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Three Unexpected Sources for Sci Fi on TV

Updated on January 3, 2015

Zachary Quinto

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Bored? Want some good stuff to watch?

If you're like me, you've probably already exhausted most of the obvious science fiction selections out there on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. You may have even given some of the network shows a go ("Intelligence" and "Almost Human" are certainly worth checking out, FYI). After a while, though, you sort of run out of stuff to watch. What to do?

Here are three surprisingly good science fiction TV series, all of which have multiple seasons to watch (and who doesn't love a great sci-fi binge watching session?), and all of which are well worth watching. I'll explain why I think you'll enjoy them and what aspects I enjoyed the most about the show. There are certainly some diamonds in the rough out there if you know where to start looking.

Heroes

Let me start by saying that if you only watch the first season of Heroes, you're not necessarily going to be missing much. By the end of the 3rd season, there was some sort of writer's strike, and it was painfully obvious that the writing was suffering... badly. But season 1 is nothing short of great sci-fi (arguably fantasy) television. The characters are essentially like Marvel X-men superheroes; with some folks being able to regenerate themselves like Wolverine (with a somewhat interesting, if limited to the lowest common denominator, scientific discussion of the biological aspects of regeneration); some being like Rogue, able to absorb powers from other superheroes; one who is like Mystique, with the ability to look just like another character; one who is able to morph through walls like Nightcrawler. All in all, the effects and presentation are awesome with these heroes, and the stars (especially Zachary Quinto) are good picks for the roles they play.

At the heart of it all is HRG (Horn Rimmed Glasses) and the Agency (definitely with a capital A) that seeks to limit or otherwise control the "heroes" we get to know. It's not entirely clear who owns or runs the Agency, or whether there is some good involved or only bad, but the plot unfolds pretty nicely as an arch-villain (Syler, played notably by Quinto in a relatively early, pre-American Horror Story role) starts to really shake things up, on a murderous rampage, taking out the Heroes one at a time via head slice.

Jim Caviezel: he's not just Jesus any more

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Person of Interest

I don't want to spoil too much of this show for you, except to say two things:

  1. Jim Caviezel, while a critically acclaimed actor, isn't really the star of this TV series, and it isn't really about him beating up people and/or killing them (or blowing out their kneecaps!) as much as it is about the bigger picture
  2. Artificial intelligence plays an enormous role in the show that is only made more evident toward the end of the first season, and boy is it ever worth the wait

If you're a huge fan of accelerating technology, as I clearly am, you won't want to miss "Person of Interest." The great thing is that you can catch episodes on CBS's website for free.

Fans of the technological singularity, avid readers of Ray Kurzweil, or just general fans of good present day or very-near-future science fiction, give this show a shot and understand that there's a lot more to it than just the action story (which is significant and fun, by the way).

Orphan Black

This is a show that took me by surprise, not because it's well written near-future science fiction, but because the acting in it is really terrific. I did not expect that at all going in.

Orphan Black is most definitely some of the best sci-fi currently on TV. The big idea has to do with cloning, which, given the current political and scientific climate, is about to be an enormous ethical issue. The characters in the show are all extremely evolved and well thought out, and you actually look forward to finding out what happens to them from episode to episode, something that is often sorely missing in today's sci-fi on TV.

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