Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Hey folks. On Monday May 17 Red Mango Reviews celebrated its fifth anniversary. In celebration of this milestone we’ve implemented several new things, including a new look (hope you like it), bringing on former guest writer Wayne Rock as our new featured writer, and six days of Top 5 Articles. For today’s sixth and final article I will be donning my cap as Sci Fi Head Writer. Hmm. I look quite dashing if I do say so myself. On to the list.
Ah Netflix. The streaming service where you have 100 things scheduled to watch on your list but you only get around to actually watching 10. We must stop lying to ourselves people! But as a science fiction lover I make to time to check out the original Sci Fi series in particular. And while I have not seen all of them, I have enjoyed pretty great content on the big red N. For today’s article I will be ranking five of the best according to category. Let’s get to it!
#5 Altered Carbon (Action Sci Fi)
Altered Carbon is set in a future where people extend their life by transferring their consciousness into different bodies called “sleeves”. It is based on the 2002 novel of the same by British author Richard K. Morgan and follows former soldier turned investigator Takeshi Kovacs.
The first season of Altered Carbon was, in a word, awesome. Joel Kinnaman was great as Kovacs and it was a mature, action-packed, intriguing season set in a vibrant and colourful world. And we were introduced to one of the coolest AI characters in all of science fiction. But then the second season came about and Kovacs was “re-sleeved” into Anthony Mackie of MCU fame. And yeah, he was very stiff in the role and the season was much more straightforward and action-focused. It was good but the first was way better. Still, I would recommend Altered Carbon if you like your sci fi with some gunplay.
Honourable Mention: Tribes of Europa
#4 Stranger Things (Sci Fi-Horror)
But what about if you like Sci Fi with some scares? Then look no further than the juggernaut that is Stranger Things. If you’ve heard about the show but have not seen it you may wonder what all the hype is about. Well, imagine a show that mixes teen adventure, a girl with telekinetic powers, a monster-filled realm called “The Upside Down”, and then serves it all up in an authentic 80s package. There really is nothing else like it and I love it!
Stranger Things is equally funny, scary, intense, and thrilling—sometimes all in one scene. The first season was excellent, there was a slight dip in the second season, and an uptick in the third. But overall it is a ridiculously watchable and binge-able show with memorable characters and an intriguing world that will grip you from the first episode.
Honourable mention: The Irregulars
#3 Love, Death & Robots (Anthology)
I was considering putting the super popular Black Mirror (which had its first two seasons on British station Channel 4 and its latter three on Netflix) as my anthology recommendation, but after the third season there has been a noticeable drop in general quality. And the fifth season was just a whole bag of disappointment. Also while Black Mirror and it’s twisted tales of technology (both existing and futuristic) make for masterful storytelling when at its best, the series is extremely dark and depressing. I would definitely not recommend binge watching it unless you want your soul seared. So instead of Black Mirror let me recommend Love, Death & Robots.
This award-winning mature animated anthology is simply mind-blowing and features visionary science fiction tales that range from the whimsical to the nightmarish, together with a little horror and fantasy elements as well. The second season (or volume) was released last month, and, while not on the same level as the first, there is still some excellent storytelling to be had.
Honourable mention: Black Mirror
#2 Lost in Space (For the Whole Family)
I am SO glad that I get to talk about Netflix’s Lost in Space reboot. I am passionately in love with this show. The original 1960s series had a lot of campy, silly charm but it’s only watchable now for the nostalgia factor. There was a 1998 film version but that was a total mess and should have stayed lost in development. But the 2018 Netflix series? I was blown away by how good it was.
First off, somebody shelled out some big bucks here because the special effects work and production design puts your average film production to shame. From the ships to the planets to the one of the coolest-looking robots you will ever meet (his name’s “Robot” by the way) Lost in Space immerses the viewers in some of the most gorgeous visuals on Netflix. Add to that a sterling cast, including Parker Posey as wonderfully devious “Dr Smith”, great writing, superb set pieces, a thrilling overarching mystery, and a wonderful sense of exploration and you have one masterful show. And to its credit Lost in Space retains its family friendly tone, though some intense scenes may be unsuitable for very young viewers. Other than that, grab the family and sit down for an adventure that will take your collective breaths away.
Honourable mention: Raising Dion
#1 Dark (Cerebral/Time Travel)
You know are there are shows that are so low investment that you can watch it while on your phone or doing laundry and still be able to follow along? German science fiction series Dark is the opposite of that. For this tale of a sleepy town at the centre of a vast time travel plot every word, every line of dialogue, every image is a piece in a magnificently intricate puzzle. With every episode there is some new twist until your brain will feel like one of those conspiracy pin-up boards you see in films and tv shows.
But unlike some series (*cough cough* Lost *cough cough*) the series manages to hold its intricate story together and actual deliver answers on its multitude of mysteries. I really can’t say any more. Just watch it. I ranked Dark as number one in my Top 5 Smartest Time Travel TV Shows and it won a Rotten Tomatoes poll last May for best Netflix original show, even beating out the fan darling Stranger Things. That should tell you something.
So if you are a lover of cerebral science fiction and/or time travel series then get ready for a wild mental ride with the excellence that is Dark.
Honourable mention: Travelers
So that’s my list. What’s your favourite Netflix Sci Fi series? You can check out more great Sci Fi content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.