Click to viewSometimes it seems like every little dreg of geek culture from your youth is out on DVD - but it's not true! Weirdly, there are huge gaps in the archives of science fiction TV shows that Hollywood is willing to sell you. Think about this the next time you invite over that hottie from work and fail to get laid, entirely because you don't have a DVD of Automan or M.A.N.T.I.S. on your shelf to impress that person. Here's our list of essential SF TV that you can't own on DVD, because Hollywood hates you. Automan. I don't even know if I need to explain this one. It's another Glen Larson show, along the lines of the original Battlestar Galactica, except it's about a guy who's a holographic computer game image come to life. And he goes out and fights crime! - but only when the city's electricity usage is at low levels. If too many people plug in their electric blankets, he vanishes. He's like Tron, only in the real world. And he has a sidekick named Cursor.
Blake's 7 This one is an even bigger WTF, given what a cult following this show has in the U.S. Yes, there are U.K. DVDs, so if you're willing to pay import prices and have a region-free player, you're all set.
There were rumors of American DVDs of this show, about a freedom fighter who teams up with criminals to fight an evil galactic federation, several years ago when a TV revival was first floated. But they never materialized, maybe due to rights issues. Also not on U.S. DVD: Blake's 7 creator Terry Nation's series The Survivors.
M.A.N.T.I.S. Still no DVD, but ooh! Looks like it's available as a video on demand! Still, I am disgruntled. This was announced as coming out on DVD back in 2003. WTF? For those who missed it, this was an early Fox show about a paralyzed scientist (the awesome Carl Lumbly from Alias) who puts on a super exoskeleton/armor suit, and goes out to fight evil. It also boasted an early appearance by our ruler, Gina Torres (I shouldn't need to put anything in parentheses after her name.) Captain Power And The Soldiers Of The Future We posted a couple clips from this one a while back - it's an early show from Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. It's like a post-apocalyptic saga, with evil cyborgs and laser gun fights. It's pretty much the perfect TV show. Journeyman I'm actually kind of shocked about this one. I would have thought this show would do really well on DVD, since it's like a novel in episodes, about a guy who finds himself zIpping between the past and the present, while trying to save his marriage and job and stuff. It's like a metaphor for our modern dislocation. Also available as a video on demand though. Alienated Okay, I know almost nothing about this show, but I need to see it on DVD after reading the description: "The plot centers on the Blundells, a typical suburban family living in Victoria who undergo strange (often sexual) changes after being abducted by space aliens (who remain unseen throughout the series)." Plus it's Canadian,which means it's automatically really sophisticated.
Cosmic Slop This was an African American Twilight Zone-esque anthology show that aired on HBO back in the 1990s. I have been seeking it on DVD for many years. It was co-produced by Reginald Hudlin, and took its name from the famous Funkadelic song. In the first segment, aliens turn up and promise to make America fantastically wealthy forever - if we'll let them take all of our black people away. Another segment is based on a Chester Himes story about a poor squabbling couple who have a rifle mysteriously delivered to their door. Space Island One I loved this show when my local PBS station showed it, and we included it on our list of great unsung TV shows. Here's what I said then: The crew of a corporate-funded space station mostly deals with scientifically plausible problems (with a couple of exceptions) and the stories focus on the ethical problems that come with profit-focused science. I should add that the characters get deeper and richer the more you watch this show, until you suddenly discover that the nicest guy on the show is deeply fucked up in a way you never expected. I would maim for DVDs of this show. The Clangers Okay, I have no clue if this show would hold up today; I've only seen a few tiny clips since I was a little kid and I watched it religiously. It's a stop-motion claymation show about little aliens living in peace and eating blue-string pudding. You know it's a great show because it's the favorite entertainment of The Master, the evil time traveler from Doctor Who. It's like acid induced proto-Teletubbies in space. I freely admit I may have rose-tinted glasses on when it comes to this show. Here's a clip.
Max Headroom This one is really a no-brainer. This show influenced so much of today's television and was such a seminal cyberpunk masterpiece. Its brain-exploding superfast adverts, "blipverts," are like a warning of how ADD-focused advertising is becoming. We need a box set that includes his early appearances as a music video show host, his short-lived TV series as an investigative reporter, and his various TV commercial and music video appearances.
RoboCop Okay, I mostly want to see this because it sounds incredibly cheesy and hilarious. I included it on my list of the worst TV shows based on movies, but it also sounds pretty amazing. RoboCop doesn't actually kill anyone because it's kid-friendly viewing, and villains include Dr. Cray Z. Mallardo and Boppo The Clown. Also not on DVD: the TV series of Logan's Run, Starman and Timecop. Mann And Machine I found out about this show when I was doing our round-up of human-A.I. buddy comedy chemistry. And now I can't believe there are no DVDs! It sounds so awesome. It's about a human cop who hates androids, but he has to team up with a hot gynoid partner. And then he sends her on dates with serial killers, and they end up living together. Come on? Why isn't this on your shelf right now?
The Middleman It is definitely not too soon to start demanding our DVDs of this awesome show's first season. This could turn into one of those big-selling DVD items that converts tons of new fans and indoctrinates them in time for the inevitable second season. (Inevitable, I tell you!) Seriously, in case you're new to io9 and our obsession with this show, this Avengers-esque story of a young artist who goes for a temp gig and becomes the sidekick to a nameless man who fights alien monsters is one of our fave recent TV series, and the real reason DVDs exist is so we can proselytize about shows like this. Life On Mars (British version) This head-injury time-travel cop show was a hit on BBC America, and now there's an American remake with name actors in it like Harvey Keitel and Gretchen Moll. So why are there no DVDs on the horizon? After the American remake totally fails to recapture the British magic, we'll need to see the real thing. (I'm still watching the Brit episodes, thanks to the magic of TiVo.) Space Cases This Nickelodeon series featured a young Jewel Staite as Catalina, the super-cool space kid with the yelling powers. It was written by Peter David and Lost In Space's Bill Mumy, and featured weird plots and joyously silly acting from guest stars like George Takei (playing the stentorian Warlord Shank.) It was one of the few kids' shows that you'd want to watch with your kid the requisite 20 times. Your kids demand these DVDs!
Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends For some reason I've been hearing about this show a lot lately. It's the seminal Spider-Man cartoon where he teams up with Ice-Man from the X-Men and Firestar, plus a super-dog. Graeme recently suggested Spider-Man 5 should be based on this awesome cartoon. So why can't we watch it and judge for ourselves? Time Trax Okay, you're going to start questioning my sanity now. But I loved this show when it was on the short-lived PTEN syndicated network back in the early 1990s, because it was so goofy. Dale Midkiff is a cop from a dystopian future (where white people are a persecuted minority) and he has to go back to our time to chase down time-traveling criminals. In every episode, a boxer from the future uses his future-boxing powers to win boxing matches. Or a future car mechanic uses future car mechanic powers or whatever. And the future cop has a holographic sexy librarian helping him! It's so awesome. Why is there no DVD?
Tripods And finally, the BBC TV adaptation of this classic book series about teenagers fighting War Of The Worlds-esque alien invaders was brilliant and arresting. It featured then-cutting edge special effects and a cool alien-fighting coming-of-age storyline. I haven't seen it in 20 years, and I'm dying to see it again.
Runners up: Jake 2.0 never really won our hearts, because we were waiting for Jake Panther. Also: Animorphs; Charlie Jade; Century City; Century Falls; Dark Skies; Doctor Who: the TV movie; the Star Wars Holiday special (does someone really want that on DVD?), Exosquad; First Wave; The Man From Atlantis; Future Cop; Hard Time On Planet Earth; Manimal; Men Into Space; The Night Man; Now And Again; Out Of The Unknown; Probe - when you search for this on Amazon, you get lube!; and Project UFO.