I frakking love sci-fi, especially on television. There’s so much sci-fi on TV that you’ve probably missed some, goodness knows I have (I’ve only recently started Battlestar Galactica, one of the biggest sci-fi shows of the last decade), so here’s some shows that you may not have watched, but I think are worth checking out.
Black Mirror is a British sci-fi anthology series created by Charlie Brooker. Each episode tells an original story, however all are linked by dark undertones of where technological advancements could take us as a society, in Brooker’s words, ‘[The episodes are] all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.’
In 2012, the show won the International Emmy for Best TV movie/mini-series, and this year the episode Be Right Back (depicting a woman downloads an app that uses texts, e-mails and videos to allow her to talk to her dead husband) was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Single Drama. There’s two seasons, each consisting of three episodes, so it’s not exactly a big commitment to watch.
Orphan Black is a Canadian show created Graeme Manson and John Fawcett and stars Tatiana Maslany as every character (only a slight exaggeration). The series mainly follows Sarah Manning (played by Tatiana Maslany) who, after seeing a woman who looks identical to her commit suicide, discovers that she is a clone. As the story progresses a conspiracy surrounding the DYAD Institute emerges, and some religious extremists get involved.
The brilliance of the show lies largely with Maslany’s performance as all of the clones, giving each clone a life of her own, so much so you almost forget they’re being played by the same actress (this show defiantly takes the nurture side of the nature vs. nurture debate).
I’ve seen a lot of love for this show online, however in my day to day ‘real’ life I don’t know anyone who watches it, which makes me extremely sad, but as it goes into its third season (as well as getting a comic book from IDW) I hope its popularity grows to the level it deserves.
Dollhouse has been called Joss Whedon’s worst show, but I think that it holds up. In case you didn’t know; the show revolves around a group of ‘dolls,’ people whose minds are reprogrammed to please rich clients. Primarily, it follows Echo, a doll played by Whedon Vet’ Eliza Dushku, who is slowly regaining her sentiency.
Despite a rocky first few episodes, the show develops into something really special. I think this development happens about halfway through the first season, when the focus shifts away from Dushku’s Echo and towards a larger ensemble, which is really Whedon’s forte. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after only 2 seasons (it was just getting great), but on the bright side, that means you can easily watch all of it on Netflix.
Both Buffy and Angel have both been called Joss Whedon’s best show, and that would be true if Firefly wasn’t a thing. Buffy The Vampire Slayer follows Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the chosen one, imbued with super powers to slay vampires, and friends, on their wacky adventures. Angel is a spin-off of Buffy, where we see Angel (David Boreanaz), a vampire with a soul and Buffy’s main love interest for the first three seasons, strike out on his own helping the helpless and trying to find redemption for what he did when he was an evil, soulless vampire.
These shows are wonderfully written, hilarious without detracting from the drama, hugely emotional without removing the fun, and they are a joy to watch despite them hurting my insides with emotion. But perhaps most importantly, they are thoughtful, inherent ideas in these shows about feminism, about religion and about the soul.
The 1998 Silver Surfer animated series is a bit of a left field choice for this list. Developed by Larry Brody, the show was cancelled after a 13 episode season, and rightfully so because it’s supposed to be for children, but totally is not. The series is pretty much the Silver Surfer brooding about not being able to see his wife on his home planet because of the deal he made with Galactus (y’know, the Silver Surfer origin).
Now you’re probably asking, ‘But Ted, why are you being such a negative Nancy about this show if this is a list of greatness?’ Well, let me get to the good part: it takes on interesting ideas about non-interference, empire, pacifism and environmental issues. Furthermore, it mixes the animation style of most animated shows from the ‘90s with CG, For instance, Galactus is CG (and we rarely see a full body shot of him, lots of very close-up shots), creating a sense of awe at his power and size. It’s like he’s from a whole different plain of existence, and it is very effective.
Here are the many shows didn’t make the list, but are still worth a watch; Firefly (too obvious), Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Stargate, Continuum, Alphas, Falling Skies, Futurama, Defiance & State Of Syn.
So that’s my list. What shows did I miss? Do you hate the shows that I picked? Do you liked the ones that made the cut? Tell me all of your thoughts in the comments below.