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Cerebral sci-fi TV series were a welcome addition to a decade of questionable fanfare. From AMC's Into the Badlands to Syfy's hit Dominion, sci-fi series explored the post-apocalyptic future that seems to excite sci-fi fans. Guillermo Del Toro upped the ante with The Strain, and Halle Berry in Extant is by far the hottest sci-fi woman of the 2000s. If you have not yet, binge on all of these great sci-fi TV series.
Into The Badlands
Just like an exotic fusion dish at your favorite Japanese restaurant, AMC spliced together genres to create their epic Into the Badlands sci-fi TV series. Loosely inspired by the Chinese classic Journey Into the West, Into the Badlands features a post-apocalyptic future where everything is run by Barons who rule over their territory like southern plantation owners from the antebellum south. After the great war, they outlawed guns so now everyone in the future is trained to be a badass martial artist known as a clipper. The Barons are constantly feuding, fighting for territory and power amongst themselves. So if you ever wanted to see Gone with the Wind by way of Django Unchained with the fight scenes of Kill Bill, then Into the Badlands is the must-binge sci-fi TV series of the year.
The war between heaven and earth hit the small screen with the second season of Dominion. Using the 2010 film Legion as inspiration, Dominion tells the story of Archangel Gabriel as he leads his war against mankind after God banishes from heaven. Dominion brings so much needed variety to the post-apocalyptic landscape given how overrun things are with zombies, vampires, and evil aliens. Sometimes the best fictional monsters are the ones ripped right out of the old testament and evil angels are something we haven’t seen anywhere else. It’s a shame that we won’t get to see the continued war of heaven and earth, since Dominion was canceled after its second season, but at the very least we got to see Archangel Michael kick some major ass.
If you looked at TV guide you might get confused with all the movies that are now becoming TV shows. The 2011 thriller Limitless is the latest to join this quickly growing field and even goes a step further by having Bradley Cooper cameo as his character Eddie Morra from Limitless, making the sci-fi TV series into a direct continuation of the film. The TV show stars Jake McDorman as Brian Finch who takes the infamous NZT-48 drug to become the smartest man in the world and uses his newly found intellect to aid the FBI solving some of the most difficult cases in existence. Bradley Cooper returns for a cameo as his charter from the original movie to aid Brian as he explores his new found powers thanks to the limitless power of the NZT-48 drug.
This series was a long time coming, but superstar comic writer Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers Season 1 finally came to television in 2015. Powers takes a realistic look at a world infested with superpowers, where having caped crusaders unleashing their powers can be just as terrifying as a homicide murder down the street. Powers does a great job at showing audiences that a world filled with fantasy characters who could liquify you just by looking in your direction is one just as terrifying and compelling as any traditional crime procedural drama.
Guillermo Del Toro originally conceived of The Strain as a sci-fi TV series, but was unable to find a buyer who’d be willing to pick it up. His agent suggested that he turn his TV series into trilogy of books. Ironically enough, after publishing The Strain trilogy and thanks to the success of The Walking Dead, Guillermo Del Toro managed to bring his gory vampire vision to life. The Strain is an infectious vampire gore fest in which vampires aren’t forlorn figures of sparkling sexiness, rather they're pale white monstrosities with a terrifyingly gross prehensile tongue/stinger they use to feed and spread their viral like strain. The battle for New York heated up this season as the citizens of New York fought back against the multiplying vampire menace and we got several new awesome additions to our favorite vampire crew.
Hollywood Hottie Halle Berry comes to TV with the aid of mega-producer Steven Spielberg. In this mini-series event, Halle plays an astronaut who becomes impregnated by an alien baby. The series also serves as a sort quasi-sequel to Spielberg's own AI film as Halle Berry has a robot child much like David. Originally billed as a limited event series, Extant got a second season that gave a fitting conclusion to the saga of Halle Berry's astronaut who’s close encounter of the erotic kind managed to change the destiny of mankind.
Steven Spielberg returns to television and this list again for the final season of Falling Skies. Tom Mason finishes the fight against the alien skitters taking back earth from the invaders in the final season. Despite a lot of standing around and some in-fighting between all favorites Tom and Pop, Falling Skies managed to reach a generally propulsive conclusion in its final season with Tom Mason and the 2nd Mass militia finally bringing the fight to the Espheni and taking back the planet once and for all. We got to finally see the climatic final battle as Tom marched the 2nd Mass to Washington to take out the Queen. The stakes were ramped up as audiences finally to see their favorite freedom fighters go on the offensive in this spectacular bombastic finale that provided a satisfying conclusion after five years of brutal guerrilla warfare.
Fear The Walking Dead
Zombies are taking over television and nothing seems to be slowing down their advance as they take over everything. The infestation has managed to spread to LA in Fear the Walking Dead, the spin-off series from AMC’s megahit show. Taking place in LA just before the zombie outbreak, Fear the Walking Dead is more chilling than its predecessor. The show focuses how society falls to the zombie virus. Featuring a completely new cast, Fear manages to be a whole different animal, featuring a blended family struggling to hold themselves together as society falls. We also get to see how the military tries to maintain order and fend off the ever-expanding zombie horde. If that wasn’t good enough we also got an awesome siege scene in the season finale where the military faces off against the unstoppable zombie horde.
Legendary sci-fi showrunner Ronald Moore makes his return to Syfy with Helix. There’s nothing very interesting or new about zombies or deadly viruses at this point. But Moore manages to find a new angle in Helix to make these tropes feel exciting with a virus engineered by a race of immortals who have secretly been plotting to take over the world. Helix takes the best parts of John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Walking Dead, and Resident Evil and mixes them into sci-fi TV series that’ll keep any die-hard fan happy.
Supergirl takes us away from the sci-fi dystopias to give us a more positive story. Sure, apocalypses with mutant viruses, aliens, zombies, and killer robots are all fine and well, but sometimes it’s nice to remember that sci-fi can also be fun and Supergirl is definitely the most fun sci-fi TV series right now. Not only has Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El managed to provide one of the best role models on TV, she’s also managed to be the make sci-fi fun and exciting as she defends National City from extraterrestrial threats. The Supergirl TV series also managed to give comic book geeks the chance to see characters like Red Tornado and Martian Manhunter brought to life in live action. Chances are we’ll never see the Man of Steel in this series, but given his murderous city destroying tendencies maybe it’s for the best that we’re getting the girl of steel and not her more violent cousin.
Famed auteurs of sci-fi cinema the Wachowski siblings Andy and Lana Wachowki take a break from making huge sci-fi epics to make their first TV series for Netflix. Collaborating with famed Babylon 5 creator Michael J. Straczynski, the Wachowskis manage to tackle a number of subjects not normally explored in science fiction like religion, gender, sexuality, identity, and politics. Sense8 features eight strangers from across the globe who suddenly become mentally and emotionally linked together experiencing each other’s emotions and sharing vitals skills and abilities. Looking back on Sense8 Season 1 it is clear that the Wachowkis managed to create an engaging progressive sci-fi vision unlike anything else on TV or in theaters showing us that maybe the best boundary-pushing realm for the future of sci-fi might just be on streaming networks.
Fanboys and girls have always clamored for a live action X-men sci-fi TV series. But, in the end, they had to settle for the next best thing which turned out to be Tim Kring’s Heroes. What was once the hottest thing on TV quickly fizzled out though after four seasons. But now, with the superhero boom running stronger than ever, Heroes is back for another go with more crazy heroics and a time-bending sci-fi premise where the fate of humanity lies in the future. With a new cast of super-powered humans and a few returning favorites Heroes Reborn was a must-see series, able to proudly stand side by side with the shows made by Marvel and DC.
Big name directors and producers keep coming to television and M. Night Shyamalan, the modern day master of the twist brings his thrilling sensibilities to long-form television. Even better than Shyamalan is Terrence Howard taking a break from running his Empire and playing Sheriff Arnold Pope in Wayward Pines. Unlike other mysteries, Wayward Pines is one that delivers the goods in terms of its big reveal and was easily one of the best surprises of the year out of all the science fiction shows released during the 2015 season. What starts out as a simple seemingly supernatural style mystery becomes something much bigger and broader as Wayward Pines slowly unveils the full scope of its mystery and unlike some other shows or movies that leave you wanting you won’t feel disappointed when you get to learn the secrets behind Wayward Pines.
This Canadian BBC sci-fi series has taken the world by storm by providing a unique examination at the potential future of cloning. Con artist Sarah Manning discovers that she is actually a clone from a cloning project and has dozens of other “sister” clones. Orphan Black explores high concept sci-fi themes as the attempt to create and control human life as well as some very progressive feminist values and features many great LGBTQ characters. It’s quickly become a favorite show for the comic con crowd spawning a successful comic series and loads of award nominations.
Yet another hit film makes its debut on the small screen following the greater trend of taking successful sci-fi films of yesteryear and transforming them into the sci-fi TV series hits of today. Terry Gilliam's mind-bending epic with Bruce Willis is transformed into one of the most provocative series ever aired on Syfy. 12 Monkeys follows time traveler James Cole as he travels back from the year 2043 to the present to stop a terrorist group known as the Army of the 12 Monkeys from releasing a virus that kills 93.6 percent of the world’s population. James must stop them from releasing the virus to save the future, but his time traveling brings about a new set of complications. The 12 Monkeys TV series completely reimagines the film turning it into a sprawling time travel epic that’s so good it’s already been picked up for a second season.
Jessica Jones wasn’t only one of the top superhero shows or the best sci-fi TV series, it was also one of the best TV shows to debut in 2015. Marvel had a great year with their introduction of Daredevil on Netflix, but gave audiences a double dose of awesome with their premiere of Jessica Jones. Based on the Alias comic by Brian Michael Bendis, Jessica Jones tells the story of a former superhero turned private eye who battles against a supervillain with the power to make anyone do whatever he tells them. This series tackled complex issues rarely covered in superhero stories like rape, abortion, and the ramifications of traumatic abuse. Supposedly we’ll be seeing Jessica Jones again in the defenders series, but hopefully before that we’ll see her get a second season just like Daredevil next year.
Man In the High Castle
Amazon stepped up their game in the streaming wars by adapting Philip K. Dick's famous novel Man in the High Castle into one of the most ambitious series ever produced for a streaming network. In this alternate future, the Axis powers of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan conquer the world. They split the United States of America with the west coast being controlled by Imperial Japan and the east coast controlled by the Nazis. Produced by Ridley Scott, Man in the High Castle takes a ridiculous ambitious concept and executes it flawlessly showing viewers a dark vision of the future that might have been. If Amazon can keep pumping out huge hits like this then Netflix better step up their game as the streaming wars continue to escalate.
Right out of nowhere, USA premiered one of the best shows on television. If you ever wanted a David Fincher TV series that combined The Social Network with Fight Club, this is it. Mr. Robot follows Elliot a computer programmer in New York City whose a cybersecurity expert. Elliot moonlights as cyber-vigilante dispensing cyber justice as he tries to cope with his social anxiety disorder and depression. He gets recruited by Christian Slater to join a hacker group known as f society to take down one of the biggest corporations and erase their records of debt to free America. But throughout the whole series Elliot's sanity is constantly called into question. Whether he’s working to take down the worst company ever or is just retreating further into his own delusional dementia always keeps the audience guessing.
Syfy channel has been moving away from cheap films produced by the Asylum like Mega Python vs. Gatorid and Sharknado and has begun to produce more ambitious high-brow sci-fi TV series. The latest series to follow this trend is The Expanse, a space opera/mystery science fiction drama based on the series of novels by James S.A. Corey. Created by showrunner Naren Shankar, The Expanse shows a future in which humanity has colonized the solar system. But tensions between colonists on Mars, the asteroid belt, and Earth threaten to break out into full-scale war. Police detective Miller, born on the asteroid belt, is cased with tracking down a missing woman connected to the conspiracy at the center of it all and the very fate of humanity itself might lie in the balance. This series has some huge ideas, not to mention gorgeous production values that bring its vision of the not too distant future to tv screens of today.
Damon Lindelof became one of the most infamous writers in Hollywood after the controversial ending of Lost. Since then, he’s become hated for his involvement in movies like Prometheus and Tomorrowland. Damon Lindelof loved crafting material loaded with ambiguity following the guidelines of the infamous J.J. Abrams mystery box. So it was no surprise that the first season of The Leftovers was not treated warmly. But Lindelof managed to create one of the most compelling and underappreciated dramas on TV in the second season of The Leftovers, which saw a change of location to a fictional town in Texas. Lindelof doubles down on the supernatural elements having his characters visit the esoteric realm of the dead directly addressing some of the most hated and controversial elements from the final season of Lost and fully embracing them. The Leftovers was the one show we were afraid would be too pretentious for its own good, but now we can’t get enough of it.
Best Sci-Fi TV Series to Binge Watch
It is not easy to produce good sci-fi TV series today. The old stuff that stands the test of time is either exceptionally well done or, more likely, its originality and popularity during its heyday cements a nostalgic acceptance and even critical praise. Today's sci-fi must entertain, challenge, and break ground that allows it to cross over to other main stream genres like dramas and thrillers. The good news is that there is a decent amount of quality product being generated as well as some classic cheesy stuff that still captures the imagination of the classic geek and sci-fi addict. Today is the next golden age of sci-fi, and the following shows have mastered the quality and excitement needed to capture an audience.
Haven is the quirkiest sci-fi syndication I have seen in a while. I had never seen the show before this past binging weekend. As an admitted Syfy Eureka fan, it appears that Haven is its older sibling. Haven, the town, often feels like a supernatural version of Eureka’s MENSA populace. Both towns seem to have the most interesting collection of geeks, misfits, and intellects in their respected genres. Haven is a prime example of an often unnoticed sci-fi sub genre I refer to as quirky. When sci-fi meets David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, (it really does fell David Lynch-y) then it has crossed into the quirky zone. After devouring the first three seasons, I have begun to feel very at home in the quaint and often weird town of Haven. That's the best description I can come up with for Haven, a paranormal crime show very loosely adapted from Stephen King's novel The Colorado Kid. While the first season starts off on a rather mediocre note with a string of one-off "troubles," it slowly develops into a mysterious story arc that grows more intriguing and powerful as time passes. It is different and well worth the time.
The 13 episodes within the first season of Syfy's Haven pay homage to King’s style: picturesque Maine setting town containing odd characters with old secrets, spooky (and often deadly) goings-on. But this one's a little different. "King quirk," you might call it. As the season begins, FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) has been dispatched to the scenic coastal town of Haven to find a recently escaped convict. By the time she finds him, his body reveals a rather mysterious death, but other weirdness—huge cracks in the road, sudden and dramatic changes in the weather, and an especially old photo of a woman whom Audrey, raised by the state, believes might be her mother--keeps her in town, where she partners with taciturn local detective Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant). Sometimes aided, and hindered, by cocky "importer" Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), our heroes soon realize that a series of supernatural phenomena known as "the troubles" has returned to plague Haven. Each new incident can be traced to a single "troubled" local. Hence episodes about an adopted teenager who unleashes telekinetic powers on anyone who threatens to splinter his family; a restaurateur whose food rots instantaneously when he's upset; a young woman whose uncontrollable pyrokinesis turns folks into crispy critters; and a taxidermist whose suddenly re-animated trophies seek and destroy the hunters who killed them.
Now on paper, as I look back and read the last two paragraphs, I realize Haven is not for everyone, but if you prefer a quirky Syfy thriller to a Xanax, then this is your show.
Black Mirror is so good because it is so f’d up. It is so f’d up because it is a warning. Black Mirror is a warning to us all. Rarely does a sci-fi TV series hammer home the same message with such originality and distinction in each and every episode. Black Mirror, the small screen on your phone or the giant flat screen hanging in your family room. It is either the beginning of a new age of prosperity and good fortune for mankind or it is the vehicle by which we are all reduced back to our basic instinct and perhaps the de-evolution of morality and ethics that weave their way through the fabric of our modern society. The technology that led to the digital revolution is a far more powerful weapon than mankind can begin to understand, and society would do well to heed the lessons from Black Mirror.
The first two seasons of Black Mirror brins us a new tale of technology, social media, and human conscious colliding over six episodes. Each episode is a tightly formatted, self contained story that will leave you with too few words but an overabundance of thoughts. Beyond that, it is entirely useless for me to explain what it is because I would not dream of depriving you of the feeling one gets from entering a theater, cold to the content, only to leave with expectations far exceeded. I do have one very specific recommendation. Watch the two seasons in the following order: 1. S1, E3 2. S1, E1 3. S2, E1 4. S1, E2 5. S2, E3 6. S2, E2 I believe this particular order creates a superior structurally crafted delivery of the creator’s message.
Constantine is disturbingly good sci-fi fare. Paranormal is a subgenre of science fiction. I take the assessment of what qualifies for sci-fi paranormal very seriously. Unfortunately, the networks don’t have the same appreciation for the pure genre sans the action so, there is risk in committing to this one before knowing if it will get a second season. As much as I enjoy the popular Fox hit Sleepy Hollow—with all of its ghosts and evil spirits—it does not qualify as sci-fi paranormal. The key element that pulls Constantine over the edge is the intellectualization of Constantine’s dilemma. While Sleepy Hollow entertains me regularly, it does not take itself seriously. Perhaps it takes itself as seriously as a buddy cop show overlaid with the supernatural. However, it's not enough to make the viewer believe that it is a show about the supernatural. Constantine takes itself very seriously. It is an authentic show about the paranormal overlaid with the real world. Producers of the show rely on its main character to connect us directly to a world we normally cannot see and are often afraid to believe but quite possibly are unable to deny exists. Constantine takes for granted that its viewer is familiar with its character’s history, the hidden worlds he travels, and secret rituals he practices. He is an exorcist, demonologist, and expert in the dark arts. Similar to The Strain on FX, Constantine relies heavily on frighteningly realistic visuals coupled with disturbing sound effects that are reserved for nightmares.
The 2005 film of the same name starred Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, with Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, and Djimon Hounsou. With a screenplay by Kevin Brodbin and Frank Cappello, the film is based on the Vertigo Comics' Hellblazer comic book, which is also a part of, and run by, DC Comics. Some plot elements are taken from the "Dangerous Habits" story arc (issues #41-46) and the "Original Sins" trade paperback. John Constantine was born with the power to see angels and demons. At the age of fifteen, he committed suicide to escape his visions, but he was revived after spending two minutes in Hell. Constantine was originated by comic book writer and creator Alan Moore while writing The Swamp Thing, first appearing June 1985.
The sci-fi TV series seems to take place after the events of the film with plots inspired by the comics. Matt Ryan plays John Constantine, and the character is pretty true to the comics, with the exception of the chain smoking. Angélica Celaya plays Zed from the original comics. Less sidekick than complimentary paranormal kleptomaniac, Zed, like Constantine, takes herself seriously in a world of insanity. Unlike much of its competition, Constantine has enough meat on the bone for real sci-fi fans to geek out about.
A lifeboat for humanity, the Ascension Starship is launched to ensure the survival of the human race. In 1963, the premise goes, the US government launched a secret space mission. Hundreds of men, women, and children embark on a century-long journey to populate a new world. The show takes place approximately 50 years into the journey. I enjoyed the trailers and Syfy channel's page on the show. Seems like an interesting twist on the deep space mission genre. The creators are overlaying a 1960s period piece onto a sci-fi classic theme.
Taking one of the hottest women in Syfy TV and casting her as a lead seems like a reasonably smart idea as well. Tricia Helfer, aka Cylon Number Six, was scene-stealer in Battlestar Galactica. Apparently she plays a devious and manipulative character on Ascension, much like the red-dressed biomechanical hottie she played in Galactica.
Having three kids of my own and being a sci-fi fan, I have never been able to wrap my mind around the whole family-and-kids-in-space concept. As an adult, I look at shows like Lost in Space very differently than I did as a kid. If I was stuck on a flying saucer with my three kids and wife for an endless amount of years, I would have Dr. Smith give me a daily sedative.
Even Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I still watch repeats of regularly, confuses me when it comes to explaining the presence of children. The general consensus is that it is a science vessel, not a warship, so it is okay to bring hundreds of children into Romulan space, armed with photon torpedoes. I get nervous when my teenage daughters go to the mall, let alone get transported down to a newly discovered planet.
More dangerous for the kids on the ship is the potential fate the child actors face. Wil Wheaton, who is played by Wesley Crusher—or perhaps it is the other way around—is still playing the same roll on TV and I believe getting paid the same rate. The kid who played Warf’s son is currently the lead singer of the glam/punk band, the Soda Pop Kids. That says it all.
I look forward to Ascension, as it promises to be a bit more cerebral than some of the typical Syfy original content. If it is paced right and veers away from cheesy sub plots, this one could be a winner. Mark your calendar: November 24th, 2014.
It is not without hesitation that Z Nation is included on best sci-fi TV series to watch right now, but there does not seem to be much new sci-fi on TV at the time of this posting. A few decent looking shows coming soon, but Z Nation has kicked off the fall season as Syfy’s answer to the The Walking Dead. To Syfy’s credit they don’t actually try to compete with The Walking Dead from a dramatic perspective, though they do amp up the blood, gore, and shock value by having a zombie baby crawl its way over to a downed soldier to chew out his intestines.
It does not pay to give much more away, though there really is not much to give away that is not revealed in the trailer. Frankly the show feels more like an hour-long trailer than an actual pilot episode. It is a cross between CBS’s Survivor and cult hit Zombieland starring a younger Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson. Watch it, not necessarily as sci-fi but perhaps as an hour of comedy relief provided by the Syfy channel in recognition of all of the heavy deep sci-fi programming absorbed throughout the week.
Defiance is rapidly moving up my list of favorite sci-fi TV series. It feels like The Godfather meets Firefly meets The Road Warrior. It is really well put together, after what was a bit of a rough start early in season one. Season 2 has turned Defiance into an even more twisted yet intellectually provocative show. What really makes this show work is the back story that rests as the series foundation. It is highly recommended that prior to binge-watching this show, read the extensive material available online.
Defiance was created by Rockne S. O'Bannon, Kevin Murphy, and Michael Taylor. Set in the future on a very different Earth, drastically changed by the arrival of alien species. Some having arrived from space, many other indigenous species are a result of contamination by terraforming technology which transformed native flora and fauna in unforeseen ways. Joshua Nolan (Grant Bowler) works as the lawman for the town of Defiance. He has an edge about him that takes a while to get comfortable with. However, once you become really acquainted with the character you begin to root for this broody loner. Defiance is a community where humans and intelligent extraterrestrial species coexist. There are three primary families to identify with: The Mafia Castithans, Datak, and Stahma Tarr make Sonny Corleone seem like a pacifist.
Rafe McCawley is Defiance's richest and most powerful human, at least for a while. He managed to hang onto his family's gulanite mine territory through the wars. The third family is Nolan's. Irisa Nyrira is an Irathient, a kind of Votan, who was orphaned when Nolan killed her outlaw father. Nolan adopted her and raised her as his own daughter. The two have traveled the lawless badlands for years. The science fiction show re-imagines the idea that, "It Takes A Village." Defiance will hopefully have a few more years of great storytelling. Another noteworthy point is the show's choice of music. It often manifests itself in classic vinyl records, broadcast from a future DJ booth at the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
Okay, this one is dead, people. Copy that: dead as Dillinger. However, in this binge-buffet universe, no doubt you can find all the episodes and munch away—not only that, you can probably start up a social-media campaign to reboot the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle. The genius idea here was that a couple of X-Men-esque agents preside over “the warehouse," a place where historical artifacts are stored. But guess what? Those artifacts have magical powers that suck you into stories of the past. This is good, smart stuff, worthy of a 2014 Rod Serling or Gene Roddenberry. Too bad it was poorly marketed and didn’t have the life it deserved (though it got several seasons). I know, I know, it’s not really “now,” but seek it out all the same!
Lord of the Flies meets Dawson's Creek. I know it sounds silly, but it works. Strong female leads and intriguing questions about the human condition lead to an entertaining and thought-provoking hour of sci-fi television. While Arrow was certainly an achievement for The CW, The 100 is their first true success from the sci-fi genre.
This post-apocalyptic drama is one of the more interesting series in its genre. Mostly, because it leaves much of the apocalypse to the imagination. As the first season comes to an end. The space station called "The Arch," that has housed the survivors of the human race for nearly 100 years, is on the verge of destruction. Losing this classic spaceship element will be an interesting issue for the showrunners to tackle in the future, as they will clearly have to amp up the excitement on the ground. The Earth has changed a great deal a hundred years after the apocalypse.
This has been an excellent sci-fi time-travel series since its first episode aired. Season 2 started to become a bit concerning as the direction of the show was unclear. But with a well-paced and intense Season 3, the notion of multiple timelines and the arbitrary possibilities they create has opened a new front in this tried and true niche of sci-fi TV series.
The Canadians got this one right. Surprise, surprise. Created by Simon Barry and produced by Reunion Pictures, the show presents the three key elements for good sci-fi television. First, character depth: Kiera, played by the beautiful Rachel Nichols, straddles two worlds both physically and emotionally. On the other hand, Alec, played by newcomer Erik Knudsen, straddles two personalities, playing two different versions of himself in the same world. Secondly, intellect: Time travel has always been a difficult concept for producers to tackle. The series posts endless questions, but at the same time provides infinite answers. Lastly, action: Unlike typical Syfy channel shows, Continuum offers real-world violence, exceptionally choreographed fight scenes, and some of the more interesting weapons and gadgets seen in recent sci-fi television.
Under the Dome
A friend of mine insisted that this was sci-fi. I said, “Isn’t it really the disaster genre?” We agreed to disagree—because, at least at this point in history, there is a history of “disaster movies” (you kids know what that is, right? Earthquake? The Swarm? The Day After Tomorrow?) but not really a history of disaster television.
In any case: based on a colossal (and quite well-written) Stephen King novel, Under The Dome: A Novel, this is the ongoing saga of town that suddenly and mysteriously is covered in a giant, transparent, and utterly impenetrable dome. Like some fancy dessert being rolled out in some snooty restaurant in some Blues Brothers movie, the whole community lives under a dome: no one going in, no one going out. Think that military solutions are going to be applied with unfortunate consequences? Kind of. Dome is smarter on the page than on the screen, but in any event, it is a testament to Stephen King’s talent.
Most Creative Sci-Fi Television Series
Sci-fi fans can’t stop binging sci-fi TV. Over the past few decades, sci-fi TV series such as Fear the Walking Dead, Metal Hurlant Chronicles, Wayward Pines, and Falling Skies have dominated the air. Even Netflix has recently gotten in on the sci-fi action with shows like Sense8. Sci-fi TV series are so popular because, underneath all of the aliens, spaceships, and time travel, the stories are really about humanity. With complex storylines and deep characters, we can’t help but binge watch the whole series at a time to try and figure out where the story is going. With such a variety of sci-fi TV series available at our fingertips, it is difficult to decide which you should watch. We recommend binging as many of these as possible.
Housekeepers are as important as iPhones in the future according to AMC’s Humans. Even better, there is no need to go to the housekeeper store for repairs. A cheery delivery man will drop off and pick up the equipment, but not all civil servants and local slave labor are dim-witted and devoid of organic intellect. The father of the robotic race has created a robotic soul. While there is nothing that original in the series, it is visually paced and edited in a basic but unique style that actually makes you feel like the tale is something that might truly take place in a near future. AMC describes Humans as being set in a parallel universe where the latest and greatest must-have gadget for any middle-class family is a Synth, or a highly-developed robotic servant eerily similar to its live counterpart. Co-writer Sam Vincent explained, "A lot of different types of jobs are automated now. Everything is automated with a kiosk now and there’s no guy at the counter. There's a real explosion of that happening and we wanted to reflect those social and economic trends... If we had something like the Synths we have on our show, that effect would be magnified a hundredfold, and that was quite interesting. We're really going quite deep into how society would change." So naturally one of the first things they deal with is hybrid sex between men and female-oriented androids. Rule 34 is alive and well.
A trippy mercenary group has lost their memories. Cruising through space on a badass ship called the Raza, this band of merry men and women refer to each other with numbers instead of names. The crew of the Raza emerged from their stasis with no memory of who they were, so the crew positions have largely fallen to whoever demonstrates appropriate skills for the tasks needed aboard the ship. The role of captain has defaulted to Portia Lin who has discovered that she possesses an intimate knowledge of shipboard operations. Das has useful knowledge of electrical systems, and Griffin Jones pilots the Raza's shuttle, while others of the crew have demonstrated skills of a more martial nature, useful for the combat situations that the crew often find themselves in. At times, Dark Matter feels almost like a soap opera and then other times it feels like a 1970s Samurai action TV flick. Dark Matter is worth watching for its unique attempt at merging well over half a dozen genres into a classic life onboard the spaceship story.
Metal Hurlant Chronicles
If you liked the comics, you will enjoy Metal Hurlant Chronicles. If you’ve never read the comics, it may take a while to get used to this adaptation. Each episode is its own short story as it explores galactic empires and lonely alien entities, which resemble the worlds found in away missions in 1980’s Star Trek: The Next Generation. Each of the 12 episodes in this series takes place on a different planet with a different cast, linked together by the presence of an asteroid, which plays a vital role in their lives and the future of their civilizations. The international cast includes James Marsters, Rutger Hauer, Michael Jai White, and Joe Flanigan. There are good episodes and a few bad ones, but my advice is to view it like a Saturday morning sci-fi TV series marathon. Wake, bake, and settle in for an away mission.
The Last Ship
When the end comes, the best place to be is on the biggest naval warship you can find. The Russian survivors clearly feel the same way. Whether it is zombies, vampires, or a straight up plague, The Last Ship is the first one to play out primarily on a ship. The show is based on the 1988 novel by William Brinkley and it recounts the story of the crew of a US Navy Destroyer when faced with a global crisis created by a pandemic of a virus that destroyed most of the human population after they return from a four-month long mission to the Arctic, where they were escorting two scientist whose mission is to study the virus and find a cure. With Adam Baldwin bringing the brute and Dr. McSteamy himself—Eric Dane—bringing the looks, this one is sure to score with the often elusive female demographic in the sci-fi space. The show has a great cast and a relatively simplistic plotline allow for some of the best eye candy on TV in the sci-fi genre.
This is the same sci-fi TV series you have seen on the Syfy Channel forever. It actually feels like it takes place in a Stargate universe, but beneath the cheesy sets and sometimes poorly choreographed fight scenes is a dark undertone and as is the vibe these days a subtle but constant jab at corporate culture. Killjoys follows a trio of bounty hunters who take on interplanetary missions, chasing and capturing deadly criminals throughout a distant system named the Quad. They have sworn amongst themselves to remain neutral during a bloody, multi-planetary class war that threatens to destroy the Quad. "The Company" is the monolithic, powerful corporation inextricably linked with the politicians and ruling families on the Quad, so the killjoys must pursue The Company. Charlie Jane Anders of io9 gave the show a very positive rating saying, "If wanting to watch fun, quippy characters get into scrapes and survive by the skin of their teeth, on spaceships and alien planets, is wrong, I don’t want to be right."