30 Science Fiction Television Shows
30 Science Fiction Shows
30 Science Fiction Television Shows
Today science fiction has certain pluses and certain negatives for the bean counters. For a start, a good science fiction show costs a lot more to produce than just about any other kind of show. On the more positive, science fiction shows if they get an audience tend to keep it a long time.
Audience loyalty to much loved SF happens to be legendary. The original Star Trek was going to be killed off after its second season but fans who loved the show would not allow this to happen.
Also it should be noted that SF fans are the most intelligent of viewers ranging from kids with a sense of wonder in their souls to college and university students to scientists to dentists and doctors to owners of companies. There have even been astronaut SF fans.
The outlay for episodes of a good SF program may be high but it can and does pay off big time in DVD sales. Who wants Big Brother on DVD? I can't imagine many people would. Ask the same question about anything to do with Star Trek or Stargate and you may be surprised by the response you get. There are shows that will fade away in time and you can put the tag of 'Who cares?' on them quite easily but top SF goes on forever and has a certain lasting beauty. I should know since I admit to being a long time fan of this particular genre.
I will present you with 30 SF shows to think about but not in order of excellence. Maybe you'd care to put them in order for yourself.
1. Star Trek
I grew up on the original Star Trek as did many people of my generation. It showed a bright, shinny future full of star ships and adventure on alien worlds. It also examined the concerns of the '60s such as racism and overpopulation and it did so through SF. It was not expensively produced but there were good writers and good actors on board plus a soundtrack that was truly out of this world. When the show was canceled it didn't just dry up and blow away. It did so well in re-runs that it was decided that something had to be done about returning it in some way, shape or form to television. There was an animated Star Trek show that did well. Eventually, Star Trek the Next Generation came into existence. Then there was Deep Space Nine and then Voyager. All good entertainment.
2. Doctor Who
I grew up on the original Doctor's adventures. The old grouch, the first of the Doctors, was a character I could somehow relate to despite not yet being in my teens and I thought the blue box that looked like a telephone box only it has something to do with the British police (A police call box) was real cool. The Daleks back then were real scary. After well over two decades the show was canceled but that wasn't the end. It lived on in magazines, paperbacks and comic books until it could be revived as a television show with more advanced special effects. Today it goes on and there is a fresh new generation of fans. Apparently you can't keep a good Doctor down for long or kill him off completely. If you do he will just regenerate. In a sense The Doctor as a much loved British happening which is still going on is well over three decades old and must be heading for the big Four Oh. The original soundtrack for this show was experimental electronic music I thought was so far out it gave me goosebumps.
3. Lost in Space
This was a rather quirky family show that drew you in with its special effects and also its peculiar sense of drama and humor. To pin down why it worked and still works on fans isn't easy. Doctor Zachary Smith was supposed to be a villain destined to be killed off in the first season of the show but fans had other ideas. Nowadays it is difficult to talk about Lost in Space without mentioning Smith, The Robot and Will Robinson. Jonathan Harris, the fellow who played the dastardly and sometimes silly Doctor Zachary Smith, actually came to Sydney, Australia well after the show was canceled to put on a stage show starring himself as Smith. His co-star was The Robot.
4. Space Angel
This was cheap 1960s animation at both its best and worst. The space stories were great but the animation, when it came to the characters, often looked way too clumsy. The rocket firing sequences though were gems and, for a child of the early '60s, fun. The soundtrack was also of excellent quality.
5. Blake's 7
This was adult science fiction from the British not because of any nudity or bad language, or even frequent acts of violence, but because it was geared to get the little gray cells of the brain operating overtime. A good SF show created by Terry Nation who is probably best known for his script contribution in the creation of the Daleks.
6. Doom Watch
Black and white British SF about a group of government agents who look into science gone wrong and who attempt to fix problems before they get out of hand. One episode dealt with a substance that could eat through anything made out of plastic and thus multiply like a virus. It doesn't sound like much of a menace until you think of how many items including safety items are made of plastic or protected by plastic. Imagine yourself in a plane high up when the plastic seals on the windows holding them in place are about to melt away. Another episode dealt with overly intelligent rats made so by bad science.
This is a show about two children slipping through time. They begin their journey in the present then slip into WW2. Eventually they land in the future. It was a low budget show made for children with children in the lead but it was thoughtfully done and says something positive about the era in which it was made. It was an early '70s show.
8. The Tripods
This is 1980s British and Australian SF at its best. Aliens control earth's human population. When a human reaches a certain age they are 'capped' and thus are not only fully accepted into adult society but are prevented from being able to think beyond a sort of medieval existence. There is however an underground movement against 'capping'. Brilliant and well thought out SF.
9. Ocean Girl
This is Australian SF at its most brilliant and best. A girl from another world may be able to save humanity from destruction. It has a very green and, to me, a very welcome message. Shot in and around beautiful waterways, it has been a big hit both in Germany and the UK.
A very clever and entertaining show about inter-dimensional travel. It was full of enjoyable social comment. Imagine that an alternate world is headed for destruction and the only way to save it is to bring out of moth balls the atomic bomb and make it work thus possibly creating a Cold War that had not previously existed. Imagine sliding to a world where the communists came to rule the USA or a place where much of the world is under water because of melting ice caps. Well worth checking out.
11. My favorite Martian
Some visitors from other worlds are trouble but still nice to have around. This show gave Bill Bixby his chance to shine as a young actor. He went on to play Banner in the television series The Hulk and also was the star in The Magician. Brownies will forever be associated with a rather strange though charming lady by the name of Mrs Brown who was played by Pamela Britton.
12. Red Dwarf
This British SF comedy started out with good premises and great SF ideas. The last human has for companionship the hologram of the guy who used to boss him around, a creature that evolved into humanoid form from his pet cat and an android that had inadvertently murdered the last lot of people he had served with. The Star Trek crew were basically the best of the best. The crew aboard Red Dwarf are pretty much the worst of the worst. Unfortunately, the show evolved to where it lost some of its earlier quirkiness and glitter. Then it was brought back on the cheap without one of its better scriptwriters.
Early Japanese animation featuring an impressive gigantic robot controlled by a young boy. There is one episode set in Australia that is hilarious for its misinterpretations of what life was and is like in the outback. The Aborigines portrayed look too much like a poor man's version of what native American Indians might look like to some American cowboy with mental issues.
Watch the 1960s show. Accept no substitutes. The soundtrack is rocking and the action comes on thick and fast. Apart from one episode, it was all in black and white. The one color episode may well be the first Japanese cartoon in color. The '80s version of Astroboy is a bit too slow for this viewer. The soundtrack is awful. The 21st Century version of Astroboy isn't bad with its high tech sounds. The movie made in 2009 has a lot of heart like the '60s show and is one of my favorite animate jobs for that year. An atomic powered robot able to help save humanity from its own follies. Japanese animation at its best.
15. Flash Gordon
This is a wonderful SF show based on the comic strip popular from the '30s to at least the '80s. As far as I know this show, which started in 2008, only went to one season. If this is true all I can say is that she went before her time. All the old characters are given a nice 21st Century polish indicating a lot of work went into, not only the special effects, but also the characterization. Well worth checking into.
16. Earth Final Conflict
Aliens come to earth and this appears to be a good thing. Is it too good a thing? What do they really want with humanity and with the planet earth? The mystery unfolds with every episode. They program humans to serve them and this allows the underground to get an agent into the heart of what is really going on.
17. Babylon Five
A space station called Babylon Five may be the best hope for humanity. It was a well put together and well thought out show. The idea to build a space station that could cater to travelers and diplomats from all over the universe comes after a devastating war in which humanity comes close to the brink of destruction. Hence making friends and forming allies is an essential part of what Babylon Five was all about.
Made by the people who put together Babylon Five, it is about a plague that has doomed humans living on earth if a cure cannot be found somewhere out there in space. A space craft has been assigned the task to search for this cure.
19. Half Way Across the Galaxy and Turn Left
School can be tough but if you're an alien from another world it can be real rough. The is Australian children's SF with a sense of humor.
20. Marine Boy
Japanese animation set in the future with futuristic submarines and undersea monsters. Marine boy, the main character, takes a pill in order to breathe under the sea and has a futuristic boomerang as a weapon.
21. Outer Limits
One of the best anthology style SF/Horror programs ever put on television. Each episode was a new story based mainly on SF concepts. Do not adjust your television set. We are in control.
22. Twilight Zone
This was an anthology type show that often had science fiction. The original version of this show is the best. The remake suffered from the use of too much soft focus lens work.
23. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
This was American SF about a super submarine. Made in the 1960s there's some Cold war action in the early episodes. It ran to four seasons.
24. Stargate SG-1
This is fantastic SF in anyone's book. The cast from the get go was perfect. Who wouldn't want to travel to new worlds? Mind you if it might involve having a snake like creature take over your body most of us would bow out.
25. Stargate Atlantis
This show in some ways turned out to be as good as if not better than Stargate SG1. People from earth stargate travel to the fabled city of Atlantis which happens to be in another galaxy.
So far this is the last of the television offshoots of Star Trek. It is about the first of the Star ships to go by the name Enterprise. In the final season we discover why Klingons look more human in the original Star Trek episodes than in, say, Star Trek the Next generation. Much underestimated and unfortunately not as appreciated as it should have been.
27. Gerry Anderson's Space Precinct
This is a British cop show set in the future with aliens running about. It features fast space vehicles, lots of explosions and other good stuff.
Another very good American SF show that went before her time. A space freighter on the run with its crew trying to get by and stay out of trouble going to and from the various terraformed worlds out there on the frontiers of human existence. No aliens to speak of here but that shouldn't put you off. Some enhanced humans and plenty of action.
29. Sea Quest DSV (Deep Sea Voyage)
This is the more modern version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Great special effects coupled with an exploration of computer science and the occasional green message that we really should take better care of our planet.
A war is lost, a space vessel and her captain are also presumed lost but return many years later to find the universe has changed but not for the better. Not your average dose of SF.
Well, that's my list. It could have been larger. Certainly all of the offshoots of Star Trek could have got more of a mention. I said 30, however, and stuck with that number. I hope you have enjoyed the read.
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