“Firefly,” “Stargate Universe” & More: 5 Sci-Fi Series Worthy of Our “Streamer Second Coming” [OPINION]
When you look at the number of science fiction shows that became cult classics because of the rabid followings they amassed, we had to wonder if any of them could have received a “second coming” if streaming video services (SVOD) were available “back in the day.” You know the kind of shows we’re talking about: Firefly, Enterprise, Stargate Universe, and dozens more.
So here’s a list of five shows that could have extended life on streamers such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or any one of the other 900+ streaming services (you have yours, right?):
Probably should get this out of the way since there always seemed to be some ramblings or rumors of some reboot or reunion among fans and many times the Firefly cast gets wind of the gossip. Let’s just say the 2002 FOX show just got cancelled and one of the SVOD platforms was looking to take a chance. I would say it would have been likely and we probably wouldn’t have gotten the 2005 film Serenity that finished the series. Not a surprised given the network’s history of sci-fi shows not named The X-Files.
The space western followed rag-tag crew of renegades looking for jobs and trying to make it out in the galaxy while eluding authorities. The Firefly crew was led by Captain Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). Joining him is his tough-as-nails first officer Zoë Washburne (Gina Torres), her pilot husband Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), the muscle and gun aficionado Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), spunky and resourceful engineer Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite), an alluring and charismatic courtesan Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin), spiritual consort Shepherd Derrial Book (Ron Glass), former Alliance medical officer and overprotective Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher) and his mysterious and gifted sister River Tam (Summer Glau).
Created by Joss Whedon, Firefly won an Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. Despite FOX stubbornly holding on to the rights, if Hulu had been around then, the show could have thrived at least 1-2 more seasons rather than have the rushed ending we got in Serenity.
V (1984-85, 2009-2011)
Created by Kenneth Johnson, V started as a two-part miniseries, followed by a three-part miniseries called V: The Final Battle. Following the success of both, NBC decided to create V: The TV Series even after Johnson’s departure. The series follows a race of humanoid reptilians who disguise themselves humans who are dubbed “Visitors” who are trying to take over the earth, but are met with human opposition known as the Resistance.
The 1984 series starred Marc Singer, Faye Grant, Jane Badler, Lane Smith, Blair Tefkin, Jennifer Cooke, Michael Ironside, Michael Wright, Robert Englund, Jeff Yagher, and June Chadwick. The cancellation in 1985 left the series in a cliffhanger.
ABC decided to remake the sci-fi series in 2009 developed by Scott Peters starring Elizabeth Mitchell, Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Lourdes Benedicto, Laura Vandervoot, Charles Mesure, and Scott Wolf. The series lasted for two seasons and was cancelled with no planned follow ups from the network.
In 2011, Netflix and Hulu haven’t engaged in original programming, another reboot could be in order given the current political climate and xenophobia. The series is culturally relevant as ever before and can be planned out to start and finish as intended with an ensemble cast.
Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005)
While we can make a case for Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) on this sci-fi list, which was cancelled in season three by NBC during the “five-year mission,” we’re going to stick to more contemporary programming within the last few decades in the cable era. Star Trek: Enterprise lasted four seasons from 2001 to 2005 on UPN, well before the expected seven-seasons its three predecessor shows enjoyed.
The demands of broadcast and perhaps franchise burnout is what perhaps doomed the series, but with the success of CBS All Access and the different standards placed on SVOD programming, we would have likely seen a more balanced fourth season without the fixation of trying to tie up loose ends for canon, especially in the aesthetics level. I don’t think fans cared that much to know why the Klingons looked so different in TOS than the Klingons we came to know in current canon. Trying to explain away what people were capable in production value in the 1960s compared to that of 2000s is a wasted exercise in futility. The times were different and it’s a TV show. As a prequel, it served its purpose transitioning to the traditional Star Trek we know today.
Enterprise starred Scott Bacula, John Billingsley, Jolene Blalock, Dominic Keating, Anthony Montgomery, Linda Park, and Connor Trinneer.
With CBS going back all in on Star Trek, it’s a shame and entertaining show like Enterprise couldn’t have been the beneficiary of another chance.
Stargate Universe (2009-2011)
One of the things that differentiated the Stargate and Star Trek franchises was Stargate was always more about blending mythology on a planetary scale. As the Stargate franchise went on, it started taking on far more characteristics of Star Trek – including becoming more of a space drama, and Stargate Universe is essentially the franchise’s version of Star Trek: Voyager. There’s nothing wrong with having a story about a crew marooned on a spaceship and a long way from home, but most sci-fi fans are well aware of how much the premise has been done. So much so that SYFY cancelled the series after its second season in 2011.
The series was more a drama than adventure, with tensions between the military and the science wings of the ship growing as they bitterly work together to ensure the crew’s safety – dealing with mysteries and external (as well as internal) threats. Created by Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, who developed Stargate as a TV franchise with Stargate: SG-1 andStargate: Atlantis, the series starred Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, David Blue, Alaina Huffman, Jamil Walker Smith, and Ming-Na Wen.
The show’s second season ended on a cliffhanger that was later addressed in the comics. The Stargate base would have been followed up on a platform like Hulu given NBC Universal’s stake, Amazon, or Netflix. The series would have been ideal to flagship for Stargate Command, the MGM-run streaming service dedicated to the franchise.
SeaQuest DSV (1993-1996)
While most sci-fi shows took to space for exploration, SeaQuest DSV decided to explore the oceans. Created by Rockne S. O’Bannon, the show focused on the SeaQuest DSV, the flagship vessel of the United Earth Oceans Organization tasked with exploring and keeping the peace. The oceans have become the last bastion of exploration on Earth and saving grace of resources. The series originally starred Roy Scheider, Jonathan Brandis, Stephanie Beacham, Stacy Haiduk, Don Franklin, John D’Aquino, Royce D. Applegate, Ted Raimi, Marco Sanchez, and Frank Welker.
While the show did struggle with its identity due to NBC’s demands to change direction on the show from its exploration-first initiative to more action-oriented, sci-fi geopolitical issues the following seasons, who knows what could have happened if the creative staff was allowed to operate with more autonomy on a streaming platform not as obsessed with ratings like broadcast network television.
The show’s shifting priorities and cast changes ultimately doomed the series with its cancellation following season three. If it were re-introduced through streaming, it would still standout from the other dystopian and futuristic space-oriented shows.
About Tom Chang
I'm a gamer, sci-fi and fantasy fan. film and TV snob. I love to write and read the classics. Anything you want to talk about, I'm here to entertain or at least pretend to be interested.