When it comes to science fiction and the SciFi channel, there are mediocre shows, good shows and really great shows. I think that the SciFi channel subscribes to the notion that you need all levels of writing in order to find the really great, OMG, that was awesome, must watch again and again series. In that arena falls three shows for 2008, but before I get to those, I must mention one really great show that ran for 10 years and will remain the all time great shows besides Star Trek. That show is Stargate SG-1. In its long run, it introduced us to worlds, realms and ideas that made us pause, gasp and laugh. It stands, in my opinion, as one of those shows that becomes part of pop culture and will remain a memory of a really great science fiction television show.
In 2008, I loved three other SciFi channel entrants: Stargate Atlantis,Battlestar Galactica and Sanctuary. These three shows presented unique characters, universes that were populated by villains and heroes and an overall plotline that made for great fiction and memorable televisions shows.
Stargate Atlantis followed the trials and tribulations of a Stargate team including Col. John Sheppard, Dr. Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagen and Ronan Dex. There were peripheral characters, but at the heart of the really good plots were these four characters. This show has been around for five seasons, and in that time, we have been treated to the adventures and misadventures of a Stargate crew that went to find backup and weapons for their troubles in our galaxy by going to the Pegasus galaxy. It was, at first, considered a one-way trip. This spin-off of Stargate SG-1 is both entertaining and fun to watch. The characters are memorable in small ways as well as large. The character of Dr. Rodney McKay has long stolen the spotlight in the fact that he’s so unlike a larger-than-life hero – he has foibles, whines a bit and is not your standard good looking sod. He’s cute and pudgy, and he can give you a headache. While I didn’t like him much at first, he’s become a person that is so human in his uniqueness that he’s as much fun to watch as the lead male character, Lt. Col. John Sheppard. Sheppard is everything that Rodney is not – brave, stalwart, hero-like. However, together the two of them make for fun adventures, and there’s a friendship and mutual respect you wouldn’t ordinarily attribute to these two character types. It’s one of the things that make this show so much fun to watch.
When you think “Grim”, gritty and edgy, you have to think of the remake of Battlestar Galactica. This show, no matter what your position in life, will make you feel better about yourself. These characters and the plot are gripping, gritty and you soon realize that while these people are searching for Earth, you probably don’t want them to reach it. The people on the Battlestar Galactica are not all that nice; in fact, some are downright vicious. They are in a war with the Cylons, robots that the humans created long ago. The Cylons have evolved and have returned to reap revenge on their makers. This show is so real, so true to even some things which are happening in the world today, that there are no way you can look at this television show is escapism. I mean, who would want to escape to their world. But like watching an automobile crash in slow motion, you watch the events unfold with morbid fascination. You will begin to love even the skulkiest of characters; you will love the villains as much as you adore the heroes. In fact, as the show continues, you realize there are not heroes in this story. Just plain folks trying to survive the total destruction of their home world.
Oh yeah, did I mention that the Cylons won the war with the humans, destroyed their world and sent them scattering into space in hunks of junk you wouldn’t trust to get you from here to the moon let alone across the galaxy. There is a tie-in with Earth. We are their myth; our world a shining planet they are looking for following something that is almost a fairy tale, except that it’s a nightmare voyage.
Last on that list of notable entrants is Sanctuary. It just premiered in the fall of 2008 starring Amanda Tapping of Colonel Carter fame. What makes this show fascinating is in its uniqueness. It is completely different than any show you’ve ever seen. The premise is about the adventures of Dr. Helen Magnus who is a brilliant scientist who takes care of the fringe people, you know those nightmares you read about but would never like to meet. Her job is to keep the secrets of this clandestine population offering Sanctuary to those who are hiding amongst the human population. Not all of them are that nice, but all of them are different. She recruits a forensic psychiatrist named Dr. Will Zimmerman played by Robin Dunne, and along with her daughter, Ashley played by Emilie Ullerup, and a tech wiz named Henry she looks to unlock their mysteries and why they exist. We have an evil villain played by Christopher Heyerdahl who is out to destroy her operation. The plots, virtual sets and extraordinary special effects as well as the tight characterizations make this show a standout success amongst the other SciFi channel entrants.