It isn't a giant leap of a statement to say that we're shaped very much by our childhood. Our parents and home life play a major role in development, along with friendships and, for most, pop culture. This includes TV viewing and, growing up during the 1980s, my television habits included a lot of comedies, some drama (it was the era of nighttime soaps, after all) and, most notably, science-fiction & fantasy shows. Of all of the programs I have enjoyed over the years, it is the latter that has been most prominent in shaping my entertainment outlook. To this day, I'll take a sci-fi/action thriller over a romantic comedy.
Given that my favorite television shows are often science fiction & fantasy, what, then are my favorite programs of said genre? Which ones stood-out as the best of the best over the years? I'm glad you asked, dear reader, because following is a break-down of my Top 10 favorite ones (in alphabetical order). Let's get to it.
Most people ignore the early Ian Hendry and Honor Blackman years, as do I. Nothing compares to the elegance of Steed and Mrs. Peel as they fought-off androids, wild-growing plants, people bent on taking over the world, and creepy residents of isolated English villages. Fun stuff.
1970s low-budget space opera about a band of rebels fighting against a totalitarian regime sinking its claws into the galaxy. The baddies were bad, the heroes weren't always good, and the themes could be deep, without the show losing its entertainment value.
My all-time favorite program. I grew-up watching it seven times a week on the local PBS station. A time machine that was inter-dimensional, a hero who could change how he looked, settings and locales that could be in any place in space and time. It was wondrous escapism.
A thinking-man's show. Patrick McGoohan is a secret agent who resigns, is captured (likely by the government), and taken to a seemingly-idyllic island village where life is fine.... until the local officials start hounding him as to why he resigned. It's a nice blend of politics, adventure and intrigue.
Oh how I loved this show during its first few years. Set on a space ship where an accident occurs, and the last remaining human in existence is accompanied by an annoying hologram, his cat who evolved into a human (don't ask), and the shipboard computer. Later seasons messed with the formula, but in its heyday, this show was a great blend of comedy and sci-fi.
I watched this grand daddy of science fiction TV shows in reruns with my parents as a kid. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, the Enterprise. 'nuff said.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
This was my Star Trek show. Airing during my receptive preteen and teenage years, this show (superior to the original program) delved deeper into the world of Star Trek, and tackled many of our modern day ethical issues with aplomb. It was a TV show with a conscience.
Robots from another world crash land on Earth and begin fighting one another. Oh, and they can transform into almost any earthly object. Of course it's sci-fi! And highly entertaining sci-fi, at that. This was appointment television every day after school, and on Saturday mornings.
The Twilight Zone
This is the anthology series of all-time. So many great concepts, so many neat science-fiction ideas, many of them with a moral. Growing up I had a blend of the original version and the 1980's remake, both of which I enjoyed.
Aliens come to earth. Their spaceships are intimidating, but they look like us and they smile a lot, so they must be ok, right? Definitely wrong. This program scared the life out of me as a kid, as it was one of the earliest occasions I can remember when it seemed like society was breaking down, and the adults were hard-pressed to stop it. Terrifying stuff. I never saw the remake they did years later. Probably didn't miss much.
And, that's it. The Top 10 science-fiction/fantasy television shows that have impacted me the most. There are tons more awesome programs out there. This really is just the tip of the iceberg, but a good place to start.