Afternoon Inquisition 1.26.09

A couple of weeks ago, Maria, Jen and I went to Pittsburgh to Drink Skeptically. It was a really great time, if a bit cold.

But during that trip, Maria and my husband got into an argument that almost escalated to broken bones and stitches. And now, I’m asking you to settle this for me.

I have never seen Star Wars.

The Friday that we arrived in Pittsburgh, my husband turned on Star Wars (I? IV? “The first one”? “The original”? “A New Hope”? I don’t know what you people call it.) I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to know and what I was not supposed to know. For someone watching with some understanding of the story (stories?), it’s very confusing. I couldn’t even follow because I was asking all kinds of questions, not knowing what information I should and should not have at this point in the story.

The next day, while having lunch with Maria and company, I mentioned this. I then asked what order I should watch to minimize my confusion and maximize my Star Wars appreciation.

My husband says I should watch the original 3 then the prequels because that’s how the story was intended to be told.

Maria says I should watch the prequels then the originals to avoid the confusion that comes with having a little bit of knowledge about the story.

Now it’s up to you to settle the score: What order should a Star Wars newcomer watch the movies? And does that order change based on how much they may already know about the story?

Bonus: Should Brian and Maria have fought to the death to settle this?


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Watch the original three movies, and don’t bother with the prequels.

    I found the originals pretty easy to follow the first time I saw them. Watching the “prequels” later, I was far too distracted by the really horrible acting and annoying characters.

    A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi totally stand on their own, IMO! :)

  2. I hope Maria wasn’t driving, b/c she might have been smoking crack to begin with.

    The movies should be watched in the order that they were made, that is IV, V, VI, then the prequels. The whole idea of the prequels is that you know there’s a big bad guy named Darth, from the first movies, and that he used to be good, and that people wanted to know how he went down that path.

    They maybe shouldn’t have fought to the death to settle it, but it’s worth a concussion at least.

  3. Watch IV, V and VI first.

    THEN watch I, II and III.

    I isn’t bad. II is worse. III will probably have you screaming, “MY BRAIN! I WILL NEVER GET THIS OUT OF MY BRAIN!!!!”

    I find it hard to believe that one of the greatest evils in the universe was such a whiny emo teenager.

  4. What they (above) said, exactly. I have nothing to add. Yes, I specifically logged in to add nothing.

  5. Watch the original three and move on to the prequels if you feel the need.

    How does it feel to be the only person in the Western world not to have seen Star Wars, Elyse? :-D

  6. Yep. Watch the original three, and save the prequels for one of the following occasions:

    You’re feeling depressed, and looking for another reason to hate life/humanity/civilization/Jar Jar Binks.
    You get a job at Guantanamo, and need to interrogate a prisoner. (Note: This may violate the Geneva Convention.)

    As much as I love Maria, her advice on science fiction should be avoided. She doesn’t even like Doctor Who, for crying out loud.

  7. Watch the original, Episode IV: A New Hope, so you can have the background on the good one, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

    Then stop watching Star Wars and go rent the 4+ seasons of Farscape.

  8. the prequels were so lackluster in story telling that it is far better to watch the original 3. you won’t miss anything and the prequels were written with the assumption that the viewer had already seen the originals.

  9. OK, well, I-III might be worth watching for the special effects. Maybe you could borrow them from someone and flip through them with the sound turned off.

    You could probably condense the relevant parts of those 3 movies into a 1-hour special.

  10. you should watch them in the order that everyone else in the universe watched them. IV, V, V then if you feel up to it I, II, III.

    personally i was rather disappointed with eps I, II, & III. especially III, i was expecting a grand fight scene along the lines of The Return of the King.

    oh, and try to remember when it was first played in the movie theaters you couldn’t see those lighter squares around the tie fighters.

  11. Wait a second – how did I miss this? This is one of the most essential questions of our time. I’m considering the same thing when it comes to introducing my daughter to Star Wars.

    My vote is solidly for the original episodes first (IV, V, VI). The first ones not only suck, but don’t have as much meaning without understand the original story. I recommend watching the prequels once and then forgetting about them. Glimpses of Ewan McGregor are their only saving grace, as far as I’m concerned.

  12. @Cleon: Maria doen’t like dr. who? is this really true? if ti is no wonder the universe conspired to keep me from d’s that night!!

  13. Your husband is right. Maria was messed up by watching the Bollywood version of Star Wars, so probably can’t follow our deeper, less dance-oriented Western one.

  14. Much agreement with all of the above. Eps I to III would sour you to the rest of them so much that it’s not a good idea to see them first.

    There are all sorts of things that Lucas got wrong with I-III that he got right with IV especially, but one in particular leaps out.

    A lot of good screenwriting is about putting in a rich backstory – you only have a couple of hours to do your thing, so you borrow a larger story by using backstory. What he got completely right in IV (whether by design or accident or expedient) is that there’s a wealth of backstory. We begin towards the end of the story, and that’s how it should be.

    What he tried to do in Eps I-III was to *fill in the frakking backstory for Eps IV-VI*, which is a disaster. It’s screenwriting suicide. Perhaps if he’d constructed a workable new backstory for I-III he might have got away with it, but he didn’t. Everyone walks around in a vacuum, with no history. There’s no depth, no larger iceberg we see the tip of; there’s just the tip.

  15. I think I am going with the overwhelming majority: watch the originals first… (I made it though I but fell asleep in II and won’t touch III).
    Then rent the”Firefly” series if you want to have a good time!

  16. @QuestionAuthority:

    Actually, I think I saw the one with the Ewoks when I was a little kid. But given that I remember nothing (except possibly seeing ewoks), I think it’s easiest to say I’ve never seen any of them.


    You missed it because you were planning Skepticamp in Ohio while Maria and Brian were fighting to the death.

  17. I will go against the majority and say that after watching IV, V, and VI (of course those come first), you should watch the prequels. Just so that you understand where all this animosity is coming from. And so that you can laugh/cringe when one of the worst-conceived characters (Mesa Jar Jar Binks) is born.

    And @ Maria… what Dr. Who episodes have you seen? Did you watch the old ones or new (2005 and on) ones first? I’m currently trying to introduce my boyfriend to the series and don’t know where to start him.

  18. Enjoy by release date…

    The original three being the Hero’s Journey and the other three being the classic special effects journey.

    Jah Jah binks must die!

  19. Pretty much what everybody else said. Definitely watch IV – VI, the original movies. You won’t miss anything by not seeing the other three.

    After all this time, I still cannot believe I was talked into seeing that piece of decayed monkey crap that was “Episode I” in a movie theater. It’s only one of two movies my husband and I have walked out midway through…come to think of it, I don’t even think we made it to the halfway point.

  20. Don’t watch the prequels. I didn’t, I just read plot synopsis (synopsises? synopses?) so that I could fake it. Do watch IV,V,VI, because they rock.

  21. You should watch episodes 4, 5, & 6, suspend your disbelief at the bad space science, and enjoy them for the nice space fantasies that they are. Then wait about 20 years and build up a lot of hype and anticipation of some really good further stories and the answer to some questions about why Darth Vader became the way he was…followed by being utterly crushed by that embarassingly awful Jar-Jar Binks and the piss-poor acting of that teenage Anakin.

  22. Elyse, you are not alone in the minimal Star Wars experience department. In every multi-roommate housing situation I’ve been in, there’s been one fanatical Star Wars guy who is completely outraged by my misspent youth. From this experience, my expert opinion is that you should not watch any of them so that you can continue to shock and stun everyone and be a source of deep frustration.

    This is my favorite bomb to drop on an unsuspecting group: “Which one is C-Beepio?”

    Also: “When does Wil Wheaton show up?”

  23. Oh this reminds me of 9th grade English, when our teacher revealed to us that she had never seen E.T. SHE HAD NEVER SEEN E.T.

    We rectified that as soon as we had two afternoons free in class, and watched them. She cried. Aaawww.

  24. “Meesa think Jar Jar Binks bloomin’ idiot!” :-D

    I do like Star Wars for the “Gee whiz” aspects of it. However, at least Star Trek attempts to be scientific now and then. I gave up on any scientific aspects of Star Wars when Han Solo said that he had the ship that “did the Correllian Run in 3 parsecs” in the Episode IV (the first released). :-D

    Yeah, I did my 30 mile commute to work in 3 kilograms, too, Han!

  25. What everyone else said, the order in which they were released is best.

    Also, Firefly and Babylon 5 are much better than Farscape and Star Trek. ;D

    Though Babylon 5 IS one of those you really need to see from the beginning, and the first season has some episodes that suffer from “first season jitters” like any other show. Once you get into second season, you’ll forgive it and zoom to the end. That is one show you can’t just skip around on. You have to watch it in order from beginning to end. But it is totally worth it. :)

    As for Firefly… no power in the ‘verse can stop it from being THE best series EVER. :)

  26. Watch the original three (watch the “unimproved” versions, if you can get them -want to borrow my VHS tapes?) and don’t bother with the prequels unless you’re really bored. They are… not awesome.

  27. you can just watch 4 & 5

    you already saw the ewoks in 6 when you were a kid anyway, and it’s the worst of the originals

    but why is nobody recommending when to watch “Clone Wars” (the animated film) ?


  28. “Mmmm… Watch the original trilogy you should. Skip episodes I-III you may for suck mightily they do. Gave in to the dark side George Lucas did when these episodes he made.” – Yoda. Argue with that, how can you?

  29. @noisician: I have never seen “Clone Wars”! Is it any good? I enjoy a well-done animated movie.

    I really liked that Pitch Black animated movie, and the Matrix one, too bad I can’t remember their names. :D

  30. I think this video pretty much sums up all you need to know:


    My friend Amanda had never seen a whole Star Wars film. When I asked her if she wanted to watch the original trilogy she said that she would, but that she already knew what happens. So I took out my voice recorder and asked her to start from the top.

  31. @Eliza: Thta could possibly be the greatest suggestion ever.

    Of course, I am a fanatical Star Wars geek, and all the commenters have it right (as does your husband). BUt I have to say, I have never seen The Godfather and I secretly enjoy the disproportionate outrage engendered by this revelation.

    From now on, “C-Beepio” is my new mascot. Also, COTW!

  32. I am agreeing with Eliza. But NOT only for the shock value but also because I now completely hate Star Wars. HATE!!!! WANT TO STAB! Except Lego Star Wars….’cause it’s cute and fun and you can fly around as Boba Fett. BACK ON POINT. The prequels AND let us not forget some of the stupid things they put in the re-mastered re-releases…brought me to the point of wanting to dissociate myself completely from the franchise. So don’t even start. It’s been tainted. HATE! Look…I’m all upset and yelling at work. See what it does?

  33. @QuestionAuthority: I’d always assumed that the point of the “Correllian Run in 3 parsecs” thing was to underscore the point that Chewbacca was the brains of the outfit.

    (Side note: Firefox’s spell checker suggested Chewiness, Chessboard, Cheesecake, Chemical instead of Chewbacca)

  34. I’m sure everyone has already said this, but watch the originals… ONLY.

    The prequels were collectively the biggest pile of shit Lucas has produced as of yet…

  35. While there are aspects of the Star Wars universe that i find cool i find the movie difficult to stay awake through. My favorite was episode 3 because it was the darkest and actually made an attempt at explaining the Sith point of view.

    I can’t take a movie seriously when the antagonists actually refer to themselves as “the dark side”.

  36. 1. “Kessel Run”.

    2. Similar question to the AI – I simply haven’t seen III. I suffered through I, scratched my head raw in II, and now I feel like I paid my dues but didn’t get the payoff with III. So, having seen I and II, should I just leave it be, or go ahead and finish it off with III.

    Some people have said that – if you can ignore Hayden – III is the best of the prequels.

  37. @marilove – Clone Wars is OK if you like kid movies (ie: plot revolves around kids, and the hero is a kid who succeeds beyond the expectations and/or abilities of the adults). The main characters are Anakin as a young man, and a new female kid jedi-in-training. The main plot is about rescuing Jabba the Hutt’s baby (groan).

    Oh yeah, and you get to meet another of Jabba’s relatives, who is a cross dresser (!?)

    May be worth seeing for: The cool vertical battle up the side of a cliff face.

  38. @Steve: I’ve found an interesting site that tries to explain the gaffe in a couple interesting ways…

    The Kessel Run was an 18-parsec route used by smugglers… Han Solo claimed that his Millennium Falcon “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs”. A parsec is a unit of distance, not time. Solo was not referring directly to his ship’s speed when he made this claim. Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance, he may have indirectly referred to the speed of his ship here because to be able to go closer to black hole and still be able to get out of its gravitational pull you will need to be able to go faster.

    ..and then..

    In the original draft of A New Hope in 1976, the description for “Kessel Run” is put as follows:

    HAN: It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs!
    Ben reacts to Solo’s stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation.

    So it implies that the puzzling speech of Han Solo is a “misinformation” and not truth, and it has nothing to do with the nature of the Kessel Run in any respect. Han means nothing other than impressing Obi-Wan and Luke with a pure boasting. Indeed, even in the final version of the script, the parenthesis attached to Han’s line states that he is “obviously lying.”



    (trying to remove my nerd-hat now, but it seems to be welded to my scalp)

  39. Wow – there are a lot of opinions on this, and I’m going to add mine. Watch the first three, in order, and ignore the second three completely.

    And don’t bother with Doctor Who. I’ve only seen it because my British hubby and sons are such avid fans. I’m not really a fan of the series but I tolerate it for their sake (and so that I know what the rest of the UK is talking about). Seriously, all the hype about the new Doctor was quite funny.

  40. @pseudonochic: start your boyfriend on the new series of Doctor Who. The old one has it’s charm (I personally love it), but the format, writing, and special effects can alienate a new viewer, while the newer one is much more like a contemporary show and may draw him in. If he likes the new one, complete the four seasons currently available and then choose some of the better serials fromt he original series and show him those.

    As for Star Wars, I recommend watching the original series first (starting with Episode IV), and I echo the sentiment that it is best to watch the original theatrical release (available on both VHS and DVD now) instead of the “special editions.”

    As for the prequels, I realize that I am the only person on Earth who actually liked them, but that’s mostly because I was expecting a fun sci-fi/fantasy/action movie and nothing more. Give them a look-see after you’ve watched the originals. You might enjoy them, or you might not. Regardless, they are not as entrenched in the culture as the prequels.

  41. @noisician: That’d be one to see with my 7 (almost) year old nephew! Maybe I’ll pick it up before I visit him for his bday. He may already have it, though, since my dad is a Star Wars nut.

  42. @marilove: Genndy Tartakovsky did an animated Clone Wars series in 2003 that wasn’t too bad. The more recent animated movie and series are truly awful.

    Re: Firefly… Definitely worth watching. I pretty much watched the whole thing on DVD over the course of a week. River’s “ballet” in “Serenity” still haunts me.

    Re: Farscape… I never got into watching this, despite the Muppets. I may have to rent the first season and try again. Had the same problem with Babylon 5 and Stargate SG1.

    I was initially turned off by Battlestar Galactica (WTF, no robots?) but got into it after renting the first season and watching them in order. Now I’m all caught up and DVRing the current episodes.

  43. @anthroslug: I keep meaning to get into Doctor Who, but I’ve NO IDEA where to start. I’d like to start with the originals, if possible, because format and special effects of a unique nature probably won’t alienate me — indeed, I tend to perfer older shows, anyway.


    There is just so much to choose from. I had no idea what even Dr. Who was until, like last year, and I’m not really sure how I did that! I guess it just wasn’t that popular in the US, or at least the Southwest and west coast?

  44. @marilove: I grew up with the Tom Baker version of Dr. Who on PBS. I highly recommend that era, but my exposure to the rest is limited.

    (Though I keep thinking I should start watching this new one)

  45. @Steve: Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, and Babylon 5 … more nerd shit I need to watch. SIGH there are too many awesome science/fiction shows that I just don’t have time to watch!

    I did like Stargate SG1, at least the first dozen or so eps I was able to actually watch.

    Asn’t that big, tall, bald black dude in CSI now? Or is that another sci/fi show I am thinking of now?

  46. Marilove: I would still suggest looking into the new series first because it is more readily available.

    If you want to watch the older ones, Tom Baker (the 4th Doctor), Patrick Troughton (the 2nd Doctor) and Jon Pertween (the 3rd Doctor) are probably the best actors to look for episodes from – they are entertaining and sympathetic, and the stories written for them tend to be of a somewhat higher quality.

    I would suggest asking a friend who is a fan to watch it with you, so that they can explain things that a newbie might not get (why are there different Doctors? What the hell is with the police box? How come everyone int he universe speaks English? Etc., etc. etc.).

  47. @Elyse: Actually, I’ve never seen Doctor Who either. Which is pretty ridiculous, considering at some point in my life I’ve been into almost every geeky scifi thing in existence.

    As an addendum, I have to admit I wasn’t all that bothered by the special editions of the Star Wars originals, so I won’t insist you see the original originals. They do improve on some things. Except, of course, that Han shot first.

  48. @tarrkid: Tom Baker version it is, at least to start with. Because you said it first, and I heart PBS (Antique Roadshow is on tonight guiz … god I’m a dork), and hey, why not?

  49. Majority rule… Maria da foool.

    Jar Jar = Step-n-fetchit / Rochester = Fail

    Then comes Star Trek, Firefly, Dr Who, new BSG and then Star Trek NG. IMO.

  50. @marilove: Tom Baker is one of the most popular actors to have played the role, so that’s a decent place to start. If I may suggest a serial – try either “Horror of Fang Rock”, “Seeds of Death”, or “Stones of Blood”

  51. I’d recommend, like most above, to do IV thru VI. Then watch the Cartoon Network, G Tartakovsky “Clone Wars” mini-series. Then watch watch episode III. Be willing, with the EpIII, to skip any scenes where the “love interests” are talking alone. It will make you sad.

    There was a “1.5” that someone made ages ago, that “cleaned up” EpI considerably and apparently made it watchable. Would love to see it, and if they ever did the same to EpII and III.

  52. @marilove: Ditto dork sister. Nothing like seeing the twit with a $200,000 ugly as crap painting saying they’ll keep it on the hall wall cuz they couldn’t think of selling it cuz great aunt Maud gave it to granny from her death bed.

  53. @anthroslug: Yeah, I have fond memories of “Pyramids of Mars” and “Seeds of Death” (or “Doom”?). I wish I could remember more of them at this point.

  54. @anthroslug: “(why are there different Doctors? What the hell is with the police box? How come everyone int he universe speaks English? Etc., etc. etc.).”

    I actually already know some of this (why are there different doctors and the English thing) because of the internet. I don’t know any fans “IRL” but I have many friends on the internet who love Dr. Who, so weirdly, a lot of the info has filtered through (and whatever else hasn’t, Google to the rescue!).

  55. @Jen: If you want a decent scifi movie with Ewan McGregor, might I suggest “The Island“? It’s a pretty good movie that no one seems to have seen. It’s got Ewan McGregor (sometimes in stereo), Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi and all sorts of stuff blowing up. Even if you don’t like the story, it’s worth it just to see a dozen freight train axles bouncing down a freeway in heavy traffic.

  56. See them in the episode order. That’s the order in which George Lucas intended to disappoint you.

  57. I think what really threw me off when I first watched “Episode I” was the accents. In IV-VI, everyone either spoke English clearly, or had subtitles. OK, Yoda had slightly creative sentence structure but that was it.

    Suddenly, in “Episode I”, you’ve got those Trade Federation guys with that cheesy, over-the-top Charlie Chan accent. I kept expecting one of them to drop a “Confucius say” or “number one son” into the dialog. It was really distracting and didn’t do anything to advance the plot.

  58. @marilove: Saw the worst SciFi end of the world killer virus movie ever made with my son over the weekend. “Doomsday”…., truly horrible and pathetic. Kind of like someone trying to do Shaun of the Dead with no humor and getting every thing wrong with a dash of Road Warrior and La Fem Nakita tossed in for effect. But if you want cheesy action in brain numbing quantities here’s the movie for you !!!

  59. Yep: I agree with the consensus. Watch IV-VI first. Otherwise, you’ll already know the spoiler of C-3PO being Luke’s dad…

    Gotta disagree with you on that one.

    The prequels were pretty bad, no one disputes that… but each improved on the last. I found 3 watchable, 2 straining, and 1… well… 1 was a mind-numbing trip through a world of dumbocity with special guest star Jar-Jar Binks.

  60. WTF? What prequels?
    There are three StarWars movies:
    Star Wars
    Star Wars II
    and Star Wars III

    The first one is about Luke, the second one is about Han Solo, and the third one is about Leia in a bikini. I think there were some talking bear-monkeys too in that one. It’s been a while.

    I’d say more but I have to go to Anchor Head to get some power-converters.

  61. Oh damn. Posting this while I’m out of town and unable to defend my honor? NOT COOL. This week has been rough – first, I’m a Southern hick, now this.

    Ok, let me set the record straight:

    1. I am not endorsing eps 1, 2 and 3 or any particular order for EVERYONE. All I said was that since Elyse had all this context already and was confused, that it might make more sense for her to watch the movies in chronological order instead of creation order. If you have a kid who has no context for Star Wars at all, it totally makes sense to watch them in creation order. Or to skip #2 altogether since it blew chunks.

    My point was simply that the correct order depends on the person and the situation. Keep in mind that she had tried to watch ep 4 first and was completely confused. That’s why I made the suggestion. So don’t be hatin’, bitches!

    2. I don’t *hate* Dr. Who. I have never watched more than about 10 minutes of Dr. Who. @PHLEBAS hates Dr. Who. And @Cleon is a Nazi, a communist and a fundy Christian. (See what you get for maligning my name ya’ll?) I have heard enough about Dr. Who to give it a shot but having not watched a single season, I am in a similar position to Elyse with Star Wars. I have no idea where to begin. Proceed with the argument on that issue – or should that be a separate AI? :)

    3. I like Star Trek better too :)

    4. Whatever the Skepchick consensus is, are you going to follow it? I think you should and just to drive your husband nuts, I think we should focus and make the consensus to watch them in chronological order.

  62. I think part of what made 4, 5, and 6 good was that we were sort of coming along in the middle and didn’t know the whole back story. The back story just makes Vader look like a wussy pawn and the emperor look like a kid with a bug under a magnifying glass.

  63. @marilove: start with new series one (with christopher eccleston).
    as others are saying, it is easy to find, and imo gives a very good feel for what the show is all about.

  64. @Steve: Suddenly, in “Episode I”, you’ve got those Trade Federation guys with that cheesy, over-the-top Charlie Chan accent.”

    Oh I know it. I really liked the fake dialog + subtitles for the aliens. Made it aliener…more alieney… alienated… you know what I mean…

    And then the accents were just… UGH.

    I mean, do you realize that Jar Jar would have been almost tolerable if he had spoken gibberish with subtitles.

    No, I take that back.

  65. @James Fox: dude. doomsday is awesome. it is everything you say: horribly written, over the top, horrendously acted, and blatantly stole styles from about 16 other movies, which it moved through sequentially as the film progressed. all this, and the people making it appear not to have been in on the joke. everything on the dvd suggests that they really think this is the awesometastic action movie of the century.
    for some reason i have a profound appreciation for that kind of denial.
    plus, they blow up a bunny rabbit for no reason.

  66. I have to say, as much as the prequels suck, it makes sense to watch them first if you already know bits of the story. If you know going in that Vader is Leia and Luke’s fallen dad, the reveal of the classic trilogy is already spoiled, and you might as well get the background out of the way first. Also, and more importantly, you’re getting the worst movies out of the way first. Episodes IV and V will seem that much better when you get there. VI will still be a bit of a letdown, but less of one if you’ve already seen I, II, and III.

    @marilove I recommend starting Doctor Who with “City of Death.” Co-Written by Douglas Adams, filmed on location in Paris, and starring the Doctor of Doctors, Tom Baker, and his best companion, Lalla Ward (who is now married to Richard Dawkins, just to throw in some skeptical trivia). It’s where I started, and I loved it from moment one.

  67. Watch episodes 4, 5 and 6 first. Then 1, 2 and 3. You could probably watch them all in order but episodes 4 and 5 have some “surprises” in them that are not at all surprises if you watch the first three first, completely deflating the climaxes (what is the plural of climax?).

  68. @DanielMcL: oooh…now you’ve started it…
    i do have a healthy appreciation for david tennant (that’s not to say i’ve been crazily happy w/ rtd’s writing after series one), but i will say, i think eccleston was the better doctor.

  69. I almost said “watch Star Trek and Star Trek the Next Generation” but then I remembered Harrison Ford is in the original Star Wars movies, so watch the original movies.

  70. Star Wars: Watch Episodes IV, V, and VI. Do not watch anything else.

    Star Trek: Watch The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock (for continuity), the Voyage Home, and The Undiscovered Country. Do not watch anything else. Period.

    Classic Doctor Who: Start with Tom Baker. Then venture backwards or forwards in chronological order as far as you can before the episodes become intolerably cheesy. Though your mileage may vary, that should take you back to Patrick Troughton and forward through Peter Davison. Go beyond those Doctors at your own risk.

    New Doctor Who: Start with Christopher Eccleston. Proceed forward.

    Asimov’s Foundation: Read Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. Stop.

    The Matrix Trilogy: Watch The Matrix. Stop.

    How many more of these can we think of?

  71. Firefly: Heard of it.

    Babylon 5: By the time I got access to it, it was well underway. As a result, I haven’t seen it and have no idea when I’d ever find the time to catch up.

    BSG: By the time I got access to it, they were a couple of seasons into it. See previous.

    Dr. Who: Saw a few of the original movies like “Dr. Who and the Daleks.” That’s it.

  72. Wow.

    If nothing else, I sure know how to keep nerds busy!

    So my utter confusion is completely irrelevant, I shouldn’t watch Dr Who, Firefly might be worth checking out, Star Trek has better science, and C-Beepio is the star of Empire Strikes back.

    I don’t know if I’m in a better place or not.

    I’m now wondering what order I should watch Twilight movies?

  73. @Elyse: Firefly is definitely worth checking out, although if you like it be prepared for the disappointment of having so few episodes.

    No one should watch the Twilight movies in any order. The first was was boring. Episode 1 boring.

  74. Heh – why am I not surprised by how many comments this has gotten…n…n..nN.NNN

    Just kidding – love you guys. I hope that you all visualized Ogre, though.

  75. @carr2d2: It really was like watching a train wreck…, I just could not stop! So in the end was our hero vixen staying in the Scottish Zoo to become the leader of the post apocalyptic world?? My infected and traumatized mind needs to know!

  76. …and yeah, now that I’ve read most of the comments, I’ll add to the gigantic bonfire that is “watch the original 4,5,6 first/only”. I’m not even that big of a fan, but yikes, #1 made me not even want to see #2 and #3.

  77. @Daniel: You forgot Bladrunner… the complete and final re-edited of the final directors cut… .

    Totally agreed about Foundation, three and out. Same with Dune.

  78. If you’ve never seen the Star Wars series, I’d suggest watching the original trilogy first, and then watch episode 3. The original trilogy is vastly superior to the prequel trilogy, so I think you should start out with the best.

    Episode 3 is the best of the prequel films, and it answers the only questions most have after seeing the original trilogy. It also has the best acting of the prequels, which isn’t saying much.

    Episodes 1 and 2 should be avoided, unless you’re under 10. Too little character development, too many contradictions with the original series, and way too much Jar Jar Binks.

  79. Watch the original Star Wars as a one-off futuristic fairy tale. If you discover then that you really, really dig Han Solo, then watch Empire. Then, if you can’t peel your eyes away, watch Return of the Jedi, but take away from it the realization that everything that sucks in RotJ is magnified times 10 in the prequels; and everything that’s halfway good is ruined in the prequels by what’s bad.

    Or, you could just watch the recent Speed Racer movie. It’s pretty much the same movie as Star Wars, but with better effects, no supernatural hooey, and — and I know this sounds crazy, but bear with me — more human characters.

  80. As a rule, I say read/watch stuff in the order it was written. Prequels are usually more interesting when you know what they refer to. (People who say The Magician’s Nephew is the first Chronicle of Narnia drive me nuts.)
    On the subject of how long to keep going with a series before you give up: Dune. I hear varying reports, everything from “stop when you get to the ones written after Frank Herbert’s death”, to “stop after ‘Children of Dune'”, to “heresy! There is no sequel to ‘Dune’!” Advice?

  81. I’d say watch, purchase, “The Hidden Fortress” and wonder how Mr. Lucas’s banal noodling could possibly make a movie.

    I’m afraid that “Wing Commander” is a way better story line, as Mark Hamel obviously thought also…

    I’m just sayin’


  82. Daniel said:

    Asimov’s Foundation: Read Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation.

    My modification: At this point, read Prelude to Foundation.


  83. I side with Star Trek aswell.

    You know, Star Trek V is actually a great sketpical film.

    “What use has god for a star ship?”

  84. 1. I’m firmly in the “watch the originals and forget the rest” (episodes IV, V, and VI.)

    2. @sowellfan Elyse was not raised in a cave. Actually her family tends to be pretty cutting edge with technology. They have cable and video recorders and all that (except her dad can’t find the remotes).

    3. We’re talking about MOVIES here people. Brian and Maria should not have fought to the death.

  85. @James Fox: yeah…she’ll bring the good news of the ASSTONS OF COWS from the beginning of the movie to the cannibal people and will be immortalized as a postmodern female leather-clad jesus with a (removable) bionic eye that can see all your sins.

    or something.

  86. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest this order:

    IV, V, I, II, III, VI

    My reasoning is as follows:

    1. You don’t want to watch I to III before you’ve seen the cliffhanger at the end of V.
    2. You want to watch VI last.

    That’s assuming that you want to see I to III, of course. I think that III is, on balance, worth it, but if you’re going to see that, you have to see I and II. So this is the optimal ordering.

  87. I know this is politically incorrect, but that’s why (as a film buff) I’m adding my two cents.

    First of all, I would suggest going in the original order – starting with Episode IV, which was the only one created to stand alone, and if you like it, definitely go with Episodes V, I, II, III, and then VI (agreeing with Pseudonym above).

    I would agree that Episode I distinctly worse than any of the others, and Episode V is my personal favorite (as the second act is usually the darkest in any traditionally structured story), but in terms of action, Episode III is the best of the bunch (e.g., the opening sequence is the best of all the films, as Lucas finally started to get the CGI down).

    But make no mistake, the acting and the dialog is bad in ALL of the Star Wars films. There are questionable visual elements in ALL of the episodes. (e.g., The Ewoks in Episode VI caused just as much head-scratching among hardcore fans as Jar Jar Binks in Episode I.) If the prequels (I-III) are flawed, I would argue that it is because of an overreliance on CGI (taking a bit of the soul from the story) and the pacing of the plot – i.e., about 10% of the necessary pre-trilogy plot is painfully drawn out in Episode I and about 60% is crammed into Episode III. The fact is that most critics in their 30s-40s who differentiate saw the original films at an age when they could much more easily buy into the fantasy.

  88. @w_nightshade: Thanks for the link. I hated it! I mean….I loved it for hating Star Wars. (Though I still stand by Lego Star Wars…not that LucasArts had much to do with it.)

  89. @TheSkepticalMale: Although I still stand by my earlier position on viewing order, I completely agree that the original trilogy has most of the same problems that its fans complain about in the prequels. Nostalgia is definitely a factor.

  90. @James Fox: Excellent point.

    New Advices: Watch the star wars films in any order, skipping any chapter that is mostly dialogue. The dialogue is terrible, and you won’t gain anything from hearing it. Only watch the action sequences.

    Then get every cut of Blade Runner and watch them. Be prepared to compare and contrast the original to the directors cut to the final cut.

    Rent “Split Second”. Rutger Hauer is AWESOME in this movie. This will start you on a six week Rutger Hauer binge. When you’re watching “Lady Hawke”, try to mute the music. It’s freakin’ awful.

    After you’ve had therapy to recover from “Bleeders” (It isn’t scary, it’s just awful), you’ll need to return to more normal fair. I recommend watching “Immortal Beloved” and “Blue” back to back, or if possible at the same time. Then you’ll need some Vampire movies.

    Start with “Innocent Blood” and work your way up to the “Forever Knight” marathon.

    Then watch “Serenity”, which is either a vampire movie or a zombie movie, but kicks ass as either.

    Wait… what were we talking about?

  91. I know a lot of people above me here have already advised watching the original three in order, and skipping the new ones.

    These people are right.

  92. Definitely watch the original three first. Watching the newest three is optional.

    My second opinion is to agree with Pseudonym and suggest IV, V, I, II, III, VI, with the same explanation.

  93. @sethmanapio: I’ve gotta say, both “Lady Hawke” and “Split Second” hold special places in my heart. “Split Second” has one of my favorite action lines of all time, too….

  94. Star Wars should definitely be watched in order of filming.

    Brian & Maria should only duel to the death over it if they can do so with home-made lightsabers. (Maria gets the red one, as she’s clearly representing the Dark Side.)

  95. I think you guys are forgetting that Elyse started watching IV and was confused. In fact, that was what precipitated Maria’s suggestion that she start with Ep I.

    I’m surprised that someone as smart as Elyse would be confused by that one. Maybe she was waiting for character development? Or maybe because her husband was reciting all the dialog 5 seconds before it came through the TV? Or maybe it wasn’t the real Star Wars, and she was watching Robot Chicken?

  96. @Elyse : Seriously, my route is much more entertaining. Here’s another one that, back in college, left an entire midnight computer lab sputtering:

    “Oh yeah Star Wars. I like the one where Luke saves the Frontier from Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada.”

  97. @Eliza:

    Impressive. You have a gift for making sci-fi nerds awash in indignation, forcing them to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail insults at you at high volume. (“I SAID I FART IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION!”)

    If you want to see violence from a traditionally non-violent group of people, just declare that Han Solo is the Kwisatz Haderach, and every Betazed knows it. Then shout “Mort! Klaatu Barada Nanoo Nanoo!”

    The mix of sci-fi knowledge and utter indifference will thrown them (not “us”… “them”…) into a tizzy.

    Props for a reference to The Last Starfighter.

  98. Yep IV, V, VI – then I, II, III if you’re really bored some day or at home in bed sick or something.

    I think a fun AI would be what sequel/prequel or remake was the most disappointing? I mean the Star Wars prequels make me want to cry, and the Matrix 2 & 3 – those just made me angry (seriously what the hell was that crap)?

  99. @phlebas: That’s interesting, because Lucas originally wrote the script for “Star Wars” (Episode IV) such that it would stand alone as a film (beginning, middle, and end) because he did not know if he would ever get an opportunity to make any others. Not coincidentally, Episode IV is probably the biggest source of continuity problems when viewed in light of the five other episodes.

    Star Wars is clearly not for adults. Still, the series as a whole has worthy themes. It takes Episodes I-III to demonstrate that perhaps the most memorable bad guy in film history was not born evil, but evolved into his persona by indulging in hubris and fear (which ironically makes his ultimate fear realized) and employing a means-always-justifies-the-ends approach to life (kind of like George Bush’s foreign policy). And Episodes IV, V, and VI paint out the thorny path to redemption, the nature of deception, etc. For a pre-teen child, I think the entire Star Wars series is a nice jumping off point for important lessons in life (e.g., the proverbial road to hell is paved with good intentions) … until he or she is old enough for Lord of the Rings, that is.

  100. @BrianA: Like I said, the dialog and characters were never that great in any of the Star Wars films – even though Harrison Ford certainly stood out as having a certain degree of charisma that the others did not have. Still, my opinion is that the prequels got progressively better, both narratively and technically, as Lucas seemed to realize between Episode I and II that he better start dropping things like pod races and telling the necessary stories (e.g., Clone Wars) that get us to Episode IV and started to get the CGI to a more palatable level (which was awful in Episode I). Even with its flaws, Episode III is definitely the best and certain worth of watching, even though the pace is much too fast, and Episode II is much better than Episode I.

  101. Phlebas, I like what you’ve done there, but think that might be a tad overkill. One mustn’t let all of one’s kitlings out of his bag of holding at once.

  102. @sethmanapio: Man, I loved Rutger Hauer in the original Hitcher … in fact, so much so that I refuse to see the remake. He’s kind of an elder statesmen of sci-fi/horror genre (still getting small roles in big films like Sin City and Batman Returns).

  103. @Steve: I have to admit, I know about The Island but never watched it, because when I first saw the trailer, I couldn’t get over the fact it was an obvious remake of parts: The Clonus Horror, which was so awesomely lampooned on MST3K. Frankly, though, I’ll watch anything with Ewan in it. I even sat through Moulin Rouge for him.

  104. @Jen: Yeah, it’s sort of a cross between The Clonus Horror and Logan’s Run. I liked it. Of course, I liked Moulin Rouge too, so my opinion might not count for much. :-D

  105. This is very funny to me as I did not see the Star Wars films until I was an adult and I know a LOT of people who have never seen them. Some of them have asked this very question. Part of why they haven’t seen them is probably due to having parents who are not into sci-fi (my parents haven’t seen any of the films and are not at all interested). I grew up in Australia where Dr Who was on TV a lot in the 80s but no-one in my house watched that either.

    One of the big disappointments about the new Star Wars films (for me) is their sexism. Princess Leia is the only female character in the original films and I was kind of hoping for an improvement on this with the new films, but once again we have one main female speaking character (there are female jedis who do not speak and then get killed). Amidala is/has been Princess of a planet and a senator for her planet, yet she spends the entire last film sitting around waiting and pining for Anakin to come back. I sat there (in the cinema) thinking ‘Don’t you have a job? Don’t you have senatorial duties to attend to?’
    *spoiler alert*
    And then she dies because she gives up hope because Anakin has gone and become Darth Vader, even though she has just given birth to two babies! WTF? Now forgive my feminist thinking, but I thought a woman who has been a senator and Princess, could probably manage to raise two kids without their (now evil) father. We know Amidala has to die between giving birth and episode IV, but why oh why did she have to die in such a pathetic way (i.e. giving up hope)?

  106. “…but why oh why did she have to die in such a pathetic way (i.e. giving up hope)?”

    To set up the title for Episode IV? I had problems with that, too. I don’t think she was more fragile than Leia as a character. For Farkkin’ sake, she was a head of state! If anything, you’d think she’d want to live to help keep her kids out of the Sith’s hands?!

  107. @Spinster:
    Yep. Totally.

    I thought it was worse in Ep 2. She’s a smart, powerful, capable galactic senator with a creepy, whiny stalker. She effectively rebuffs his pitiful and obsessive advances for the whole movie. Then out of nowhere professes her undying love for him? Seriously?

  108. @Amanda: I know crap about Antiques, but that show is amazing.

    @carr2d2: I think I might start with the Tom Baker one, as a few have mentioned… I like older shows anyway. New shows can be great, but I’m already watching a ton of new shows. Older shows just have a completely different feel to them which I love.

  109. @Daniel: HEY NOW, The Next Generation was and is AWESOME. Captain Picard?? Q!!! Worf! DATA! (I had the BIGGEST crush on Data.) Do not knock TNG! <3 <3 TNG so so sos much.

    I like Captain Janeway and The Doctor from Voyager, but the rest of it sucks. Sigh.

    ALSO YAY sorry for comment spamming; I have a hard time remembering what comment I left off at once I start typing. Plus I haven’t had my coffee yet. Mmmmm coffee.

  110. @marilove: If you can find the partial episode of Dr. Who titled “Shada” check it out. It was also penned by Douglas Adams. He took some of it’s ideas and incorporated them into Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

    Other Tom Baker episodes to see:
    The Talons of Weng-Chiang
    Robots of Death
    The Pirate Planet (another D. A. script)

    And just to throw it out there, anything from the first four seasons of Red Dwarf.

  111. @Spinster and @QuestionAuthority: She had to die by Anakin’s “hand” – that’s the irony, that he caused the very thing he sold his soul to prevent. To that end, she should have been rendered unconcious for the rest of the film – I mean, who really cares if she or somebody else named Luke and Leia.

    @greenishblu: Yeah, and the whole romantic relationship beginning in Episode II was a bit like dating the babysitter, but only because Episode I poorly set up the scenerio … But actually, the only time she really kicked ass (action-wise) was in Episode I and Episode II.

  112. When Episode 1 came out, I went to see it with a friend of mine who (she told me partway through the movie) had never seen the originals. As such, she was MASSIVELY confused, because she also had a bit of knowledge (Vader is Luke’s father, for instance), but was missing many necessary bits of world-building laid down by the originals, but left out in the prequels. For instance: the first time we see the “Jedi mind trick” in Episode 1, it doesn’t work. She had no idea what the hell was supposed to happen. It also annoyed her when things were anviliciously portentous: SEE HOW IMPORTANT THIS SEEMINGLY MINOR OCCURRENCE IS with no payoff.

    In other words, I’m in line with most of the other posters. See the originals first, then if you want watch the prequels (though I could be swayed by the argument for watching Return of the Jedi last.)

  113. Watch them in this order. “New Hope”, “Empire Strikes Back”, “Return of the Jedi” you know, the way they came out.

  114. Is this really comment 152 on a thread devoted to an amazingly trivial question on which there is, more or less, a consensus anyway?

    And did I really just waste another post to point this out?

  115. I stopped reading comments after the first few, and I assume anyone sane did also, but I’ll add my two cents worth anyway. IV, V, VI, I, II and III.

    I liked the prequels. They’re a different kind of movie, as they were intended to be, but enjoyable. And I had my most powerful nerdgasm ever during a certain scene in III. In fact, just thinking about it makes my brain tingle.

  116. @marilove: Yeah, Douglas Adams was actually the script editor for a year or two at that time, so every once in a while episodes he mostly didn’t write will briefly display his particular flare for quirky dialogue. Also, as a side note, that’s actually how one of the actresses from the show ended up marrying Dawkins- Adams introduced them.

  117. Watch it folks, anyone who speaks negatively about Star Trek, ANY Star Trek, will have their tongues stapled to the floor.
    Star Wars 4-6; good old fashioned sci-fi action fun. Great movies…although I hated those damn Ewok things.
    Star Wars 1-3; I have only one thing to say because no other guy has had the guts to admit it: Natalie Portman in white spandex…awesomeness!~ Otherwise, I tend to agree with most of the other comments made.

  118. I was a Star Wars virgin until recently, and I recommend watching them in the order they were released, that way you get the most authentic experience. But if you’re not a fan of unusual cinematic styles, like the episode of Seinfeld that was done entirely backwards, and if you like to save the best for last, watch them I through VI.

  119. Denver7M:

    Watch it folks, anyone who speaks negatively about Star Trek, ANY Star Trek, will have their tongues stapled to the floor.

    It is perfectly acceptable to speak negatively about the odd-numbered films. Oh, and Nemesis.

  120. @Pseudonym: Yes, Nemesis. It does not exist. Data is still alive and well. DATA IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL.

    I watched it about 2 years ago, because I couldn’t fathom why I hadn’t seen it before. NOW I KNOW. My bf at the time was like, “, I blocked the entire movie out. AND NOW I KNOW WHY.”

    I was traumatized by that horrid movie.

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