We are living in the Golden Age of sci-fi viewing. Thanks to the rise of deep-pocketed streaming platforms, the expansion of superhero-themed properties to the “small screen”, and a long overdue recognition of the value of genre programming, fandom today has more choices than ever when it comes to feeding their sci-fi fix.
But with the power of choice comes great responsibility. Where do you commit your time? And potential subscription fees? Who has the most to offer?
Well, after amassing a sizable show list, from Agents of SHIELD to Westworld, I put each broadcaster to the test, evaluating them across a range of criteria: quality, quantity, variety, and status of their sci-fi slate, support for their sci-fi programming relative to their other offerings, fan outreach, recognition, and respect. And, when all was said and done, these were my Top 10 Sci-Fi Broadcast/Streaming Homes:
A lot of love for genre programming in general here, but there’s a definite commitment to sci-fi with shows like Stitchers and Beyond. Ultimately, Freeform lands the tenth slot on the strength of its upcoming series: Cloak & Dagger, New Warriors (Squirrel Girl!), and Misfits remake.
Coming in at number nine is this feisty digital streaming service looking to make a splash in 2018 with not one, but two intriguing offerings. First, there’s The Tribe, a post-apocalyptic series that I’ve heard described as The 100 meets The Walking Dead. And then there’s The Row which focuses on a group of death row inmates who avoid execution by “volunteering” for a deadly space mission. Killer premise.
#8. BBC AMERICA
Being Human, Class, Torchwood, Orphan Black and, of course, the grandaddy of science fiction television, Dr. Who – BBC America has a solid track record in this arena. Looking forward to what they have in store…
They’ve got Agents of SHIELD presently airing its fourth season (with the incredible Ming-Na Wen), Marvel’s Inhumans, Somewhere Between that focuses on a mother’s attempts to avert the fated murder of her young daughter, and the upcoming The Crossing which sees America becoming home to an influx of refugees…from 250 years in the future.
Like superheroes, I put zombies in the sci-fi camp if their origins are based in science (fiction) rather than the supernatural, and that’s the case for two of AMC’s entries here: The Walking Dead and its offshoot Fear the Walking Dead. The high octane Into the Badlands gets the nod as well, as does the android-centric Humans.
#5. THE CW
The 100, Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, the forthcoming Black Lightning series. Need I go on?
FOX comes in at #4 on the strength its commitment to science fiction, past (Firefly, Fringe, The X-Files, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sliders, The X-Files) and present (The X-Files, The Gifted, The Last Man on Earth, The Gifted, The Orville).
In addition to going all in on Stephen King’s time-hopping 11.22.63, Hulu aims to follow up on its brilliant The Handmaid’s Tale with a bevy of sci-fi offerings including Future Man, Dimension 404, Freakish, and Runaways.
Amazon’s streaming service vaults into the #2 spot thanks to a burgeoning sci-fi slate that includes The Man in the High Castle, the recently launched Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, and a trio of intriguing upcoming adaptations: Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. There’s also Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens that is really more fantasy than science fiction, but I mention it for its post-apocalyptic setting.
And all alone at #1 is the current king of sci-fi programming. Let’s break it down: Black Mirror, Dark Matter, Sense 8, The OA, Stranger Things, Travelers, 3%, Daredevil, The Defenders, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, The Punisher. Upcoming: Lost in Space, The Umbrella Academy, Altered Carbon. And I’m sure there’s much, much more.
Honorable Mentions: The CBS All Access and Stargate Command streaming platforms offer up a plethora of classic sci-fi (Every Star Trek series and every Stargate series respectively), in addition to a couple of exclusives (Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Stargate: Origins on Stargate Command). HBO doesn’t do a lot of sci-fi, but when they do, they invest in some impressive production values. Finally, Canada’s Space Channel is home to great content including the aforementioned Star Trek: Discovery, The Expanse, and Killjoys among others but it didn’t make the list because, sadly, if you’re not in Canada you’re out of luck.
So, what do you all think? What are your go-to sci-fi homes? What are you watching and what are you looking forward to watching?