This post is a part of Geek Takeover Week 2012.
I often find myself in long overnight layovers at various airports around the world. The key to getting through them is patience and planning to keep yourself occupied – without wasting money on kilo of junk at the convenience store. A long layover is a good chance to catch up or introduce yourself to television you may have missed before it got canceled. In no particular order these are some of the geekiest best seasons of science-fiction that had abrupt ends you can download, watch, and wonder why they were ever taken off the air.
1. Firefly – All 14 Episodes
Joss Whedon (director of Avengers) created a universe that takes place mainly on the star-ship “Serenity,” where a group of humans who arrive in a distant star system. The planets and moons in that system form a mix of colonized, partially allied, and lawless worlds that are both visually and politically intriguing. In hindsight, Firefly is easily one of the most boggling cancellations in sci-fi television (aside from the original Star Trek). Although Firefly lasted only 14 episodes, Whedon was able to resolve the story with the feature film Serenity.
University student and genius Quinn Mallory (played by Jerry O’Connell) builds a device that allows him to jump between quantum realities. Something goes wrong (as they tend to) and he, along with a group of 3 others, get lost jumping from reality to reality as they try to get back home. Along the way they encounter worlds where America had lost the Revolutionary War; in another, men are heavily discriminated against by women. Sliders is fun and interesting but takes a furious dive off a creative cliff mid-way during the second season; so best not to spent another layover watching season 2 unless you want to experience chest pain.
Although the entire run of Enterprise is severely underrated among Trekkies, when the show was taken over in its fourth and final season by Manny Coto (current producer of Dexter) it became one of the best seasons of any Star Trek. Coto is a massive fan of Star Trek and it shows – most episodes feeling like stories I would love to have written and tell. Yes, the abrupt final episode is terrible but once you’re done with season 4, read what Coto had planned for season 5 to let your inner-geek shed a tear.
It’s generally rare to see animated series that are dark, intelligent, and serialized but Gargoyles is all of those things. Basically the show is about a group of noble gargoyles that were turned into stone hundreds of years ago. A magic spell brings them back to life in present-day New York; although they return to stone during the daylight hours. A story that sounds ridiculous as I write these words but trust me: if you like sci-fi and fantasy with a heavy dose of Shakespeare (plus Star Trek: The Next Generation cast member voices) you’ll enjoy Gargoyles.
I suppose it’s pretty clear by now I like the theme of alternate realities and the stories that can be told by manipulating them. We all question “what if” about the past from time to time and Quantum Leap is a show about just that. The show follows a loose arc and in each episode Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) jumps into a new role to right a wrong in that person’s life. The acting is superb and each new reality is refreshing and unexpected as you watch from one episode to the other, especially during the first season.
There is a silly, sarcastic tone to Muppet-humor and Dinosaurs has its own brand of that beloved tradition. The show was originally conceptualized by Jim Henson – getting away with social commentary that only an animatronic-talking-dinosaur-head can. Dinosaurs had a certain edgy sarcasm that seemed to gradually dull after the first season, making it the one to watch so you can truly capture its essence. More than most of the other shows on this list, Dinosaurs is one that’s visually attractive to very young children you may be traveling with.
I used to draw comic book art when I was younger (and even sold a few as a teenager) so I was struck by the drawing style of Batman: The Animated Series when I first caught up with it. Aside from being instantly recognizable with its unique animation, The Animated Series has a very dark tone is true to Bruce Wayne himself. Some of the episodes throughout the series’ run border on being plain trippy as the writers pushed the limits early on. The second season introduces Robin, who sucks the life out of any Batman creation for me; and turns Batman into a curmudgeon babysitter rather than psychotic crime-fighter.
8. Bonus: Deep Space 9 – Selected Episodes
Star Trek: DS9 was never canceled but during it’s original 1993-99 run but it was really crapped on by fans at the time. Whereas Enterprise’s season 4 is one of the best standalone Trek set of episodes, DS9 is the best series from beginning to end. (TNG fans who disagree, go watch season 1 and 2 of that series again.) Of all the Star Trek shows, DS9 is the one that non-sci-fi fans are most likely to enjoy. These are some of my favorite episodes from season 1-7 that will hook you in to finding out how the entire story ends.
- Season 1: Emissary, Duet
- Season 2: The Jem’Hadar
- Season 3: Visionary
- Season 4: The Way Of The Warrior, The Visitor, The Quickening
- Season 5: Trials And Tribble-ations
- Season 6: Rocks And Shoals, Far Beyond The Stars, In The Pale Moonlight
- Season 7: Once More Unto The Breach
Which Shows Would Be On Your Long-Layover List?
I haven’t watched every single sci-fi series and don’t gravitate toward the fantasy genre in the same way. So, you may be shouting at the screen right now at some obvious omission I’ve made. (Dr. Who immediately comes to mind.) I’d like to hear your suggestions for some specific seasons of science-fiction, comic, or fantasy shows you’d recommend to make the time fly by the next time we’re stuck at the airport waiting for our next flight.
What shows would you geek out on happily – making a part of you wish your next flight is actually a bit delayed?