November 2, 2013 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Recommend a TV (sci fi/fantasy?) show for my sister and I to marathon through. Difficulty level: not that hard, actually.

We're nearing the end of BBC's Merlin, and are pretty distraught. We need a show to take it's place!
Things we like:

•Sci fi/fantasy
•Likeable characters (Always Sunny and Arrested Development, imo, are just full of assholes. Alpha type characters also bother me)
•Bromances are fun (Psych, Merlin, Supernatural, Scrubs)
•At least some moderate overarching storyline.
•Feels (we like to get invested in the characters)
•A mix of lightheartedness and drama. (not just one or the other, though we loved Hannibal) Zingers are great.

Basically, we just want some great (or even just good) characters to follow along with, and root for, and laugh with, cry about, throw cereal at, etc.
Shows we like but are out because we've already seen:

•Doctor Who
•Once Upon a Time
•Parks and Recreation
•Pushing Daisies
posted by FirstMateKate to Media & Arts (57 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to add this, ugh-
We'd prefer something that is either finished, or has at least, like, 4 seasons (hence the want to marathon). So, while for example, Sleepy Hollow looks really good, it's not a contender.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:08 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Me and my wife enjoy Fringe for just this purpose. The first season is a bit patchy but from Season 2 on it's funny and smart.
posted by merocet at 8:12 PM on November 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

So the classic Buffy/Angel (12 seasons between the two of them) seems pretty obvious. Fringe I think lost itself in the last season. Veronica Mars has nothing at all to do with fantasy but it's great and fits in well with your list.

If you liked Pushing Daisies and Hannibal, you can add Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me (both short but finished) to your list.
posted by jeather at 8:14 PM on November 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

Doesn't fit the length, but Firefly. There's only one season but it is a very good season. There's also a movie, Serenity.

Veronica Mars.
posted by cooker girl at 8:16 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Orphan Black is so good, you will be hooked from the first episode.
posted by xingcat at 8:19 PM on November 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

Battlestar Galactica!
posted by heldincontempt at 8:30 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

Teen Wolf (the new one)
Battlestar Galactica
posted by dilaudid at 8:30 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think Sinbad, a TV series that aired on Sky1 in 2012, fits your criteria to a T. Mythic/historic-esque fantasy, no alphas or assholes in the central crew, yes bromances, overarching storylines, emotions and feelings, drama and lightheartedness. Plus it's a gorgeous-looking show, filmed on location in Malta and environs.

Only one 12-episode season, unfortunately (I would have loved to see more!), but it has arcs and closure, it doesn't just stop dead. That sounds like it still meets your criteria, since you say "either finished or has at least 4 seasons"? It's out on DVD now, among other places.
posted by theatro at 8:31 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eureka! No long arcs for the first couple seasons, but there are arcs. Characters are likeable (to me, anyway!) and decently written. It's not terribly arch or ironic; it is humorous and does not take itself terribly seriously, though it takes its characters' emotions/reactions seriously. You might also like Warehouse 13.
posted by rtha at 8:37 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

We love Lost!
posted by mamabear at 8:38 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Enterprise! :D
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:40 PM on November 2, 2013

We've been enjoying Grimm a lot - it has a Buffy kind of vibe, and it's dumb enough to be fun, but smart enough to not insult your intelligence. Two full seasons of +20 episodes and counting.
posted by smoke at 8:47 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Red Dwarf...
posted by jim in austin at 8:52 PM on November 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

BBC Robin Hood, forever and ever, even though it's only three seasons. But it's THE BEST and meets all your other qualifications.

nthing Battlestar Galactica. So good. If you're into it there are also some spin-off series, so there's even more than the four regular seasons.

Also, what about some old ones? X-Files, Buffy, could spend ages marathoning those, they all ran for a million seasons. (Maybe a few too many, oh well)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:00 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think The Middleman might be up your alley, based on Pushing Daisies. It's only one season, but pretty great.
posted by Maecenas at 9:05 PM on November 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Gilmore Girls

Veronica Mars
posted by Blitz at 9:11 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Eureka!! We are actually skipping the last half of the last season because I don't want to admit that it's over. Also Warehouse 13. Deep Space 9, if you like Star Trek. Stargate Atlantis is goofy and yet full of drama and bromances, which is also an accurate description of Farscape, though it's slightly more intense and the bromance even better. (I haven't watched SG1 but I think it's similar; I loved Universe but it's super short and way less goofy.)

I love BSG, but every time something is good, the show will crush your happiness and turn it to Cylon-induced despair, amongst other dramatic twists. It is an amazing show, but a) everyone is a jerk or terrible at some point and b) any lighthearted moments are kind of more like gallows humor to me.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:12 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Buffy & Angel
Game of Thrones (in progress)
Grimm (in progress)
Misfits (in progress)
Sherlock (in progress -- not scifi/fantasy but excellent bromance)
Twin Peaks
posted by Jacqueline at 9:16 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just re-watched HBO's Rome and it meets your criteria except for not being sci-fi. But historical dramas are only different from sci-fi/fantasy in that parts of it may have happened already.
posted by bleep at 9:17 PM on November 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Teen Wolf (the first season is kind of weak but it gets better than the second half and season two and three are great). Warehouse 13 is really great. Good mix of stand alone eps and overall story arc. Plus major "bromance" as long as you don't mind one half of the bromance being a woman (but it's not a will they won't they romantic thing). Plus it has great funny humor but also feels (tumblr native? :P).

Have you tried Elementary? It's only in the second season now but it's fantastic. Sherlock is sometimes an asshole, but it's less grating than in the BBC version or in a show like House because it's not the character actively trying to be rude, he just doesn't have time for niceties. He's actually very likeable and so is Watson, played by Lucy Liu. Definitely a good mix of drama and lighthearted there.
posted by katyggls at 9:17 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by ApathyGirl at 9:19 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding Warehouse 13 and Eureka.
posted by wintersweet at 9:22 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Fringe, Red Dwarf, and TORCHWOOD. esp. Children of Earth, as you get to see the new Doctor, in his previous franchise role.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:22 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Being Human, maybe? I haven't seen the American remake, but the British version seems like it would push a lot of the buttons you list.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:57 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm almost done watching Spartacus and I love it and don't know what I'll do when I'm done. Yeah it's incredibly violent, but I don't mind because it's cartoonish and far-removed -- and I had to stop watching "Breaking Bad" in the first episode, so it's not like I'm tough.

> •Sci fi/fantasy

No, but there are capes. Will that do? Also swords.

•Likeable characters

Yes (also hateable ones)

•Bromances are fun

Good lord yes

•At least some moderate overarching storyline.

Tons of it -- you have to watch it in order

•Feels (we like to get invested in the characters)


•A mix of lightheartedness and drama.

Yes, surprisingly

Zingers are great.

Also yes, surprisingly. Especially once we turned the subtitles on.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:02 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Buffy for sure! I didn't watch it when it was on (although I was the right age), but got into it a few years ago and loved it.

BSG is so known for sucking you in that there was a Portlandia sketch about it.

I love Eureka but am rather embarrassed about it because it's sorta ... a fantasy show masquerading as scifi. But the characters are likable and it's fun.
posted by radioamy at 10:14 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should point out that Spartacus is full of sex and violence and rape and murder and so much blood. So, maybe not your cup of tea. (It isn't usually mine but somehow it works here; it's an unusually feminist TV show.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:21 PM on November 2, 2013

I really enjoyed the British version of Being Human.
posted by theora55 at 10:27 PM on November 2, 2013

Seconding Fringe.

I think you and your sister might like Being Erica. Erica is a woman in her 30s who, on a particularly crappy day in her already unsatisfactory life, meets Dr. Tom, a weirdo who claims he's a therapist. It turns out his version of therapy involves sending Erica back to turning points in her past so she can address her regrets. Though suspicious at first, soon she is time travelling, eager for a do-over, and (duh) learning that changing the past isn't as easy or advisable as she thinks it will be. It's a nice mix of funny and poignant, the actors are very likable (particularly Erin Karpluk as Erica), and the show as a whole passes the Bechdel test handily. The show was completed after four seasons.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:37 PM on November 2, 2013

posted by hal_c_on at 11:16 PM on November 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Lost in Austen is gentle sci fi like merlin--austen fan travels through time into pride and prejudice, BBC mini series. Not much sword fighting, though!
posted by chapps at 11:40 PM on November 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Plots within plots, souls sold for vanity, strong women, great villains. And Vorlons. Babylon 5
posted by Freedomboy at 12:05 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Battlestar Galactica! Sci-fi drama of the finest variety, many feels, many likeable characters. Don't think too hard about the plot and just enjoy the ride.

Buffy/Angel were awesome back in the day but I tried re-watching the first season recently and ... it's aged. Nice if you feel like some 90's nostalgia, though.
posted by Xany at 1:28 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know it has already been mentioned, but Farscape is my favourite sci-fi series. It has four seasons (40 minute episodes), so it'll keep you going for a while. It is also one of those series where the creator has really come up with a good idea that brings out the best of the characters, story line and makes for an entertaining, funny, but also deep show.
posted by sockpim at 2:33 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Veronica Mars
Primeval (BBC, now with added dinosaurs!)
posted by firei at 5:00 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is a bit dated, but The Adventures of Brisco County Junior are pretty fun. Sort of a sci-fi western. Only a season and a half I think. Bruce Campbell at his mighty chin-est best. Think you can get the whole series in Netflix, maybe even streaming.
posted by elendil71 at 5:17 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not sci-fi, but: 30 Rock was amazing. Def watch if you liked Parks and Rec.
posted by gnutron at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2013

posted by blue_beetle at 5:40 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing Being Human (UK) and Misfits (UK).

Red Dwarf is definitely on the assholey side, 99% comedy, and IMO is only any good at all for half its run.

How about Medium?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:45 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Being Human, maybe? I haven't seen the American remake, but the British version seems like it would push a lot of the buttons you list.

The North American version (actually produced in Canada, first-run roughly simultaneously on SyFy in US and Space in Canada) of Being Human doesn't yet meet the length criterion—its fourth season begins early next year—but it's otherwise an excellent fit, so keep it in mind if you're still looking for something come May 2014 or so.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:02 AM on November 3, 2013

I'm going to go old school and recommend Quantum Leap. 1989 to 1993. Very cute and lighthearted, sometimes serious, always interesting.

Also, Scott Backula.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:19 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Buffy, Buffy, Buffy!

•Sci fi/fantasy - Practically reinvented the genre.
•Likeable characters - So many great characters to choose from, hard not to love them all.
•Bromances are fun - Buffy, Willow and Xander, a 3 way bromance!
•At least some moderate overarching storyline. - Great story arcs each season.
•Feels - Oh the feels. So many, many feels.
•A mix of lightheartedness and drama. Zingers are great. - Joss Whedon is the master of mixing lighthearted fun and deepest drama. Not to mention zingers.

So in short, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the show you've been looking for!
posted by platinum at 9:21 AM on November 3, 2013

"Buffy/Angel were awesome back in the day but I tried re-watching the first season recently and ... it's aged."

Ok, so this is true- season 1 is kinda rocky- but the rest of the show (at least seasons 2 through 5 or 6) is some of the best TV ever. Angel is tonally different but also pretty excellent.

Frankly I can't imagine a person who liked Supernatural and Doctor Who not loving Buffy. Just, yeah, stick it out through the first (short) season.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:28 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Sarah Jane Adventures?
posted by feelinglistless at 10:10 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing the following:
Angel & Buffy - Hits all of your requested points. Buffy season 1 has aged, but try later episodes.

Babylon 5 - Be aware that the first season is...slow, but there's a lot that comes back around later. If you want to take a look at a later episode to see if it's for you, my first episode was "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" (last episode of season 4) and one character did a particular thing had me hooked.

Firefly - It'd be short, but fun and good.

Fringe - It starts out rather X-Filey, but finds its own way by the end of season 1. One of my favorite shows and excellent for marathoning.

Farscape - So much love. SO MUCH. For likeable characters, I think I've grown to love (or at least understand) all of the characters by the end. The show starts to change around episode 9 and is very different in tone by the end of the first season. Season 2 is my favorite.

Quantum Leap - Old school, great bromance!

Stargate SG-1 & Atlantis - These'll keep you busy for ages! Very funny, but lots of feels to be had.

Warehouse 13 - Wacky fun, but some serious feels too. If you like Eureka, there are a couple crossover episodes.

X-Files - Old school, but one I'll always keep coming back to.
posted by wiskunde at 10:24 AM on November 3, 2013

I also watch tv for good characters I can bond with. Of your list, I've watching (and loved) Doctor Who, Parks and Recreation, Community, and Pushing Daisies. Here are some of my favorite long-running series.

I think Fringe and Alias both fit the good, scifi, care about characters criteria pretty well. They both have five seasons and are finished. Alias in particular lends itself to binge-watching, as every episode in the first season ends on a cliffhanger, to be picked up in the next episode. (And I think the fifth season of Fringe is more sad, but not less good, than the rest of the series. It has a very different tone and setting, which is part of what makes it interesting.)

Buffy and Angel are great and I only started watching them a few years ago, so I think they aged pretty well. (Seven and five seasons, respectively, and finished.) I also love (currently airing) The Vampire Diaries, in it's fifth season. It burns through plot like crazy, keeps things deeply character based, and just has a romping good time. (Though I recommend watching the first five episodes laughing at it, rather than with, the show or simply skipping to the episode "162 Candles" if you want to dive into the awesome.)

I'd also recommend a quirky town/friendship dramedy, Gilmore Girls. Seven seasons, finished, and just super fun. It's what got me to start watching tv again, after several years of ignoring it. I regularly rewatch it, which is something at (I assume) 154 episodes.

Also off in comedy direction is Cougar Town (I apologize for the name) which is a hangout comedy with fun friends and I adore them.

Shows which you might enjoy, but are under your four season cut-off include: Wonderfalls (13 episodes, Firefly (14), Dollhouse (26), The Middleman (12), Sherlock (6 episodes of 1 1/2 hour length), and even Veronica Mars (3 seasons, the first of which was amazing, the rest more problematic). (These last two are detective rather than scifi shows, just some of the best of the genre.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:39 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lots of great suggestions here. I second Alias, and I fourth (I think I'm the fourth recommender, anyway) Farscape. I wish I still had these in my viewing future!
posted by merejane at 2:45 PM on November 3, 2013

Also, Primeval was fun --I liked the first two seasons best. Sci Fi, likeable main characters, ongoing plot, cute extinct creatures running through London.
posted by chapps at 4:07 PM on November 3, 2013

I'm doing a stargate sg-1 marathon myself right now, would recommend it for light-heartedness. The first couple of seasons have a few episodes worth skipping though.
posted by glip at 5:16 PM on November 3, 2013

We recently finished watching Merlin with our kids and have been very happy with Eureka as our new family TV show.

For just grown-ups (and older kids than ours), Buffy/Angel are obvious (esp. Buffy seasons 2-4, IMHO), but I'd like to give more props to Farscape and Babylon 5, too.

Farscape is my favorite character-driven scifi ever[*]. The characters are all just so awesome. I also love their takes on some common tropes, like body-swapping, cloning, and cursed magic items. In checklist terms:

•Sci fi/fantasy: Spaceships. Aliens. Check.
•Likeable characters: Pretty much all the regular cast, I think
•Bromances are fun: Definitely there (Creighton/D'argo)
•At least some moderate overarching storyline: Present
•Feels: Oh, yeah!
•A mix of lightheartedness and drama. Zingers are great: You got it. Along with Buffy, probably my favorite for 1-liners.

And although its pacing, um, issues, esp. seaon 1, for a "high fantasy" sort of feel but In Space, I can't recommend B5 strongly enough. It's more like a TV-ized novel than anything else I've seen.

•Sci fi/fantasy: Spaceships. Aliens. Check.
•Likeable characters: Definitely several to like, and some of them grew on me immensely over the seasons.
•Bromances are fun: Most races have a leader and sidekick, several of which are really fun. And I don't know if you'd call the Londo/G'kar relationship a bromance, but I'm hard-pressed to think of a more multi-faceted on-screen relationship. It's funny, tragic, and touching.
•At least some moderate overarching storyline: Hope you're ok with more than moderate level, there's story arc here in spades.
•Feels. Some of the characters may be more wooden than you'd hope, but some of them are really good.
•A mix of lightheartedness and drama. Zingers are great. More on the drama side, but some fun stuff, too. And an occassional awesome zinger.

[*] BSG is also awesome w.r.t. characters, but darker and less *fun*, and more importantly and embitteringly, had a completely fucked ending.
posted by at home in my head at 6:15 PM on November 3, 2013

Not sure if this is in the zone you're looking for, but as I've said before, Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV show) is one of the best things ever made and given what you said you liked, I think you should check it out. Criteria:

•Sci fi/fantasy: Magic ("bending"). And flying air bison!
•Likeable characters: Definitey. Also, happily in my book, excellent villains.
•Bromances are fun: Somewhat. Not a big theme, I'd say.
•At least some moderate overarching storyline: Definite storyline.
•Feels: Really good characters. I miss them.
•A mix of lightheartedness and drama. Zingers are great: Check and check. Saka especially has awesome lines.

We watched it with our kids, but I think I liked it even more than they did.
posted by at home in my head at 7:24 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh- yes! Avatar is legitimately amazing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:36 PM on November 3, 2013

All of the shows you mention are fandom favorites, so look at other fandom shows:

Teen Wolf definitely
Star Trek
The Office
Orphan Black
Atlantis appears to be the new Merlin, but just started so doesn't meet your marathon criteria. Keep it in mind to check out in a few years though.
posted by Nickel at 10:09 AM on November 4, 2013

I was just thinking about this very topic this morning as the Mrs and I are about to finish catching up on Doctor Who and need another show to watch together.

As always Babylon 5 is my number one recommended show ever. :) It's a novel for TV and when it really starts to kick through it (Seasons 2-4), you will lose time from your day. This show is especially well suited for marathoning. I'm saving this for our "new house together" first show marathon.

Stargate. I like the whole franchise and hope we get some new 'gate action someday but SG1 for sure. Lots of fun but with some feelings and you will come to like the characters a lot. On rewatch the first season does have some skippales and wtf moments, but almost every show in this thread does in the first season.

Farscape. Absolutely great character driven Sci-fi. A damn shame we never got the last season but be sure to pick up the mini-series after you finish the last season.

Warehouse 13 - Just super fun. More on the light side of things.

Alphas - I was really sad when this was canceled after season 2. I don't know if I'd recommend watching it, knowing it ends on a cliff hanger.

* BSG - I'm just not sure I'd re-watch this again if I knew what I know now. For what it's worth, it's not on my re-watch list.

Buffy/Angel - Can be classic or can be dated. I guess depends on your mindset. I'd like to rewatch it again sometime.

A friend of mine is doing a Chronological Star Trek re-watch. I'm tempted to do the same but there is only so much time in the day. If you had to pick one of the series, try DS9.
posted by PlutoniumX at 10:14 AM on November 4, 2013

Hey! We like pretty much exactly the same stuff. I hereby recommend:

Buffy and to a lesser extent, Angel. But I recommend watching Buffy first. Sure, it's dated, but it's also wonderful.
Veronica Mars - not on Netflix anymore but it's AMAZING.
Legend of the Seeker - only 2 seasons total but I loved it. I think you'd really like this show.
Haven - only 3 seasons (on Netflix at least, I think the 4th is airing now?) but worth trying out.
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Don't laugh, it's actually really good. Lots of seasons to blow through.
Medium - really great for marathoning. Predictable but still interesting.

My sympathies for nearing the end of Merlin. Goodness. I will never be the same.
posted by meggan at 6:34 PM on November 4, 2013

Seconding Smallville and Vampire Diaries (this one isn't superwowsogood but once you've watched your favs, you've got to have something to come down with.)
posted by itwasyou at 10:26 PM on November 4, 2013

Oh man, I can't believe you said likable characters, bromance, overarching story and mix of light-hearted and dramatic AND that you enjoyed Psych and no one has said "White Collar" yet. It is basically exactly what I would recommend to someone with those criteria.

-All the good characters are Good- there's no anti-hero thing happening and not even really any gray-area morality.
-The two main characters have an astounding bromance happening.
-Very lighthearted and on a similar storytelling level to Psych in terms of complexity and predictability. Many zingers (although they aren't always top-level zingers, I often laugh.).
-The on-going story always lasts one season and is usually a treasure hunt (find a person or thing), and it's mixed in with case of the week episodes.
-I think everyone is super-likable and I'm always rooting for them and getting excited about the silly things they do.

It has four complete seasons already. You can watch one through three on Netflix.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:35 AM on November 8, 2013

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