Jul 1, 2018

90s Sci-Fi Television.. Geek Utopia!

by Darrin Vindiola

Recently during a holiday break from work, I recorded and watched a STAR TREK marathon in its entirety over the course of one weekend.  It got me reminiscing about the many years I've dedicated to stimulating my mind watching the genre.  At the same time, I found myself really missing a lot of the old Sci-Fi Shows of years past.

While there are definitely some great Sci-Fi shows currently on television, I really do miss 90's Sci-Fi.  And yes folks, we must face it.. the 90s are now retro.  No matter where your Sci-Fi interests fell in the 90s, there seemed to be something for everyone.  Below is a list of shows that regularly capitalized space on my old VHS tapes..

The STAR TREK Franchise
(Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager)

These three series took up a lot of my time back in the 90s.  However, I wasn't initially a very big fan of the Next Generation when it first came out in 1987.  I was loyal to STAR TREK the original series, and didn't understand why they wouldn't cast a younger dashing captain, that could kick butt and take names like Captain Kirk did.  After a couple of seasons, I began to understand the wonder that was Jean Luc Picard, and subsequently became a bonafide STNG junkie.

The series lasted 7 seasons, with 178 episodes being produced.  I was heart broken after learning that the show would not be back for an eighth season even though it had already been renewed for another year.  Paramount opted to take STNG to the big screen and produced four films over the next eight years.

Deep Space Nine and Voyager got me through what would have normally been a dark time after STNG went off the air.  DS9 ran from 1993 to 1999, and Voyager took me through to the 21st century as it ran from 1995 to 2001.  But Star Trek wasn't the only series I was enthralled with in the 90s.  My next favorite series to watch back in the day was The British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf, which I have written about in detail here.

Babylon 5  (1994-1998)

As a hard core Trekkie/Trekker, I didn't warm up to this series right away.  The more I watched it however, the bigger fan I became.  Sadly, just as I was really getting into the series, it ended.  I plan on catching up very soon, as all episodes can be viewed on the WB website. 

The X-Files (1993-2002)

Man did I dig this show.  There were 202 episodes made, spanning over nine seasons.  Dealing with unexplained phenomenon, aliens, and government cover ups, I swear this show spawned all kinds of modern day conspiracy theorists!  Heck.. even the theme song was intriguing and kind of creepy.  Episodes can be seen on HULU

TekWar (1994-1996)
Wiliam Shatner created the TEK series of books and comics which later spawned this TV show.  The series takes place in 2045 and focuses on "Tek," a computer-based reality drug.  Ex-cop Jake Cardigan, is hired by William Shatner's character "Bascome", who is the head of a private security firm.  They begin working together to help track down the Tek Lords.  You can currently see every episode on IMDb

Stargate SG1 (1997-2007)

Based on the 2004 film Stargate, this show had excellent writing and quite a successful run. It also spawned two other series that I occasionally watched called; Stargate Atlantis (2004-2009) and Stargate Universe (2009-2011).  Visit the official Stargate website

Earth Final Conflict (1997-2002)

This show was created by Gene Roddenberry and was produced after his death, under the direction of his wife Majel Barret-Roddenberry. In this series, a race of aliens called the Taelons come to Earth for refuge.  In exchange for safe harbor, the Taelons offer up access to their technology, which actually starts making the world a much better place to live.  As the series progresses, it's slowly revealed that the Taelons have ulterior motives, although it's not world domination as one might expect.

Sliders (1995-2000)
Jerry O'Connell plays a physics student who creates a device that opens portals into parallel universes. While giving his physics professor a demonstration, they and two others in close proximity get sucked into a portal, and slide into an alternate reality.  And so begins the saga of this mismatched foursome jumping through portals in hopes of getting back to their reality.  This show was somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. Many of the scenarios were pretty unrealistic, while others were quite intriguing.  With an infinite number of possibilities in regards to parallel realities, writers sometimes came up with some great ideas.  Other times.. not so much.

My favorite actor on the show was John Rhys-Davies (Arab excavator Sallah in the Indiana Jones movies). Davies played physics professor Arturo, and was killed off err.. written out of the show in season three.  I hung in there until about the fourth season when Fox cancelled the series, and Sci-Fi Channel picked it up for an additional two seasons. By season five, Jerry O'Connell had left the show, and only one actor from the original cast remained.  Episodes can be seen on HULU

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999)
An immensely popular show back in the day, with a worldwide fan base thanks to syndication.  As a big fan of the old Hercules movies I saw when I was a wee lad, I took a gamble on watching this show.  Kevin Sorbo played Hercules and Michael Hurst played his sidekick Iolaus.  The dynamic of the two actors was one of the many reasons the show was so popular.  Bruce Campbel had a reoccurring role as Autolycus, and the episodes he was in were among my favorites.  The show could get a bit corny at times, but it entertained me for most of its run.  Episodes can be seen on Amazon.com

Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001)

Lucy Lawless starred as Xena the Warrior Princess in this Hercules spin-off.  Not a show I watched regularly, but the times that I did, I got a kick out of it. If I remember correctly, there were occasional crossover episodes where Xena and Hercules crossed paths, and I always made sure never to miss those.

Episodes can be seen on Amazon.com

Sea Quest DSV (1993-1996)

Roy Schneider starred for two seasons as Captain Nathan Bridger, commander of the Sea Quest DSV (Deep Submergence Vehicle) Submarine.  The series was set in 2018 during a time when most of earths resources had been nearly depleted (except for the ones under the sea that is). Colonies have been established under water, and it was Sea Quest's job to protect them. 

The show had a nice mix of science and sci-fi due to the fact that Steven Spielberg was an executive producer for the first two seasons. Heck.. there was even a character named Darwin, who happened to be a dolphin that was outfitted with a futuristic translation device so he could communicate with the crew.  I remember kids loving that dolphin, and I think I even bought a Darwin action figure for my son at one point.  I found my interest waned towards the end of season two, and my sentiments must have been shared by many others, as the show was cancelled halfway through the third season.  Episodes can be seen on Netflix

Dark Skies (1996-1997)

This show was set in the 1960s, with the premise that aliens were living amongst humans.  These aliens were ugly looking little spiderlike creatures that would enter into a humans body via mouth, nose, and ears.  Once inside its host, the alien would attach itself to the humans brain and control it.

The show was cancelled after one season, and it's really a shame.  Plans were to run it for five seasons, with every season focusing on a different decade.  Season five was to be set in the year 2000 when an all out war takes place with the aliens.

I do remember a few other sci-fi series like Farscape, Roswell, and Space Above and Beyond, but I might have only seen one or two episodes of each one at best.  There was simply too much other great programming on Television that took up a lot of my time, and I simply had no desire to commit to any other shows.

I remember being so excited when the weekend would roll around.  It seemed as if entire weekends of action packed sci-fi goodness was at my disposal, and right from the comfort of my own home to boot!  As I anxiously waited for the next weekend to come around so I could once again see my favorite shows, there was plenty of other great programming throughout the weekdays to see me through.

Yes, those were good times for the Sci-Fi Geek indeed, and I truly miss them.  Can today's Sci-Fi hold a candle to the 90s Sci-Fi?  From what I've personally seen, I'm leaning towards no.. but then again, I only watch a couple of Sci-Fi shows that are currently on television.  Maybe I'm just not watching enough TV.  Hmm.. this might warrant some "investigative research"..

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