I'm not much of a television connoisseur, so it may not mean much for me to say (again) that I consider Firefly to be the best television show ever made. Why do I love it so? Because Joss Whedon put so much time and care into creating his world and characters. (The fact that he is a genius writer of dialogue doesn't hurt.) The series views like a great novel; for every line of dialogue and for every set, I get the sense that there is a ton of fascinating backstory underneath. Get the tragically cancelled series on DVD; you won't be sorry.
Why is it that speculative fiction is so much more accessible in movie or TV format than in print? I know many, many people who have never cracked open a volume of Tolkien or Philip K. Dick, but who love the movie adaptations of these greats' works.
It's probably because movies and TV are just more accessible in general. I wonder, for example, what the ratio of viewers of James Bond films to readers of Ian Fleming's novels is; I'm betting it's quite unbalanced.
Just because I feel like it today, here are some lists of stuff I like. Not all of the movies below are adapted from novels or short stories, but most are. I haven't ranked them because the rankings would probably change from day to day depending on my mood.
My Top Ten Science Fiction Movies:
The Lathe of Heaven (1980)
Star Wars (1977)
I Am Legend (2007)
My Top Ten Fantasy Movies:
The Lord of the Rings (I'm counting all three parts as one. Because I can.)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The Princess Bride
The Wizard of Oz
It's a Wonderful Life
Fanny & Alexander
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Five Spec Fic TV Shows I Love (Other Than Firefly):
Star Trek (Original Series)
The Prisoner (Freaktastically brilliant 1960s paranoia)
The Wild, Wild West (Steampunk before there was steampunk)
Medium (Not watching this season since it's on at 10pm now, but I'll catch up.)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Really, Joss: if I were a pagan, I'd worship you.)
At some point, we'll borrow The X-Files DVDs from the library and watch them all. We could never make the commitment to give the series our full attention when it was on the air. Ditto for the new Battlestar Galactica and Lost.
Ten Spec Fic Books I Think Would Make Fantastic Movies:
Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
Treason, by Orson Scott Card
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
The 13th Reality, by James Dashner
Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson
Mister Monday, by Garth Nix
Under My Roof, by Nick Mamatis
Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
Ten Spec Fic Books I Adore, But Fear Would Not Translate Well into Film:
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
Beloved, by Toni Morrison (I know they already made it into a movie; I have been afraid to see it.)
The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman (I saw part of the BBC series and cringed.)
The Otherland series, by Tad Williams
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
The Diamond in the Window, by Jane Langton
Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin
Was, by Geoff Ryman
Little, Big, by John Crowley
What about you? Are you a viewer but not a reader of science fiction and fantasy? What do you think accounts for different tastes in different media? Give me your thoughts.