Episode 23 — “Sci-Fi Rip Offs”

Ben, Steve, and Dr. Jayce are together again . . . and, fortunately for you, none of them sing the song from The Muppets Take Manhattan (although Ben has it stuck in his head as he types these words).

The topic? Sci-fi rip offs. The three of them make their way through list of favorite rip offs in sci-fi and fantasy, some you may be familiar with and some that may be new to you and some that maybe you hadn’t thought of.

Did you find yourself yelling back at the podcast, either that one we chose wasn’t a rip off or that we missed an obvious one right in front of our noses? Write to us and let us know, or even better use the recorder on the right side of the screen here.

Also, we tackle a controversy that has cropped up (“They drew first blood, not me”) . . . and give some thoughts on what we have linked to in our links section of our website, and why.

We want to hear from you! Join the conversation by leaving a comment below, contacting us through our contact page, e-maiing us directly at podcast@strangersandaliens.com, or using the handy recorder to the right of your browser.


17 responses to “Episode 23 — “Sci-Fi Rip Offs””

  1. dmattingly Avatar

    I’d also call Voyager a rip-off of Lost in Space. (Which was in turn a rip-off of Swiss Family Robinson, but that’s no secret.)

    1. Ben Avatar

      Yes, yes, yes! Agreed! Swiss Family Robinson being, itself, a rip off of Robinson Crusoe . . . which had ANOTHER sci-fi rip-off: Robinson Crusoe on Mars! At least that one had a bit of truth in advertising, there.

      And another one I forgot to mention: Stargate Universe was a rip off of the new version of Battlestar Galactica and Voyager.

  2. Mike Poteet Avatar
    Mike Poteet

    “2X2L calling CQ” – awesome! My kind of people!

    I have that book you mentioned – “Star Trek: The New Voyages,” edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath. The story in question is “Visitors from a Weird Planet Revisited” – called such because that story is itself a “rip off” to a story in which the Trek characters come to the real world, as opposed to the actors going to the Trek world.

    Nice to hear some love for “The Twilight Zone.” That series ripped itself off more than once, but it is overall a fantastic series, its status as a modern cultural masterpiece well-deserved. When you think about how different (and superior) TV might be today had real artists like Rod Serling prevailed over the purely commercial interests…

    “Nemesis” is not only a “rip off” of TWOK, but also of Dracula (far more than Batman!) – the novel, as Bram Stoker wrote it. Go read Dracula and then watch “Nemesis.” Almost point for point, it’s a Star Trek vampire story.

    Fun episode, guys! And, speaking as one of the Sci-Fi Christians (though a writer — not on-air talent!), let me just state my personal belief that there’s plenty of room in the Christian geek universe for everyone! (Though I am totally with you on “our” Ben’s unreasonable hatred of Superman. I am the voice crying in the wilderness on Big Blue’s behalf over there…!)

    PS. Yes, by all means, WATCH JOHN CARTER! It is SO much fun! SUCH a shame that Disney dropped the marketing ball, and how.

    1. dmattingly Avatar

      The BEST sci-fi rip-off is Galaxy Quest. In fact, I consider Galaxy Quest to be a better star Trek movie than any of the Star Trek movies.

      1. Ben Avatar

        I know what you’re saying about Galaxy Quest being a great Star Trek movie, but I won’t go as far as to say it’s the best Star Trek movie. It’s in the top five, for sure.

    2. Ben Avatar

      All I can say is this: “They drew first blood.” 🙂

      I’ll have to look for that book again. I remember reading that story and being VERY confused at first. And then realizing what I was reading and thinking it was very clever and even mind-bending to my Jr. High self.

    3. Dr. Jayce Avatar

      Glad somebody if fighting for truth, justice, and the American way!

  3. Angie Avatar

    I was multi-tasking as I listened to this podcast, so I might have missed it… But did anyone mention how Star Wars “ripped off” The Wizard of Oz? When I was in 4th grade (circa 1980), my teacher read the novel for Star Wars (the first of the movies made) and then we watched The Wizard of Oz on one of those giant video disks. (Yes, I’m that old.) Then we discussed characters, plots, themes, etc. and there were SOOOO many amazing connections! Dorothy = Luke Skywalker, Toto = R2D2, Tin Man = C3PO, Scarecrow = Han Solo, Cowardly Lion = Chewbacca. The protags are orphans living with their aunt and uncle during difficult times (desert and dust bowl) and neither is content with their lives. Then they are whisked off on a life-changing adventure.

    I love making these kinds of connections in movies. I guess I wouldn’t call them rip-offs, but someone else’s spin on an old story. Didn’t someone once determine that there are only a handful of story lines anyway and that every story made since is just a spin off of an original. Perhaps this explains the recent rise in remakes and movies based on children’s games.

    Loved this episode, guys!

    1. Ben Avatar

      I’ve heard that link made before, and I agree to an extent, especially in light of the idea that there are only a handful of storylines. Truth is, I believe there is actually only one storyline that covers all of them.

  4. Mike Poteet Avatar
    Mike Poteet

    Funny story re GalaxyQuest – once it was on home video, I made my wife and some of our friends watch it with me (I’d seen it theatrically) – “You have to watch this!” About halfway through, one friend, thoroughly enjoying himself, said, “Y’know, I thought we were just watching this to humor Mike, but it’s actually good!” 🙂

  5. dmattingly Avatar

    I’d be willing to call it a tie with Wrath of Khan and First Contact.

  6. budrogers Avatar

    The creators of Superman also borrowed from Doc Savage — The Man of Bronze to The Man of Steel / Clark Savage to Clark Kent.

    And I wouldn’t say that Bob Kane borrowed from Dracula as much as Batman himself did, taking on the creature of the knight aspect and using that mythology within his fictional context. There’s also a bit of Scarlet Pimpernel in there also – which predated Zorro by about 15 years – so perhaps the chain of progression is the Scarlet Pimpernel to Zorro to Batman.

    I also enjoyed the discussion concerning James Cameron and his multiple rip-offs. I find it hard to watch “Aliens” since I see it as a rehash of “Alien” – it’s putting on a bigger scale and swapping out the cat for the girl.

    1. Ben Avatar

      This is why I enjoyed this episode so much — and wish we could have gone on a bit more — following these progressions.

      Robin Hood . . . Scarlet Pimpernel . . . Zorro . . . Batman . . . every dark superhero from the ’80’s . . .

  7. cleireac Avatar

    Aaauughhh! You guys! You are missing the most obvious pulp link to Batman! batman ripped off the Shadow! And in more ways than one. I understand that some of the earliest Batman comics literally stole plotlines from the Shadow pulps.

    And while I am on it:

    Metropolis ripped off Frankenstein, which later ripped off Metropolis

    And a Star Trek TOS episode “A Piece of the Action” ripped off a series of Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson short stories about a race of sentient teddy bears who take literary characters as factual and pattern their civilization around it. (take a look at this: http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Furry-Complete-Hoka-Stories/dp/0739416839)

    And, I’m glad you took up the challenge from the other guys. Bunch of H8TRS.

    1. Ben Avatar

      I have to check out that Poul Anderson series — sentient teddy bears? How has this never been made into a movie?

      As for the H8TRS, well, what can be said. Haters gotta hate, right?

  8. cleireac Avatar

    At least you guys have stayed on the SF/F straight and narrow. During the summer, after Ben DeBono took off, they ran a ‘Christian History’ series that had really nothing to do with SF/F.

    That said, I love a good-natured feud. I’m just glad Paeter has the class to stay above the fray. 🙂

  9. cleireac Avatar

    The Hoka series is one of my favorites. If you want, maybe I can send you the two paperbacks I have. I just acquired the hardback single-edition of the stories and would like to downsize my library. The two I have do not include the novella ‘Star Prince Charlie,’ but the Hokas there are only supporting cast. The shorts stories where they are the stars are awesome.

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