Once upon a time, to watch shows that are now off the air you had to buy DVDs, or illegally stream poor quality videos. (Or, if you're really old school, dig through the old VHS tapes you recorded off the TV.) Thankfully, now is a new era of binge-watching, and we have Netflix to provide us with all the classic TV we could hope for.
They have a very impressive collection of shows, and when it comes to scifi, Netflix has definitely got you covered.
Netflix has almost every Star Trek show available to stream, with the exception of The Animated Series. Considering Star Trek is one of the giants of the genre, it's essential for any collection of scifi shows. Whether you love Kirk's unstoppable zest for adventure, Picard's ponderous diplomacy, Sisko's empassioned speeches, Janeway's quest for coffee, or Archer's determined optimism, Netflix has the show for you.
The X Files
Continuing in the tradition of The Twilight Zone, this show explores the weird and wonderful, uncovering conspiracies on everything from aliens to Bigfoot. The X Files is iconic, inspiring many other shows and spanning 10 seasons. Before the 2016 reunion series hits Netflix, catch up on the other nine years of the franchise.
Premiering in 2013 to rave reviews, Orphan Black has continued its stellar run with shocking plot twists and enthralling characters. The story kicks off when Sarah, a grifter and small time con artist, witnesses her doppelganger's suicide and decides to steal her identity. This choice unravels a vast conspiracy, revealing family she never knew she had. Pretty much anything else we can say is a spoiler, but this is one of the best shows airing right now, with some incredible by acting from Tatiana Maslany. Catch up before the show ends next year!
In the same sort of conspiracy theory vein, Twin Peaks is another iconic show which influenced TV profoundly. It exists in the space between scifi and the supernatural, as David Lynch's surreal drama explores the twisted secrets of small-town America. Although Twin Peaks goes to some dark places, it's also fairly tongue-in-cheek, and it's definitely a must see for anyone interested in scifi.
This Canadian miniseries aired in 2014, exploring the lives of those aboard the USS Ascension, a ship bound for a distant planet to ensure the survival of the human race. While this may seem like a fairly straightforward plot, the interesting thing about Ascension is that it's set in an alternate timeline, in which John F. Kennedy's Project Orion actually went ahead. Thus, we join the Ascension 50 years into its voyage, and Cold War tensions are still rife among the crew. Think Battlestar Galactica, but with a strong Sixties element. And speaking of which...
Before there was Battlestar Galactica (2004), there was Battlestar Galactica (1978). Feeding off the Star Wars hype, the original space opera show introduced the Cylons/human war, and humanity's quest to find Earth. It's 70s scifi at its cheesy best, stuffed full of religious themes and impressive practically achieved space battles.
If you love the weird and wonderful aliens in Doctor Who, the frontier-esque crew dynamic of Firefly, but thought the whole thing needed more Muppets, this is the show for you. Featuring a plethora of aliens from Jim Henson's creature shop, Farscape is basically Gulliver's Travels in space.
It truly is an excellent series, following an Earthling astronaut across the galaxy to strange new worlds. Farscape will have you in stitches one episode, and tearfully considering existential angst in the next. Definitely not one to miss, especially considering the show will leave Netflix by early 2017!
If you haven't already heard about Stranger Things, you probably spent most of 2016 living under a rock — or maybe in the Upside Down. A fantastic new show from Netflix, Stranger Things became a cult hit almost immediately after all the episodes were released at once. The series is an homage to '80s classics like ET and Stand By Me, with a good dose of X-Files style cryptology as the characters try to rescue a young boy from a terrifying monster. With stand out performances from just about everyone — keep your eye on Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven — this show deserves its critical acclaim.
Fringe is definitely a successor to The X Files and Twin Peaks, exploring the paranormal through the investigations of Fringe Division. In 5 seasons Fringe developed a mythology which spanned parallel universes, drawing the characters into a web of conspiracies as they race to protect their reality. Well written and fantastically paced, Fringe is a must for anyone interested in the more eerie side of scifi.
Joss Whedon's cult show only lasted for one season, but it quickly became one of the staples of the scifi genre. Firefly is a culture-fusing feast, reimagining the future in terms of Old West frontierism, combined with a strong Asian aesthetic. The show may have been short lived, but its engaging characters and thrilling story has earned it many fans.
It's pretty much impossible to be a nerd without someone telling you to watch Firefly. Good thing Netflix is on hand to help you out with that!
Before he was Star Trek: Enterprise's Captain Archer, Scott Bakula was Dr Beckett in Quantum Leap, a show known for its exciting time travel plotlines. After Dr Beckett becomes lost in time, his quest to return home leads him to jump into many different eras, embodying people we know from history and those we don't. It's definitely a show which challenges us to think of how time travel could, and should, be used.
Despite being a spin-off from Doctor Who, Torchwood is still a fantastic show in its own right. Torchwood follows the Captain Jack Harkness (who debuted in Doctor Who) as he forms a Cardiff based team to investigate alien incursions on Earth. Aiming at a more adult audience, Torchwood showed the darker side of the Doctor Who universe, challenging its characters and viewers alike. If you like your scifi with a bit of grit (and LGBT themes), Torchwood's the one to watch.
In the vein of Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Voyager, Sliders' main narrative deals with the characters trying to find their way back home. In this show, the team "slides" between parallel universes, attempting to find Earth Prime. It soon became a cult favourite, perhaps in spite of the confusing order Fox chose to air the episodes in. Instead of following the intended narrative, Fox tried to capitalise on ratings by airing the episodes out of order. Unfortunately, Netflix orders them the way Fox did, which means that some episodes have a broken continuity. Wikipedia has the running order the writers intended.