By Dan Ortiz
Amid the ongoing streaming "platform wars," - NBC Universal's Peacock entered a crowded fray inhabited by Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, among others. As each platform continues their unyielding quest to draw viewers with a mix of original programming and library content, the results for viewers can range from bona fide pop culture hits like The Old Guard and The Mandalorian to costly misfires (see: Quibi's mixed bag of offerings).
Luckily for sci-fi fans, as these respective libraries open for consumption, a treasure trove of old and new geek-friendly programming has become available at a time when as some say there's almost too much to watch. So, in an effort to help cut through the clutter, here's a guide to geek favorites on Peacock that are helpfully divided into the following categories: Bingeable, New & Notable, Worth a Re-watch, and Deep Cuts.
Brave New World
An adaptation of the Aldous Huxley novel, Brave New World is probably one of the more prescient programs on the platform at the moment. Set in the near-future city of New London, the show focuses on a seemingly idyllic but ultimately pharmaceutically-controlled utopian society where monogamy, privacy, money, and family are strictly outlawed.
The series begins with a somewhat slow burn, but quickly amps up the storytelling pace and character development once series lead Jessica Brown Findlay's Lenina finds herself stranded in The "Savage Lands". This shattered remains of the United States has become an adventure park where New London denizens gawk at how savagely Americans live. From there, the story continues unspooling the mythology of New London as seen through the eyes of John (Solo's Alden Ehrenreich), a refugee from the Savage Lands struggling to fit in with New London's rigorous utopia.
The nine episodes are easily bingeable, and the promising cast brings the right amount of nuance and mystery to the proceedings. Demi Moore is especially enjoyable in a surprising star turn as John's mother, and Blade Runner 2049's Hannah John-Kamen is New London's mysterious romantic relationships czar.
New and Notable
In a near-future London, DI John Major is shot dead during a botched police operation. Luckily for John, he becomes a candidate in an experimental program to revive him using Artificial Intelligence.
One year later, a new and improved John seemingly returns from the dead to find life has moved on without him. As John becomes acquainted with the life he left behind and his new body, the series evolves into Six Million Dollar Man meets Law & Order with a healthy dose of dry British humor to smooth out the rough edges.
It's essentially British Robocop at its core, but John's relationship with partner Roy (Stephen Graham of This is England) creates an enjoyable brotherly dynamic that offsets some of the series' shortcomings, such as the hackneyed plot and by-the-book good guy/bad guy dynamics meant to underscore John's search for the truth of who killed him.
This British export centers on The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi as an investigator for Britain's air transportation investigative bureau. She's looking into the disappearance of a transatlantic airliner with 256 passengers aboard.
While there isn't anything overtly Sci-Fi about the series at face value, Departure does feel like Lost re-envisioned for 2020 without all the baggage of smoke monsters, Others, and convoluted theories that ultimately lead to one giant MacGuffin.
While the ultimate direction of the series is murky (I don't know how it has the legs to be a multi-season show), the cast is enjoyable, and the mystery is captivating enough to stay interested as the mystery unfolds.
In the show's talent roster, watch for sci-fi favorites like Christopher Plummer (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), Peter Mensah (300), Shazad Latif (Penny Dreadful), and Sasha Roiz (Caprica).
This is an angsty teen-oriented series focusing on a group of wolves inhabiting a British high school. The only catch is that these wolves are humans with wolves' blood, not conventional werewolves.
All of the typical clichéd high school tropes are on full display right down to the moody new kid who gets drawn into the affairs of the wolf pack. Fans of MTV's Teen Wolf will more than likely be ready to sink their fangs into this novel hybrid of Twilight: New Moon meets Degrassi.
Beyond the ropey visual FX, there is a genuine heart and soul to the show and the relatable family dynamics are possibly the series' only saving grace.
Worth a Re-watch
So say we all! It wouldn't be unfair to claim that 2020 has felt like the end of the world. So what better time to catch up with an actual "end of the world" event in the form of re-watching all 4 seasons of Star Trek TNG scribe Ronald D Moore's glorious Battlestar Galactica re-imagining and the miniseries that started it all.
Die-hard fans already know the setup but the time is now to relive the adventures of the last bastion of humanity's war with the Cylons and their grand "plan" for the galaxy ahead of the in-the-works reboot of Battlestar currently underway at Peacock.
Come for the Starbuck quips, stay for the excellent President Roslin performance by Mary McDonell and the TNG-like dedication to quality storytelling.
What better month than October to revisit the "Charmed Ones"? TV impresario Aaron Spelling's series spanned eight seasons, spawned a cult following, and defined a network (surely you remember The WB).
Though the Charmed reboot did not fare as well, now is the perfect time to get back to basics.
When this cheesy series debuted on FOX back in 1995, it was essentially a bargain-basement Quantum Leap focusing on a group of scientists "sliding" through interdimensional wormholes in the search for the slide that would bring them back to Earth. Along the way, there were plots ranging from inspired to just plain ludicrous, including a future where the United States lost the Revolutionary War to dimension-crossing aliens looking to invade Earth.
It's no surprise that the series, visual effects, and storytelling have not aged well. However, some episodes are worth a re-watch. Even though there are place where Sliders may have slipped, there's no denying it paved the way for superior weekly sci-fi shows like Fringe.
Was it flawed? Sure.
Was it a great step in weekly sci-fi on a broadcast network? Most definitely.
Is it available to watch again in all of it's flawed, overdrawn glory in order to reevaluate its impact and legacy?
While Netflix may have scored a run with its faithful reboot, there's nothing like the original classic mothership. You can relive all those creepy stories that gave you nightmares and make you look over your shoulder at night.
SeaQuest DSV/SeaQuest 2032
Star Trek: Underwater was the original premise. Helmed by a creative team that included Steven Spielberg, this NBC series followed the crew of the Seaquest DSV (Deep Submergence Vehicle) on its ongoing mission to protect Earth's oceans from threats ranging from pirates, sea monsters, and aliens.
Silliness aside, in retrospect the show can be admired for its moxie and mojo. When things worked, they sure worked, and when they didn't, it could sink like a stone.
Following a protracted contract debate, SeaQuest DSV star Roy Scheider was released from his contract and Season 3 of SeaQuestDSV was re-branded SeaQuest 2032. Scheider was replaced with a new captain of the SeaQuest, but it was too late.
The show's ratings entered a crash dive from which they were unable to recover, and the series was mercilessly put down halfway through its third season. Luckily, anyone who wants to watch SeaQuest DSV's funeral at sea has the opportunity for a front-row seat!
This SyFy series had an intriguing premise. It takes place aboard a "generation ship" (a space 'ark' launched in the 1960s) on a journey to a far-away Proxima Centauri. When some things with the ship go awry, the mishaps begin to reveal cracks in the overall mission at large, threatening to upset the balance of the ship and its residents.
One of the most fun aspects of this show was that the generation ship residents still retained a swinging 60s vibe. So, this was essentially Mad Men in space with a fun "what is reality?" angle to boot.
Colin Ferguson stars as Sheriff Jack Carter in the idyllic town of Eureka. However, as is the case with all idyllic small towns, there are mysteries afoot caused by the neighboring no-good technology company that causes things in Eureka to go haywire at an alarming rate.
It was always a quirky series, but one that in retrospect feels like a sci-fi blueprint for other future series about quirky towns like Schitt's Creek and Stranger Things.
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