The Best Science Fiction Shows You Haven't Seen

Dateline: March 21, 2001

This look at some of the best recent British science fiction series is a complement to the Top 10 Series Not Seen In The U.S. Last year I was telling people about Ultraviolet and Dennis Potter's Karaoke/Cold Lazarus.Thanks the Sci-Fi Channel and some PBS stations, these programs are now available to US viewers. Here are some shows to keep an eye out for in 2001:

Gormenghast: BBC America viewers have gotten a chance to see this epic BBC mini-series based on Mervyn's Peake's fantasy trilogy, and PBS will be running it as part of next season's Masterpiece Theatre. An all-star cast and incredible production values bring the story to life about an ambitious usurper to an ancient throne.

Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased: You might recall the 1960s original (also known as My Partner, The Ghost in the US) about a private detective who is assisted by his dead partner. In 2000, comics Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer (Shooting Stars), abetted by writer Charlie Higson (The Fast Show), remade the show for the BBC using the latest in digital effects. Former Doctor Who Tom Baker also appeared as spiritual guide to the afterlife. Despite Vic 'n Bob's trademark wacky style, they played it fairly straight (or no less so than the original), with plenty of cameo guest stars including Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly) and Hugh Laurie.

My Hero: Ardal O'Hanlon (Father Ted) stars in this BBC sitcom as an alien superhero, Thermoman, who in his secret identity is an Irishman in love with a nurse. It's Mork and Mindy for the 21st Century with O'Hanlon playing a character just slightly smarter than Ted's Father Dougal as a fish-out-of-water whose failure to understand traditional earth customs provides the laughs.

Vanishing Man: Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly) stars in this 1998 ITV series that updates The Invisible Man in a format not unlike that of the recent remake on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Bugs: The BBC produced this glossy high tech thriller series about a company that uses the latest gadgets to fight the bad guys in somewhat improbably adventures. Satellite channel Trio ran this show.

Crime Traveller: Former EastEnder Michael French and Red Dwarf actress Chloe Annett starred in this short-lived 1997 BBC series about two police department employees who use a time machine to solve crimes. The mysteries weren't very complex, but the arcane rules of time travel (as posited by the series) were mind-boggling.

Previous Features