'Doctor Who' named 'most successful sci-fi series' by Guinness: Suck it, 'Star Trek'

Dr-who-Guinness_l Guinness World Records named Doctor Who "the most successful sci-fi series" yesterday, a distinction based on ratings, DVD sales, and Web popularity. (The announcement comes during a strange time for Who devotees, as they're getting prepared for a new doctor to take the lead.)

Maybe I'm a purist, but I like my world records to be really specific and not debatable — most hours spent jumping on a trampoline, most people on space hoppers, biggest sandwich, etc etc. Defining "success" for a show — sci-fi or otherwise — is a much more amorphous proposition, and I think the Guinness folks are confusing "successful" with "lucrative."

Not to cave to my inner hippie here, but… there are lots of modes of success, aren't there? As long as I'm not running a network (and I'm not), can't a show that was a ratings failure, say Freaks and Geeks for example, still be "successful"? I mean, it certainly made me laugh often and much; that has to count for something. I'm not trying to diminish Doctor Who's popularity or scope of influence — epic, on both counts — but I'm not sure holding a record really makes a difference to fans.

How would you define "success" for a TV show, PopWatchers? Is it really just a money-making endeavor, or do your favorite shows succeed or fail on a different market?

addCredit("Hartnell: Everett Collection; Smith: BBC")


Comments (35 total) Add your comment
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  • Snarf

    I think Guiness was stating length of time. Doctor Who has been around since 1963 (three years before Trek) introduced the Cybermen in ’66 (22 years before we heard the word “Borg”) and been cancelled and ressurected twice (1985 and then 1990) not to mention the failed pilot/made for TV movie in 1996 that was a co-production bewteen the BBC and FOX. Another four years and the Doctor turns 50.

  • BrandonK

    I guess they should have specified it’s the most financially successful sci-fi series…that’s at least a bit more specific and seems to be what they’re going for.

  • Jay

    I am a sci-fi JUNKIE!!
    ..and never cared for Who

  • steve muhs

    I love doctor who.

  • AH

    I agree that this is a weird record, since it involves a whole lot of hard to track things. Can you easily compare U.S. to U.K. television ratings?
    But to answer your (kinda stupid) question.
    No. I think a marginal series like Freaks and Geeks is not going to be labelled “successful” by a record-setting organization just because some people who saw it liked it.

  • J.

    I would quibble with this proclamation–especially against Trek. What about all the product/toy tie-ins and the numerous conventions? Have you ever been to a Dr. Who convention? Hell, don’t they even have a Star Trek Experience in Vegas?

    • Time Lady

      Um…There’s Chicago TARDIS, Gallifrey One, the multiple Hub conventions, and not to mention the Ianto Jones shrine at Mermaid Quay. Doctor Who has an enormous line of figures, shirts, and collectibles, people BUILD copies of the TARDIS, Daleks and Cybermen!

  • Rock Golf

    Doctor Who episodes are regularly the most watched shows of the week or even the year in the UK. When was the last time a sci-fi show made the top ten in the States?
    Really, when was it?

  • Mariah

    Rock Golf, I believe the answer to your question would be Lost. I don’t follow the show’s weekly ratings, but I know the show has been in the top 10 before and it’s a show I certainly consider scifi.
    NOT saying Lost should be in contention in this dubious record, I’m just stating a fact.

  • JPX

    That’s ridiculous. I’ve never met a human being who watches the tedious Doctor Who. I remember attmpting to get through an episode as a kid but even at a young age I realized that the low-budget show sucked. More popular than Star Trek? Doubtful.

    • Emily

      I am a rabid fan of Star Trek AND Doctor Who. I am American. I discovered Trek before Doctor Who, and I own Leonard Nimoy’s (fairly rare) autobiography. Now I am asking you to watch the Doctor Who episode “Blink” and tell me its boring. The classic Doctor Who is so terribly dull that I can hardly get through the (5-7-part) episodes; but the new doctor who is cutting edge, fast paced, and the doctors are young and attractive. I think you’d like the new who a lot better than the old. To quote, “If you look at time from a nonsubjective,nonlinear point of view its more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-whimy… stuff.” -The Doctor, “Blink”. I adore Star Trek, and I’m in love with Spock… but now I’m also in love with David Tennant (the tenth doctor who).

  • Dean

    Dr Who sucks.

  • Rose

    What a lot of begrudgers here. Jealous because a British programme got the accolate, perhaps?

  • Kelly

    i love doctor who.

  • wg

    I was there when they made that announcement – I didn’t buy it for a second, especially as it was a British guy making this determination/giving this totally undefined award. Doctor Who is awesome and wonderful and I was in line for hours to get into that panel because I’m a massive fan, but I’m sorry, DW’s success compared to Star Trek’s? Not even close. Star Trek ftw.

    • Mike

      I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry. But… Star Trek sucks!
      It’s not in the same league as WHO.

  • topazbean

    Well…in terms of quality Doctor Who is also more successful than Star Trek, so I don’t see your point. I’m being facetious. What my point actually is is ‘It’s the Guiness World Records. It’s a beer branding tool. I can’t think of something less worth getting worked up about.’

  • Kristal

    I guess this is a WORLD record and not an AMERICAN record. Because Star Trek is no doubt more popular in the states, but Doctor Who has the English audience and all those who love English humor/culture.

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