Posted on: December 21st, 2009 Top Five Geek TV Shows of the Decade
It is that time of year when we look back on what has passed, and we attempt to take stock of old events, draw some sort of conclusion on our efforts to experience a meaningful existence, and try and forecast what’s in store for our future.
Why do we do this? It’s because there’s nothing but terrible Christmas specials on television, and we have little else occupy our minds until January mid-season premieres. I personally don’t even want to go home from work at the end of the day because I am lost without prime time.
While we are collectively trying to kill time the next episode of Stargate Universe, why not reminisce about the epic geek television of the past decade?
Let me set the scene: it is 1999, and we are in the middle of the runs of television changing hour long dramas: The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Will Mulder and Scully hook up? Will Buffy and Angel live happily ever after? Is the era of one-shot television dead forever? While we wait with breathless anticipation for the answers to life’s big questions, we start flipping the channels demanding MORE!
My list was longer, but I cut it back to five, the cream of the crop of geek television of the past decade, in chronological order:
I’ll admit that I just watched this series for the first time last weekend. Sue me. Spaced is a comedy series starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, directed by Edgar Wright. Pegg is Tim, a comic book store clerk/illustrator who meets up with Jessica Stevenson’s character Daisy, and they rent a flat together and have random adventures. Tim cries over the Phantom Menace and prays to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I’m pretty sure whenever Pegg and Frost hold hands, an angel gets its wings.
I mention this not only because it is the funniest thing to ever come out of geekdom, but also because it was a major stepping stone to the creation of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. In everything executed by the Pegg/Frost/Wright combo, there is this feeling like you’ve probably hung out with these guys before, and you’re really stoked that their lives are now on television/film. Sigh. I had a Simon Pegg dream last night. We drank vodka and kool-aid.
Firefly is a space western from the evil genius mind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon. The premise is that humanity has begun to settle space, and there is a civilized inner core of planets governed by the Alliance, and an outer frontier were people play by their own rules. Mal Reynolds, played by the incomparable Nathan Fillion, captains a Firefly class ship called the Serenity, and staffs her with an oddball crew in order to smuggle cargo from planet to planet. It is a funny character driven show with a few sniffles towards the end and a definite must see for any Han Solo fans.
We only got one season and a made for TV movie of Mal’s adventures. Is it better to have loved and lost? I want to call this yet another Fox head-scratcher cancellation, but it’s not. If Firefly had been originally picked up by a smaller network, we probably would be still following the Serenity around the universe and humanity would be better for it. I mean, Smallville has been on for nearly a decade now. It boggles the mind. Can the big four networks sustain science fiction?
No, I am not here to discuss the ending. Frak the ending. This was a great show. I have nothing else to say.
I have to say something? Fine! Battlestar is a reboot and expansion of the original 70s era show of the same name. Edward James Olmos is Adama, commander of the about to be decommissioned Galactica battlestar. He’s headed for a sweet retirement of boozing and brooding when the Cylons attack humanity, killing off almost everyone except those aboard a handful of ships that were scattered around the galaxy. Adama finds himself in command of what’s left of civilization, and takes them on a quest to find their new home: a mythical planet called Earth.
The show reads as a syllabus for a civil-military relations class. We get to watch the new government being built and struggling to function under inexperienced and untrained leaders, as well as the teetering balance of power between the military command, the civilian politicians, and the omnipresent religious authorities. Of course, there is also a juicy underlying space opera with lots of attractive fighter pilots in dress blues drinking, gambling, and frakking.
The utter brilliance of Battlestar has to be in the casting choices. Most were relatively unknown actors who made us genuinely concerned with whether or not their characters were going to get thrown out of a space lock in the next episode. Double win.
We pick up our travels with the 9th Doctor, played by Chris Eccleston, who meets up with a blonde shop girl named Rose and takes her on adventures through time and space in a police box that’s bigger on the inside, called the TARDIS.
During an accidental visit to London during the Blitz, they meet up with Captain Jack Harkness, a con man played by John Barrowman. Jack gains immortality through TARDIS energy goo while fighting off the Daleks at the Doctor’s side. Captain Jack gets his own spin-off series called Torchwood, where he protects humanity from alien threats emanating from a rift in time and space located in Wales.
Eccleston exits after only one season, making way for David Tennant to take the series to a whole new level. 2009 is Tennant’s last year as the Doctor, and he is passing the reins to Matt Smith who will start as the 11th Doctor in 2010. Doctor Who has been on since the 1960s but Eccleston, Tennant and Barrowman have used their abundant charisma to introduce a whole new generation to the whimsy of science fiction.
I get the vapours just thinking about True Blood. Every character is as hot as the Bontemps climate. You’re watching this show and there is southern humidity escaping from your television set. I mean, the femoral artery is SUCH the better place for a vampire to drink from, am I right?
True Blood is set in a world where vampires have ‘come out of the coffin’ and joined the mainstream society, with the help of a synthetic blood substitute called True Blood. Vampire Bill Compton, a civil war era Southern gentleman, seeks refuge in a small town and promptly meets and falls in love with the loveable Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin. Sookie is a telepath, her boss is a shapeshifter, and her brother is a loveable anti-vampire Jesus-warrior.
If a show can somehow be genuine and tongue in cheek at the same time, this show manages it. The social commentary is almost funny but never comes off as derisive, and at some point, producers are going to have to buy stock in white face powder as Bill is getting chalkier and chalkier in every episode. The second season sort of got stuck in a quagmire featuring town-wide orgies, but I still can’t wait for another summer of vampire love. And the puns! I love puns.
As for the future?
In the ‘too early to tell’ category are FlashForward, V, and Stargate Universe. Well, I am sold on Stargate Universe, mostly because I yearn for more Battlestar. It’s gritty and funny, and I’m a fan, even though I was never into any of the previous Stargate series’.
I stopped watching FlashForward after two episodes because I just didn’t care that much, but maybe I’ll try again in the spring. As for V, I’m going to give it another half season to see if it picks up, mostly because I can’t take my eyes of Morena Baccarin, never could.
2 Responses to “Top Five Geek TV Shows of the Decade”
December 22nd, 2009 at 12:16 pm
A few I’m surprised to not see, but would expect to see in a top ten:
Also, SGU is pretty awesome thus far. I was a huge fan of the previous 2 series so perhaps I’m biased towards the series in general, but SGU is a whole different ballgame. SG-1 and Atlantis were light-hearted affairs, whereas SGU is far more serious in tone.
December 22nd, 2009 at 7:39 pm
I like SGU cause it’s so serious. Once they start with the weird aliens, it may be harder to stomach. Also, Eli is a super hit.
Had to cut back a lot to get it down to five shows. My list started at like 15!