Doctor Who withdrawal! What do I watch now?
May 18, 2009 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend sci-fi/fantasy shows to this Doctor Who fan.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who loves Doctor Who and is in withdrawal right now. So what are you folks watching to tide you over in the meantime? I'm looking for some good quality, original, and interesting sci-fi or fantasy shows. New or old. Time travel is a huge bonus, but not absolutely necessary.

No space opera, please. I can't stand space opera.

Things that might get recommended which I already know about:
- Classic Who
- Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures
- Lost
- Bryan Fuller's creations: Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies
- Doctor Horrible
- Journeyman (didn't like it)
- Heroes (didn't like it)
- Eureka (didn't like it)
- Supernatural (didn't like it)
posted by giggleknickers to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you like the classic stuff, you might like:
Blake's 7
posted by aquafortis at 7:21 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm somewhat compatible with your list, so if you haven't seen it, perhaps check out Farscape? I assume you do know about SG1 as well. (Personally Atlantis was only good in the last season). They all feature time-travel.

What's "space opera"? Example? DS9?
posted by lundman at 7:25 PM on May 18, 2009

How do you define "space opera"?

If you liked Doctor Horrible, you could try Joss Whedon's other series - Buffy, Angel and (my favorite) Firefly. Firefly is probably the easiest to start with, as it is both the shortest and the most fast moving - the others are slower, more episodic.

I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, and my favorite science fiction series of all time is still Farscape, for its originality and imagination, whimsy and humour, and acting and character development. But perhaps this would be too much of a "space opera"? It's definitely not for people who like lots of science in their science fiction - it's a character based show, driven by narrativium, not physics.
posted by jb at 7:28 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
The X-Files
Stargate/Stargate Atlantis
Quantum Leap
posted by willnot at 7:30 PM on May 18, 2009

On the time travel side - Quantum Leap is one of the finest dramas I've ever seen, but even though it is strictly speaking a sci-fi show, I tend to think of it as a drama/historical show, since it is more like an agnostic's Highway to Heaven than about time-travel itself - the main character leaps around time between c1953 and 1993, and in each time and place is in the centre of a different situation.
posted by jb at 7:32 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses so far! I prefer new Who, but I will check out Blake's 7 anyway. I do like some old television shows, such as The Prisoner.

Space Opera examples:
Star Trek
Battlestar Gallactica
Babylon 5
Farscape (the shockingly unique example that I could actually stand)

And don't knock stories driven by physics! They can be awesome.
posted by giggleknickers at 7:36 PM on May 18, 2009

Dollhouse is currently on (season 1 just wrapped and was just renewed for a second season!). It's by Joss Whedon, who is wonderful.

It's not the best show out there, but it definitely has potential. Each episode is better than the last, too. Might be worth a looksee on Hulu (though it looks like not all the episodes are up right now...)
posted by firei at 7:52 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Since the Joss Whedon suggestions keep coming, I should mention that I have never liked anything by him. I can't quite say why, except that I just find them boring. I've seen at least a part of every show he's ever done, because my friends are all obsessed with his stuff, but I have yet to find one thing I like.

I do appreciate the suggestions, though.
posted by giggleknickers at 7:55 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: If you like the idea of Blake's 7 (and similar shows), you might well enjoy Sapphire & Steel.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 8:03 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: I lost interest in it pretty quick, but you might like Sanctuary. It sort of has a Torchwood feel.
posted by willnot at 8:04 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: The Middleman is about a starving artist who's recruited by a secret organization to fight of various comic book menaces. It shares Doctor Who's combination of gleeful silliness, engaging plots, and emotionally convincing character development.

Based on the shows you listed, I'd be surprised if you didn't like (at least the first three seasons of) Buffy, and possibly also Firefly.

Life on Mars is a BBC series about a modern police detective who gets hit by a car and wakes up in the 1970s. It's fairly different in tone from Doctor Who, but I really enjoyed the time travel aspect of it, and the ambiguity of what actually happened to him. Also, it stars John Simm, who played The Master. He's very good once you get over seeing him play someone completely different. Avoid the painfully bad American version.

I'll be watching your question with great interest, as I too am suffering Doctor Who withdrawal.
posted by moss at 8:05 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Life on Mars is absolutely wonderful, but I didn't know about The Middleman. It sounds very interesting. I am putting in a pre-order for the DVD right away.
posted by giggleknickers at 8:18 PM on May 18, 2009

Okay, it might qualify as space opera, but it's atypical space opera.... Red Dwarf!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:18 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oops, started writing my post before Whedon status has been reported.

Classic Who varied a lot in its twenty-six years. If you're interested in specific recommendations, I find seasons 18 and 19, from about Full Circle through Castrovalva, feel a lot like the newer series to me. Your mileage may vary.
posted by moss at 8:19 PM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you liked The Prisoner, you might as well become an Avengers devotee as well. The Peel years, specifically (seasons 4 & 5 I believe). It's cute and whimsical and dry and campy and really great for any Who fan with enough patience to watch 60s television.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:22 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: I forgot about The Avengers! I used to adore that show as a kid. I'm pretty sure my mom has some of the videos, so now I need to pay her a visit. Thanks for reminding me of that show.
posted by giggleknickers at 8:27 PM on May 18, 2009

Best answer: Being Human is a bit more grown-up than Doctor Who, but it's worth seeking out from not-quite-official sources. Primeval is ITV's answer to the Who spot; it's a bit hokey, but fun. (Currently airing on BBC America.) Hex was Sky One's answer to Buffy-meets-Who: vamps and odd mythos and whatnot.
posted by holgate at 9:01 PM on May 18, 2009

This is probably a dumb question, but: have you listened to the Doctor Who audio plays from the last 6-7 years? Some of them are fantastic, others less so, but they certainly fulfill a certain craving for the otherwise-Doctor-Who-starved.
posted by chalkbored at 9:26 PM on May 18, 2009

You might like Eureka. I kind of got hooked on it for a while - it's slow but weirdly compelling.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:27 AM on May 19, 2009

nthing Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse. While the latter is a Joss thing, it shares Who's concept that every show has a very different aspect to it - where the Doctor lands in a new planet / time each episode, the star of Dollhouse has a new personality, wardrobe, and mission each show, while still retaining strong continuity. T:SCC, of course, features time travel, and the implications / after-effects thereof.
posted by GJSchaller at 7:39 AM on May 19, 2009

Dresden Files?
posted by bleucube at 10:27 AM on May 19, 2009

T:SCC just finally got cancelled (after months of rumors) so don't get too attached. (A shame, they had just set up a game-changing cliffhanger.)

On Red Dwarf: seasons 2--5 are the ones to hit first. Season 1 is a little shaky; Season 6 starts trying a little too hard; Seasons 7 & 8 are dreadful shark-jumping.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:33 AM on May 19, 2009

Seconding Primeval. Stick with it - it starts off quite monster-of-the-week, but builds quickly into a satisfying ongoing plot with time travel paradoxes, scary conspiracies and the like. It's basically good old fashioned fun, hokey nonsense but played pretty straight, like classic Who in other words.
posted by iivix at 1:06 PM on May 20, 2009

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