Science fiction holds a special place in my heart. It fires up the imagination and gives you a glimpse into what is possible, whether it’s exploring new planets and species or even exploring new technology. In the future, anything goes. I’ve read a lot of great books and I’ve seen a lot of movies, but they all end so quickly. What I love about watching Sci-Fi shows is that you get to revisit each universe week after week for years at a time. There’s something to be said about seeing the future unfold on TV or even on the big screen that just excites the nerd in me. So without further ado, here are my Top 5 must-see Sci-Fi shows.
My cousin introduced me to my first science fiction TV show, Star Trek Voyager. I had seen others before, but what stands out about this show was that it was the first show that I followed since its inception to its series finale. It was genuinely exciting for me and it was a kind of excitement I had not felt up to that point in my life as far as TV shows were concerned. The premise of this show was that the Starship Voyager and her crew were somehow thrown to the other side of the galaxy and they had to make the journey back to Earth. This journey was calculated to take them 70 years. For me, I always watched each show with the hope that somehow they would get a little closer to home. And let’s not forget how Captain Janeway was one of only two captains who outsmarted the Borg, and on multiple occasions.
There’s something charming about a story that is about a well-versed time traveler who always manages to pick up people with mundane normal lives and turn them upside down with some wild adventure. No matter where he ends up in his finicky and temperamental time machine, there’s always a mystery to be solved or a civilization to be saved.
This show doesn’t front itself as being a hardcore, science fiction masterpiece. In fact, most of the issues that the show tries to overcome address issues of humanity that can only be solved by making moral choices. The “science fiction” in all this is handled by the doctor. Convenient, right? For those of you who can overlook the fact that the show sometimes seems to ignore science all together, at least as far as we know, this is the show for you. Neil Gaiman, a renown writer of several fantasy books and comics, and one who has penned two of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, said it best. “Doctor Who has never pretended to be hard science fiction… At best, Doctor Who is a fairytale, with fairytale logic about a wonderful man in his big blue box who at the beginning of every story lands somewhere there is a problem.”
Of all the Star Trek series and iterations, I liked this one the best for several reasons. For one, although this happened more towards the end of the series, there were huge space battles. You’ll never see something as amazing as Klingon Birds of Prey, Romulan War Birds, and Starfleet ships all on one screen slugging it out.
Second, Deep Space Nine’s story line had a darker tone than the other incarnations of the franchise. This show explores conflicts between politics, religion, ideology, species, etc…all through their characters. The Original Series and The Next Generation would have you believe that everyone in the Federation was a straight arrow who almost always made the right choice in the end. Deep Space Nine on the other hand, really tested each character in their beliefs and their convictions. Just watch this video to see what Captain Benjamin Sisko is willing to sacrifice in order to save the Federation.
Third, there was a certain level of continuity to each story line. Past episodes had a profound effect on the characters, the world, and even the Federation in subsequent ones. This became increasingly apparent during the Dominion War. For example, if one young ensign got shot in the leg, the subsequent episodes would explore how that character dealt with death and his post-traumatic stress.
This show had everything I loved about a science fiction masterpiece and then some. It had very interesting characters who you can love, hate and then love again, cutting edge visuals that showed some of the best space battles I’ve ever seen, and engaging story plots with enough twists to keep you on the edge of your seat up until the very end.
Battlestar Galactica is set in the future where humans are nearly annihilated by androids that they themselves have created. Roughly 40,000 out of the billions of humans have survived, all of whom are protected by only one obsolete battleship, Galactica, and they are on the run from the androids in search of a new home. You will see friends and family backstabbing each other, enemies forming alliances, leaders lying to the people just to maintain order, and when that doesn’t work, they use force to push people into compliance. It’s non-stop drama from day one. It is probably one of the smartest and well-written science fictions shows of all time.
Firefly holds a special place in my heart. While it only lasted one season, it had the most memorable moments of any Sci-Fi show I’ve ever seen. Plus it was written and created by Joss Whedon, so you it isn’t going to suck.
Firefly features an amazing cast of characters who are trying to survive on a small spaceship. They’re always low on money, the ship is always breaking down, and they try their best to avoid any sort of entanglement with the law. First, the Captain and his second-in-command both fought in a war where their side lost. Second, there’s Simon, a young prodigy who gave up his career as a brilliant doctor to save his sister, who is supposedly even smarter than him, from the government and whatever strange experiments they were running on her. There’s Jane Cobb, a mercenary who just enjoys breaking the law, making lots of money, and getting into bar fights. One of my favorite episodes involved Jane touching down on a planet where the people considered him a folk hero, even though as a viewer, you know he’s anything but. You have Kaylee, a young, gifted mechanic who is the only one on the ship that can keep it flying, and Shepherd Book, a priest who seems to know more than a priest should about the inner workings of even the highest level of government. Finally, you have Inara, who is pretty much the future version of a geisha.
It’s amazing how in only 14 episodes, you can come to love each character and hate Fox (the network) for cancelling another good show just because they messed up on the scheduling.
Sidebar: I know this list is short. There are a great number of shows that I have either not seen or have not seen enough of yet to make a proper review. X-Files comes to mind. I just started watching it, sad to say. Come join me and list some of your favorites and let us know what your favorites are!