We like to blame networks for not showing us more of the shows we love, like Firefly, Arrested Development and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. But — show of hands and, yes, I can see you — how many of us watched these shows when they originally aired? And now, how many saw them for the first time on box sets or Netflix just to shut up our TV activist friends? (You know: the ones that probably
foisted “loaned” the discs on you in the first place and kept asking if you’d watched them yet even though they’ll probably never watch Angel again.)
That’s what I thought.
Fortunately, it looks like Netflix is in the business of delivering on bringing back certain shows based on their popularity and relative non-deadness of their casts.
So, sorry I contributed to The Tick getting cancelled. But, after finally watching the following shows, I get it now. Let’s make it up to all those network television-watchers by watching the sh*t out of them.
What is it? Farscape is about an astronaut who accidentally sends himself to another part of the universe through a wormhole and joins a crew of escaped convicts on a hijacked prison ship.
Why should anyone watch it? If you read the previous sentence and got all the way up to “astronaut” without wondering if any porn sites updated, then let me use a word that might distract you from squirters for a second: “Muppets.”
Farscape is co-produced by Brian Henson, son of Jim, and nearly all of the creature effects are done through Henson Studios puppetry and costumes.
These practical effects are part of why a show in 1999 holds up better, effects-wise, than say many of the CGI attempts from only a couple of years ago.
So, it’s kind of Buck Rogers in premise. But, in execution, it’s Firefly with Muppets.
Why I failed to watch it when it was on: For some reason, I had this confused with Sliders and the various Stargate shows. (See? That’s what happens when you mention wormholes instead of pitched space battles.)
Better Off Ted
What is it? Better Off Ted follows Ted, a middle manager at a vaguely evil mega-corporation in charge of quality testing their very questionable products.
Why should anyone watch it? Even though this applies to every show I’m mentioning, this is especially true about Better Off Ted: it was too good for its time. Veridian Dynamics is basically GE, but not the GE we associate with lightbulbs. This is the GE that sort-of-inadvertently-but-kind-of-vertently destroyed the world in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Or like Corning with napalm and Agent Orange.
Ted’s team tries to solve problems like lab grown beef that tastes like despair and an automated light sensor based on facial recognition that can’t see black people. And some weapons systems.
Plus, it features Portia de Rossi managing to outdo her performance in Arrested Development.
Why I failed to watch it when it was on: I just didn’t find out about it. Maybe because GE and other similar corporations are major shareholders for the networks and were really defensive about their contributions to the War on Terror. Or maybe because you didn’t tell me about it. I blame you. (Please don’t sic whatever Blackwater calls itself now on us, mostly-beneficial omni-corporations.)
Star Trek: Enterprise
What is it? After nearly 15 years of developing the 24th Century Star Trek universe, from The Next Generation through Voyager, the producers decided to try out a series that takes place before even the Original Series. These are the voyages of the pre-Federation Earth spaceship, Enterprise, an experimental craft capable of reaching Warp 5. It also fetures Starfleet’s first encounters with the Klingons, Romulans, Tholians, Andorians and Orions.
Why should anyone watch it? Star Trek was originally imagined as “Wagon Train to the Stars.” By the end of Voyager and Deep Space Nine and, with them, the 24th Century, the galaxy in Star Trek began to feel, well, civilized. The Cardassians are experimenting with democracy, the Romulans are considering reuniting with the Vulcans and the Klingons are the Federation’s greatest ally. Even the Ferengi are attempting reforms that include market regulation and clothed fe-males.
So, if the Original Series was about westward expansion, and the ’90s series about the resulting paved cities and universal law and order, then Enterprise is the Daniel Boone/Davy Crockett-era of freewheeling exploration. There’s no Warp 9, no shields, no tractor beams and even the phasers and photon torpedoes are iffy at best. And, for the most part, the NX-01 Enterprise is all alone.
And, most importantly, there’s no Federation. So, the galaxy hasn’t learned to play nicely at all.
But, mostly you should watch it because we’ll never get a new Trek series if you don’t. I don’t want to say that everything bad that’s happened since Enterprise went off the air in 2005 is because the only new Star Trek is the questionable alt-universe movies, but that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Why I failed to watch it when it was on: Because of the terrible theme song. It’s not fair, but even the objectively-terrible Dune has kick-ass music. The Enterprise theme is Silent Running theme bad. I just assumed that if the show couldn’t correct that mistake, that there was no way they QC’d the rest of the production.
And I was wrong. It’s like the song is a test, and I failed.
Fortunately, it’s easy to skip in Netflix, so we don’t have that excuse anymore.
There you go. Get binging.