It is no secret that science fiction occupies a very special place in my heart. I believe my moniker alone is a dead give away after all. I’ve discovered Star Trek at the tender age of six, and to this day it remains my favourite genre bar none. Although Geek culture in general has gained in popularity the last decade or so, it is still too often the object of derision and ridicule. While superheroes, aliens, and monsters a la Godzilla, is what comes to the mind of the uninitiated when science fiction is mentioned, I would be remiss if I didn’t reiterate that this is in fact a very simplistic way of looking at a genre that possess the ability to examine the human condition with perspicacity and great creativity. While science fiction has been a constant fixture in TV land, not all shows are unfortunately made equal. Here are 5 terrific science fiction shows everybody should see.
5) Blake 7
Blake 7 is one of those shows that ages well and always manages to remain relevant. With themes such as totalitarianism, freedom struggles, and ethics, this show gives science fiction fans a story that has many parallels with our current political climate. This is the story of a ragtag bunch of misfits fighting an authoritarian regime where political dissidence means death. Don’t let the lack of modern special effects stop you from checking out this wonderful series.
Oh, and the ending. Dear God, that ending…
What would you do if you suddenly found yourself flung across the universe to parts unknown? Well, if you’re anything like our intrepid John Crichton, you would immediately get embroiled in an interstellar conflict of epic proportions. And that is pretty much the premise of this amazing, crazy, show. Add to it some cool aliens, sentients ships, ornery emperors, and star-crossed lovers who give Romeo and Juliet a run for their money. Farscape is by far one of my all time favourite science fiction show, and I still weep uncontrollably every time I watch that hot diggity dang series finale.
Bonus points: Although the show was prematurely cancelled (thank you Sci-Fi Channel said nobody ever), Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars was produced later on to to wrap up the cliffhanger of the last season.
3) Battlestar Galactica (2004 Remake)
While the original Battlestar Galactica aired in 1978 with an unmistakable 70’s flair, the reboot elevated the series to new heights. Although the main premise remained the same in both iterations of the show—the last surviving humans fleeing through space after a robot-led genocide, in search of Earth—the remake took great strides in addressing politics, theology, and space wars seriously and realistically. Often said to be dark, BSG examined the aftermath of civilizational collapse….and the rise of fat Apollo.
Although let’s be honest, I would watch fat Apollo all day long, 24/7. That man is my spirit animal 🙂
2) Babylon 5
Set in a space station located in the Epsilon Eridani star system, Babylon 5 is the fifth of the Babylon stations. The first three were destroyed by terrorists and the fourth mysteriously disappeared before coming online. Babylon 5 rapidly becomes the theatre of negotiations, political assassinations, interspecies romance, and galactic wars. While the plot can be somewhat difficult to summarize, without some major spoilers, one can say with confidence that the show marked a turning point for all space operas on TV. Babylon 5 brought long-form storytelling, complex characters, mythology, and social commentary to science fiction on the silver screen.
Jerry Doyle who played the implacable Mr. Garibaldi in the show, passed away yesterday at the age of 60. He will be sorely missed by all the fans of Babylon 5, myself included.
1) Star Trek Deep Space Nine
Much like Babylon 5, this show is also set in a space station. Deep Space Nine was definitely the most mature and complex show in the Star Trek franchise, and was groundbreaking in many ways. Not only did it featured Star Trek’s first African American captain as the lead, but it also managed to tackle difficult topics rarely touched on in the rest of the franchise with themes such as politics, genocide, terrorism, bigotry, and racism.
As a friend of mine once put it, if Star Trek The Next Generation resembles a cleverly concocted propaganda by The Federation, DS9 is more likely to be the real depiction of life in the Milky Way.