Televised science fiction has been with us since the original Star Trek heydays, and the offerings have been plentiful lately. With budgets no longer a concern, they have been taking us to faraway galaxies and into the heart of zombie apocalypses on a weekly basis. But the television battlefield is a vicious one and fantastic shows get left in the dust when they are outperformed by newer, shinier, more mainstream offerings. So, if you find yourself mildly exhausted by Rick Grimes’ shenanigans and bored by your umpteenth Battlestar Galactica binge, here are some amazing science fiction shows that absolutely deserve a closer look.
Coming to us from the creator of Battlestar, Helix first aired on Syfy back in January 2014. If you’re in the market for gripping storylines and wonderfully eccentric soundtracks, look no further. Set in an alternate present day, the show follows a team of scientists as they travel to a remote research facility to investigate a viral outbreak. Helix always keeps you on your toes, blending catchy music, scientific theory, and a rich atmosphere that can turn horrific on a dime.
Created by Simon Barry, Continuum is a more traditional science fiction entry set in 2077 that follows a conflict between terrorist group Liber8 and the corporations that now run the land. After a bombing, Liber8 escapes capture by traveling through time to 2012 where they aim to prevent their future from happening — by committing large, violent crimes. The show follows Kiera Cameron, a law enforcement officer who was dragged to the past with them as she works to stop their attacks and shape a better future. As is the case with most time travel, things get complicated (and so very messy) fast. Fans of futuristic technology will also get a kick out of the imagined technology and Fallout-inspired power suits.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, 87 years after nuclear war has wiped out all human life on Earth, The 100 follows a group of teenagers sent back to the planet’s surface as their space station’s life-support system begins to fail. It’s pure YA, yes, but very good YA. With their parents trapped in space, these improbably-attractive kids are forced to band together to survive the harsh climate — and fight off the various factions that have remained scattered on Earth since the nuclear war ended. The 100 is in many ways a YA rarity that perfectly tracks the evolution of its wide cast of characters. The show has only continued to improve with each season, and this year’s third season is looking to be the strongest one yet.
Created by the studio that brought us Ghost in the Shell, Psycho Pass is set in an authoritarian future dystopia where sensors scan the Psycho-Pass of every citizen in the city — accessing their mental state, personality, and the probability of each to commit a crime. The Sibyl System then alerts authorities when someone exceeds the accepted norm, at which point things occasionally get messy. If a citizen’s Psycho-Pass gets over a certain level, they are deemed a threat to society by the system and killed without question. Yes, Psycho Pass is an anime — have some smelling salts — but it’s a damn good one that touches on the reality of a machine-run civilization in ways that other shows do not. (See: the recent TV adaptation of Minority Report.) The English dub is also one of the best on the anime market, so if you’re not into reading subtitles and/or listening to Japanese, I highly recommend going that route.