When Terry Nation wasn't busy creating the Daleks and Blake's 7 — and writing for MacGyver — he was constructing this relentlessly bleak tale of what happens after most of the world drops dead due to a plague. Civilization is in tatters, and all the things we take for granted are gone — will humans band together or tear each other apart?
Lost In Space
Known as the sillier, campier counterpart to Star Trek, this story of the "Space Family Robinson" nevertheless serves up some great space adventures. And the thorny relationship between the alliteration-spouting Dr. Smith and the friendly-but-cranky robot provides a template for spiky human-robot relations that's still followed today.
The premise — a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all share a flat in Bristol — may sound like the set-up for a hokey sitcom, but Being Human has an often sad and chilling quality that belies its tagline (while still making room for some humor). Vampire Mitchell and werewolf George try to maintain their humanity by integrating into human society and make (often disastrous) connections with human beings, while recently deceased Annie must cope with being dead and figure out how to move on to the next life. In the process, they get caught up in a vampire plot to take over the world.
While Sean Connery was making a splash as James Bond, Don Adams made a much more hilarious ker-plop spoofing the sexy world of spies in his own bumbling but endearing manner. Maxwell Smart and his adorable partner 99, took on the evil corporation KAOS every week, and each episode we laughed at Max's adorable hijinks. Who amongst us didn't pretend to take calls on their shoe phone from an angry Chief deep inside the secret CONTROL base? Plus, we got greats like inspector gadget out of this silly spy world, also voiced by Adams.
No, we're not going to try and celebrate the recent campy-but-awful-but-trashy Syfy series. This 1950s show was Flash the way he was meant to be seen — with space rockets, diabolical aliens, and crazy adventures. It was filmed in Postwar Germany, so a lot of the stories seem to take Flash to Germany or else to comment inadvertently on the devastation wrought by the Second World War.
Another show whose recent remake we're going to pretend never existed, the 1970s story of a woman with bionic limbs, fighting evil and making a difference, was a precursor of Buffy and many other shows about female heroes. Jaime Sommers brought a wry sense of humor to saving the world, and that was her real superpower.
Earth: The Final Conflict
Based on one of Gene Roddenberry's post-Star Trek ideas, this show takes a much less optimistic approach to humanity's first encounter with an alien race. When the powerful Taelons arrive on Earth, they seem humankind's saviors, eliminating disease and pollution and introducing new technology, but a growing Resistance suspects the Taelons have sinister agenda, a Resistance that includes the Taelon Da'an's own bodyguards.
The Tracy family fly their super-futuristic Thunderbird vehicles to rescue people in danger, as part of the super-secret International Rescue organization, with the occasional help of the classy Lady Penelope. Oh, and they're puppets. Or rather, super-marionettes. The fourth puppet show from Space: 1999 creator Gerry Anderson, this was the best known and the most fun.
In its first season, this Roy Scheider-starring adventure show featured scientifically plausible tales of undersea exploration, mixed in with more fanciful fare. Eventually, we discover an ancient alien ship buried at the bottom fo the sea, and the show gets more science-fictional and crazier - but never entirely leaves behind its fascination with the alien wonders of the ocean.
This Hanna-Barbera cartoon sitcom may look silly and a tad dated, but it shaped people's views of the future world, with its robot maids, flying cars and amazing labor-saving gadgets. Despite the incredible advancements of this 21st century world, the Jetson family still faces exactly the same stresses and pressures as 20th century Americans, including a tyrannical boss.