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Five Fantastic Scifi Series of Yesteryear

Recently I rediscovered the mid-2000s version of Battlestar Galactica. Not only did it reboot some nostalgia for older TV shows, but it reignited my appreciation for how good they were in the decades before streaming services. Here’s my five of the shows I was once in love with … and for good reason.


One of those amazing TV shows cut short well before its time (like Timeless and Jericho). Earth 2 featured a seriously good cast (Tim Curry as the sneaky bad guy, for heaven’s sakes!!) … and some magnificent aliens you fell quickly in love with. I know there are novels out there that capped the long story off and gave it closure, but I still hope this colonisation adventure gets a serious reboot some time in future.

Space: Above and Beyond

What a gem this was. And I’ve just rediscovered it. I remember being glued to the TV every time this aired in the late 90s. The combat was gripping and credible. The aliens and their motivation was mysterious. Starship Troopers left me unsatisfied, I have to say. I felt like SAB was what Troopers could have been.

While the acting is occasionally sub-par and the effects are a few years too early to do it justice, it was excellent world building and story telling.

Stargate SG1

The sheer brilliance of this ten-season TV show can’t be understated. I have a very short attention span. But in more than 200 episodes, SG1 never once left me disappointed, combining long story arcs that unfolded over years with standalone episodes that showcased the writing/directing/acting genius recruited by the producers. I own all the seasons plus the two followup movies on DVD and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rewatched them.

A team show with heart, humor, action, credible SFX for its day and political themes that still resonate, if you never got into this, try it and try it hard.

Favorite episode of all time: bloody hard to pick but probably “The Other Guys” (S6Ep8) which showcased the comedic potential of this series without losing some of the drama. Next to Jack, Felger (from this episode) is also my favourite SG1 character.

Life On Mars (US)

So far, I’ve listed what are basically space opera series. Also, I could have gone back into nostaligic 80s or 70s shows that were fun but don’t really hold up these days. But when I think of shows that came and went and left with me a good taste in my mouth, Life on Mars is up there.

I am possibly one of the aberrant fans who prefer the US version to the British (I’m the same with The Office)–but both are great. Detective Sam Tyler is suddenly time-shifted from 2008 to 1973. Much weirdness ensues, not the least because of a man with 21st Century values struggles to fit into a very different time. This from the show’s Wikipedia page:

2008 reality frequently intrudes into 1973 through surreal, anachronistic visions and cryptic telephone calls. In one episode he sees a man in a nightclub wearing a Nirvana T-shirt, in several early episodes he sees the face of George W. Bush on the front page of the newspaper, and he frequently sees Mars rover robots following him or attempting to enter his body.

Those Mars robots? Usually tiny.

Life on Mars was one of those rare gems in TV-land that was written for a single series and worked very well. Never heard of it? Go find it. And tell me whatcha think…

And finally, returning to where I started:

Battlestar Galactica

Let’s just focus on Season One. (I found it unwatchable beyond that). But Season One and the miniseries that preceded it were cutting edge in so many ways back in 2003. Raunchy, inventive, richly-populated, it kept the tensions high and the curveballs coming. It coined the term “frack”.

Like all great scifi, BG was peppered with social and political commentary (Commander Adama’s razor sharp line comes to mind: “There’s a reason you separate the military and the police. One fights the enemy of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”).

And I have always loved the realistic feel of the dogfighting and exterior fleet video. Just as I loved the energetic performances of Baltar and Starbuck.

And you? Would you add others to the list? Did you see and like these? I’m interested.

Published inPersonal RamblingsReviews


  1. Rob Turnbull Rob Turnbull

    I remember BG when it came out in the early 2000’s. At the time I was a Cryptologic lieutenant working at Fort Meade. There were so many lessons on the show relating to information warfare and security and I found it to be special for that and a ton of other reasons. (So far) only one series compares in terms of wanting it to never end, and that’s The Expanse. World(s)-building, space and lots of it, social strata, violence, aliens, and more. Plus it’s in 4K on Amazon.

    • Yeah, agree, these shows (amidst some scifi cuteness) also aimed at some realism. I particularly like the camera work with space battles in BG.

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