The Christmas holidays are here and you may find yourself with some time on your hands or possibly looking for an excuse to escape from relatives. Well, the streaming services have plenty to offer to fill up a few hours in case you manage to work in some couch time. You probably won’t have time to binge all 178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation or even the four season (plus mini-series) run of Farscape. But there are more than enough shorter series that you can get through in a day or two. Here are a few suggestions and you can look through our comprehensive list of sci fi and fantasy shows on the streaming services at the links below.
Penny Dreadful (Netflix, 3 Seasons Totaling 27 Episodes): This series basically delivers an all-star lineup of historical horror / supernatural characters such as Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, and more. The series focuses on the explorer Malcolm Murry, the gunslinger Ethan Chandler, Dr. Frankenstein, and the medium Vanessa Ives who come together to fight against supernatural threats in Victorian England. As this was a Showtime series, it has plenty of adult content, but also some good stories and interesting characters to keep you engaged. The series wrapped up with its third season so it does not leave you on a cliffhanger, but you may still want more adventures from these characters (and a new season of Penny Dreadful is in the works, though it will have a different setting and new characters).
3% (Netflix, 2 Seasons Totaling 18 Episodes): This is a Netflix original that not many people know about but that is worth checking out. It takes place in a future dystopian world that is crumbling from decay where people compete to be among the 3% who move to the “Offshore” society where conditions are better. It draws liberally from other genre works, most notably The Hunger Games, but it still manages to be original enough to be enjoyable. The series was produced in Brazil and you have the option to listen to the dubbed version or the Portuguese version with English subtitles. This one has made it through a second season thus far and is definitely worth checking out, especially if you like dystopian stories.
Captain Harlock (Tubi TV, 1 Season Totaling 42 Episodes): If you are looking for some classic Anime, this would be a good show to check out. Leiji Matsumoto’s iconic series launched a beloved collection of characters that would live on for years after this one first debuted. Captain Harlock leads a group of rebels against a dangerous invading force because the people on Earth have lost their will to fight. This show is brooding and atmospheric and at times verges on romanticism. But it does deliver a good story that champions those that struggle in the face of adversity. It is 42 episodes long, but those are less than a half hour each, so you could still get through this in a couple of days. And that would be time well spent.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, 2 Seasons Totaling 23 Episodes): This is another original series from the streaming services and it has received plenty of well-deserved praise. It is based on the Margaret Atwood book of the same name about a near-future world were reduced fertility in women has led to drastic changes in American society. A rigid theocracy has taken control of the United States and has created a tiered society that segments the population and rules based on a draconian interpretation of Biblical law. The show has a stellar cast led by Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, and Yvonne Strahovski, and it delivers an intense and moving drama. Two seasons have been produced thus far with another on the way and this show has already established itself as one of the best drama’s on television.
Carnivale (Prime Video, 2 Seasons Totaling 24 Episodes): This series follows a traveling carnival full of mysterious characters that finds itself in a battle of good vs. evil and destiny vs. free will. It originally aired on HBO and worked in plenty of adult situations, but the complex story and the morally ambiguous characters are what really makes this one worth watching. This is not your average supernatural drama, it is a show that has an epic scope and tackles some grand themes. Sadly, it was cancelled after its second season, but it does provide a resolution of sorts. You will find yourself wanting more, but it is still worth watching the two seasons that were produced.
Firefly (Hulu, 1 Season Totaling 14 Episodes): If you don’t have too much time for watching television over the holidays but still would like to spend some time in front of the tube, get this one on your watch list. Joss Whedon’s infamous series that follows the rebel crew of the Firefly-class ship Serenity deserves the reputation it has received as a sci fi TV classic. Just watch the fourteen episodes that were produced and you will see. And after those leave you wanting more, you can seek out the feature film Serenity that gave the show somewhat of a conclusion. If you have never seen this series, then now is the time to rectify that. And if you have seen, why not relive the magic?
Still looking for some more shows to watch, maybe some family friendly options? Check out our suggestions for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at this link.