The New Years holiday is almost here and you may be taking off some time or planning a few days to recover from the festivities. If you want to sit back and watch some sci fi TV, the streaming services have plenty of options available, especially if you are looking for some classic genre entries. The good thing about the classics is that they tend to be very episodic and you can pick them up at any point in their run (though certain seasons tend to be better than others). Here are several classic sci fi TV shows that you might want to sample if you find yourself with some couch time over the next few days. And if you are looking for some more streaming finds, you can look through our comprehensive list of sci fi and fantasy shows on the streaming services at the links below.
The Twilight Zone (1959-64, 5 Seasons Totaling 156 Episodes): This sci fi / horror anthology has become a New Year’s staple with Syfy’s annual marathon at this time of year (which began back when the network was called The Sci Fi Channel). But why let somebody else decide which episodes you watch? You can make your own marathon on the streaming services which may include the classics or some of the less-recognized episodes. The big three streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu) all have this one available, but for some reason only Hulu has the fourth season (those are the hour-long episodes). The first three seasons have most of the classic eps, but you can find choice picks across the show’s entire five-year run. And if you are looking for more classic sci fi anthology shows, the original Outer Limits is available on Hulu and One Step Beyond is available on Amazon.
Star Trek (1966-69, 3 Seasons Totaling 79 Episodes): Another all-time classic that set the bar for sci fi TV back in its day (and still has significant influence today), this one is worth going back and sampling some of the classic episodes. Understand that the show was made long before the CGI era and give it some leeway for cheesiness (and a tendency toward the melodramatic). But if you are watching this one for the first time or re-watching it after a long absence, you can find plenty to appreciate in the stories that intelligently incorporate science and/or make social statements. The first two seasons are by far the best this show has to offer, but the third year has a few gems as well. This show is also available on the big three streaming services, and if you are looking for the sequel shows you can find them there as well going all the way to 2001’s Star Trek: Enterprise.
Highlander (1992-98, 6 Seasons Totaling 119 Episodes): This franchise spanned across six films and three television series (including the animated show), but I believe most fans recognize the first TV entry as the best representation next to the original film. Adrian Paul plays Duncan MacLeod, part of the same clan as Connor Macleod from the movies. The series follows Duncan in the present day and also frequently flashes back to his adventures in the past. This show gets a little more arc-heavy in later seasons, but for the most part you can pick up on what is going on pretty quickly. All six season are available on Hulu and that service also has the spin-off series Highlander: The Raven. Amazon has the first two seasons of the main series available for streaming.
The X-Files (1993-2018, 11 Seasons Totaling 218 Episodes): This show definitely had an over-arching story which carried over its multi-year run, but it also had plenty of good stand-alone episodes. Throughout the first five seasons, you can pick it up just about anywhere without feeling too lost. You may not know how the episode fits into the bigger picture, but the individual stories are usually mostly self-contained. Note that the quality of this show dropped considerably after its sixth season and I really can’t recommend the two revival seasons at all (with the exception of the Season 10 ep “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”). All eleven seasons are available on Hulu and should offer some creepy fun over the holiday period
UFO (1970-71, 1 Season Totaling 26 Episodes): This Gerry Anderson creation is a bit of a sleeper series and you need to prepare yourself for a heaping dose of 70’s cheesiness before going in. But this show took what could have been an alien-of-the-week formula and injected some hard-hitting stories into the mix. All you need to know going in is that SHADO is a secret organization that is at war with aliens from a dying world that need human bodies in order to survive. You can pick this one up at any point in its short run, but the best episodes came during the first half of its only season. This one is available on TubiTV, and if you are looking Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation shows, you can find them on that streaming service as well.
Lost in Space (1965-68, 3 Season Totaling 83 Episode): Speaking of cheesy sci fi, this is the granddaddy of them all and you can enjoy any part of its three seasons of camp fun. Irwin Allen was the king of the genre during the sixties, and this show has all of his excesses on full display. Giant monsters, space pirates, cosmic hillbillies, and even the devil makes an appearance in the show. And of course there is the infamous giant talking carrot. If you prefer more straight-forward sci fi, stick to the first half of the first season. But if you just want a bonkers interstellar romp, feel free to sample episodes across all three seasons (and be sure not to miss the Season 3 classic ep “The Great Vegetable Rebellion”). The entire series is available on Hulu, and if this one leaves you jonesing for more Irwin Allen camp classics, that streamer also has Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, and The Time Tunnel.
Still looking for some more shows to watch on the streaming services? Check out our suggestions from the Christmas holiday weekend at this link.