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/
Stargate SG-1, I loved that show 😀
I haven’t dared watch Game of Thrones, so worried if they hurt animals in it! (I know, it’s just fake, but still!).
I’ve heard great things about SG-1, I’ve been meaning to check that one out!
And I’m pretty sure they treat animals better than people on Game of Thrones. ;D
Awesome post. The 2004 BSG is my favorite TV show of all time–I *still* get verklempt if I think about the final episode of the series (I enjoyed the mystical elements that came into the later seasons). A close second on my list of top TV series of any genre, but which also happens to be scifi, is Firefly. The writing alone was brilliant–Shakespearean in its beauty and depth. Of recent series with a speculative bent, my favorite is Penny Dreadful. The writing and performances were deep and subtle and brilliant.
I confess: I watch A LOT of TV.
The only reason I didn’t select Firefly is because (and I hate to admit this) there were a couple of episodes I didn’t actually care for. Even then, I would have loved for the series to continue — it had such potential, and I wonder what directions it might have gone.
I have yet to check out Penny Dreadful. I have no excuse, because Eva Green is awesome. I’ll add it to my list. ;D
Usually you can count on Eva Green to be an over the top wild woman (in a good way), but she digs deep into her humanity and presents a lovely, sorrowful, remorseful character in Penny Dreadful. She’s magnificent in it.
I mostly liked Camelot, which Green starred in with Joseph Fiennes, but it came out the same time as the first GOT season and suffered deeply by comparison.
Reblogged this on AM Justice Journeys Through Time and commented:
I love this walk through the TV guide by Steven Montano. What’s your favorite scifi or fantasy show?
Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
Looking for shows in the spec genres? Here’s some show you should watch and why – re-blogging on Archer’s Aim!