Here’s my version of the top sci-fi shows, in contradistinction to our resident Penguatroll’s version. I have 19 shows in total, plus one bonus candidate here.
Before I get to my honorable mention, I want to start of with a quick list of sci-fi series that I have not seen. I do intend to see some of these shows, but obviously you won’t find them on my list.
- Star Trek (any version). I never really had any interest in this series or any spin-off.
- Battlestar Galactica. I liked the original version as a campy space version of Bonanza. I intend to see this version, but I’m putting it off because of how dark and depressing it is.
- The 4400. People apparently liked this show, although I remember a lot of people disliking it while it was on the air.
- Fringe. This is on my list of shows to watch, but pretty far down.
- Lost. Same as Fringe: never saw it, though maybe I will. Except for that last episode…
- Dr. Who. I’ve seen a couple episodes over the years but
- Twin Peaks. I may or may not get to this one.
- Supernatural. It seems interesting enough to add to my list of things to watch one of these years.
- The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. Bruce Campbell as a bounty hunter? Sign me up. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it.
- Blakes 7. This sounds like an excellent series, and influenced people like Joss Whedon and J. Michael Strazynski. Looks like I’ll need to dig this show up.
With those shows out of the way, let’s get to my “Don’t call it #20 because I didn’t rank it” show:
General idea: “Hey, you got time travel and a philosophical debate about determinism in my show about fighting leftist terrorism.”
Interesting because: The show is built around Alex Sadler’s development as a person, as well as the premise of “What if you could go back in time and send a message to a younger you?” Different characters have different motivations: some want to change the future, whereas our lead (Keira Cameron) wants the future to be the same so she can go back to her family. It’s also fun because of how hard it is to decide who to root for. I don’t mean that in the “Now he’s evil, now he’s good, now he’s evil again” sense, but rather that each individual person has his own interests and there hasn’t been a solid nexus of interests built up yet, so you see different people teaming up in different ways. Also, it’s interesting how many of the problems happen specifically because of Keira’s direct actions. Unlike your classic episodic series in which the good guys triumph and each show is essentially a return to the norm, you see the consequences of peoples’ actions. Keira behaving in a particular manner makes sense for her character in the heat of the moment but can lead to consequences that she doesn’t foresee. It’s refreshing watching a show in this format pull this trick off.
Annoying because: Time travel plots are difficult at best; making a show about time travel is a huge risk because time travel is the ultimate deus ex machina. Let everyone die—we’ll just bring them back in a later episode! It’s paid off so far, but mostly because there hasn’t been much actual time travel after the first episode. The final episode of season 2 looks to change this.
Why is it not on the list? Because it’s only been two seasons and the show is still on the air. Given the way they went at the end of season 2, this show could jump up into my top 15 pretty quickly or it could collapse under the weight of time travel.