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Top 10 List of Shows For Geeks

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm by Darth Shiva

You know when you turn on the TV and there are 300 channels and nothing to watch?  Well, that’s not always the case.  Sometimes an amazing show full of geeky references sneaks in and invades mainstream television.  But how do you sift through all the crap to get to shows that you as a geek will truly love?  For the most part, I get ideas for what to watch from other geeks.  One of the things I love is to meet new people who are geeks like me and start listing off our geek creds.  The things you love, the games you play, the books you read, etc.  Since geeks have been “in” for a while, and people realize that science fiction shows aren’t scary, there have been a LOT of television shows in recent times that have much more geeky undertones, and a lot of stuff out there that is breaking the barriers of what people are willing to watch on primetime TV.  But it started with baby steps, and some great cable channels.  So here is my top 10 list of shows I think all geeks should see, so get your Netflix queues and DVRs ready!

Honorable Mention – “The Guild”

 

The reason this is not on my list is that it’s not technically a television series.   Created and written by Felicia Day and released as webisodes on YouTube in 2007 and as downloads on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Marketplace, Zune Marketplace, and MSN video, the show revolves around a group of gamers who play an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) together and once they have met IRL (In Real Life), they strive to keep their guild together through all the individual quirks and antics of the players.  As a gamer, and an avid player of World of Warcraft, from the first time I watched this show, I felt connected to this zany show about people who game…a LOT.  The community you create online with people you game with for hours on end is completely different from the one it would be in real life if you didn’t originally know everyone.  The show manages to capture that and poke fun at the gamer stereotypes while still being light-hearted and sweet.  You find yourself rooting for everyone and your favorite character can change in an instant.  Wil Wheaton joins the cast in Season 3 as the leader of a rival guild, and wackiness ensues.  The webisodes are between about 5 and 8 minutes in length and definitely worth checking out!  Season 6 will premiere on Felicia Day’s YouTube channel Geek & Sundry.

#10 – “Scrubs”

 

This show is on the list for pure awesomeness reasons, and the sheer number of geek references throughout the 9 seasons it was on the air.  A sitcom that started in 2001, this show revolved around one medical intern, Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian (Zach Braff), who is starting the first day of his residency with his best friend Turk (Donald Faison), the girl of his dreams Elliot (Sarah Chalke), and a nurse, Carla (Judy Reyes), who looks out for him from the beginning while he narrates events in his head.  The show is funny and lighthearted, while being able to play on big emotions and major events in a deep and moving way.  J.D. spends most of his time daydreaming, and it gives the show endless opportunities for great plays on geeky humor, from Star Wars (the Janitor as Chewbacca is just awesome) to the Hulk and everything in between.  While the content of the show is medical comedy-drama, no geek would be able to watch this without finding a number of vignettes they would enjoy immensely.

#9 – “Smallville”

 

This one is for the comic book geeks.  I admit, I stopped watching this show around Season 7, but mostly for reasons of not being able to watch it regularly and I have this thing about not being able to watch a series show out of order, so it’s on my list of shows to finish.  “Smallville” first aired in 2001 and lasted for 10 seasons, an amazing feat for any show.  It chronicles the life of Clark Kent (Tom Welling) on his way to becoming Superman, starting in high school in Smallville, Kansas and eventually moving to Metropolis and working at the Daily Planet.  “Smallville” shows us some of our favorite comic book characters before they became who we know them as from the comics.  Watching Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) as a young man before he becomes the arch enemy of Superman is a fascinating journey and the chemistry the two have on screen make the rise and fall of their friendship that much stronger and heartfelt.  The show picked strong actors to play the characters we know and love and the dynamic between them all is great.  If you’re a fan of the character or just love a good superhero back story, this show is worth checking out.

#8 – “Game of Thrones”

 

This one is for the fantasy book genre readers! And fans of Peter Dinklage!   HBO debuted the first season of this adaptation to George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire in 2011.  Having read 5 of the someday 7 book series (damn it when will I get the next installment George?!), I was both wary and eager to see what HBO had to offer me by turning it into an episodic TV show.  Especially after what has happened to “True Blood”, which has gone way off the deep end from the books and is more confusing to have read the books and watched the show than to just have done one or the other.  However, I was more than pleasantly surprised.  To me, the actors they chose to portray the characters were more than amazing and watching the story unfold as they tell it has been an epic journey.  By far, the best part of the show (and in my opinion, the best part of the books too), is the character of Tyrion Lannister, played by the fantastic Peter Dinklage.  He steals every scene he’s in and plays the part of the black sheep of the family with clever wit masking deep hurt with superb skill.  While like any adaptation, the show takes a few left turns from the books, but in the first season they are mostly minor and have grown a little bit from there.  The series’ creators have included George R. R. Martin very closely in the making of the show, and even wrote one of the episodes himself.  Season 1 follows the first book of the series A Game of Thrones, season 2 follows the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, and season 3 is slated to cover about half of A Storm of Swords.  A must watch for lovers of the medieval fantasy genre and especially for fans of the book series.

#7 – “LOST”

 

I was a fan of this creation of J. J. Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber, and Damon Lindelof from the first second it aired in 2004 to the end of its 6 season run.  While Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse served as the show’s head writers, I started watching it when I heard that one of the creators was J. J. Abrams, who I loved from “Alias”.  The show, which centers around a plane crash on a flight from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California and the survivors that end up on a mysterious tropical island seems like a crazy drama version of “Gilligan’s Island”, the show very early on established that there is something hinky about the island.  While the main plot of the episode was part of the overall storyline of what was occurring at the time on the island, there was always a secondary storyline that followed one or more of the cast members that were flashbacks, showing events in the character’s lives that led them to be on the plane.  With polar bears, the smoke monster, and “The Others”, the survivors’ time on the island is anything but peaceful and each episode always made for some great television.  While the show had characters that were centralized to most of the plots, the large ensemble cast gave the writers the opportunity to flex their storyline muscles and give the audience a wide variety of characters and plotlines to follow.  As the seasons progressed, the flashbacks gave way to flashforwards and occasionally a flash-sideways, or what we would consider an alternate timeline.  The series finale had a lot of controversy surrounding it, but as someone who is not a creative writer, I don’t know how they could have made everyone happy, and I enjoyed watching it.  The best part of “LOST” was to discuss the show the day after an episode aired.  The theories were varied and wild, sometimes spot on and sometimes way off in left field, but it was always fascinating to see how the events were interpreted by others.  It’s a great show, worth watching and talking about it makes me want to go watch the series again!

#6 – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

 

I liked vampires before they were at Hot Topic.  A show that originally started as a movie starring Kristy Swanson in 1992, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” first aired in 1997 and picks up after the end of the movie with Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland) moving to the town of Sunnydale, California to start fresh after the fiasco at her last high school.  Buffy is determined to live the life of a normal teenage girl only to find that her destiny has followed her and she must deal with the fact that she is, in fact, the Chosen one, whether she wants it or not.  Along with her new watcher, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) and friends she makes along the way, Buffy is kicking vampire ass a long time before they sparkled in the sun.  “Buffy” spawned 7 seasons as well as the spinoff “Angel” (1999) which takes place directly after the Buffy Season 3 finale, and lasted 5 years.  Both the 8th season of “Buffy” and 6th season of “Angel” continue on in comic book form on Dark Horse Comics.  Joss Whedon has, since the time he picked up a pen (or keyboard, though it’s harder to write if he’s holding the keyboard up) consistently given the geek community moving, funny, sexy, sassy shows that initiate many a cosplay outfit.  Turn this on if you haven’t seen it, and even if you have, it’s probably time to see it again.

#5 – “Stargate SG-1”

 

Another show that started as a cult film and turned into a hugely successful long lasting franchise is in today’s #5 slot.  That’s right, SciFi geeks, I’m talking about the “Stargate” series!  “Stargate SG-1” took the 1994 Kurt Russell and James Spader movie about a gateway to other worlds found under a coverstone in Giza, Egypt and turned it into a powerful 10 season show series starting in 1997 with a 5 season series spinoff as well as 2 additional movies post series finale.  The two main characters, Colonel Jack O’Neill (2 L’s!) and Dr. Daniel Jackson were originally depicted by Kurt Russell and James Spader respectively.  “Stargate SG-1” takes place approximately a year after the events of the movie, with the military unable to replicate the events that led them to another world, that they believed was blown up by Jack O’Neill.  They are in the midst of shutting down the program and putting the gate permanently out of commission when it starts up of its own accord and 2 guards come through with a man whose eyes glow like Ra’s, take the gate guards out of commission and kidnap one of the officers.  Colonel O’Neill is pulled out of retirement to answer questions about what really happened the year prior and he is forced to admit that he did not blow up the gate as intended, but the ship Ra was escaping on and that Daniel Jackson has been living on the planet they discovered for the entirety of the year.  A team is sent to investigate, which leads them back to Dr. Jackson and his amazing discovery on the other planet.  There is a list of gate addresses on a wall of the pyramid, opening up the possibility of exploration to other planets for years to come.  Once Dr. Jackson’s wife is stolen by the same guards, he asks to join the team and becomes an integral part of the dynamic.  One of the things I found most interesting about the show, especially at the beginning, was the way that Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks turn the characters that were created by Kurt Russell and James Spader into their own without overtly taking away the essence of what we loved about them in the movies.  Richard Dean Anderson knew from the start that while this character was someone he wanted to play, he could not go as dark as the version of O’Neill was portrayed in the movie.  There are episodes that float back to the personal tragedy that dictated the performance in “Stargate” and Anderson shows his chops of getting to the dark places without changing anything about who he made his version of O’Neill become.  Michael Shanks is able to take the dorky, allergy ridden Egyptologist that was made fun of by the military and his own colleagues in the movie and turn him over time into one of the badasses of the galaxy.  Smart, funny and a great counterpart to O’Neill, Jackson is one of the great characters of the series.  In addition to O’Neill and Jackson, the team is enhanced by Teal’c, and alien and one of the Jaffa (guards of the gods) that was responsible for the kidnapping and choosing of Daniel’s wife as wife of Apophis, who turns against his god to aid in the release of the human captives and escapes to Earth with them, and Captain Samantha Carter, a brilliant physicist who has been working on the gate program from Washington and joins the team as the science expert.  Together, these 4 make up the primary exploration team of the Stargate program.  While the issues the show touches on are very similar to many other science fiction shows (i.e., you could say “oh hey, this is like the episode in Star Trek when they…”), there is something inherently fun and cool about using the concepts and taking them from a historical perspective.  “Stargate SG-1” explores the idea of meeting ancient Earth cultures that did not evolve as they did on Earth to become extinct, as well as fascinating concepts such as “what would have happened if someone like Hitler escaped through the gate and grew up technologically? At what cost do we want new technology?” (“The Other Side”, season 5 episode 2).  The show took a great concept and wove fantasy ideas into a modern day level of technology and even managed to answer a few questions including why people have sighted little grey aliens over the years. The spinoff show “Stargate: Atlantis” started up in 2004 and ran on its own for 5 seasons.  These are both great series and a must for science fiction loving geeks!

#4 – “Doctor Who”

 

Doctor Who? Just the Doctor. Speaking of shows that looks at events from our past, take a trip to BBC America and add “Doctor Who” to your list!  The original series began in 1963 and took the idea of a man, an alien who was immortal (well, sort of) and traveled through time (sometimes with better results than others) and usually with a human companion.  The revamp of the series started up in 2005 with Christopher Eccelston as the 9th version of the Time Lord calling himself “The Doctor, just The Doctor”.  We meet him through the eyes of Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) who is a shop girl and upon closing up, is attacked by the mannequins brought to life by an alien consciousness.  The Doctor pulls her out of a life or death situation and into a fight for Earth.  Throughout its 6 aired seasons (season 7 begins later this year), we have seen the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctor, played by Christopher Eccelston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith, and a number of companions and ensemble characters.  In good British tradition, the effects are very often quite cheesy, but the acting is superb, and the show has a charm all of its own.  Whether you’re hotly debating who the best Doctor is, your favorite episode, or the worst enemy the Doctor has, there is no doubt that there is much to love by all and fans of the show eagerly await the next installment.  The holiday specials made enhance the storyline without making it absolutely necessary to have seen them.  One of the longer running spinoffs of “Doctor Who” is “Torchwood” beginning its run in 2006, taking the beloved character of Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) into his own fight for the fate of Earth at the Cardiff based site of the Torchwood Institute, a program started up by Queen Victoria to fight alien invasions of Earth.  Fans of historical events, zany British humor, and great storytelling will put this at the top of their watchlist, even if they’ve already seen the series!

#3 – “Battlestar Galactica”

 

This is one of my favorite images put out for this series!  In keeping with our space and show revival themes, the next show on our list was the final show in the powerhouse SciFi Fridays, which also included “Stargate SG-1” and “Stargate: Atlantis”.  Originally a TV series started in 1978, “Battlestar Galactica” was brought back by the SciFi channel as a two-part three-hour miniseries in 2003 developed by Ronald Moore and David Eick.  This led to a 4 season series of the same name, picking up from the end of the miniseries, and a prequel spinoff, entitled “Caprica” which aired in 2010.  Our miniseries begins 40 years after the end of the Cylon war, in a location where both parties agreed to send a representative to a neutral location and humanity has complied with neither hide nor hair of the Cylons since the end of the war.  We see the destruction of the meeting place by a mysterious woman in a red dress accompanied by two of the more traditional “toaster models” of Cylon.  Later we see this same woman on one of the prospering planets of the Twelve Colonies.  We see Commander Adama preparing his beloved Battlestar Galactica for decommissioning and personal retirement.  With a massive coordinated attack on all Twelve Colonies simultaneously, the Cylons wipe out most of humanity in one strike.  With the small amount of ships left, Commander Adama is forced to take charge of the rest of the fleet and flee to head towards a place the Cylons cannot find them, the 13th colony of legend, Earth.  The show made some major changes, most notably taking the male characters of Starbuck and Boomer and changing them into females.  The casting of Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama and Mary McDonnell as President Laura Roslin added heavy hitters in the field of acting to a roster full of little known but talented cast members.  Richard Hatch, who plays the original Captain Apollo makes a resurgence as Tom Zarek, a charismatic and controversial political leader jailed for terrorist activities.  The show is gritty, and shot guerrilla style, and it gets VERY depressing.  It’s also amazingly well done, and hits upon issues that plague humanity in any timeline.  This was a series I was glued to for its entirety, and while the ending of the series raised a lot of controversy and geek rage, it was a frakking good show that was powerful and moving from start to finish.

#2 – “Firefly”

“You don’t know me son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake.  You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.”  Arguably one of the best shows to ever grace television (and I’m definitely arguing in that vein), this show was a victim of some bad karma.  Creator Joss Whedon premiered this show in 2002 only to have it cancelled after 11 of the 14 episodes had aired.  While fans were given another opportunity to see these beloved characters in 2005’s film “Serenity”, the long and short of it is that we as fans have very little of this amazing show to love.  But we love it a lot! Set as a space western in the future, we have everything we could love in a show, like gunfights, space travel, thievery, cursing in Chinese, a badass creepy enemy known as the Reavers, and a character named YoSaffBridge!  The show follows 9 people living together on a Firefly class ship named Serenity, captained by none other than Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion who “Buffy” fans will recognize as “The Preacher”).  Other Joss favorites from “Angel” make it to the top of the cast list as well, and Morena Baccarin, who plays Inara Serra on the show, ends up in “Stargate SG-1”!  “Firefly” takes us through a post war galaxy, in which the captain and his first mate fought on the losing side of the Unification War and that shows through whenever they are dealing with the Alliance (the winning side).  While Capt. Reynolds is perfectly at ease with jobs that are on the wrong side of the law, he himself has a strong moral and ethical code and is fiercely loyal to his crew, and expects loyalty out of each of the people on his ship.  His first mate is Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres), a “warrior woman”, war buddy of Mal’s, and wife to the pilot, Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk).  Her unwavering loyalty to the captain causes her husband jealousy and some hard times when he insists on taking her place for one of the missions.  Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) is a Companion, an Alliance registered courtesan, who rents out one of the shuttles to conduct her business when they reach a planet.  Her official ties to the Alliance allow the crew access to planets and jobs they would not have otherwise.  Rounding out the cast is Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) as the ship’s hired gun, Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite) the ship mechanic and heart of the crew, Derrial Book (Ron Glass), a Shepard and spiritual guide, Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher), the Alliance trained trauma surgeon and member of the privileged elite until he broke his sister, River Tam (Summer Glau), out of a government research facility.  The two are on the run as the government hunts them down to recover River, a child prodigy made delusional, paranoid, and violent by the invasive experiments into her brain to create a perfect soldier.  This show packs wonderful emotion and beauty into each episode and leaves you wanting more.  To sum up, go watch it! And then go watch “Serenity”!

#1 – “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

 

Okay, top billing honors go to “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.  Whether you’re a fan of the original series, or want a more “updated” version, everyone should see some episodes of the “Trek”.  I started watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when I was about 12, mostly because my father watched the series, which ran from 1987 to 1994 and I continued to watch it because at the time I thought Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) was cute (yes, even with those sweaters) so it kept me watching the show and then I grew to love it for its value.  Like any good science fiction series, it touches on issues of racism, classism, and culture expansion at the cost of other cultures using aliens and cheesy special effects.  At the helm of this exploration ship is Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the bald, bold captain with a love of Earl Grey (hot), Shakespeare, and his French cultural roots.  His second in command is Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes), with a mischievous sparkle in his eye and possibly a higher bed body count than Captain Kirk himself, although I’ve never done the math on that.  Worf (Michael Dorn) and Data (Brent Spiner) are the notable non-humans in the series with Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) as half human and half Betazoid (humanoid species with the ability to read thoughts), showing humanity through the eyes of an alien and an android in their own developing storylines.  Throughout the 7 seasons on the air, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” brought back a series that was very popular in a new way and gave a younger generation a “Star Trek” that was not its parents’ show.  Like its predecessor, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” made a number of movies post final season.  Other spinoff series created (I would contend that TNG is also a spinoff from the original “Star Trek” series) include “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” which started up in 1993, “Star Trek: Voyager” which started its run in 1995, and “Enterprise” which was a prequel to even the original series and began in 2001.  This is one of the shows that brought back to television the love of science fiction and showed us that it can be set in space and have crazy aliens and still hit issues that happen here at home.  There can never be too many Trekkies, so feel free to join up! 

    • Michael

      "I would contend that TNG is also a spinoff from the original “Star Trek” series" I didn't think this was up for contention?

      Good list though, but got to give it to The Original Series!!!!

    • Interesting list… No "Heroes" or "Batman the Animated Series"?

    • JediJay

      I was surprised to see Smallville made the list. I enjoyed it for a few seasons, but way too many "Freak of the Week" episodes for my taste.

    • JediJay

      And hey, what about "Big Bang Theory?" It doesn't get any geekier than that!! FAIL!

    • Jennifer

      I like that TNG is #1! I'm not at all surprised that Lost, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and Firefly are on there but I can't believe that you left off Big Bang Theory!!

    • I, for one would like to recommend the short lived series "Breaking In"

      Not only did it star the magnanimous Christian Slater, but it was 100 comprised of pure geek awesomeness. Right down to the TRON arcade machine in their office and the Sean Patrick Flanery cameo as the mysterious agent "Dr. Jones." Yes, that was a random Young Indiana Jones Chronicles reference made on network TV during prime time. And I weep that the show didn't get renewed for next season.

      • Aww man, I wish I had watched it now! I kept seeing promos for it constantly on Hulu, but they just seemed so bland and unfunny.

    • I would take out Scrubs, Smallville, and StarGate. Maybe have those in a top 20. I would rather see shows like Fringe, X-Files, and Star Trek ToS on there instead. You broke it!

    • FancyFaceSCH

      I agree with @edgyarmo… Frindge & X-Files 100% should be on this list.

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