Space. It’s really really big. Gobsmackingly ginormous. 93 billion light years of stuff. Or thereabouts. And the darn thing is constantly moving, expanding. Like a stomach during a holiday feast. Just when you think it can’t get any bigger. It does.
So there’s plenty of room for adventure and mayhem. Maybe that’s why a lot of sci-fi shows are set in space. Plenty of universe to go around.
And since we’re all mostly stuck inside, we thought we’d present our top 10 space sci-fi shows to binge.
1. ‘Star Trek’ (Any)
Okay, so I have a penchant for Star Trek. The original series is my first, true sci-fi love. Action-adventure. Exploration. And a little social commentary along the way. With close to 800 hours of Trek, there’s a lot of bingable television. Just pick your show, from TOS to The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine to Voyager to Enterprise.
Not to mention, the newer shows Discovery and Picard . And starting this Thursday (8/6), Lower Decks premiers and following it’s weekly run, the third season of Discovery. That’s 23 weeks of new Trek… come to rescue us from 2020!
You can stream the older Treks on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and CBS All Access. The newer shows, such as Lower Decks, are available only on CBS All Access in the US. Discovery is available abroad on Netflix and Picard is on Amazon Prime abroad.
2. ‘Doctor Who’ (2005 revival)
The Doctor is a Time Lord and old. 900 years to 2,000 depending on when or which incarnation you ask. Sometimes he’s a he. Or a she, as she currently is. Traveling time and space, the Doctor and her companions get into trouble, mostly. But always going where they’re needed to help people. The 2005 revival made this little-known British show into a worldwide fandom.
Everyone has their Doctor. Their favorite. But the show is completely bingable. It’s fun and silly. It’s sad and poignant. Like Trek, any kind of story can happen. All you need is a Blue Police Box.
The newer show is streaming on HBOMax and Amazon Prime. You can also find the older version on Prime. It’s hokey and cheesy at times. Shot on cheap sets with rubber monsters. But it’s just as fun.
3. ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (2004 reboot)
Humans build robots (Cylons). Robots rebel. They evolve. Then obliterate human society. Now there are only less than 50,000 humans left, trapped in tin cans searching for a planet… called Earth. The 2004 reboot is one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made.
Airing in the years after 9/11, it took the state of the world and twisted it through the prism of space war drama. Asking hard questions of its audience. Asking us to figure out who is the real enemy in war and if we can uphold our principles as a society and individuals after a catastrophe.
Also, Starbuck is one of the most kickass women in sci-fi. You can check it out on the new Peacock streaming service.
4. ‘The Expanse’
What started out as SyFy Channel’s answer to Game of Thrones, The Expanse has become one of my favorite shows. Mostly because of the strong Women of Color on the show. Whenever the show strays into the storylines of its mundane male characters, I get bored until either Bobbie Draper, Naomi Nagata, Chrisjen Avasarala, or Drummer show up. They are what make this show based on James S.A. Corey’s novel series fun to watch.
The Expanse can be found on Amazon Prime.
5. ‘The Mandalorian’
Baby Yoda, am I right? Who doesn’t love Baby Yoda? And if you don’t, you might be a monster. Okay, this ardent Trekkie has to admit he enjoyed the hell out of this show. I was skeptical at first because… well, who wants a Boba Fett show. I mean Boba Fett does nothing really except get sent into a sand monster’s stomach by a blind man.
But man, Pedro Pascal is fantastic. As is Baby Yoda. The Emmy should go to Mandalorian for Baby Yoda alone. I know, I know, his name isn’t Baby Yoda. It’s The Child. Even a Trekkie can get Star Wars trivia right sometimes.
You can find Mandalorian on Disney Plus.
Interlude: We Want to Know Your Favorite
Okay geeks, what space Sci-Fi show is your favorite?
— Brown Geeks (@AvaazMedia_) August 3, 2020
And now back to the list…
6. ‘Babylon 5’
The year is 2258. Babylon 5 is the last of the Babylon Stations. It’s mission: create a lasting peace before the outbreak of interstellar war.
Babylon 5, named after its titular space station, is a ground-breaking 90s sci-fi show. It might look dated today. But that’s due to Warner Bros. horrible DVD quality transfers.
The show was the first to use all CGI for its effects, which is a standard today. It’s also the first American genre show to have a five-year story arc. Once again, something that’s standard today.
And it took on the Trek juggernaut at a time when TV executives only thought sci-fi was just Trek and nothing else.
Personally, this is one of my favorite shows after Trek. It’s got wonderfully rich alien characters and cultures. And also some kickass women. Right now, it’s not available for streaming on any platform. But you can purchase it on iTunes, Amazon Prime, and YouTube.
7. ‘Lost in Space’ (2018 reboot)
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!
The female characters are front and center in this update of the 1960s show. Whereas on the original, the women were relegated to more stereotypical support roles (read: 60s housewife and daughters). But in the reboot, Maureen Robinson is in charge instead of her husband John. She’s also the smarts of the family rather than him. Judy is the ship’s doctor. And the villainous Dr. Smith has been reimagined as a woman, played by the brilliant Parker Posey.
You can find the show on Netflix.
This 1980s cartoon was my first introduction to anime. Imported from Japan and culled from three separate anime shows, Robotech is a generational war saga with transforming mecha. To this day, I’m amazed at how it took three very different shows and linked them together in a shared storyline.
And for its time, the cartoon featured a racially diverse cast and mature storylines where characters died and stayed dead. It also featured a queer character, Lancer, who was a drag performer and fighter pilot.
Of course, the original anime versions were meant for older viewers. And I can’t believe this got turned into an 80s children’s afternoon show!
The Robotech Saga, including a remastered version, is on Amazon Prime.
9. ‘She-Ra and the Princesses of Power’
This is how you reboot. Admittedly, I’m a fan of the original as well as its brother show, He-Man. I grew up on those shows and toy lines. But creator Noelle Stevenson made the original concept into an epic queer romance in the midst of a great rebellion.
I’m a little behind in my viewing of the show. But if you’ve watched it all the way through, I highly recommend Avaaz writer Sim Dhugga’s article on why the queer storyline in She-Ra is so important.
You can watch She-Ra on Netflix.
You can take Malcolm Reynolds’ land, but you can’t take his Serenity. The ship that is. Set in the years after a civil war, Firefly is a space western, complete with a cowboy ship captain and his gunslinging crew. Short-lived as it may be, this is everyone’s fan favorite.
And Josh Whedon’s greatest work to date, in my not so humble opinion. I’m also sure there’s a special place in hell for people who talk in the theater and the TV executives that cancelled Firefly.
You can stream the series on Hulu.