My Top 10 Favorite Sci-Fi TV Shows


Wikipedia calls Science Fiction: “a genre of fiction dealing with imaginative content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life.”

Today, I am thrilled at the full swing technology’s tentacles have swung and reached into mainstream television with well-produced, well-acted and well-written televisions series themed around zombies, robots, deadly viruses, paranormal activity, time travel and sixth senses gone cray cray.

As a technology geek and a TV junkie, I thought it was time to spread the word on my favorite sci-fi shows.

1. Black Mirror

black mirrorBlack Mirror was a UK series that truly blended today’s technology into mind-blowing stories that literally made me watch with my mouth hanging open, wondering what was going to happen next. It caused a serious case of binge watching, via Netflix, but it’s not for everyone. It’s The Twilight Zone on ecstasy and it will get you thinking about a lot of intriguing ideas and subjects. Now Netflix is in motion to produce a few more episodes of this provocative series.


2. The X-Files

x filesThe X-Files is an iconic sci-fi series that laid the ground work for many similar shows later, including Fringe and Sleepy Hollow, which both try to duplicate the chemistry of the sleuthing duo of Mulder and Scully. For me, it was tantalizing – I collected fan paraphernalia, went to the X-Files convention in NYC, and didn’t go anywhere on Friday nights.  Now it’s back for a short run on Fox with original shows in January and you can be sure X-Files fans everywhere will be glued to the TV for this long awaited event. Yep, it’s been 20 years and I’m still hooked.

3. Heroes

heroesHeroes is one of the few series based on comic book characters that I really fell in love with. Sure, the characters were too numerous, the plot lines got crazy and eventually they cancelled the show. Still, I watched it religiously when it was on and now NBC is pushing Heroes Reborn to see if it can recapture the fans’ love for the super humans who duked it out all over the planet in battles of good vs. evil – the new fashioned way.

4. Extant


extantExtant is a Halle Berry fueled series which features sassy unlikeable robots, glowing eyes that tend to do some damage to those in a staring contest, and an alien invasion on Earth.  Who woulda thunk that Halle Berry would save the day here? For me, this show is somewhat inconsistent, but it does pull you in more frequently than not. We’ve seen this story before and continue to do so in the slew of sci-fi series now on TV, but Berry and her current pal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan aren’t bad eye candy and the show does deliver on most levels. It’ll be back next season.

5. Mr. Robot

mr robotMr. Robot is primarily about hackers and revolution. If you dug V for Vendetta, this show will exceed expectations. That said, I did fall into it a few episodes late and it took me a while to figure out what the heck was going on. Sometimes, I just watched the show for the complete weirdness of it and being totally hypnotized by the performance of the lead character played by Rami Malek. I intend to re-watch the series from the beginning soon. This show can be scary thanks to the reality of current events. Mostly it is DARK and creepy and right up my alley.

6. Sleepy Hollow

sleepy hollowSleepy Hollow is my guilty pleasure. When I first watched it I thought, this isn’t going to make another season. How can you possibly recreate the Sleepy Hollow tale and bring it into the 21st century? I’d already said ICK to Once Upon a Time and similar shows; Sleepy Hollow managed to surprise me. The creators figured out a great formula: good writing + good looking and very capable actors + some awesome tweetable one-liners + an honest to God Ichabod Crane character (for a long time in his original duds!) = delightful fun. I’m looking forward to its return.

7. The Strain

the strainWho could possibly resist a series from renowned fantasy and horror film director Guillermo Del Toro? I sure couldn’t. The Strain is an unpredictable, campy, creepy, slimy, fright fest of vampires, vampire killers, truly unlucky victims, master evil-doers, and Fortune 500 henchmen. Oh yeah, it’s got everything. I personally tweet the most about this show; it’s basically about a really bad virus, but the characters and plots lines are just wacky enough to keep me coming back for more. It also has a few gory moments, so tread lightly here if you’re the queasy type.

8. Humans

humansHumans is more robotic fare, and I think it’s a tad better than Extant. It’s quieter, spookier and you have to pay attention. I’m really thrilled they brought William Hurt back into the fold for this one, but all the actors are good. Once again, the bots or synths as they’re called here, have a little too much human dna in them and gosh, doesn’t that just cause robots to go awry every time? Watch it from the beginning. It’s yet another gem in AMC’s bucket of gold.

9. Orphan Black

orphan blackThink you know weird and complicated TV shows? Check out this doozy from BBC America. This one’s about conspiracy, clones and having to uncover just about everything from scratch to figure out what’s going on. It’ll have your head spinning, but it feels fresh to me and Tatiana Maslany’s performance is perfect. At times I simply cannot understand that British accent, but if you’re used to it, you’ll become immersed in this seriously sci-fi offering.

10. The IT Crowd

it crowdThis show is simply one of the most hilarious shows I’ve ever seen. It’s not in the sci-fi category, but I’m always turning techno geeks onto it because even after I binge watched the four seasons it lasted, I still laughed when I watched it again a few weeks later. It’s about two computer technicians stuck in the basement of their company’s building and managed by a woman who knows nothing about IT. Now there are rumors of it being remade in the US, but I think they’ll be hard put to find the right combination of actors and that super cheeky humor the brits are known for. It’s a classic.

 

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About the Author

Karen Homan

Karen is a 14 year veteran at an upstate New York college where she writes and edits end-user documentation to educate faculty and staff in computer software. She has been involved with software training for over 17 years, is experienced in producing training videos, blogs about technology, and creates instructional material for her day job. One of her passions is figuring things out. Her favorite motto is IBM’s old one word slogan: THINK.

6 Comments

  1. Hello Karen. I glad you wrote “My Top 10 Favorite Sci-Fi TV Shows”, because we all have Sci-Fi favourites. I’ll just add to your list, four older Sci-Fi shows. Dr. Who, Star Trek (there are several), Torchwood and Firefly, Mindblower!

  2. Hey Mindblower:

    I have to say I should probably give Dr. Who a second try, it wasn’t really my taste the first time out. The original Star Trek, on the other hand, will always be my favorite of the series. I grew up with it. I can also really date myself and say, Lost in Space was one helluva show back in the day before special effects really took over.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Some great shows in there Karen. I really like Humans, the acting by those playing the humanoid robots is brilliant, totally believable. Also love Extant, it has developed into a very good sci-fi show and, as you say, the eye candy ain’t bad either. 🙂

    Never heard of Black Mirror but your synopsis intrigued me. However, I was unable to locate the series on Netflix (in Australia) – our service being rather underdone compared to the US. Hopefully, it will appear on Netflix Oz at some time.

  4. Oh, yes! ‘Black Mirror’ is very worthwhile and thanks for the tip off about more episodes. I watched ‘X files ‘ from the beginning and rarely missed an episode for the entire run. As to ‘Mr Robot’, you really NEED to see it in sequence as you really won’t understand or rather will misunderstand something that is crucial. I am uncertain as to it being SF but gosh darn what a show! Intense and intricate. A keeper.

  5. I too miss the X-Files. I’m usually not big in sci-fi, but the chemistry between the main characters kept me hooked. I’m definitely looking forward to January!

  6. Long, long ago, in a galaxy not far away… there was something known as radio.

    Countdown for blastoff… X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one…
    Fire!

    [Rocket launch SFX]

    From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new
    dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future;
    adventures in which you’ll live in a million could-be years on a thousand
    may-be worlds.

    The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Galaxy Science
    Fiction Magazine, presents…

    X — MINUS — ONE.

    X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 (in various time slots) on NBC, and holds the record for the longest-running Sci-Fi radio series ever produced. The program opened with announcer Fred Collins delivering the countdown, leading into the introduction, above.

    Initially the successor of NBC’s Dimension X (1950-51), X Minus One is widely considered among the finest science fiction dramas ever produced for radio. The first 15 episodes were new versions of Dimension X episodes, but the remainder were adaptations by NBC staff writers, in particular Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, of newly published science fiction stories by leading writers in the field, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon and Jack McKenty; Kinoy and Lefferts also contributed original stories.

    Episodes of the show include adaptations of Robert Sheckley’s “Skulking Permit,” Bradbury’s “Mars Is Heaven,” Heinlein’s “Universe” and “The Green Hills of Earth”, ” Pohl’s “The Tunnel Under the World,” Fritz Leiber’s “A Pail of Air,” Lefferts’ “The Parade” and McKenty’s “A Thousand Dollars A Plate.”

    X Minus One was an amazing series with solid acting, writing that could be poignant or humorous as needed, fully-developed story-lines and engaging sound effects. There were some poor episodes, to be sure, but many of the episodes were very, very good. Although the series showcased some of the best that Old Time Radio had to offer, it also illustrates how the networks destroyed the medium they sought to profit from. An essential element of storytelling is the suspension of disbelief. The storyteller draws the listener in, one step at a time, until the listener is actually inside the story. Breaking away from the narrative for a commercial breaks the story. As television started to gain market share, the only viable option for radio drama was to reaffirm the storytelling experience by abandoning commercial interruptions. Instead, radio executives did just the opposite, expanding the intrusion of commercials and breaking the stories into smaller and smaller pieces until hardly anything was left. Until near the end of its run, X Minus One is an example of this: strip them of their opening and closing credits and you are left with 26 minutes of continuous and solid storytelling.

    Single episodes can be found at the Internet Archive (a veritable treasure trove of various media):
    https://archive.org/details/OTRR_X_Minus_One_Singles (the full run of Dimension X is also available there: https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Dimension_X_Singles ).

    Those who enjoy “The Theater of the MInd” will doubtless discover other classic radio series, including (but by no means limited to) Suspense, Escape, Mercury Theater of the Air (which brought H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” to CBS on Halloween night in 1938, causing near-panic in parts of the Northeast) and Lux Radio Theater.