It is truly becoming a golden era for sci-fi on television, and some of them have even made into my list of best new sci-fi TV shows of 2017. The past few years have been great for television, especially so for the sci-fi genre. For one, the budget has gone up and you have sets and effects that you only previously get to see on the big screen. The other would be the serial manner of the new shows that get you get better-crafted storylines and better sketched out characters.
I have watched my fair share of shows for the year and I would like to highlight to you some of which I have found to be truly out of the world. Please note that this is from the perspective of a normal layperson and I hope that it will resonate with most of you. I will decide based on which show that got me fully engaged and hooked. Also, if I missed out any, please bear with me as there are just too many materials now and there is only so much that I can watch.
To start off, I wish to remind you of the sci-fi TV shows that premiered in 2017. They are, in alphabetical order, American Gods, Inhumans, Iron Fist, Legion, Oasis, Star Trek: Discovery, The Defenders, The Gifted, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Mist, The Punisher and The Orville. I may have missed a few but these are the notable ones. Please feel free to alert me to any good ones that I might have missed.
Going to touch on a few that I stopped watching after only one or two episodes. I have extremely short patience span as I just do not have the time to spare for something that is overly complicated or dumb.
- American Gods – I found this a hard follow. The story of Gods and so on just did not work for me. Odin, I can accept but the slew of new Gods such as the God of Tech and Goddess of Media was too much for me.
- Inhumans – I actually thought that this would be a great show as it was sort of an extension from Agents of Shield. However, the cast of characters put me off. They were just not engaging enough. Also, the lead man does not speak. Enough (un)said.
- Legion – I was turned off by the show’s slow pace. Expected more from an X-men related show. However, I am considering revisiting this again in view of what I saw from the gifted. Stay tuned.
- The Handmaid’s Tale – The story was not my cup of tea. It is about these women who become surrogate mothers for religious leaders. A bit too weird for me. Sorry.
- The Mist – The pilot was great but the show was downhill all the way later.
Next are the ones which I felt deserved a special mentioned. They are passable and deserves a watch if you have nothing else to do. The shows and my reasons for their special mention are as follows, in no particular order:
- Iron Fist – I wanted to like this show. For me, it was quite fun in the beginning when Danny Rand (the Iron Fist) was groping around his way around New York city after been away for more than 10 over years. But what made it underwhelm was the fight scenes. I had expected something better than what I saw on Daredevil but in the end, it was not even close. For a show supposedly about martial arts, it was totally way off the mark.They should either up their choreography or get an actor who knows martial arts.
- Oasis – I also liked this but it seemed that the producer only made the pilot for the show. I have no idea what happened to the rest. I will return to this should they decide to continue with the series.
- The Defenders – This was a huge disappointment considering that we were supposed to see the big war between the superheroes and the Hand. Instead, we were brought on a wild goose chase before settling for a story with Electra as the so-called protagonist. And as she is not all that bad, where is the fun in it? I really felt that it was unbalanced.
- The Orville – I watched the whole series and had no complaints. However, I was unsure what genre it was supposed to be. Definitely a dramedy but sci-fi? I am unsure. The show does not stimulate my mind as what I feel a sci-fi should. Make me question things, etc. This was supposed to be a carbon copy of the Star Trek but ended up more of a goofy version of a cartoon. As with all Seth McFarlane shows, there is always a social message embedded within each show.
I admit that I am not a fan of the X-men movie series. The reason being it got too convoluted with its multiple timelines. Also, there were too many changes to the cast with the only mainstay being Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine. While the stories were exciting, I felt that they lacked heart. Still, I watched Logan which restored my faith in the series. But only just. Then I tried Legion the first series on tv but found it too slow and abandon it. Still, I may go back to that show with what I have seen they could do through the Gifted.
So back to the Gifted. It stars mainly unknowns to me except Amy Acker who I last saw as Root in the TV series Persons of Interest and Jamie Chung. Anyways, here is the list of stars and their respective character:
Stephen Moyer as Reed Strucker
Amy Acker as Caitlin Strucker
Sean Teale as Marcos Diaz / Eclipse
Natalie Alyn Lind as Lauren Strucker
Coby Bell as Jace Turner
Jamie Chung as Clarice Fong / Blink
Blair Redford as John Proudstar / Thunderbird
Emma Dumont as Lorna Dane / Polaris
Percy Hynes White as Andy Strucker
Skyler Samuels recurred as the Stepford Cuckoos
So who amongst them stood out? Well, it is the guest star, Skyler Samuels. She managed to turn a small role extremely juicy. The way her character changed from a simple girl to that of conniving triplets was a joy to watch. Keep a lookout for her. The others were competent though I did find Sean Teale a bit grating. His good guy act is irritating and totally not convincing.
The show has a few main stories. The first is about the Strucker family and how they fight to stay together after it was discovered that the two children were mutants. The parents decided to sacrifice the only way of life they both know to go into the unknown with their children. The second part of the story dealt with how the remaining mutants try to survive under the leadership of Thunderbird after the disappearance of the X-men. The third is their attempt to destroy the Hound program. The final arc dealt with how the mutants again split up into two group like their predecessor before them. One that wants to coexist with the humans but does not know how while the other that plans to fight the humans for their rights. Guess which side Magneto’s daughter chose?
Best New Sci-Fi TV shows of 2017
Star Trek: Discovery
When I first heard about the reboot, I was ecstatic. However, my mood changed once I found out that the show will take place sometime between the Enterprise and the original Star Trek. I was like “What the heck”! Not another show with poor technology. I wanted to be mesmerized with the tech and not be burdened with scenes of things going wrong or only in the process of being invented. So, I approached the show with trepidation.
When I initially learned that Sonequa Martin-Green was to be cast as the lead for this show, I had a Deja Vu moment. Though she was ok in the Walking Dead, she was not a stand out performer. I have nothing against her but I felt that it would be difficult for her to carry the show. I will leave you to be the judge of that.
Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Saru
Shazad Latif as Voq / Ash Tyler
Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
Jason Isaacs as Gabriel Lorca
Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou Phillipa
This has definitely got to be Michelle Yeoh. She totally stole all the scenes she was in. Great presence. You really want to catch every word she uttered. I also quite like Shazad Latif especially in the scene where he was confronted by Michael Burnham to explained his action on the planet. We can truly feel the torment going through his mind as they fight between manifesting as Ash Tyler or Voq.
The story tells the story of how the Klingon became part of the federation and later how the Discovery was dragged into a fight for power in a parallel universe.
The show does provide a personal insight into each of the crew members. The first being the rehabilitation of Michael Burnham from a pariah. Also, through her, this series focuses on life on a starship from the perspective of a lower ranked officer rather than that of the captain as in all the other shows.
Next, we come face to face with our dear Captain Lorca who is not quite the normal star fleet captain that we have come to expect. Though, there were times where he did provide us with a hint of past captains. But this was few in between. What we ended up having is a very calculative person who sets in motion for things to go exactly his way to achieve his goals. Kirk, Picard, Janeway or Archer, he definitely is not.
We also get to meet our first gay couple and crew member in the Star Trek world. For a moment, I thought that relationship between officer, especially senior officer would be forbidden on board a starship. The prude in me may find it difficult to accept this but times have changed. In a funny way, this actually truly captures what Star Trek is all about. The coming together of humans from all races (now including minorities) and aliens, and boldly goes where no man has gone before.
In the middle of this mix, we have our two alien members of the crew, a Klepien and Klingon and how they are adapting to life in the Federation ship. In a way, it is still a typical Star Trek show in that the story is very much about the interaction between a family of characters.
Where the show truly shines is the number of twists and turns that appear in the show. I will list some of them for you (spoiler alerts):
- Ash Tyler is Voq or is Voq now Ash Tyler?
- Georgiou Phillipa dies in episode 2 and reappears in later episodes very much alive.
- Lorca is Lorca but also not Lorca.
The last time a television series has so many twists that make you want to revisit all the earlier episodes was Westworld. That show was a massive hit with critics and fans alike. With the twists, the series has truly gone somewhere where other Star Trek series has never gone before. It goes to show what great storytelling can do. Suddenly you want to watch the next show and so on. From a skeptic, I am now eagerly looking forward to season 2. However, I do not see how they can top season 1. Still, I have been wrong before.