By Chaz McDonald
If you’re fan of television, then you are well aware that every fall, spring and summer brings the excitement that can only come with new television series. Every channel introduces audiences to new stories that are set to unfold in weekly episodes. With hundreds of channels for us to choose from, it is very easy for people to miss out on some great television series. This article is the first of a five-part series dedicated to bringing some of the greatest television shows of all time into the spotlight so they can get the credit that is due. If you don’t see a show that you think should be on the list, checking to future articles to see if it got placed in a different category. Each article will consist of five television series in their respective genres and will not be duplicated onto another list. We will be looking at the cultural influence, how well the show was received by fans and how long it lasted on air. Part one of our five part series is dedicated to the genre of science fiction.
#5. Doctor Who (1963-1989, 1996, 2005-Present)
Number of episodes: 827
Doctor Who is a wildly popular and extremely long running, British sci-fi series that debuted in the early 1960s. It follows the adventures of a Time Lord known only as The Doctor. The Doctor travels through time and space in his T.A.R.D.I.S. saving the galaxy from evil wherever and whenever it might be. While the show was very popular in the UK, it never really gained an international fan base until the series revival and continuation in 2005. The show was aired globally on the same day for the first time as it was shown in the UK. This brought fans together from around the world and made Doctor Who and even bigger success than it already was. The stories are imaginative and exciting allowing people of all ages to enjoy the show. The Doctor has the ability to regenerate whenever he was mortally wounded. Whenever he regenerates, he transforms into a completely different person, but is always the same Doctor. This has allowed the show to evolve and change over the decades to stay fresh and new. The Doctor is never alone and always has a trusted and loyal companion at his side. The actors are always changing and new stories are always being told. Whenever the show has seemed to slow down or ratings haven’t been as great as they were, show runners are able to revitalize the series and keep it going for the fans to enjoy.
#4. The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016-Present)
Number of episodes: 208
The X-Files is one of those shows that fans of the sci-fi genre absolutely love. Each and every episode took fans on a wild ride while FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, investigated the weird and unexplained. What makes the X-Files a truly great show is the realism of these characters. Mulder is a firm believer in the paranormal, whereas Scully is a true skeptic. The X-Files is a show that has stirred the conspiracy theorists into a frenzy because of its believability. In some episodes fans are left in wonder and other episodes end with fans getting the chills. After nine successful seasons, the X-Files was given new life in 2016 with a tenth season and Fox Studios has ordered an eleventh season set to air in 2018. The X-Files has also spawned two big-screen movies that tie into the franchise. After all this time and all the mysteries that have been solved fans of the show are still saying “I want to believe.”
#3. Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007)
Number of episodes: 214
Coming off of the big screen and onto television, Stargate SG-1 continue the adventures of Colonel Jack O’Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson. After learning that the Stargate can go to a number of different worlds, the United States government forms exploration teams to go out and make contact with other alien races. New characters are brought in that did not appear in the theatrical movie. These characters would go on to become fan favorites and would carry on throughout the franchise. The show balances out and in some episodes places the heroes into a no-win situation where they must truly pick the lesser of two evils. The show was more of an episodic nature giving fans an opportunity to join in whenever they could. Stargate SG-1 would later spinoff two series during its ten season run and would also have two direct to video movies that would tie up loose ends that the series never got to. Stargate SG-1 has gone on to set the record for the longest running American sci-fi television show in the history.
#2. Battlestar Galactica (2003, 2004-2009)
Number of episodes: 2 part mini-series, 75 episodes
In 2003 Battlestar Galactica was reimagined and made into a television masterpiece. The original Battlestar Galactica in the 1970s was a more campy take on the story. With the miniseries and then the series, Battlestar Galactica became a gritty look into some of the darker aspects of humanity. The show was never afraid to push the boundaries of what they could do on TV. The show explored themes of human rights, religious freedoms and racism set to the backdrop of spaceships in killer robots known as Cylons. When the twelve colonies of man have all been annihilated, the Battlestar Galactica leads a civilian fleet with less than 50,000 people to a new home, a mystical planet known as Earth, all while being hunted down by the Cylons. The show has an all-star cast and has become a staple in pop culture. It had a short-lived spin-off series, two direct to video movies and three tie in web series.
#1. Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-1969)
Number of episodes: 79
“Space, the final frontier…” are the infamous words that start every adventure of the Starship Enterprise. By far the most successful franchise of all entries on our list, Star Trek: The Original Series is the television show that started it all. Star Trek has had five spin-off series, with number six set to air in the near future, and thirteen big screen movies. Captain Kirk and his crew set the precedent for all science fiction shows that followed. This is the show that has stood the test of time, gathered an enormous fan base and has no sign of slowing down. Just after the 50th anniversary of this iconic series, people are still going back and re-watching or discovering the show. Star Trek tries to show the very best of humanity and what we are capable. It is a show that has a diverse cast of humans of all races and even an alien. With Star Trek: The Original Series, Gene Roddenberry show the world that the imagination has no limits and that if humanity could put aside their differences, we could accomplish anything. Star Trek is a visual beacon of hope that is set to inspire countless generations in storytelling and beyond.
Do you agree or disagree with the list? Be sure to keep an eye open for the next article in our series that will cover the fantasy genre.