The past 25 years has seen TV rise from its status as cinema’s second banana to a storytelling format that draws the biggest names in entertainment both behind and in front of the camera. It’s no surprise (to us, anyway) that a lot of what makes up “prestige” TV has fallen into one of the genres we cover. Here’s our look back at 25 of the science fiction series that helped us get where we are, Golden Age-wise.
J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 is a seminal work of science-fiction, molding a story set hundreds of years in the future that blended religion, political rivalry, and space exploration into one beautiful canvas. The characters evolved as the series went along, and in a way, it was the anti-Star Trek (at the time), taking a more mature approach to the genre and set in a world where everyone doesn’t just get along. The series also pioneered the use of CGI effects, moving away from the models and practical effects that had been so prevalent in genre shows up to that point.
Animated series or not, this is arguably one of the best takes on the Dark Knight ever put to screen. Period. From the jump, Batman: TASwas designed to be a more timeless take on the character, from the look of the show to the stories it tried to tell. And it worked. Decades later, fans are still falling in love with this version of Batman. Bonus points for introducing the world to Harley Quinn, as well.
The modern-day reboot of the cheesy, 1970s sci-fi series was turned into a post-9/11 lens through which to grapple with the ideas of war, humanity, and what it means to survive. Creator Ronald D. Moore crafted one of the most compelling shows of the past few decades, laying out a drama where even the bad guys were sometimes more compelling than the heroes we’d been following in the Galactica’s fleet. To this day, it’s the standard most space-set sci-fi shows aspire to reach.
This anthology series is basically The Twilight Zone if it were made on the bleeding edge of technology, telling one-off stories that tackle everything from our obsession with reality TV to how technology can warp the ways we grieve the dead.