Paramount+ (formerly CBS All Access) has changed the game after years of wanting new Star Trek shows but not getting them. In 2022, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debuted to widespread acclaim. Star Trek: Discovery is back for its fifth season, and the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks is currently in its third. Star Trek: Prodigy is the first Star Trek series aimed squarely at children, and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s regular cast will reunite for the third season of Picard.
Even though we live in a “All Trek All the Time” era, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any great science fiction stories set in galaxies other than the Federation. Some space-themed TV shows have been around for decades while others have faded into obscurity. There’s a wide range of styles and budgets among these shows, so every viewer is sure to find something they like. You might want to watch them in the off-season if you’re a fan of Star Trek or serialized space adventures.
As the living spaceship Moya and its crew fight to flee a fascist military operation known as the Peacekeepers, an astronaut from Earth finds himself on board. Farscape premiered in the early 2000s as a response to viewers’ declining interest in Star Trek; however, unlike the original series, the show’s main characters aren’t always model citizens. John Crichton (Ben Browder) is a likeable protagonist because of his witty pop culture comebacks and laid-back demeanor, which make him an excellent stand-in for the audience. The character of Aeryn Sun, portrayed by Claudia Black, turns out to be a great fit for him. In addition to the visuals and animatronics, their chemistry is a major selling point of the show.
“Babylon 5” (1993-1999)
Babylon 5, a space opera set on the titular space station, explores what happens when humans and aliens, still learning the art of diplomacy, are forced to work together to bring peace to a galaxy that has yet to master it. The show doesn’t shy away from showing the destructive effects of war in Babylon 5, and it also explores the darker side of humanity through stories about Xenophobic groups and the influence of politics and religion. Not only does the show’s space station setting (the degree to which it resembles Deep Space Nine has been the subject of some debate) evoke the feel of that show, but so does its focus on how ordinary people can be changed by large-scale galactic events.
Invisible Stuff (2015-2017)
Six people from the future find themselves on a spaceship with no memory of their past or their way there. But how can they possibly trust one another when they need to work together to uncover the truth? The introduction of The Android (Zoie Palmer), a character who is the smartest person in the room but knows little about human interaction, is one of the most reminiscent of Star Trek in Dark Matter, which is based on the comic series of the same name. Despite being cancelled after only three seasons, the show was able to build a dedicated fan base thanks to its blend of comedic and dramatic elements, its diverse cast, and its seemingly ubiquitous antagonist. Fans of the Star Trek franchise will appreciate Dark Matter’s focus on the interpersonal dynamics between characters more than on the grandiose aspects of science fiction.
When it comes to fan support, Killjoys should have gotten far more than it did. Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Johnny (Aaron Ashmore), and D’avin (Luke Macfarlane) are three bounty hunters in this underrated science fiction adventure. The three main characters work well together and bounce off each other brilliantly. In between the fights and the space travel, there are plenty of humorous asides. As a refreshing change in the space opera genre, this Canadian show excels because it is more accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community than Star Trek used to be. Initially, episodes stood alone like in classic Trek, but later, like in Deep Space Nine and Enterprise, recurring antagonists were introduced. Fans of Killjoys also connected with the show because it explored the universal theme of a “found family” in the Star Trek universe.
The Mandolian (2019-Present)
It’s never made any sense to compare Star Wars and Star Trek as competing franchises. Since the premiere of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a live-action series on Disney+, the gap between the two franchises has shrunk even further. Are you looking for a galactic journey? As our hero travels from system to system in order to safeguard his young charge, the Mandalorian has that. Do you wish for aliens, treachery, and the formation of unusual bonds? Everything you need is on the Razor Crest. There are epic battles, daring duels, and cunning villains, too! While The Mandalorian is its own show with its own visual style, the first two seasons will satisfy your Star Trek fix when you don’t feel like rewatching your favorite movie.
It’s time for Battlestar Galactica! (2003-2009)
Battlestar Galactica has probably been on your tv viewing list for a while if you’re a Trekkie. The reimagined 1970s show takes place on the flagship starship that commands the fleet carrying the galaxy’s final human survivors. Fan favorites like Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) and Apollo (Jamie Bamber) are part of Admiral Adama’s (Edward James Olmos) crew, which also includes President Laura Roslin (two-time Oscar nominee Mary McDonnell). Adama plans to get somewhere, but the fleet is fighting an old enemy in a new form, and he may not get there. Like the Borg, the Cylons are sneaky and relentless in their pursuit of their goals. Even worse, the Cylons in the new series can mimic human appearance, making it difficult to trust them. Even though some of the show’s plots and characters’ arcs were divisive up until the end of the series, Battlestar Galactica is still a great show with memorable characters and plenty of food for thought.
We’re All Alone Here in Space (2018-2021)
The 2018 remake of Lost in Space (yes, another remake) will appeal to viewers interested in topics like space travel and exploration. The show chronicles the adventures of the Robinson family as they venture into deep space, including parents Molly (Maureen Robinson) and John (Toby Stephens) and their three kids, would-be neurosurgeon Judy (Taylor Russell), aspiring author Penny (Mina Sundwall), and science-enthusiast Will (Maxwell Jenkins). Space presents the Robinsons with many challenges, but the family always finds a way to persevere in the face of hostile planets, alien life forms, mechanical adversaries, and even other humans. If they can stick together, this family will be able to handle anything. Yet their helpful, if reticent, robot is needed more than they realize. At the first sign of trouble, who else will shout “Danger, Will Robinson?”
The Widespread (2015-2022)
The Expanse, one of the best science fiction shows of the new millennium, is set in the 24th century (like several Star Trek shows). The series, adapted from the novels by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, centers on a group of people who find themselves unwittingly entangled in a massive conspiracy that threatens to destabilize the tenuous peace that has been maintaining itself throughout the Solar System. Although the show’s main characters are interesting, it’s the political plots that will keep you watching. Some of the most interesting characters on the show are played by Shohreh Aghdashloo (UN representative Chrisjen Avasarala) and Frankie Adams (gunnery sergeant Bobby Draper, who joined the show in season 2). You won’t want to miss a minute of the interpersonal dynamics of the Rocinante’s crew. If you’re interested in space adventures, but aren’t sure whether to stay for the political intrigue or leave, The Expanse is the show for you.
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