Holiday Recommendations: TV Shows

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Good fantasy and scifi TV can be hard to come by. Many are cheesy and few are original. However, we’ve dug out the best of the best in our Lytherus Recommends holiday guide for fantasy, scifi, and horror TV shows! We’ve only recommended our favorite TV shows that are already available on DVD, so sorry The Walking Dead fans!

True Blood

True Blood is the hit HBO series based on the wildly popular books written by Charlaine Harris. The series centers around waitress Sookie Stackhouse (played by Anna Paquin) and the turn her life takes when a vampire moves into her small Louisiana town. As if her life wasn’t complicated enough already, being a telepath. As she gets to know Vampire Bill (played by Stephen Moyer), Sookie is pulled deeper into his world. As the series progresses we learn that, even though vampires have “come out of the coffin” and incorporated themselves into the world (thanks to the invention of synthetic blood), their take on politics, violence, and love still aren’t quite the same as humans. The stellar supporting cast rounds out the interweaving plots, making it violent, funny, intriguing, and unbelievably steamy.

This is definitely a gift for mature audiences, with scenes that will make most anyone blush a bit. But the mix of old southern charm and the dark sensual world of the supernaturals blend and balance beautifully, creating a delicious treat for both men and women.

Being Human

What happens when a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost become flatmates? Being Human, a British supernatural television show, follows the lives of three unlikely individuals, all who happen to share a flat in Bristol: Annie Sawyer, a ghost whose sole is tied to the very house where her life was claimed; John Mitchell, a century-old vampire employed as a hospital porter; and George Sands, the quiet and shy recently-turned-werewolf. The trio’s unfortunately luck in life – their supernatural “abilities” – has allowed them to relate and mature as friends as they face the trials and tribulations of everyday life as just another regular group of werewolves, vampires, and ghosts. Wait, what?

Being Human is both brilliantly funny and often-times serious, striking a compelling balance between comedy and drama. Viewers laugh and cry alongside the three easily-relatable and hugely-loveable main characters as they attempt to enter back into society themselves with a normal lifestyle after the life-altering events that have left them dead, blood hungry, or “hairy”. Annie faces her death as she attempts to figure out what unsolved portion of her life keeps her soul living on. George works to understand and overcome his full moon change and how it affects his personality. John is faced with the task of fending off his blood-thirsty coven after swearing to obey a human-free feeding lifestyle. Each episodes’ storylines are fun and easy-to-follow, and show the TV quality and storytelling that we’ve come to expect from British scifi and fantasy TV. If you (or your giftee!) appreciate British accents, humor mixed with drama, and a compelling and original supernatural storyline, Being Human is a great show to gift.

Doctor Who

Who? The Doctor! Doctor Who is holds two world record breaking titles: the longest running science-fiction show of all time and the most successful science-fiction series of all time. The show originally ran from the early 60s to the late 80s, before being put on hold for nearly two decades. Since then, the BBC has claimed the rights to the Doctor and his universes and has aired five new series featuring the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth reincarnations of the Doctor.

The beauty of the BBC’s Doctor Who series is that in a sense, they started fresh. Not a reboot in the sense that they ditched the plot from the original series, but started in a place where new viewers could begin watching the show starting with their first series, aired in 2005, and know exactly what is going on. The BBC accomplished this beautifully.

Doctor Who follows the Doctor, a seven-hundred-year-old Time Lord who travels in his time-traveling spaceship known as the T.A.R.D.I.S. (which takes the shape of a blue police call box from the 60s era of London). The Doctor often travels with companions on his adventures through space and time, traveling between galaxies and planets, offering the help and guidance he can along the way. His encounters have ranged from his arch enemies, the Daleks, to the frightening race of Weeping Angels – stone angel statues who only move when you blink or look away.

Doctor Who manages to weave brilliant stories and fun and exciting action, while constantly instilling a sense of peace and morals through the way the Doctor approaches situations – never with weapons, always with reason. Our adventures with the Doctor have taken us through incredible historical events, which offer viewers an exciting spin on the history and classic tales we’ve heard so much about, in addition to his other-worldly adventures on unknown planets. If you aren’t already a member of the Whoniverse, now is a great time to join in – the show has never been more successful!

Torchwood

Torchwood is the epic scifi spinoff to the Doctor Who series featuring the crossover character Captain Jack (not the pirate). The series follows the Torchwood team, a highly trained secret government organization of individuals tasked with containing the aliens and events that creep out of a rift in time and space located in the center of Cardiff, Wales. Torchwood is often referred to as the more adult version of Doctor Who, as it features more mature plotlines.

The current Torchwood team includes Captain Jack, an ageless former time agent who has settled down in the U.K. as head of the Torchwood institute; Gwen cooper, former police officer; Owen Harper, resident smartass and medical officer; Toshiko Sato, the tech arm of Torchwood; and Ianto Jones, “administrative duties” specialist and part-time crush of Captain Jack.

The show largely follows the teams exploits as they constantly battle enemies and events which threaten to rip Cardiff, and by extension the entire world, to shreds. Whether it’s invading aliens hell-bent on capturing Earth for profit, or a rift between time spewing soldiers from World War 2, the Torchwood team is on the case. Beware though, for the writers of Torchwood love death and drama and have no qualms with killing off your favorite characters! Torchwood easily sits near the very top of our favorite scifi television shows, and it should top yours too!

Firefly

Firefly is a fan cult favorite. Whether you’re a regular on a fantasy/scifi message board or an attendee at a comic convention, it’s likely that you’ve heard of Firefly. Created by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame), Firefly follows the western-themed scifi exploits of a team of space raiders/pirates as they avoid the oppressive government and fight for survival aboard their loyal spacecraft Serenity.

The show largely follows the exploits of the crew of Serenity as they battle wars on two sides: first against the Alliance, a fusion of the United States and Chinese governments nearly five-hundred years after our present day; additionally, Serenity is forced to flee the Reavers, a race of mindless cannibal humans who have been altered by unknown effects, now bent on death and destruction. The crew races to discover the cause of the Reavers, and perhaps isn’t too surprised as the trail begins leading back to the Alliance.

Because Fox is unable to recognize quality TV programming, the show was short-lived – cancelled after only one season on television. However, the show’s popularity has only grown since its cancellation in 2002. Firefly has since spawned comic and novel spinoffs and its own movie, written and produced by Whedon himself, titled Serenity. Although the show is only one season long, it’s well worth falling in love with.

Merlin

We’ve all heard the classic tale of King Arthur, his knights, his court, and the magician Merlin. But have we seen it done well as a fantasy-action television show? The BBC continues its dominance of fantasy and scifi related programming with their Merlin series, first aired in 2008. Merlin follows the early days of Merlin and then-Prince Arthur as they both begin to gain a foothold in their new life roles: one as future King of a great nation, and the other as a quiet magician tasked with protecting Arthur’s life.

The series closely revolves around our two main characters, Merlin and Arthur, in addition to King Uther, current leader of Camelot; Gaius, advisor and physician to Uther and Merlin’s mentor; Morganna, Uther’s ward with fantastical powers; and Gwen, Morganna’s maid and Arthur’s love interest. The characters are faced with many trying and troubling situations, including hidden dragons, invasions, treason, spies, assassins, and more. Will Arthur carve his own path in life, or will he follow in the footsteps of his father, who vehemently opposes magic and all who use it? Will Merlin be able to protect Arthur as he continues to make rash and life-threatening decisions?

Although the series has one or two slow episodes, the show is for the most part fast-paced, exciting, and witty. It is clear that as the actors become more comfortable with their roles, the show becomes more natural and enjoyable. Merlin is now in its second season, with its first season available everywhere on DVD.

Dexter

Dexter is a television drama series that focuses on Dexter Morgan, played by Michael C. Hall. Dexter works for the Miami Metro Police Department as a forensic bloodstain pattern analyst. He is also a serial killer.

At the age three Dexter witnessed his mother’s murder which ultimately led him to be adopted by police officer Harry Morgan. Soon after the adoption, Harry discovers that Dexter has been killing the neighbor’s pets. He believes Dexter to be a psychopath and teaches him “The Code,” a way to use his violence towards people who deserve it. The teachings of Harry’s code says that Dexter’s victims must be killers who murdered in cold blood and are very likely to do it again. Before doing so, Dexter must also prove that the killers are guilty of their crimes. Last but not least, Dexter must never be caught.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Whether or not you are a huge fan of anime, Fullmetal Alchemist is an extraordinary series that continues to grow in popularity. This series follows the epic tale of two brothers, who have nothing but each other. Within their world, a magical science exists which allows them to alter the world around them as they see fit. This science is alchemy. With the passing of their mother, the brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, seek to hone their alchemic skills to try what no one has succeeded at before: to resurrect the dead.

However, even this power which allows mortals to play god, has rules. The law of equivalent exchange states that to obtain, something of equal value must be lost. The siblings precisely calculate the exact components of the human body and place the reagents within their complex transmutation circle, and begin their alchemic reaction. There is a reason why human transmutation is deemed taboo, as they quickly come to realize. Immediately following the experiment, Ed, the eldest, notices his brother is gone, and he himself is missing his leg, as if it were torn off. He realizes their calculations must have been wrong, as his brothers entire body was used as material for the transmutation. Without a second thought, Ed sacrifices his arm in order to bind Al’s soul to a nearby suit of armor, saving his life.

After their disastrous attempt at human transmutation to resurrect their deceased mother, the boys torch their home and set out on a dangerous journey to further their knowledge of alchemy in search of the fabled philosipher’s stone, said to ignore the law of equivalent exchange. Their only goal: to restore their bodies to their natural state.

Avatar: The Last Air Bender

Water… Earth… Fire… Air… These basic elements of life are also capable of destruction. In this spectacular series, four great nations exist; the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. When born to a nation, that individual may possess the power to control the elements themselves; however, the bender may only control their nation’s element through the physical movements of martial arts. These nations are to live in harmony; and to ensure this peace, the Avatar exists, a mortal who commands all four elements.

The Avatar is a being who is reincarnated at the end of each life cycle into a different nation, to ensure neutrality. Unfortunately, when the new Avatar was to be born, Fire Lord Sozin, the leader of the Fire Nation, sought global domination and launched a genocidal campaign on the Air Nomads, knowing that the new Avatar was to be reincarnated there. A single child survived this onslaught, and this last air bender escaped and disappeared from the world. The devious Fire Lord succeeded in his quest to severely weaken each nation for his conquest.

A hundred years passed, and without the power of the Avatar to balance the world, the Fire Nation has grown far too powerful. Just when all hope is lost, Katara and her brother Sokka discover the Avatar encased in a block of ice. Unfortunately, Aang, the last air bender, was only trained in the art of air bending. These three set out on a quest to train Aang in all of the elements so that he might fully become the Avatar and finally restore balance to this fire-ravaged land.

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About Author

Mike Macauley

Mike Macauley is the founder and editor in chief of Lytherus.com. He also founded and runs Shurtugal.com, the official Inheritance Cycle community, and published his book, The Inheritance Almanac, in 2011. Mike can be found on Twitter at @mikemacauley.

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