5 Sci-Fi Shows to (Re)WatchOnce the cold weather returns to my neck of the woods, I like to cuddle up with a blanket watch and science fiction. There’s something about the dark evening that sends my mind to a dreamy, speculative place.
While I’m always on the lookout for new shows, books, and movies, sometimes it’s nice to revisit old favorites. To kick things off, here are my picks for sci-fi shows to re-watch (or check out for the first time) this season.
Starring the incredible Tatiana Maslany in more than 14 different roles, this BBC America series is one of the best ongoing series around.
The plot revolves around Sarah Manning, a troubled British woman who wants to make amends with her daughter and adopted family. While waiting for the subway she encounters a crying woman who looks exactly like her. Before Sarah can confront her, the mysterious twin throws herself in front of an oncoming train. Sarah gets more than she bargained for when decides to assume the dead woman’s identity. The truth is that they are clones, and there are a lot more of them. As she is wound deeper into the mystery, Sarah must struggle to keep herself, her family, and her new-found sisters safe.
This near-future science fiction show has so much going for it that I don’t know where to start. The writing is superb, the characters talk like real people, and although the plot is complex, it’s always presented clearly. More than anything, the writers have an excellent understanding of voice, and they use it to full effect. Every character is three-dimensional, which is very important when you have one actor playing so many different roles.
But the real reason this show works is the incredible performances by Maslany. Her intricate, unique performances as the shows five main characters is jaw-dropping. Rarely do you see an actor with such talent and even more rarely does an actor get to display that talent in such diverse ways.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The third installment in this long-standing franchise is often overlooked, but very worthy of a re-watch. DS9 is different from its predecessors in many ways, but the biggest is that it takes place on a space station as opposed to a starship. This stationary position makes the exploration aspect Trekkies have come to know and love a different experience. Instead of seeking out new life and new civilizations, DS9 studies the evolution of society, personal identity, and the impact of conflict.
This show is the only one in the series to feature a person of color as the Captain/Commander. Benjamin Sisko is an excellent leader filled with wisdom and curiosity. He is a loving father to his son and a compassionate leader to his crew. He is a fully fledged character unattached to stereotype. He leads his crew through a series of adventures and through what eventually evolves into a larger story about a society in the middle of a war.
Another significant aspect to the series comes in its exploration of gender through the alien species the Trill. The Trill are a symbiont species that live inside a humanoid host. When the humanoid host dies, the Trill moves to a new host, carrying the memories of the deceased along with them. Thus, after hosting a Trill, the humanoid’s memories live as long as the Trill does.
Trill’s are not gender specific and are not concerned with the gender of their host. This means that their romantic relationships are not based in the gender concepts of the 20th and 21st century, but are based in compatibility and shared experience.
Science fiction, at its best, reflects the larger societal concepts of the day. DS9’s use of the Trills to point to a greater acceptance of gender nonconformity is just as powerful today as it was when it first aired.
This epic space opera is based on the book series of the same name by James S. A. Corey (pseudonym for co-writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck).
Two hundred years in earth’s future, humanity has spread out through the solar system with colonies on Mars and the asteroid belt. A group of ice haulers accidently ignite a war when they stumble upon an abandoned vessel in outer space.
If you like your science fiction on a grand scale, look no further than The Expanse. Giant armies, loveable underdogs, and an imaginative world where space travel is grounded in the science of the day are all on the table in this unique series.
I love when science fiction writers work to make their stories believable, and the ideas in The Expanse feel grounded in a reality that I’m familiar with. That grounded quality gives the show a base that makes the more fantastical elements feel realistic.
Although I’m a bigger fan of the book series, Syfy Channel’s take on this ongoing series is great way to keep yourself entertained while you wait for the next book to come out.
And now for a show that needs no introduction. Doctor Who is a no-brainer for any fan of science fiction, but it seems especially right to watch leading up to the holidays. There’s something festive about this magical show that falls right in line with end-of-year celebrations.
It’s hard to believe that the classic BBC show has been back on the air for over ten years now. We’ve seen four actors pick up the sonic screwdriver, and I’m curious to see where the show goes next.
My favorite thing about Doctor Who is the endless flights of imagination. The ability to travel through all of time and space at the drop of the hat makes the show a constantly shifting experience that tends to be a crowd-pleaser. Don’t like a particular storyline? Don’t worry, there will be plenty of stand-alone episodes that will bring all of the timey wimey goodness flowing.
Although re-watching the entire series seems a bit daunting, I plan to at least watch my top ten favorite episodes this winter. What are my top ten favs? Ooo…well doesn’t that sound like a good idea for a future blog post?
Summer’s biggest hit was this little Netflix show-that-could. A blend of 80s inspirations, this sci-fi thriller follows a group of kids as they search for their missing friend who is lost in a terrifying other-world called the “Upside Down.” Along the way they meet a mysterious girl named Eleven who uses her special powers to help them and to defeat the terrifying monster that’s stalking their town.
If you liked E.T., The Goonies, or even The Little Shop of Horrors, then Stranger Things is right up your alley. You’ll see hints big and small of all of these classics dropped throughout each episode. For example, check out protagonist Mike’s bedroom blinds; remind you of anything?
One of the more interesting things about this show was the choice to use age-appropriate actors. This was something that was done more regularly in decades past, but has slowly fallen out of fashion in modern times. Watching real kids and teenagers in these scenes was a refreshing change of pace from the norm.
The story, though not reinventing the wheel, is unique enough that it balances the more obvious references to earlier works. The idea of a dangerous world that people can accidentally disappear into will always appeal to my spookier side, while the heartwarming message “friendship can conquer all” will never go out of fashion.
Season two is already in the works, so make sure you re-watch this one before a whole new batch of episodes is delivered to your door.
Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favorite sci-fi shows? Which classics do you think have ultimate re-watchability? I’d love to know!