy entirely (and are thus kind of unrealistic), or simply avoid shows which are about comedy (and are likewise unrealistic)?
  5.  (9115.49)
    Anyone remember Space: Above and Beyond? Fairly serious war sci-fi if I remember. I don't remember a lot of jokes, though I could be wrong.

    ETAL Oh. JECole does. Nevermind.
    • CommentAuthortmofee
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2010
    Babylon 5 - reminds me of that episode where G'Kar and Londo are stuck in the elevator together and the outside hallway is on fire. Londo's losing it and G'Kar is cracking up. He knows he can't kill Londo, but he's happy to watch him killed by fire. Right in the middle of the darkest moments of the show and this bit always cracks me up -
    • CommentAuthorALE
    • CommentTimeNov 7th 2010 edited
    Quite frankly I found Space: Above and Beyond to be one big joke..right up until it's final season. The reveal as to why the Chiggers(ugh) were so pissed, and everyone else getting smoked except the two characters with actual purpose, sheer awesome. War of the Worlds was hardcore. Some of the martians survive, gain the ability to appear human, then begin to systematically corrupt the human race to death.

    Babylon 5 holds dual honor with Farscape as my favorite sci fi series of all time, that is all, and yes that scene in the elevator was brilliant.

    @Baroza yes unfortunately the only recourse there is youtube or the dirty nasty bit torrents, and a lot of mentions in this thread have me wanting to fire up my client big time.

    @ZJ Well said. I find myself ever more firmly rooted in my belief that laughter and music are the only saving graces of humanity, and anyone who takes themselves too seriously/lacks the ability to laugh at themselves is inherently viewed with mistrust and deemed unworthy of their spin of the evolutionary wheel.
  6.  (9115.52)
    I also love Babylon 5. For all its dated features and despite (or maybe partially because of) some humour, it's a show with a lot of the qualities that I reckon mark out maturity. I think the fact that it was sketched out from beginning to end before the first episode was aired really helps in this respect.

    Maybe the problem is that writing for television is not very good soil for entertainment that goes above and beyond just entertaining? A show that is not only good for its time, but also displays genuine maturity and enduring relevance is rare in ANY genre.