We're Living In A Golden Age Of Sci-Fi And Fantasy TV And Movies

Opinion: Guardians of the Galaxy. The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones. The last couple of years have been very good to anyone who likes sci-fi or fantasy; there are more shows and movies across the entire genre than in the decades before And there are more ways to watch all these great TV shows and movies than ever before. Life is pretty great.

Last night, on my own recommendation, I re-watched The Returned on Stan — it's an American remake of a French series called Les Revenants, about a small town that sees a crowd of people re-appear, apropos of nothing, years after they all died. It's very creepy, very weird, and very interesting. It held my attention, but if it wasn't great, I could have picked any one of a dozen other impressive-sounding sci-fi shows on Netflix, Stan, Foxtel or free-to-air TV.

The Returned is just one of dozens of different sci-fi, supernatural, and fantasy TV series that are flooding Netlflix and Stan and Presto and the other on-demand streaming services. Even on that same "people coming back to life" theme you have The Returned, The 4400, The Leftovers and others. Post-apocalyptic films and movies — you have I am Legend, Revolution, and the global phenomenon that is The Walking Dead. Fantasy you have Game of Thrones, Rome, Spartacus, Vikings...

The Walking Dead — a TV show about zombies, for god's sake, something I never would have thought would actually get remotely popular — is now big enough that it's spun off a different series called Fear The Walking Dead. FTWD looks like it's going to be pretty good, too, even if it doesn't have the solid basis in comic book graphic novel history that The Walking Dead itself has. People like this stuff now!

The obvious killer app for fantasy TV is Game Of Thrones — that's the one that turned swords and sandals into something cool, conveniently by injecting lots of blood and gore and sex and magic. Everyone watches it, everyone talks about it, everyone knows about it — and going on the number of reaction videos to the most recent season finale, it's pretty well entered into the mainstream.

Sure, you can complain that we don't get TV shows and movies anywhere as quickly as when they debut in the US. And we do miss out on some great shows still, like the still-to-be-confirmed-for-Australia second season of Halt And Catch Fire. Fear The Walking Dead is similarly unconfirmed, but at least we can be pretty confident of that getting picked up by FX on Foxtel, the same guys who championed the original series Down Under and carried it through to become one of Foxtel's most popular TV shows.

There are more and more shows coming out, too — Wayward Pines is coming in on fast-track from the US on Foxtel, Netflix is championing Sense8, and there are more on the way. And we still haven't talked about the massive back catalogue of sci-fi and fantasy that you can find on all the streaming services that have rushed into Australia in the last couple of months. Dozens upon dozens of great shows, old and new, all at your fingertips. How lucky are we?

I can walk into the office and talk with people — not just the Gizmodo geeks, but even the guys and girls over at Business Insider and Popsugar — about the latest episode of GoT. As a previously shut-in geek and someone who really only talked about sci-fi TV series online on forums with like-minded individuals, it's really refreshing to see this kind of previously-geek culture hit the mainstream — and, as a result, really come into its own. It's a great feeling.

Do you agree? Have you got a favourite sci-fi TV series or fantasy movie? Let us know in the comments below.


    "Crtl-F 'Star Trek'

    No results. Nope no golden age here.

      Seen the last two movies? Eurgh. Hopefully with no Abrams and no Orci and Kurtzman involved any more, we'll get a good one...

        We need a new series. The world is ready!

        I like the new movies, but they are no replacement for the TV series.
        There's nothing like a good quality 7 year sci-fi TV show to represent any form of 'golden age'.

          Star Trek was never about something to be shown in a 2.5 hour assault on your visual senses. I would hope that the popularity of the new films leads to a new series at some point, but a new series wouldn't be something that millions upon millions of movie goers will want to see and it might get cancelled by a studio just looking at the bottom line. There's been a couple of fan made shows though. I'm really keen to see how Renegades has come out. Just noticed it's out in a couple of weeks :D This weekend in fact

          Last edited 27/07/15 1:27 pm

        I sometimes wonder whether I've missed the ST boat.

        The old ones are very, very old. And quite difficult to watch if you don't have any sense of nostalgia about them.
        I really quite enjoyed the movies, but to me they were just science fiction films. Whether they had any tie in to ST was irrelevant. I imagine ST fans would have quite enjoyed them if they had been named something else.

        I used to watch the series with Captain Janeway on late night TV. Everyone seems to blast that one, but I found it much easier to watch than the old stuff. Again, I wonder how important nostalgia is when talking about Star Trek.

          Perhaps give Deep Space Nine a shot. It was never the flagship ST show (early seasons running in parallel with TNG, later ones with Voyager), so it seems the writers were given a bit more freedom. Characters aren't so black and white, and there is an interesting series long story arc (unlike Voyager's "trying to get back home" arc that was irrelevant to most episodes).

            DS9 takes a little while to take off and for me it starts off with the same cheeseyness that plagued TOS & TNG a little bit. When it kicks off though and gets really gritty (for Star Trek it's pretty damned gritty), it pushes TNG for being my favourite Trek series. I think if you're going in to any Trek series blind take the first season with a pinch of salt as often the writers and actors are still figuring out exactly what they want to do

              Agreed and yeah @jamesh DS9 is my alltime favorite. It's treated like the bastard stepchild of the series, yet its quality is far and above Enterprise, Voyager and Abrams movies honestly, and even some of the official movies. It deserves the praise it got but the recognition was never there officially, possibly because it existed for the 2nd half of TNG's run and the first half of Voyagers. I really miss the banter between Armin Shimmerman and Rene Auberjonois each week :)

              Siddig El Fadil (He will NEVER be Alexander Siddig to me!) is knocking it out of the park on GOT though this year!

                Those last two seasons of DS9 are some of the best Sci-Fi TV you will watch. Epic storytelling, epic battles. More please!

          I have nostalgia for Voyager too as I used to watch it on late night tv when I was younger, but I only got into ST in the last few years, it seems like people REALLY blast 'Enterprise' but I found it was the perfect place to put my toe in the water for the whole ST thing.

          Nostalgia plays a huge part indeed. However, even for non-fans, it's pretty undeniable that Star-Trek brings a very specific archetypal 'flavour' of sci-fi. Other series like Andromeda, Babylon 5, Farscape and a few more found success in the same style.

          But today? Want a modern sci-fi about 'spaceships charting the far reaches of the galaxy, discovering amazing new things and dealing with futuristic problems'?

          There's nothing.

            Firefly almost filled that void :(

              Unfortunately also the last sci-fi/western fusion series I remember...

                Yep. There's a few shows right now, Falling Skies fills a nice scifi void each year, except season 4. Avoid season 4 like the plague. It's shit. But season 5 so far has been amazing. Unfortunately it's also its final season :(

          Like others here have said Deep Space Nine is the best of modern trek - watch the pilot then skip ahead to the start of season 3 and you can't go wrong

        I've noticed that everyone that wasn't a huge fan of star trek loves the new star trek movies (me included) but everyone that hates the new movies is a classic star trek fan.

          As a kid, old Trek struck me as bad over-acting and dodgy sets... still hated the new movies. (That may just be that Abrams' style of smug self-indulgence leaves me cold.)

        I thought the second one didn't do too many things wrong and had a good STO feel to it in a new wrapper. The first one though.. eurgh. I watched it once and I am glad I did because now I know that it is terrible beyond being just an action flick bearing the name Star Trek.

        There is a new TV series starting soon, whether it becomes the next big thing or not is anyone's guess. Star Trek Renegades is the fan-made movie length episode. It was sold to CBS last I heard, as a pilot for a TV series.

          Renegades is being released this weekend I believe (according to wiki). I haven't heard of whether it's actually being picked up or not yet though, it might depend on the reception to the pilot. With the amount of Trek veterans in it though I'm surprised there hasn't been a lot more fanfare about it. Maybe I just don't look in the right places anymore.

            There was a Kickstarter first and then an Indiegogo shortly after. The Kickstarter was successful but only just barely scraped across the line. I found it odd that with such high profile Trek actors involved in the project that more people didn't show up to donate. With the amount of Trekkies out there, who visit ComicCon and other similar events every year, spending oodles of cash on the cosplay costumes, memorabilia etc etc.. I would have thought that more pledges would have happened and the KS would easily reach its target and beyond.. but no.. it wasn't to be.

            I've seen the online, private preview of Renegades and while it is a good flick, it feels b-grade or fan-made because of effects and post-production budget mainly. The acting is strong for the most part.. it's a shame the budget wasn't big enough to really support the big story and actors.

            Will just have to see how it pans out because it's simply a matter of budget and if CBS get behind it with some real money, it could really do well.

          Paramount is looking into Star Trek Beyond atm, but no official word. Renegades is a fan project hoping to become official. It's got a lot of old stars in it apparently, hopefully it goes well.

            What I've heard of Beyond so far doesn't feel my heart with hope. The original script was 'too Trekky' and the studio wants it to be more mainstream. Trekkies everywhere owe Paramount everything for going ahead with TNG when Star Trek was largely dead in the water, but it's not the same Paramount today as it was 25 years ago (I'm aware the film and tv divisions of Paramount are different)

              No you're right. A huge reason Trek was on 'track' for a long time, was Rick Berman. The guy simply knew his Trek like Feige knows his Marvel. Berman wasn't 'that' involved in Enterprise overall and its quality suffered (as well as the writers strike impact). But prior to that, he flagshipped DS9 as his own baby in competition with Babylon 5 and produced the hell out of Star Trek. Without Bermans influence, it's really gone to shit...

      Totally. Its a golden age for Action films with a sci fi twist. Sci Fi makes you think about the world they describe, and how they are different than our own. Not make you go "I wish I had a raccoon buddy who swore"

      Just my 0.02c though. And Intersteller was pretty good. But they ain't no Sheckley books

    I always thought the 90s was pretty damned good for sci-fi & fantasy. Numerous Star Trek series (something I dearly miss around today), X Files, Babylon 5, Stargate, The Outer Limits, Space Above & Beyond (yes I know cancelled after 1 season but it was fantastic), Buffy, Angel, Millennium.

    It is refreshing to see 'geeky' shows and movies hitting it big though. The budgets for them are bigger than ever allowing people to create a different universe to film in. A lot of sci-fi and fantasy is big in scope and it's only really been the last 15 or so years that film makers have been able to show that convincingly on screen.

    That said, I've noticed a couple of the bigger shows seemed to trail off a little or just got weird. Battlestar Galactica, the last season just seemed to go off on a tangent to wrap up everything as quickly as possible and got messy imo. Tru Blood the writing just got too silly for me (strange in a show about vampires), but the later seasons just don't compare to the first couple. The last couple of Doctor Who seasons are distinctly average compared to previous seasons. Even outside of sci-fi & fantasy, Mad Men went downhill as far as I'm concerned after a brilliant first 2-3 seasons. What I'm wary of is the quality of shows and movies going down as studios try to milk the latest 'thing' (vampires, zombies, superheroes etc). Yes that's always been an issue, but it seems more and more shows aren't ending at their peak, instead going for 1 or 2 seasons too long.

      + FarScape, SeaQuest, Sliders, Hercules... So good!

      The amount of times a good show takes a sharp downhill turn in either season 3 or 4 is alarming, I'm forever referring to season 3 of whatever show being not up to standards. Even if I look at the very last 2 TV series I watched as of now, I didn't really enjoy Season 3 of Orange is the new black or House of cards. I'm about to move onto S03 of Vikings and I'm really hoping for a different outcome...

    The original French Les Revenants was completely brilliant. Haunting acting. This weird sense of isolation in the town. Creepy. Shot beautifully. I haven't see the remake, but if it's true to the original then great.

      I haven't seen the French original, but the remake was okay but not great. It also ended in a cliffhanger that won't be resolved due to its cancellation after one season.

        The second part of Les Revenants is out "Autumn 2015" so you may have to find out what happens next in French.... :)

    I've been enjoying Glitch on ABC. I've got one episode to go. Hopefully it all comes together.

    Calling a company 'No Regard', though? C'mon.

    I say we have too much sci-fi and superhero based movies (My 2 cents). Its good I like it but cut back the frequency a little to produce better quality. Seeing Mad Max was a breathe of fresh air.

    Fantasy you have Game of Thrones, Rome, Spartacus, Vikingsā€¦

    Rome & Vikings aren't really fantasy. Top shows, yes. (plus, wasn't Rome cancelled about a decade ago? Not that recent...)

    Check out the new 12 Monkeys series, I was worried it was going to be a giant turd but I'm actually really pumped for the second season. Penny Dreadful, while it has exactly no humour in it whatsoever is pretty good.

    The Flash was pretty damn good too, glad that didn't stink up superherodom.

      Thanks for the reminder, forgot about 12 Monkeys

    I dunno, there's always been plenty of sci fi, both good & bad.

    Now there's just more of everything thanks to changing lifestyles, the internet & whatever else.

    Sci fi & fantasy is certainly a lot more popular than it once was, I dunno if there's any extra quality stuff.

    There's some great stuff, sure. But there's also a lot of garbage.

    Either way, I've never found myself lacking stuff to watch in my 33 years. Hell, Star Trek came out in the 60s & I certainly haven't seen every episode of that. It seems like every other week I stumble across a gem on Wikipedia from the 70s or 80s I'd never even heard of before.

    So I guess there is sorta more, but not really in % way. If that makes sense.

    Glitch on ABC is really good and seems to be inspired by the French show mentioned in the article

    I feel like most of it's kinda bullshit so it's no golden age for me.

    Walking Dead is really not a good show. Marvel movies are becoming more tiresome by the minute. GOT is ok I guess but not exactly amazing either in my opinion.

    I feel like the glut of sci-fi/superhero stuff is catering to this weird man-baby phenomena where it's become acceptable to be more into things that children like, than, ya know, adult stuff. I say this as I write a comment on a video game site, yep.

      Yup, comics+movies from comics are for kids *rolls eyes* I'd make a list of things that prove you wrong but I haven't got that many years.

    I recommend Dark Matter, it's just at the start of the first season, but I like what I've seen so far. Has a Firefly-esque setup\story to date, but a bit more serious. The hook is that all the main characters have no memory of their past or how they came to be where they are.

      I'm loving Dark Matter! It's one of those shows where you know it's kind of bad but you're finding it really compelling and look forward to it a great deal more than the "good" shows.

    It's been a real dry spell for the "space opera" genre of sci-fi and after having no star trek or stargate for quite some time i was starting to worry the genre was dead, but recently there has been a resurgence which is awesome, syfy (ugh hate that rename) finally returning to its sci-fi roots has helped a great deal.
    Of current note i have watched killjoys and dark matter both quite good.

      We might get a revival with new Star Wars (here's hoping)

      Dear Santa,

      Please bring us a TV show set in Revelation Space, or maybe just Mass Effect, the TV series.


    Hmm, I'm not sure if I entirely agree... I've just started going back to Star Trek TNG on Stan because I can't find any other good shows I haven't already seen!

    I reckon a lot of these new sci-fi/fantasy shows are just the same old dramas with a coat of paint on them, much the way "military scifi" fiction is just military fiction set in space and has next to nothing to do with real science-fiction.

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