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Small screen but big thrills…TV Sci-fi/Fantasy

Let’s talk of the genre shows on the box which are doing their job well and keeping us tuned in every week (or with Netflix, letting us sitting in one place for six to nine hours possibly).

I have got past a period of desperately attempting to keep up with and regularly watch around three or four or more sci-fi/horror/fantasy shows-most people might find this a challenge, even when the shows are highly entertaining and great but try also writing a new full length novel at the same time…

Yes, often I might be watch tv more than reading fiction-I try to keep a balance-but these days there are often enough good shows worth giving my time and these shows also can help my inspiring writing in many useful ways just as well.

So what have we got going on currently?What shows have been to recent great achievements for fans of science fiction, fantasy or horror on the smaller screen?

It has been away for a few months now really but also leaving a long-lasting impression, yes I am thinking about Dr Who. With the bold change-over to much older and slightly more morbid Doctor this time, did it keep you watching? There was of course some extreme reactions to Capaldi, but you know, here we have such a talented actor, working at his craft for decades and a personal big Whovian himself, it strengthens the show. The distinctive difference mostly was in the casting aside of the built up series-long sorty arc this time, in favour of a number of seperate but each rewarding individual tales, which also gave us a more challenging and stronger Clara this time.

After new Who, 2015 moved along with the return of some shows and others which continued on after the christmas period. American Horror Story came to an end as the Freak Show series wrapped up. It became much more of a tragic murder mystery, losing some of the more regular shocking or shlocky horror moments we usually would expect but a good season anyway.

One show that I did seem to watch almost in a couple of days most of the time was Penny Dreadful a few months ago. I am going to rewatch the first few episodes again prior to the new season starting soon. Now that was one show which  could have often really sent dedicated gothic horror fans into a rage, as it reworked, redesigned and almost rewrote a number of classic and well-known gothic horror icons and characters from literature into what was certainly a spook-show hell-cart ride of loud manic screams, exploding monsters and dripping gore every week.

We do still experience on a regular basis, some shows which may seem interesting and in another time may have grown to become long-lasting cult shows, but with some many channels, shows, social media and more dividing our precious free time, one or two regularly get cut before the third or even second season and often unfairly so.

This had now happened to one of the shows which I have enjoyed the most over the last couple of years. The show I speak of is called Continuum, and is a great, very intelligent and at time very relevant science fiction time-travel show. Starting with characters which come from 2027 who fall back to our present time, it then becomes a kind of paranoid detective thriller show but over series two and now having just finished watching season three, when it knew that it had been cancelled officially-it then obviously moved on and gave the viewers a number of often very bold and challenging episodes, flipping back between time periods, the future, our present day, and then alternative futures and creating alternative versions of some of the main characters from the time-travel adventures; it has been a show to watch very carefully but one of the best in recent times for certain. Sadly it has been cut short, been due to interest and obvious fan following, it has been allowed one last if shorter season to fit the pieces of the dramatic time-travle tale together.

With regrets I can say that while Marvel’s Agents of Shield has returned to UK screens in the last month or more, I have found it fairly difficult to make time or keep interest with it, which I do feel has been a bad decision now. Could be the tone of the show, the shameless use of it to promote the Marel movies, it could be some of the actors in the show, but I often lose interest with it. It might be that it is just not what I want it to be, or hoped that it could have been. It really has been great at times, and I might now finally be getting more interesting with it once again.

The other main SyFy channel show which held my interest was Defiance, which inititally had a great deal resting on it. It was built up with a lot of hype when it first began, with a related MMO online computer game which seems to mostly have disappeared now. The show however, thankfully has more to offer than simple basic gimmick tied to various mutli-social media. The writing is good, often at times reminiscent of classic sci-fi shows such as Star Trek or Firefly regularly. Like Doctor Who until the recent series, it has developed a brace of strong story line arcs to take it through while the events with individual characters are often funny, tragic or simply entertaining and well produced with very pleasing post-apocalyptic near future Earth sets and visual effects.

Finally most recently, there has been the television version of 12 Monkeys which is inspired by the 90’s Terry Gilliam movie. Another time-travel series, and that is probably where I struggle this time. I have only just finished watching the end of season 3 of Continuum while 12 Monkeys was starting and two time-travel shows at the same time has been possibly too much to balance. They do also have much of the same tone and style of drama, with paranoid groups, undercover or double-agent characters and that kind of story writing.

Besides all of these worthwhile shows, in the last few weeks we have also have Netflix drop the entire Marvel Daredevil series on us. Have you seen this yet? What did you think? Does it sit well among the many other Marvel characters on screen?



Author of science fiction novels Orbital Kin and Minerva Century-also horror, literary fiction, many short stories and screenplays. Always reading, writing, watching films, playing guitar/bass, and am a husband with a coffee addiction. New horror novel due for 2017. This is my blog, offshoot from my website. It will be where I post current thoughts, opinions, views, reviews, or discussions about contemporary film, movies, books, video games, television series mostly in the horror, science fiction, fantasy and their sub-genre offshoots. The entertainment not in the mainstream (for the most part) and proud of it. Also follow me on twitter- @ParsonsFiction, and facebook - James E Parsons

2 responses to “Small screen but big thrills…TV Sci-fi/Fantasy

  1. sjhigbee

    You’re right, James. It’s been marvellous to see so many sci-fi/paranormal TV offerings – and shown during mainstream times. While it isn’t the dealbreaker it used to be, given our ability to record and watch our favourite gems at our own time, it is an indicator of the rising popularity and acceptance of such shows, which leaves a glow of gladness in my spec fic heart:)). Still not totally sure of the Capaldi version of Dr Who – I recall Patrick Troughton and there are shades of ‘grumpy old git’ in there – and I do think some of the storylines in the last couple of series have got particularly silly, which is a shame. I echo your enthusiasm for Defiance – I think it’s a really strong show. I’ve also got taped (but not yet had a chance to sit down and view) the latest series of The 100, which seemed to show lots of promise. Have you seen it, at all?

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