A reflection on modern science fiction television, and our top 10 best sci-fi shows of the 2010’s including 2015.
From Doctor Who to the X Files, the science fiction-genre has been around for a while. Known for attracting great audiences, cult followings and inspiring mass speculation, sci-fi television is far from gone.
Interestingly, the technological revolutions of the last twenty years have made some shows (and movies) outdated. Sci-fi and its special effects are a lot more sophisticated nowadays, on the other hand, and can even hold a mirror onto our contemporary use of technology. As such, recent sci-fi series are a very interesting genre to accustom to, even if you’re not into Star Wars.
Here’s what’s been interesting (or still is) the last four years up to 2014. A few foreign sci-fi tv shows, but mainly British and American science fiction television. From your typical Dystopian, Cyberpunk and Space tv shows to more uncommon alternate history shows.
New sci-fi shows in 2015
Our most anticipated new science fiction tv series of 2015.
12 Monkeys (2015)
Terry Williams’ classic 12 Monkeys is adapted for television by the American channel Syfy. The core elements of the story will be in the series, naturally, but the show will deviate in some ways. It’s an ambitious project, let’s hope it’s done well. Starts January 16th.
Agent Carter (2015)
A Marvel TV Series that will be led by a woman! The show will center around Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), a British born spy living in New York after WWII. The show also stars Chad Michael Murray and Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham. Starts January 7th.
Top 10 new sci-fi shows of 2014 down to 2010
1. Black Mirror (UK, 2011)
Created by Charlie Brooker
Orwellian images of our future not only appear in books – BBC’s Black Mirror brilliantly paints a picture that is as shocking as it is near.
Each episode introduces a new theme, cast and forecast. The dark side of life and technology is played out in near-future scenarios in which technology has quite a disputable influence. Most of these scenarios are not even fully improbable, which, along with the dramatic powerplay, constitutes it’s strength.
The only bother in Black Mirror: its first episode is the best one by far, which make the following episodes seem inferior. Beyond that, an absolute must watch.
2. Utopia (UK, 2013)
Created by Dennis Kelly
A group of London youngsters seem to have an innocent passion: a cult graphic novel called Utopia. Their love for this book appears to be quite dangerous when two hitmen show up and slaughter everyone who might stand in the way of finding the manuscript of Utopia’s follow up. In a vast tempo, the series unfolds into a very interesting conspiracy-thriller, doused with plot-thickening turns and brutal violence.
Utopia is well written, well casted and its cinematography is astonishing. In my opinion, it is one of the better shows made these last two years.
3. The Leftovers (US, 2014)
Created by Tom Perotta
How do people come to terms with the fact that two percent of the earth’s population has suddenly disappeared? Can they? HBO’s The Leftovers zooms in on a small community in a town called Mapleton dealing with this question, where it’s chief of police tries to maintain a grip on the community and his personal life. The story is told from a varied perspective, presenting several new mysteries without solving too much of them.
HBO’s The Leftovers understandably has been met with mixed reviews. Its seriousness is sometimes tough to look at. Some storylines are simply annoying. The show is rewarding, however; lead actor Justin Theroux does a very good job carrying this unusual show. The change of scope and perspective ultimately build op to a narrative that is actually captivating. The second season will not be based on the same book – it should be interesting to see where the writers will take the story.
4. Outlander (UK, 2014)
Created by Diana Gabaldon
Outlander’s synopsis is not a common one for a sci-fi series. After World-War II, a combat nurse is mysteriously warped back in time and finds herself surrounded by Scottish warriors in the year 1743. She is forced to marry one of them, after which a passionate relationship comes into being.
Outlander is surprisingly entertaining, for various reasons. One would be the beautiful Caitriona Balfe. Moreover, the series succeeds in all its aims. The show is sexual, touching, fairly thrilling and does right to it’s historical context. Downton Abbey meets Braveheart, in a way.
5. Real Humans (Sweden, 2012)
Created by Lars Lundström
Real Humans is set in a near-future version of Sweden, where consumer-level robot workers and servants are common. These robots look like humans, act like humans and express human-like emotions. If focuses on the relationships real people form with robots and raises the obvious yet interesting question what it means to be human.
Real Humans is a decent show, but can be a little soapy. Exploring futuristic themes does not necessary yield entertaining storylines, it appears. Husbands and wives feeling threatened in their sexuality by robots are fun though.
6. Orphan Black (Canada, 2013)
Created by Graeme Manson
A young and streetwise woman witnesses the suicide of a girl that looks just like her. She then discovers that she’s been cloned, that she has many other clones spread throughout the world and that someone wants her dead. Naturally, malicious organizations and mystic key figures come across her long and surprising journey.
Orphan Black does not target the same audience as most of the aforementioned shows. From the start, it speeds through developments and does not emphasize the richness of its characters. The show is one of the most critically acclaimed though, which makes sense. Recommendable if you’re up for something casual after being freaked out by Black Mirror.
7. Under the Dome (US, 2013)
Created by Stephen King
Another adaptation of one of Stephen King’s novels. In a small town, a massive, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off the rest of the world. Communication with the outside world is not possible – everyone under the dome has to deal with the diminishing resources, the rising tensions en the quest for answers.
The first episode is entertaining and promising. Unfortunately, the show does not fulfill its promise fully. Characters mostly remain two-dimensional, the dialogues quickly become annoying. Yet, Under The Dome is a miniseries, which make its downsides easier to swallow. This show is a nice pastime, no more, no less.
8. Continuum (Canada, 2012)
Created by Simon Barry
A female detective from the future is trapped in present day Vancouver, searching for tomorrow’s criminals. Not the most original show ever made, but a fairly enjoyable one. The drama, action and futuristic aspects are well balanced.
9. Extant (2014)
Created by Mickey Fisher
Hale Berry as an astronaut and Steven Spielberg as an executive producer should be enough to tingle anyone’s curiosity. Berry’s character, Molly Woods, is struck by lightning when she hears she’s pregnant after a 13-month-long solo space mission. Then, along the way, she has to safe the earth – it’s sci-fi, so of course.
Extant obviously isn’t limited by a tight budget. It is by its poor story-lines, unfortunately. This show might be worth it for hardcore sci-fi geeks. If you’re not one, best to leave this one be.
10. The 100 (US, 2014)
Created by Jason Rothenberg
Finally, something apocalyptic. A century after a war has destroyed everyone and everything on the planet, a spaceship containing 100 people heads back to earth to re-populate the planet.
Frankly, The 100 is a Teen Drama in a sci-fi context. If Dawson’s Creek and The O.C. are O.K. with you, The 100 will be to.
Need more sci-fi? But then for the big screen? Read our: 22 best Sci-fi films of the 2010’s