Opinion: Guardians of the Galaxy. The Walking Dead. Game of Thrones. The last couple of years have been very good to anyone who likes sci-fi or fantasy; there are more shows and movies across the entire genre than in the decades before And there are more ways to watch all these great TV shows and movies than ever before. Life is pretty great.
Last night, on my own recommendation, I re-watched The Returned on Stan — it's an American remake of a French series called Les Revenants, about a small town that sees a crowd of people re-appear, apropos of nothing, years after they all died. It's very creepy, very weird, and very interesting. It held my attention, but if it wasn't great, I could have picked any one of a dozen other impressive-sounding sci-fi shows on Netflix, Stan, Foxtel or free-to-air TV.
The Returned is just one of dozens of different sci-fi, supernatural, and fantasy TV series that are flooding Netlflix and Stan and Presto and the other on-demand streaming services. Even on that same "people coming back to life" theme you have The Returned, The 4400, The Leftovers and others. Post-apocalyptic films and movies — you have I am Legend, Revolution, and the global phenomenon that is The Walking Dead. Fantasy you have Game of Thrones, Rome, Spartacus, Vikings...
The Walking Dead — a TV show about zombies, for god's sake, something I never would have thought would actually get remotely popular — is now big enough that it's spun off a different series called Fear The Walking Dead. FTWD looks like it's going to be pretty good, too, even if it doesn't have the solid basis in
comic book graphic novel history that The Walking Dead itself has. People like this stuff now!
The obvious killer app for fantasy TV is Game Of Thrones — that's the one that turned swords and sandals into something cool, conveniently by injecting lots of blood and gore and sex and magic. Everyone watches it, everyone talks about it, everyone knows about it — and going on the number of reaction videos to the most recent season finale, it's pretty well entered into the mainstream.
Sure, you can complain that we don't get TV shows and movies anywhere as quickly as when they debut in the US. And we do miss out on some great shows still, like the still-to-be-confirmed-for-Australia second season of Halt And Catch Fire. Fear The Walking Dead is similarly unconfirmed, but at least we can be pretty confident of that getting picked up by FX on Foxtel, the same guys who championed the original series Down Under and carried it through to become one of Foxtel's most popular TV shows.
There are more and more shows coming out, too — Wayward Pines is coming in on fast-track from the US on Foxtel, Netflix is championing Sense8, and there are more on the way. And we still haven't talked about the massive back catalogue of sci-fi and fantasy that you can find on all the streaming services that have rushed into Australia in the last couple of months. Dozens upon dozens of great shows, old and new, all at your fingertips. How lucky are we?
I can walk into the office and talk with people — not just the Gizmodo geeks, but even the guys and girls over at Business Insider and Popsugar — about the latest episode of GoT. As a previously shut-in geek and someone who really only talked about sci-fi TV series online on forums with like-minded individuals, it's really refreshing to see this kind of previously-geek culture hit the mainstream — and, as a result, really come into its own. It's a great feeling.
Do you agree? Have you got a favourite sci-fi TV series or fantasy movie? Let us know in the comments below.