It is in the most underrated sci-fi TV shows where we find the most surprising discoveries and possible truths that lie behind alternate realities, black holes, and life on distant planets. It is where we prepare for the zombie apocalypse while unleashing ancient evil spirits from tombs long forgotten. Located deep within these TV shows is where creativity takes a turn, exploration pushes boundaries, and mysteries are solved; well at least for the one hour they get of air time each week. The most underrated sci-fi TV shows may not have gotten the glory they rightfully deserved, but they have given us reasons for hours of binge watching and streaming.
What better place to start a sci-fi breakdown than with the the time-space continuum? Continuum is a Canadian science fiction series created by Simon Barry that ran from May 2012 to October 2015. The series revolves around a police officer who accidentally travels back in time from 2077 to 2012 along with a terrorist group known as Liber8, who are determined to take down certain corporations that affect the future. The coolest thing about this show is that throughout the series, multiple theories are suggested as to the nature of time travel and its effect on the timeline of events. Oh, and all the titles in the series involve the words: time, second, minute, and hour.
Airing only 2 episodes on Friday prime-time, Charlie Jade presents the idea of parallel universes. There are several universes that coexist on the show. The Alphaverse, a dystopian view of what our future could be like; The Betaverse, our present day reality; The Gammaverse, a peaceful, unspoiled version of our world if it all lived sustainably; An 'unknown' universe inhabited with primitive people living in huts, and an entire universe that is home to 'men in grey suits'...In the pilot episode, there is a chain reaction explosion that moves through 3 separate universes. That alone is worth the watch.
And now we take our voyage through Dark Matter, (not to be confused with antimatter) where a group of 6 people with no memories of absolutely anything wake up on a starship called the Raza. They then name themselves "One" through "Six" depending on who woke up from the deep slumber first, stabilize their space vessel, and attempt to resolve the unknown mystery of what exactly is going on aboard this ship in outer space. It may not sound like much, but it has earned a renewal in 2017!
Enter the extraterrestrials who coexist on the tranquil space station, Babylon 5. Or is it? As it seems that Babylon stations 1, 2, and 3 and 4 vanished without trace... It is the year 2258 and all intergalactic galaxies near and far are attempting to create peace and prosperity but are faced with the usual, you know, wars and political debates of such.
Babylon 5 has been noted as having "launched the new era of television CGI visual effects" and received 2 consecutive Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation. Dropping in the American television scene 2003, it continues to be shown in international markets such as the UK, Sweden, and the Fiji islands.
The Lost Room
The supernatural and a sci-fi combo in a miniseries is a recipe for success. This entire show revolves around a room, “The Lost Room”, as it’s known at the 1960s motel along U.S. Route 66, in Gallup, New Mexico (see all the 6’s here?) and the common items in the room that possess supernatural powers. We are all looking for Joe Miller’s daughter Anna, who has gone missing inside this room, but we are blocked by the issues that arise out of the room’s belongings, again and again…creepy.
In, The 4400 4400 people (yep) have been going missing in bright white lights from the year 1938 until the present, and are then all returned at once to the Cascade Range foothills near Mount Rainier, Washington. None have memories. None have injuries. One is pregnant. But all begin to manifest paranormal powers that they use for good. The mystery? What exactly is the white light? In the first season finale it was disclosed that it was NOT aliens, and as the show progresses, we are drawn behind the scenes of political deception and a captivating twist. A type of apocalyptic time traveling attempt to save the world. This calls for a definite full 4 season binge. Netflix, here I come.
What do you think of when you hear the words: memory, split personality, manipulation, brainwashed-assassin, and amnesia. Let me guess… a dollhouse? Absolutely! Dollhouse revolves around an organization that mind-wipes humans whom they refer to as “Dolls”. They are repeatedly implanted with false memories and skills for undergoing a variety of missions and jobs. Let’s just say they these jobs are not of the good humanitarian type. When they are “off duty” they are kept in a what seems to be a real life “Dollhouse”. The main character, a doll named Echo is slowly starting to regain consciousness as she realizes something is not quite right with her life. With Dollhouse we aren’t dealing with your typical sci-fi zombies or time travel, but instead reveling in some deep mind control issues.
So what if it only had one season with 12 episodes? So what if the plot centers around an artist, a secret agency and your typical fights against evil spirits? The Middlemen features a hyper-intelligent ape who escapes from captivity, murders members of the Italian Mafia, successfully recites a half dozen catch phrases from American movies on the subject including Goodfellas, The Godfather, and Scarface. All of this occurs before the ape is revealed as the pawn of the true villain. Enough said.
Every true sci-fi fan knows exactly what hyperdrive is. It takes you from space point A to space point B in an unrealistic, super-dimensional time-space warp. We've seen it in Star Wars, Star Trek and many, many other galactic sci-fi movies and shows. Yet, unlike the others, Hyperdrive is a comedy where the primary antagonist is usually the featured crew. The boarding members of the Camden Lock starship find themselves in various predicaments, which are usually brought on by none other than, themselves.
It made it through 2 seasons in 2006 and 2007 bringing with it a fan base loyal to sci-fi comedy and a love of the alien races introduced to them throughout the series including Glish, ambassadors who get upset that the Camden Lock crew do not allow them to rub their genitals on their faces, a pseudo-Medieval race called the Lallakkis who have the mental capability of 10-year-olds and like to sing war songs, and the Engulfers, extradimensional beings of pure energy who consume atoms, excrete black holes, and swallow spaceships whole. Sci-fi doesn’t get any funnier, unless of course you count Spaceballs!
What happens when a grad student accidentally opens a wormhole to parallel universes? You get 5 seasons of definitely underrated sci-fi entertainment. The first 3 seasons were broadcast by the Fox network, but were shortly canceled thereafter and rightfully move to the SyFy Channel for its final 2 seasons.The vortex travelers call themselves “sliders” as they “slide” from parallel universe to parallel universe in search of their primary home universe. The travelers have no control over what dimension they end up in, and according to wikipedia “all too often become unwillingly involved in events that they must resolve before they can safely leave via the vortex”.
Better Off Ted
(Here is a bit of sci-fi trivia: The metal office chair in the series Better of Ted is the same chair from the police station in Demolition Man.)
Better of Ted is about an evil company with a plot to destroy many things. The employees are aware of such demise, and attempt to hilariously stop the crime from happening. Despite the fact the series was cancelled and the last 2 episodes were never aired, there are a few things that set this show apart from others. Throughout the show, the main character, Ted, breaks the fourth wall speaking directly to the viewers offering inside information and observations. Another differentiating factor is that the show involves a series of mock commercials, fictional advertisement for a non-existent product placed before and after commercial breaks. These 2 factors alone make the series worth a watch!
Described as “dark, gorey, comedy” and voted by one viewer as “one of the best shows ever to grace the TV screens of our little planet”, Lexx consists of spaceship adventures amidst the battle of humans vs insects. The crew consists of a captain, Stanley H. Tweedle, a love slave, Zev/Xev, an undead, former assassin Kai, the last of his kind Brunnen-G, and a love-crazed robot head. This is one of the very few TV shows that has 2 complete soundtracks to accommodate it. There are 4 seasons of Lexx totaling 61 episodes. The first season aired in Canada in April of 1997 under the alternative title of Tales from a Parallel Universe. However, I believe “Lexx” is the name of a sci-fi show that you might possibly watch just to discover what “Lexx” means. So, the transition in names was well thought out.
American Gothic meets Star Trek: The Next Generation (not to be forgotten and discussed next), and Albert Einstein meets Harry Truman, combine to create a little town called “Eureka”, not to be found on any maps and highly classified. Composed of the most intellectual geniuses in the United States, the government has provided them with their own safe haven to call home where they are surrounded by like minded individuals to carry out their days work. What they don’t anticipate is for all their year of hard work to go awry. This underrated sci-fi tv show ran for 5 seasons over 6 years and has proved to be great entertainment for all ages and IQs.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation, aka TNG and ST:TNG, premiered the week of September 28, 1987. It drew in 27 million viewers with its two-hour pilot titled "Encounter at Farpoint". In total, it ran 176 episodes and ended with a two-hour finale in May of 1994 called "All Good Things...". Although hard to follow in the aftermath of one of the greatest sci-fi shows of all times, TNG still held its own and deserves recognition in our list. Set in the aftermath and decades after Captain Kirk’s crew, the ongoing mission remained the same, “to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no one has gone before”. Plus, now as we look back, we can tie together our memories of Star Trek with X-Men, as actor Patrick Stewart, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise was the face of both. The world of sci-fi has tied together 2 all time great legacies.