Help me find a new, but old, underappreciated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series.
December 22, 2016 7:39 AM   Subscribe

So, I do a podcast which focuses on the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century television show that ran from '79 to '81 and we'll soon run out of that show. It's time to move on to another sci-fi/fantasy television series.

We'd kind of like to stick to short run, underappreciated variety and we're having trouble picking one. So does anyone here have any ideas? All will be sincerely considered. Suggestions need not be from American television, but probably need to be available on something other than old VHS tapes with handwritten labels.

Like many of my other questions, I appreciate your warm and fuzzy nostalgia filled memories of these shows and the moments from the show that went along with them. Why did this particular suggestion spring to mind?

Thank you.
posted by SinisterPurpose to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Quark. Not sure if you can stream it but the DVDs are available on Amazon.

(I have not watched it since it originally ran in 1977, when I was seven years old, so I don't know how great or perhaps cringe-inducing it is.)
posted by bondcliff at 7:46 AM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Blake's 7! British, late 70s-early 80s. So much fun. So many scenes filmed in quarries. Four seasons of 13 episodes each, ending with the greatest mystery end / cliffhanger EVERRRRRRR!
posted by ZipRibbons at 7:47 AM on December 22, 2016 [10 favorites]

Seconding Quark.
posted by Rob Rockets at 7:49 AM on December 22, 2016

The original V miniseries
Alf (hey, he WAS an alien life form!)
Automan (loved it as a kid, but it does NOT hold up)
Max Headroom
posted by Mr. Big Business at 7:57 AM on December 22, 2016

Is Brisco County Junior too recent? Bruce Campbell stars as a sassy cowboy in a proto-steampunk-style Old West, there may be some alien orbs involved, and my entire family loved it when I was a kid. It was just FUN, in the way that 90s genre shows like Xena were fun.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:07 AM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Powers of Matthew Star or Phoenix with Judson Scott from Star Trek II. They're both bats!
posted by johngoren at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2016

The new Battlestar Galactica is 12 years old (for the first season, anyway). Is that old enough?
posted by Autumnheart at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2016

Seconding V, but I would go with the entire corpus (The Final Battle, the 1984 TV series, the 2009 reboot). There was even a good run of comic books, tie-in novels, and a "reboot" novel by the original creator, who wants to ignore everything after the original miniseries.
posted by Etrigan at 8:12 AM on December 22, 2016

The Prisoner
posted by French Fry at 8:18 AM on December 22, 2016 [6 favorites]

Alien Nation not streaming but available on DVD.
posted by zinon at 8:19 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Max Headroom
Red Dwarf
posted by LaBellaStella at 8:22 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Starlost! (Opinions may vary as to whether it's under or appropriately appreciated in its forgottenness)
posted by rodlymight at 8:35 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Space 1999 (The 70s. In. Spaaaaaaace!)
Man from Atlantis (Starring Patrick Duffy!)

Manimal (Shape-changing crime fighter)
Mr. Merlin (Merlin is alive and well and living in San Francisco)
Whiz Kids (Hacker kids have many adventures)
posted by JohnFromGR at 8:45 AM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Space Above and Beyond is a fantastic. It was only 1 season (23 episodes) long, but they packed a lot into that season. The computer graphics really don't hold up at all (made in 1995), but once you get passed that, it's a fantastic show. It manages to deal (and I think it managed to address these things without them being pushed aside) an interstellar war, the results of an AI uprising and the corruption that may have caused the war. The cast is somewhat diverse (White dude, White dude, White woman, African American woman, Asian dude) and they do a good job with not marginalizing the non-white characters. The show is also willing to show the results of being in conflict, including characters dying or being captured.

The pilot also has R. Lee Ermey as their drill instructor, basically playing his role from Full Metal Jacket without the swearing or physical assault. He's very good.

DVD available, although I can't believe the price I'm seeing for the series ($70), so that may be a strike against it. When I bought it, I swear I payed $40 for it, although that was 10 years ago.
posted by Hactar at 8:51 AM on December 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future - surprisingly grim post-apocalyptic SF designed to sell toys in the 80s. Available in full on YouTube. I had a Captain Power-themed birthday party when I was 7 or 8, and it was awesome.
posted by lumensimus at 9:07 AM on December 22, 2016

Salvage 1. Andy Griffiths as a junkyard owner who builds a spaceship out of junk with the help of an astronaut and then has adventures.

NO ONE remembers this except wikipedia!
posted by merocet at 9:30 AM on December 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

This far in and no indication of The Greatest American Hero, or Voyagers! ?
posted by tilde at 9:31 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Voyagers! streams on Amazon... I wonder if it holds up. I completely dug its time-travely You-Are-There vibe.

Do people appreciate The Greatest American Hero these days?

Fantasy Island? WTF is the deal Mr Roarke ? Dude is apparently an immortal with weird supernatural powers. You could probably hang a podcast off a hard focus on the framing elements, ignoring the weekly mini-dramas entirely.

And heartily seconding the all too brief Automan, which dates to a time when "computers!" was all you had to say to sell a thing to kids, and is very much cut from the cloth of its day.
posted by mumkin at 9:37 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

on lack of preview, I'm there for you tilde
posted by mumkin at 9:38 AM on December 22, 2016

'Starlost' would get the dialogue going, because some people really hated it. I liked it.
posted by ovvl at 9:52 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

* The Starlost
* Space 1999

Those are my mefi posts on both shows, which include background and working YouTube links.
posted by zarq at 10:01 AM on December 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

How about Science Fiction Theater? I'd never even heard of this show until fairly recently. It's an anthology show from the mid 50s. A rather unusual mix of scientifical fictionicious gobbledygook and often plotless stories, told with the authoritative tone you might find from newsreels or documentaries of the era, and a heaping scoop of mysterious hardware, like oscilloscopes, vacuum pumps, and magnets, to add gravitas. This half hour long show ran two seasons, the first filmed in color, the second in B&W. Many appear to be available on youtube. Even though the episodes often feel more like story fragments, the star of the show seems to be the very concept of weird science itself.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:14 AM on December 22, 2016

posted by fimbulvetr at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2016

Jason of Star Command
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:39 AM on December 22, 2016

Probe (starring Parker Stevenson as a kind of mad scientist Sherlock Holmes) was kinda fantastic, but I was thirteen when it was on, so my judgement may have been skewed. It probably doesn't hold up. There were only eight episodes.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:45 AM on December 22, 2016

Neither of these are particular old as old goes, but I have a real fondness for The Invisible Man, Legend of the Seeker, and The Dresden Files TV show. Taken before their time, all of them.
posted by helloimjennsco at 10:48 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think I've commented about it before some time, but Star Cops was (for the late 80s) an excellent hard SF show, flawed in execution maybe, but at least trying to raise interesting questions. I haven't seen anything similar until the Expanse last year.
posted by cardboard at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2016

Was coming here to say Max Headroom, but that's already been suggested. VR.5 is a series that I think needs more love, but I don't know how available it is.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:44 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Everybody talks about Star Trek, but nobody talks about Star Trek: Enterprise. I thought it was really interesting. Just take a look.
posted by amtho at 11:55 AM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Gratified to see Salvage 1 represented!

What about Future Cop (or for the comedy take, Holmes & Yo-Yo)?
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:03 PM on December 22, 2016

Rubik the amazing cube? (hispanic primary characters, theme song by Menudo)

Sapphire and Steel (early 80s scifi/fantasy starring Joanna Lumley)

both of 'em seem to be available in their entirety on YouTube
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 12:13 PM on December 22, 2016

You have no shortage of good suggestions here, but I take any opportunity to mention the amazing The Phantom Empire, which has robots made from apparent cardboard boxes AND stars Gene Autry, the singin' cowboy, as himself.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:30 PM on December 22, 2016

Babylon 5, "and so it begins".....
posted by Freedomboy at 12:49 PM on December 22, 2016

I would suggest Special Unit 2 which is on youtube.
Neither of these are super old, but both are fairly obscure and are available: Earth 2 and Odyssey 5.
It's kind of hard to classify, but I would put Kings in the fantasy genre.
posted by gudrun at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2016

Seconding Earth 2 (what I remember is Tim Curry as a Tuskan Raider...) and Alien Nation. But thats probably because I want to listen to a podcast about them. The Alien Nation show was so good.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:13 PM on December 22, 2016

Nthing Space 1999 - I was very young at the time, but I remember it being fairly popular back in the day.

I'm suffering from pretty chronic Star Wars overload right now with my family being much more dedicated to the movies than I am, but the SFX in the original really was quite ground-breaking compared to shows like this one (and movies like Logan's Run). That said, Space 1999 seemed to do pretty well in this department with the budget they had and several of their designers went on to much bigger and better things, according to the Wiki. Probably lots of tie-stories to tell.

I know there are rules about self-linkage, but now I really want to know about the podcast... so I did some profile creeping and:

Hopefully that passes muster since it's not SELF-linking in my case...
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:32 PM on December 22, 2016

Another show that is incredibly ripe for this is Lexx. Officially TV's oddest space drama. It's Schrodinger's TV show that manages to achieve the feat of being incredibly good and so, so bad simultaneously.
posted by merocet at 2:16 PM on December 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you've been doing Buck Rogers, you absolutely need to do the original Battlestar Galactica & Space 1999.

Another one in that same vein that's absolutely bonkers: Logan's Run the TV show, only 14 episodes. Bonus (?) - the catchiest weirdest theme song I've ever heard, like someone mixed a 70s daytime TV theme with actual sirens.
posted by epersonae at 3:25 PM on December 22, 2016

Land of the Lost? Kinda cheesy but it had scripts written by scifi hard-hitters like Larry Niven and people involved with STTOS.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:06 PM on December 22, 2016

Good suggestions above but since you watched Buck have you considered the theme of going with other Glen A. Larson shows? There's no shortage of them - Battlestar, Manimal, Automan, Knight Rider, Highwayman, NightMan... not necessarily great but all are fun. Or perhaps some British shows from around the same time as Buck - Sapphire & Steel, Blakes 7, 1990, Come Back Mrs. Noah.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:14 PM on December 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

My long-ago favorite from my extreme youth - The Fantastic Journey!

I was sooooo sorry when it ended. I adored that show. Same with classic Galactica.
posted by dancing_angel at 11:29 PM on December 22, 2016

And I just realized that the DVD wasn't available after all. My bad.
posted by dancing_angel at 11:30 PM on December 22, 2016

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