Ok. I’ve spent the past couple of posts harping on about cheesy fantasy movies you should avoid…but what about some stuff you should watch?
Rather than movies, I’m going to switch to television here, and broaden the discussion to include science-fiction (because, let’s face it, there’s a hell of a lot more sci-fi than there is epic fantasy out there in TV land).
Here’s a brief list of some good stuff on TV that, in my opinion, every fan of sci-fi or fantasy should be checking out (not all of it current).
I’m not always a fan of urban fantasy/horror, but Supernatural does it right. For 10 Seasons now the Brothers Winchester have been chasing ghosts, ghouls, vampires, demons, and all sorts of other stuff that goes bump in the night, and the results are often scary, at times funny, and always entertaining. Some may argue the show has started to wear thin (as one could argue for any show entering its monstrous tenth season), but you could do worse than check out this series from the beginning and watch the low-key, creative, and engaging manner in which each week’s plot plays out.
Arguments can be made for the original 1978 series, which I remember watching quite a bit when I was younger, but in this case I’m referring to the brilliant 2004 re-imagining. Dark, brooding, at times downright disturbing, Battlestar chronicles the voyage of the survivors of the Twelve Colonies as they struggle to escape the grasp of the robotic Cylons, an artificial race that seems hell-bent on replacing humankind and evolving to a near divine state. There’s no question the series gets a little strange the longer it goes, but for the first three seasons its brilliant military sci-fi entertainment.
Game of Thrones
Not only an epic fantasy show, but the epic fantasy show. A brilliant re-telling of George R.R. Martin’s best-selling novels of the noble houses of Westeros and their struggle for power, Game of Thrones manages the extremely difficult task of telling a very multi-layered story with an immense cast of characters without losing track of any of the important events of the books or shortchanging any of the plot lines. The show is well cast, beautifully filmed and expertly paced. While Game of Thrones does suffer from a bit of excess (it often feels like they’re struggling to insert sex scenes when none are really called for), it’s still one of the best damn shows on TV.
You thought I’d say Dr. Who, didn’t you? Well, no offense to Whovians, but I’ve always preferred Torchwood, the Dr. Who spin-off which focuses on a U.K. based organization responsible for battling alien threats to Terra Firma, some of which can be quite horrifying. Torchwood isn’t quite as tightly written as Dr. Who, but the characters are engaging, the plots are original and the show is irreverent and sometimes quite dark. And I always enjoy watching Captain Jack Harkness, one of the more intriguing TV heroes in many years.
Deep Space 9
You could probably pick any of the Star Trek series – I actually prefer the characters in Enterprise, while my favorite overall Trek series is Voyager – but from a writer’s standpoint you have to appreciate what they did with this one. Deep Space Nine has an inevitable direction, and while the show isn’t consumed by the overriding plot of the war against the shadowy coalition known as the Dominion, the writers plant the seeds for that eventual conflict early and often, and the show does a wonderful job of conveying a subtle sense of dread as the countdown to the conflict grows shorter and shorter. Throw in the usual nicely layered social commentary and some truly remarkable stories and it’s easy to see why DS9 quickly became a favorite among the fans.
I’m only scratching the surface here: what fantasy/sci-fi shows do you recommend, and why?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
It’s been well-established Steven Montano watches way too much TV. If only he spent as much time writing as…wait, his third book of 2014, The Black Tower, is coming out next month? OK, never mind.
Learn more at http://steven-montano.com/