Monday, April 1, 2013

Most Underrated Scifi Shows!

Baltar (James Callis), Six (Tricia Helfer), and the man I love to hate, Ron Moore.
Sorry friends. It's been a while since my last posting. Scifi news has not been plentiful and I have been quite busy with personal matters. I hope to return blogging full force soon! Viva la scifi. In the meantime I've enjoyed lurking on other people's blogs.

There is a universe of science fiction shows outside of the 'X-Files,' 'Doctor Who,' 'Eureka,' 'Warehouse 13,' and 'Battlestar Galactica.' In fact, there have been dozens of good shows that you may have never watched or even heard of. Shows for whichever reason never found the audience or perhaps the audience never found them. Below are the top ten most under-appreciated shows in science fiction. I have separated scifi and fantasy into two separate lists because I believe that scifi and fantasy are two different genres, although they are often confused with one another.

First Wave Comic? Who knew.
10.  First Wave - 'First Wave' was exactly that. It was one of the first science fiction shows on the SyFy Channel in the 90s (then appropriately titled The SciFi Channel). Before wrestling and paranormal reality shows, the SyFy Channel aired television shows about actual "science fiction." Imagine that? I will note that the SyFy Channel has picked up a two new "true" scifi shows, 'Continuum' and 'Defiance.' Neither of which I have seen yet, but I've heard good things about them.

'First Wave' followed security specialist Cade Foster's attempt to uncover a massive alien invasion conspiracy. The aliens called the "Gua" kill his wife and frame him for murder. The Gua appear in human form and plan to enslave humanity. The Gua are the "first" of three "waves." This show had a low-budget 'X-Files' feel, as the series was created by one of the writers for 'X-Files,' Chris Brancato. Overall, I thought the series was worth watching and I enjoyed most episodes.

9.  Alien Nation - The Fox Network--where good scifi shows goe to die. 'Alien Nation' was one of Fox's first victims. Before 'District 9' there was 'Alien Nation.' Based on the movie of the same name, 'Alien Nation' is about an alien race peacefully settling in our world. The "newcomers" as they are called deal with a variety of issues, like acceptance, bigotry, and discrimination. The series itself was a social commentary. But my favorite part is when newcomer 'George' becomes pregnant. Unlike humans, the newcomer males carry the babies. Sign me up.

Farscape "Frelling dren" by coldangel1 - Deviant Art

8. Farscape - Created by Brian Henson, Jim Henson's son, 'Farscape' was also one of SyFy's flagship shows. 'Farscape' featured a giant organic spaceship named Moya; a modern-day astronaut who accidentally flies through a wormhole, John Crichton (played by Ben Browder), Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), a peacekeeper; Pa'u Zotoh Zhann (Virginia Hey), a bald blue-skinned empath, and a full cast of colorful characters. The show was light and fun to watch with lots of puppetry (obviously). It ended on a cliffhanger and was cancelled. Thankfully a made for television movie wrapped it up.

Mahershala Ali in the 4400.
7.  The 4400 - Like so many other shows, 'The 4400' started well, but finished weak. The premise was great--a comet deposits 4,400 missing persons on a beach. A small minority of them have paranormal abilities like telekinesis, empathy, preconition, and telepathy. Each of these people disappeared from various times after 1964, but have not aged since the time of their disappearance. The mysteries of the 4400 and their powers are monitored by Homeland Security agents, Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch) and Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie). The first few seasons were great, but it ended in a weird love triangle with baby Isabel growing up and going nuts.

John Barrowman (Jack) and Eve Myles (Gwen)
6. Torchwood - Seasons 1 through 2 ONLY. I say 'Torchwood' seasons 1 and 2, because season 3 (Children of Earth) was a so-so mini-series. I wasn't impressed. Season 4 (Miracle Day) was dastardly. Moving it to the Starz network was a mistake. It became too commercial and splashy. The first few episodes were fine, but the  rest of the season was nothing short of awful. The original 'Torchwood' BBC series was fresh, spunky, and slightly dark. As a spinoff of 'Doctor Who,' 'Torchwood' focused on earthbound alien incursions. The original cast, which included John Barrowman and Eve Myles had great chemistry and worked well together. Subsequent castings did not fair so well.

Dominic Purcell in 'John Doe'
5.  John Doe - A naked man (Dominic Purcell) wakes up in the middle of the woods with amnesia. He has no idea who he is or why he was in the woods, but he seems to know everything else. And I mean EVERYTHING ELSE. John Doe as he comes to be called knows the answers to all of life’s mysteries. Like other non-scifi shows, 'Pysch' and 'Monk,' John Doe lends his talents to his local police department. The series went a full season, but ended on a cliffhanger, leaving many viewers in the dark. Thankfully Entertainment Weekly interviewed the creators who gave us the scoop. Supposedly John Doe had a near-death experience in which he transcended into a place where all questions were answered. When he returned he retained that knowledge, but nothing else. The end.

Terra Nova promotional art. I always thought these were cool.
4.  Terra Nova - I actually feel bad about this show because I didn't start watching it until it was already over. When it debuted I watched the lackluster first episode and forgot to set my DVR. I ended up downloading it on itunes and watching it after its cancellation. When I finished the show's first and only season I realized that it was quite good. Yes, the show had flaws, as all shows do. But overall the show had a fresh concept--the human race goes back in time 85 million years, which is 20 million years before asteroid extinction event. What a unique storyline? Likewise the cast was great and featured the indomitable Stephen Lang from 'Avatar.'

Unlike most shows, 'Terra Nova' started slow, but ended with bang--literally. What is particularly irritating is that 'Terra Nova' was not cancelled for low ratings. It was cancelled because one Fox executive was too lazy to renew the show. Evidently, the executive was supposed to give the green light by a certain date because the show took a lot of preparation. When he didn't, the show went caput. Fox is not the only network that cancels good shows, but it seems to be the only network that truly hates science fiction. All of the top five shows in this list were on Fox and cancelled before their time.

3.  Space Above and Beyond - The re-imagined 'Battlestar Galactica' owes its shirt to this show. This show is the true predecessor to 'Battlestar Galactica.' Ron Moore clearly took notes. Unfortunately, the Fox Network didn't. The show was created by 'X-Files' alums Glen Morgan and James Wong, but only lasted one season. Despite being cancelled too soon, its become a cult classic.

'Space Above and Beyond' was set in the late 21st century and focused on a group of space marines. The human race has colonized other planets by travelling through naturally occurring wormholes, when suddenly an alien race called 'The Chigs' attacks and destroys earth's first colony outside of the solar system. The war wages as the space marines are outgunned. The Chigs appear to have some sort of faster than light (FTL) technology. It only gets worse for our space marines when a race of genetically engineered artificial humans known as "In Vitroes" rebels against them. Sound familiar?

Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, and Gina Torres
2.  Firefly - I am hesitant to put this on the list. Don't get me wrong, this show is brilliant, but this show has developed such a large cult following that it may no longer be considered underrated. After all, how many television shows get their own feature film to wrap things up? Every time I go to 'Dragon Con,' which is one of the largest science fiction conventions in the world, the 'Firefly' panel is almost impossible to get into. The lines wrap around the building and then wrap around again. I added it for the simple reason that yet again Fox cancelled a scifi show before its time. Given the subsequent success of this series, I hope that someone at Fox has been kicking themselves ever since. Although I doubt it.

'Firefly' is a space western show created by the one and only Joss Whedon. The series is set in 2517 and follows the adventures of the rag tag crew of the spaceship"Serenity."

Scifi darling Summer Glau as Cameron in TSCC
1.  The Sarah Connor Chronicles - This cancellation was heartbreaking. Forget about the last few Terminator films (Terminator 3 and 4), just watch the two seasons of TSCC. Unfortunately when TSCC debuted on Fox it was doomed from the start.

TSCC follows the title character of Sarah Connor, played by tough as nails Lena Headley (now on 'Game of Thrones'). The show is set in 1999 and Sarah and John are being pursued by what else, but a Terminator. Summer Glau plays a "good" terminator named Cameron, John's protector. Instead of going back in time, the three of them jump forward through time to the modern day. Brian Austin Green eventually joins the cast as Derek Reese, John's uncle. The show was so well-written and executed it felt like you were watching mini-feature films. If you happen to watch this show on Netflix, be prepared to rage at why it ended.

Honorable mentions: Sliders, Roswell, Stargate Atlantis, Fringe.

Next time - Most Underrated Fantasy Shows.


  1. Firefly was certainly underrated by FOX!
    Farscape was a great show. Never missed an episode.

  2. Actually, I would consider Battlestar Galactica as underrated(the new series). A lot of my SciFi buddies haven't even seen it. I liked it...except the ending. The series was too short.

  3. This is a great list. My favorite ones are lesser known ones like John Doe and Alien Nation. I didn't know Terra Nova got cancelled from laziness.
    -Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins

  4. Good to have you back. Being in the UK (& only watching some sf on tv) I have only heard of some of these shows- First Wave looks interesting-not sure about the sarah conner one as it reminds me of the Fugitive from when I was a child. I liked Firefly and thought Torchwood just ran out of steam, the central female character got on my nerves-sorry. Food for thought though.

  5. Alex-- Couldn't agree more on Fascape. Fox underrates so many shows.

    Tom-- I feel the same way, which is why I can't stand Ron Moore. I will never watch another of his shows. He essentially turned my favorite characters into cave people.

    Hi Maurice, thanks. Yep, I was surprised when I found that out too. I will have to check out your blog.

    Paul-- Thank you. I am trying to get back in the swing of things. I think you would really like Sarah Connor Chronicles. It was very well written. I agree Torchwood ran out of steam. I don't know what happened? Gwen took a while for me to get used to. She grew on me.


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