It’s less than a month now until Christmas and so begins the tiresome and stressful task of buying presents for friends and loved ones. So to help you out with the task at hand is some Cult/Sci-Fi themed recommendations for presents this year….
There are some shows out there that the critics can’t help but heap praise on and for some that can get rather tiresome. Syfy‘s re-imaging of Battlestar Galactica was a huge critical success but its one show that deserved all the praise that was heaped onto it. The original series was clearly influenced by Star Wars – directly or indirectly is another article entirely – and its a fun, action/adventure trek across the stars but it lacks any real depth or long-term character development. Ron Moore’s reinvention of Battlestar Galactica is a series that very clearly reflects the modern world with all the issues (religious tensions) and moral dilemmas (torture, democracy, freedom ect) that are ever present in the world we life in. The series is brimming with an excellent cast with Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos but two of the many actors that deserve credit for their roles.
The series ran for four seasons and admittedly its finale divides fan opinion but then again most series finales do just that; you are never going to please everyone. Prequel series Caprica was then launched which told the story of how the robotic Cylons were developed in the 12 Colonies of man. Caprica was a different beast to BSG with its action being more planet bound and a slower pace of storylines with character development taking the fore-front. Perhaps that’s why the prequel struggled with ratings because while it was still set in the BSG universe and clearly there were ties to the parent show it was a different beast entirely – perhaps too different. That doesn’t mean though that Caprica wasn’t a bloody good series and its 20 episode first season is well worth buying if you’re going to buy Battlestar Galactica as well.
Vampires; you can’t get away from them. At the cinema’s there’s Twilight and on television there’s True Blood, The Lair and The Vampire Diaries; The teen-drama continues the trend established by Buffy the Vampire Slayer of supernatural dramas revolving around a teen cast, mostly, who balancing high school with saving the world. Only The Vampire Diaries is far superior that than basic premise makes it sound. It’s a series that might feature teens as the main characters but its very adult in nature and doesn’t treat its audience as fools; you need to pay attention to keep up with the plots on this series.
Mystic Falls is a town where the supernatural seems to thrive; it has vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts and a Founder’s Council which is spectacularly rubbish at protecting the town against said supernatural baddies. Vampire brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) both fight for the affections of Elena (Nina Dobrev) who is a doppelganger of the woman, Katherine, who turned them into a vampire in 1864. As the series progresses the reasons behind that link between the two becomes clear as witches, werewolves and original vampires all enter the fray. The Vampire Diaries is a series full of twists and turns and isn’t afraid to kill off characters. Trying to keep up with all the events and the characters complex relationships with each other is hard work – there’s no dosing off in this show. The Vampire Diaries deserves far more recognition than it gets; this is no teeny drama Hollyoaks style, this is up there with True Blood and other notable genre fare.
There are plenty of Doctor Who DVDs; both original series and new series. This year saw the release of quite a few original series adventures such as Colony in Space, Day of the Daleks and Paradise Towers. If you are looking for an original series adventure to buy then here are a few suggestions. Paradise Towers stars Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford in a story set in the future in several tower blocks; it’s about the break-down of society within the tower blocks and how the residents broke up into smaller tribes. The remaining residents are being made “unalive” (killed) by the robotic street-cleaners who are under the control of the Chief Caretaker (guest appearance by Richard Bries). As with some Doctor Who’s the final outcome doesn’t always match the premise behind the episode but never-the-less Paradise Towers is a good story and would serve as a fantastic introduction to the Sylvester McCoy era which was all together darker in tone.
Day of the Daleks, starring Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning, a story that plays around with time-travel and time paradoxes. Oddly given the time travel nature of Doctor Who the series had mostly avoided paradoxes during its entire run – it’s a concept Star Trek has used far more often. A group of freedom fighters from the 22nd century travel back to the 20th century to kill a man they believe will be responsible for starting World War Three. As the title suggests the adventure also features the Daleks, their first appearance alongside Jon Pertwee, who are masters (once more) of 22nd century Earth. The DVD release of the story features a special edition which include new special effects (not entirely necessary really) and also replaces the Dalek voices with more standard style of voice – which makes the story more consistent with other Dalek serials. You can read a full review on the DVD release here >>
The sixth season of Doctor Who has, of course, also been released on DVD allowing you to watch episodes multiple times in order to fully appreciate them and pick up on all the small arc details which are littered throughout the stories and are easily missed upon first viewing. The sixth season was a bit hit or miss with The Curse of the Black Spot, Night Terrors and Closing Time being amongst the disappointments of the season but The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon and A Good Man Goes to War all being excellent.