Sci-fi/fantasy/nerdcore shows that I can download legally and freely via torrent
November 18, 2007 6:17 AM   Subscribe

With a nice high speed connection now installed at home, I'd like recommendations for finding sci-fi/fantasy TV shows that I can download legally and freely via torrent, that I would not typically have already seen on American cable.

I'm specifically interested in sci-fi, fantasy, or other nerd stuff. I especially would like a mini-series or shows with a serial story.

I'm American and have cable, so I already have access to things like the Sci-Fi channel and BBC America, so I'm looking for stuff I can't get on American cable TV that would also be legal to download.

I wouldn't mind whether you suggest current shows or ones that have already come and gone. Chances are if it wasn't on American cable somewhere I've never seen it.
posted by poppo to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
(It doesn't *have* to be via torrent. Just legal and free. In fact, if you recommend something highly enough and it's not free, I would probably pay for it too)
posted by poppo at 6:22 AM on November 18, 2007


It was popular enough on the BBC in the mid-to-late-nineties that you've maybe already seen it, but I really enjoyed Red Dwarf.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:40 AM on November 18, 2007


No, I haven't and that looks pretty cool. Thanks! So is anything from the BBC in the free and clear?
posted by poppo at 6:47 AM on November 18, 2007


Not to be snarky here, but how could ANYTHING to legal to download?

BBC stuff can be watched online, but (AFAIK) you have to be in the UK, and wouldn't work in the US. Honestly, even if you got it to work, you would be violating some license or another.

Red Drawf is fun, but again, I don't see how you can watch it legally and for free.

Everything is under copyright, and the copyright owner is not even remotely interested in granting you permission to watch it in any other way.

About the best you could hope for is some of the public domain stuff from the Library of Congress.
posted by gregvr at 7:10 AM on November 18, 2007


I was going to say fansubs of unlicensed anime... but that's not really LEGAL, I don't think. It's just unlikely to get you in trouble.
posted by selfnoise at 7:20 AM on November 18, 2007


Not to be snarky here, but how could ANYTHING to legal to download?

I really have no idea, but it doesn't hurt to ask. Actually, it hurts a little now :)
posted by poppo at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2007


If you have Netflix, they have Red Dwarf available for viewing online.
posted by Hutch at 8:09 AM on November 18, 2007


Heck, Red Dwarf is so good, I'd seriously consider spending the $170 on Amazon for the full DVD set.... if I had a real job right now.
posted by fvox13 at 8:18 AM on November 18, 2007


Not to be snarky here, but how could ANYTHING to legal to download?

There are hundreds of TV shows legal to download. It's becoming a very popular way for networks to promote themselves, their websites, their other episodes, and their other shows.

iTunes frequently offers free downloads of episodic TV in order to promote certain shows, and so does Amazon Unbox. For example, Unbox was offering the pilot of the new Bionic Woman as a free download before it could be seen on TV. And there's tons of stuff on Joost, including the original Flash Gordon serials. And ABC has many episodes of their shows available for free download.

Everything is under copyright, and the copyright owner is not even remotely interested in granting you permission to watch it in any other way.

Completely untrue. The world of media is changing. Content is provided for free so that the users will view advertisements before, after, during, and alongside the content, and so that they will consider paying for similar content that is not yet free.

I work in online advertising, so I'm seeing this process move forward every day, but in a couple of years, what I'm saying will be so obvious that this discussion will be a sort of quaint joke.
posted by bingo at 8:44 AM on November 18, 2007


There are hundreds of TV shows legal to download. It's becoming a very popular way for networks to promote themselves, their websites, their other episodes, and their other shows.

Huh, you make a good point. I, for one, did watch the Amazon Unbox Bionic Woman pilot.

And yes, lots of companies are allowing the viewing of their shows for free online, but it's not really a download, it's usually streaming.

But, yes, I agree-- I was a lot more snarky than I needed to be. I'm frustrated by the tendency of the copyright holders to make me continually feel like a felon who deserves to be shot because I sneak a download of Doctor Who now and then!

In penance, let me actually attempt to answer the question, as long as I'm allowed to change the rules a little bit:

free --> free or pretty cheap
legal --> perhaps legally flawed, but morally, for me, fine.
download --> download or otherwise view using a computer

1. Netflix has a neat new feature called "Watch Now". I've been a netflix subscriber for years, and this is a cool new feature. Basically, they have a (growing) library of stuff that you can watch streaming using a PC with Internet Explorer 7.0. You can watch for as many hours as your subscription costs per month.

I watched Network, THX 1138, a few old Doctor Who episodes recently. I also note that a lot of the newer DVD TV box sets are coming on their "Watch Now" library. It was strange to have every episode of 30 Rock available this way.

2. Amazon Unbox is very interesting, especially since they have partnered with TiVo. The most interesting thing, IMO, is the fact that content bought on Amazon Unbox includes unlimited access to RE-DOWNLOAD, completely unlike iTunes, for example.

3. UkNova.com has a lot of UK-based tv-show torrents, unfortunately, it is very hard to get an account right now.

Other just general show suggestions (SF/Fantasy and other)

Red Dwarf, obviously.
Doctor Who (so happy to have this franchise back and good)
Torchwood (Doctor Who spinoff... an acquired taste, IMO)
Spaced (not SF, but a great comedy from Simon Pegg).


I work in online advertising, so I'm seeing this process move forward every day, but in a couple of years, what I'm saying will be so obvious that this discussion will be a sort of quaint joke.

God, I hope so, but I am not optimistic. But people in the industry know more than I do...
posted by gregvr at 9:25 AM on November 18, 2007


I don't know if you can get it legally, but you might love The IT Crowd as much as I do. It's a very funny show about a couple of IT guys working at a big company. Cracks me up practically to tears every time. RSS to Miro.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:54 AM on November 18, 2007


I dont think the poster wanted a discussion on legality of things, i suspects s/he knows its illegal as do most of us...anyways, that was boring, onto the good stuff.

Seconding Dr Who, Torchwood, Red Dwarf.

And Spaced of course, which is a touch of genius and a must for any nerds/people with a sense of humour, though its not fantasy though has enough references to probably keep your general nerd more than happy. In this same vein is, Peep Show, Nighty Night, Black Books and Green Wing which are all intensley funny British Humour. Oh and of course The Mighty Boosh.
posted by Neonshock at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2007


Thirteen to Centaurus is pretty good. Its whole 60 minutes is on YouTube and it's been up a lonnnng time. It's really old (1965) and in black and white, but totally worth it. Home is another hour long sci-fi from the same author but produced only a couple of years ago, also from the BBC.
posted by wackybrit at 10:03 AM on November 18, 2007


If you use Azureus Vuze as a torrent client (I liked the old Azureus better but whatever) there is a large library of free-to-download content. Some of it is timebombed, some is not. There is a lot of sci-fi stuff there.

One show on there, Sanctuary, can be downloaded in 15 - 20 minute episodes. It's very "vampiry" though.

Aside: Vuze is an unholy alliance of content providers and a torrent client. Some "adware" - promos from the Vuze network - will pollute your torrent downloads but it's easily killed off.
posted by disclaimer at 10:29 AM on November 18, 2007


I know it was shown on BBC America, but if you didn't catch it, we really enjoyed Jekyll (despite a couple of really atrocious American accents).
posted by redfoxtail at 11:08 AM on November 18, 2007


A MetaChat thread ("Non-lame sci fi") from a while back covers the usual suspects, but might be worth a read for UK and older series suggestions.
posted by rob511 at 11:49 AM on November 18, 2007


Thanks Cray.

I wasn't looking to steal anything. I certainly have the means to buy/rent DVDs, and I'll probably pull the trigger on this Red Dwarf thing since it's been mentioned several times.

I didn't think it was too far fetched an idea that there might be a bunch of must-see shows from other countries that I could download, legally, and freely. I'm cheap, but not really interested in stealing.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Any are appreciated, cost or not.
posted by poppo at 12:25 PM on November 18, 2007


There are definitely free SciFi series out there, Star Trek: New Voyages comes to mind.
posted by Chuckles at 12:35 PM on November 18, 2007


Also check this Wiki page of "star trek" fan videos. I've watched stuff from "Starship Exeter" and it wasn't all that bad.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2007


http://www.theforce.net/fanfilms/
http://www.darkresurrection.com/
http://www.rlslog.net/piracy-isnt-that-bad-and-they-know-it/
posted by fings at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2007


I was also going to say fansubs of unlicensed anime. If you stick to places like AnimeSuki you won't have to worry much. The copyright owners know full and well about the fansubs, they use the popularity of a series to get foreign companies interested in licensing a program. AnimeSuki drops series that get licensed, or if the production company asks, they've been around for years and years with no problems (unlike say PirateBay).

Can you suspend disbelief while watching a cartoon? Can you deal with subtitles and awkward translations? If so, you can find almost any genre of anime. It meets your other criteria: mostly free/legal/(nobody really cares), lot's of sci-fi/fantasy, very much like a mini-series/serial/book. Ton's of good shows only have 13 or 26 twenty-minute episodes total. Beginning, middle, end, and it's over.

Currently, "Blue Drop"... some sort of weird alien invasion gone wrong. "Mobile Suit Gundam 00" if you like giant robots.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2007


Free/Legal = archive.org
posted by blue_beetle at 2:56 PM on November 18, 2007


I was going to ask a question like this myself, along the lines of "what downloadable/streamable TV goodness from elsewhere in the English-speaking world should I know about?" but that seemed overly broad, so thanks!

It's not SF, but may be nerdcoreish. Recently I've been browsing Google Video, Guba and Stage6 for British documentary programming (like Time Team), and watching QI on YouTube. I gather that if your ISP provides a news server with binaries (or if you subscribe to a good 3rd party Usenet feed), there's a mountain of video to download from Usenet. The legality of it will vary from program to program and provider to provider, of course.
posted by mumkin at 3:01 PM on November 18, 2007


It's not by Torrent, but you could also check out Joost at http://www.joost.com/

They have a number of science fiction show and movie offerings sprinkled throughout their streamed channels.
posted by Animus at 4:47 PM on November 18, 2007


Nobody mentioned BLAKE?!? For shame. Also, any of the old Quatermass serials are good - not the movies so much, but the TV serials. As mentioned above, UKNova is crucial for this sort of thing - there's a lot of English-language science fiction specials, one-offs and radio shows that never get repeated outside the UK/Australia/New Zealand and for which, since the demise of NiteShadow as a repository, are orphaned except for UKN.
posted by meehawl at 5:02 PM on November 18, 2007


With regard to the AnimeSuki recommendation, you might want to have a look at this thread there.
posted by Gamecat at 3:20 AM on November 19, 2007


The Azureus Vuze client does indeed have some free-to-download content. For instance, the first episode of Red Dwarf can be downloaded from there fro free. Subsequent episodes are $0.99US to download, so I'm starting there, and I'll see what else I can find through that avenue.

Thanks for all the other suggestions too, this should keep me busy for awhile
posted by poppo at 6:32 AM on November 25, 2007


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