Faith D’Isa ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Staff
The holidays are approaching, and the first thing everyone needs during this period of free time and relaxation is a really good television show…or two…or ten. Here’s a list of this writer’s top ten sci-fi and fantasy shows to watch on Netflix to occupy your time.
Heroes is more often than not known for its superb start and…more lackluster finish. But although the show itself diminished in quality over the years, the general premise for Heroes is what all shows aim to be, having a strong ensemble cast of characters who existed not only in their own universes, but also in the universe of the program. All four seasons are on Netflix for you to watch through if you’re interested in a world of superhumans outside the typical Marvel and DC universes. Also, Zachary Quinto. What more could you want?
BONUS: They’re releasing a season five by form of comic book, which has a few original fans of the series hopeful that the quality can get back to where it began.
9. The Twilight Zone (The Original Series)
It’s a classic. Growing up, whether you’d seen the show or not, every kid was absolutely terrified by the theme song from The Twilight Zone. Not only did it manage to scare the pants off of a number of generations, but the show also found a way to be one of the first programs to bring a subtle political influence into its messages, making the episodes that much more scary. Only the first two seasons of the episodic original series are on Netflix, but that’s more than enough to wet your appetite for the fifth dimension.
BONUS: Once you’ve finished the two seasons on Netflix, there’s still another three seasons from the original series, and a couple of questionable reboots all in the same vein as the original.
The biggest issue with Once Upon a Time right now (or maybe its biggest benefit) is that it’s a show still running on television. The first two seasons of this twist on fantasy, written by the creators of Lost, are available for you to watch on Netflix, as the third airs. Though critics give Once varying reviews, the show has an ingenuity in its twist on fairytales viewers already find familiar. Because parent company ABC is also owned and run by Disney, they have the capability to write Disney characters with a creative license, allowing for an original universe and story like no other, with an ensemble cast of characters who you think you know.
BONUS: Currently airing is the more lukewarm received spin-off of the show, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland. Watch at your own discretion.
Merlin; the show that went too soon, according to the fans. A BBC program that was a creative take on the King Arthur legends, focusing on the young warlock when he first meets Arthur as a stuck-up prince, Merlin quickly gained a large fan following. And though many claim that, at five seasons, it died before its prime, many are thankful that the quality of storytelling and acting in the show didn’t diminish. Merlin for all five seasons was an honest and clever take on the familiar story, lead by an extraordinary cast of actors who made the series finale a spectacular epic that wrapped up loose ends and had everyone questions where the “family show” they’d started with on season one had gone.
BONUS: Nothing. Absolutely nothing except the fact that, once you’ve finished, you’ve quite literally seen it all. The story’s done. (Can you tell this writer’s just a bit upset and is quietly awaiting her spinoff?)
The remarkable thing about Torchwood is that it’s a spin-off. A spin-off of a highly successful program with a legacy, at that. And yet, somehow, this show about a team in Cardiff, Wales who hunt aliens lead by an immortal omnisexual from the 51st century (take it all in) manages to create its own niche. That’s what creator Russel T. Davies hoped for, intending to make Torchwood much more adult than its source material, Doctor Who. While Doctor Who is a family show, Torchwood is to be played after-hours. View discretion is most certainly advised. The first three seasons are on Netflix, but you’ll have to go searching for the fourth season, known as Torchwood: Miracle Day, because it was produced in cooperation with Starz.
BONUS: Not completely sure if you can call Miracle Day a bonus, but there’s definitely Doctor Who. We’ll be getting to that later.
What’s not to love about Buffy? Joss Whedon blessed the world with the ultimate in 90’s fantasy, simultaneously creating a badass team of vampires and hunters and one of the most relatable group of teenagers television’s ever seen. Not only did Buffy and friends deal with creatures of the underworld, but also the typical issues of being young. Somehow, the slayer seemed to be the most important girl of her generation, and every girl in her generation, and that’s part of what made it all brilliant. Plus, a number of familiar faces made some of their first ventures here, ranging from Bones’ David Boreanaz to How I Met Your Mother’s Alyson Hannigan. All seven seasons of Buffy are on Netflix for your viewing pleasure; both a blast from the past and a new love for many.
BONUS: The story doesn’t end where the television show did! A highly successful comic book series continues the adventures of Buffy and friends. And wait! That’s not all! There’s also a highly acclaimed spin-off (starring Boreanaz) called Angel–also on Netflix.
Supernatural is a different kind of a fantasy show. Somehow, this show manages to combine the typical fantasy creatures and tropes that the world is used to, like vampires, werewolves and demons, with a new twist. Creator Eric Kripke creates a detailed mythological and religious background to the show, adding in Norse gods, angels, and quite literally, nearly any mythical figure you can think of. Combining the spiritual and the fantastic seems difficult, but Supernatural manages with its tough plot points, peaking at the end of season five, and comedic moments that, more often than not, shatter the fourth wall beyond belief (just wait until “The French Mistake”). The eight complete seasons of Supernatural are on Netflix; you’ll never listen to Kansas’ “Carry On, Wayward Son” the same again.
BONUS: The show is still airing, having just completed the first half of season nine. There’s also a rumored spin-off for once the series has finished its run, which is looking closer and closer by the day.
Another Whedon work; is anyone surprised to see the show infamous for its premature death on here? The only detriment to Firefly is the fact that it came to its end so quickly, not even a season into a planned seven-year run. Though the concept of space cowboys sounds more than a little far-fetched, Whedon and his team created one of the most beloved crews of all time onboard the Serenity, lead by iconic Nathan Fillion’s Mal. To its credit, Firefly manages to develop every character in an extraordinary way in the small timespan it had, forcing you to fall in love with the ragtag crew and care about their every action. The sole, beautiful season of Firefly is available on Netflix for you to watch. As many times as you want. It won’t be just once. Promise.
BONUS: Because the show was prematurely cancelled for disputed reasons, Whedon managed to wrap everything up in a film called Serenity, which is also available on Netflix. And will, more than likely, break your heart. There’s also word of a comic in the make. And Nathan Fillion’s never objected to bringing the show back. We can only hope.
2. Star Trek
Sci-fi and Star Trek are nearly synonymous at this point. There’s no question in seeing this up here; whether you’re talking about the Original Series, the Next Generation… Star Trek has been making leaps and bounds, not only in the genre of sci-fi, but also in television as a whole since its creation. The crew of the Starship Enterprise has found a place in the hearts of the world, Captains Kirk and Picard both leading their teams into places where no man has ever gone before. It’s impossible to quite explain why the show is such a staple of the genre, because Star Trek is one of those programs that defined sci-fi for what it is in the modern day. There’s A LOT of Star Trek to watch on Netflix. A couple series. A lot of old movies. The new film from 2009. Watch long and prosper.
BONUS: The new film is one of a series. There’s comics. There’s huge fan followings unlike nearly anything else. If you’re a Trekkie, you don’t just enter a universe, but a lifestyle. There will always be new Star Trek.
1. Doctor Who
Was there anywhere else this could go? Easy answer; no. Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi television program, in its 50th year as of this November 23rd. Doctor Who is, and always will be, the quintessential sci-fi show. Now, if you’re not familiar with the show, you’re probably freaking out over having to catch up on 50 years. Calm down, dear reader; for now, from 2005 will do. The show was rebooted by Russell T. Davies (name sound familiar? He created #6 Torchwood!) that year, and because Doctor Who was being introduced to a brand new audience, the show reintroduces all of the primary concepts of the fantastic Doctor, and his travels through time and space in the blue police box called the TARDIS. Not only does Doctor Who seamlessly combine fantasy, science and history, but the writing creates relatable characters in the companions of the Doctor and is always the first to address social issues. If you’re not watching Doctor Who and you’ve got any intrigue in the sci-fi genre, this is the first place you should head. Start at season 1, episode 1, “Rose”. Never look back.
BONUS: Torchwood. The Sarah Jane Adventures. K-9 and Company: A Girl’s Best Friend. All of the Classic Doctor Who pre-2005 (including the film). Hundreds of audio dramas. Doctor Who is one of those shows you’ll just continue to get further and further engrossed in; not only does it show you how spectacular the universe is, but also, humanity. And that is why, Doctor Who, at its core, is not merely a sci-fi show, but revolution.