Science Fiction and Fantasy are two genres that tend to come with a stigma attached because, believe it or not, some people think that these areas are reserved for geeks. Even if this were true, it doesn’t stop the following programmes from being exceptionally good television that if you’re not watching, you’re missing out on some of the best shows on TV at the moment. From Sean Bean battling for the throne of a mythical kingdom, to a zombie apocalypse and a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, animated robot thrown in for good measure, here are 10 shows to mark in your diary as ‘essential’.
Okay, so it’s not out yet, but we’re so excited about Steven Spielburg’s Falling Skies that we’re going to put it in this list anyway. The show is about the aftermath of an alien invasion, when they’ve come here and decided to stay, and now humanity has to find a way to fight back. It’ll be guerrilla warfare as you’ve never seen it before – mostly because aliens have never invaded before. Think Martin Sheen sneaking down the river in Apocalypse Now, but imagine him sneaking up the Charles River to try and fight aliens in Boston. Falling Skies will premiere later this year with a 2-hour pilot episode and TNT have even made a web comic to promote the series, check it out then watch the latest trailer below:
In this series, the FBI have a ‘fringe division’ team based in Boston, that use fringe science – aka crazy stuff – to solve a variety of strange occurrences related to a parallel universe. It is one of those series that, quite frankly, is very difficult to adequately explain to anyone who hasn’t seen it. So the best advice is this: watch it. Fringe has developed a strong following, which includes some people in the OTB bunker, and does nothing to dismiss the idea that many people who work for the FBI look like models. Or Pacey from Dawson’s Creek.
Doctor Who is possibly the best British television series at the moment, and has been exceptional since the BBC brought it back in 2005. This has been partly due to three great actors in Christopher Ecclestone, David Tennant and Matt Smith portraying the doctor, and a whole load of brilliantly written storylines. The next series is already looking great, with the episode written by Neil Gaiman a particular highlight, and there will also be guest appearances from Michael Sheen, David Walliams, Hugh Bonneville, Mark Sheppard and James Corden. The only question is: can Doctor Who keep getting better?
Who’d have thought that a show about a bunch of young offenders could be so popular? Only those people who saw this foul-mouthed amalgamation of Byker Grove and Heroes coming – and even then nobody would have believed them. Misfits is the story of five young people on community service who get caught in a strange electrical storm and develop super powers. These get them in all sorts of strange situations and result in the death of multiple probation officers, they soon find out that other people have developed powers too, and there are people who know a lot more about what’s going on than they do. Even better, you can watch full episodes for free on Channel 4’s YouTube account, so now there’s no reason not to see them all.
The return of Matt Groening’s Futurama made us all wonder, once again, why on Earth it was cancelled in the first place. The animated tales of Philip J. Fry in the 31st century make for a fantastically off-beat comedy that has recently been renewed for a seventh season. Having said that, at least the show getting ‘cancelled’ meant that the team behind the show produced four films, so sometimes good things can arise from a quality show getting kicked off the air.
By including The Dark Tower in this list we’re hedging out bets a little. Or a lot, as the series isn’t even in production yet, but the news this week that the deal for the novels to be made into three films and two TV series, we had to put it on the list. The Dark Tower follows Roland Deschain, last of the gunslingers, who finds himself as humanity’s last hope and has to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building and the nexus of all universes. It’s going to be good, and may well star Javier Bardem who is rumoured to be agreeing a deal to star in both the movies and the series – what more evidence do you need? Below is a fan-made trailer to get you in the mood, but it contains nothing from the real series – because it hasn’t been started yet!
Zombies have taken over the world. Well, they’ve certainly taken over America, and with no phones, TV or internet, it’s difficult to know what state everywhere else is in. And anyway, who, other than Simon Pegg, watches television during the zombie apocalypse? Rick Grimes, an ex-cop leads a small band of dysfunctional survivors on their quest to, well, survive some more. The first series of this show was brilliant, and is currently enjoying another run on Five. Creator Frank Darabont has promised that the second season will have more action and recreate some of the best storylines from the popular comic series. Get ready to be scared; the zombies aren’t just coming, they’re everywhere.
Sean Bean gets back into Boromir mode for an epic adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels. The story is based around the struggle to control the throne in the mythical land of Westeros, which is a land of seven kingdoms and an uncharted area in the north, separated by a massive wall of ice. The series has had several tagline on its posters so far, including the ambiguous ‘winter is coming’ and the somewhat more explicit ‘you win or you die’, both of which just make us want to watch it more. Speaking of watching, you can see the first 15 minutes of the first episode here, or if you don’t want to spoil the fun, watch the trailer:
Whilst it may be fair to say that Merlin is aimed at a slightly younger audience than a lot of the shows on this list, it doesn’t make it any less compelling. What started as a fairly light, casual series has quickly become essential weekend viewing, with the storylines getting slightly darker and things finally looking like they might actually be going somewhere. We can even forgive Katie McGrath (who plays Morgana) for feeling the need to give the ‘evil look’ at the end of every scene she was in during the last series because it’s just so much fun to watch.
We’ve seen it all before, the aliens come, want a fight and somehow humanity fends them off by finding a subtle flaw in their incredibly complex technology. Not in V. The aliens come, but they come in peace, because all they ever wanted was to make friends and share technology in exchange for some of Earth’s resources. Except they didn’t, those devious alien bastards, they’ve actually spent decades infiltrating Earth by posing as human beings, and the ships arriving are the final part of the plan to take over the world. After watching V, you’ll never be able to look at another person again without wondering if they’re actually a reptile disguised as a person, and you might even find yourself attracted to some of them as they look rather nice as people – which presents a whole new set of moral dilemmas for you to consider during the show.