In Case You Missed Them

2020 was a rough year. Which is an understatement, I know!

It was heart-breaking, tragic, occasionally inspiring, and generally confronting.

As a global community we faced down a world-wide pandemic that’s still ongoing, had the issue of shocking systemic racism finally brought into the light in the US, Australia and other countries, battled against failing economies as lockdowns rolled across the world, and tried to find new ways to connect because many of us were separated from our loved ones thanks to a microscopic enemy.

For me, and many Australians, the year started with our country on fire. The impacts of which are still being felt almost a year after the last fires were extinguished. You don’t come out of an experience like that unchanged, particularly if you lived in one of the impacted areas like I do. So, after more than two decades of working with gangs, people with mental health issues, and the homeless, I took a leap of faith and jumped careers – a risky thing to do in your late 40s. Thanks to years of experience in what is called trauma-informed practice, I was given the job of leading a team of talented individuals who are responsible for helping those devastated communities rebuild.

What I should have guessed was that taking on a job like that would mean next to no me time, and definitely next to no blogging time!

And then COVID-19 hit, and suddenly I had no time at all, which is why SciFi Mojo has been pretty quiet of late. Coordinating a major disaster recovery initiative through a pandemic and stage 4 lockdowns was… a challenge!

Yes, Australia has a similar landmass to the United States – and a lot of our country was on fire this time last year.

The only reason I can post now is because 10 months after the pandemic was declared, Australia has been luckier than most and has hit COVID-Normal. We sacrificed a lot to get here, but despite the alarmist opinions of a handful of conspiracy theorists, we’ve come through the major outbreaks with minimal loss of life (our thoughts and prayers are with those who did lose loved ones), remain a robust democracy, and most people are proud of the efforts we took to protect those most vulnerable in our communities.

2020 taught me a lot, but more and more as that year progressed, and as 2021 lobs new challenges at us, it taught me the importance of taking care of ourselves – and each other.

When any of us are faced with extreme situations that have no end in sight, it’s important to do what we can to make time for ourselves because the human mind and the human body can only take so much. When we’re confronted with stressful situations, our body produces a chemical called cortisol. Generally, this is a good thing, but when the stress is extreme and prolonged it quickly becomes bad. If we don’t work to lower our cortisol levels when we’re under a lot of pressure, bad things can (and probably will) happen and the impacts can be shockingly destructive.

Self-care is essential, no matter the extreme situation you’re facing.

For me, and a lot of people, a little bit of escapism is like a dip in cool water on a hot day, when we’re stressed. If I can lose myself for a short time in something that uplifts and engages me, like music or a good movie or book, or exercise, I feel a little rejuvenated and better able to keep fighting whatever battle it is that I might be tackling. Taking 30 minutes, or an hour or two to reset, can also bring a new perspective to a persistent problem, or give your subconscious mind the space it needs to find a potential solution to an ongoing issue.

In 2020 I was more grateful for the entertainment industry than I ever have been – even when I worked in it and was getting paid as an actor. Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Binge, Prime, Disney+ and a number of other production companies and entertainment distributors, many of us were able to discover shows we’d never seen before, and watch new offerings we’d been waiting patiently for as we struggled to process all of the horrors and challenges 2020 was throwing at us.

It seems trite to talk about entertainment right now, but people far wiser than I have already commented on the roller coaster that was 2020 – and did so far more eloquently than I could hope to, so humour me, because I do believe that taking time out for you during periods of turmoil is an important strategy for staying healthy and focused on what really matters.

Plus, this is an entertainment blog, not a poli-sci one. 🙂

Because 2020 was a whirlwind, you might have missed a few of the wonderful shows that aired last year. Browse through the list below and maybe set aside some time this year to catch up on anything you might have missed.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a series of detailed reviews and I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

First up?

Picard proves that age doesn’t have to be a barrier to adventure, and sometimes the Universe needs an ‘old warhorse’ to get the job done.

One of the most highly anticipated shows for science fiction fans in 2020 was Star Trek: Picard, and it did not disappoint. Even giant killer space orchids couldn’t diminish this excellent first season outing!

Giant killer space orchids?! Watch the show and you’ll see what I mean.

Star Trek: Picard marked, as you might have already guessed, the return of former Captain Jean-Luc Picard – now a retired Admiral. The show also marked the return of a few fan-favourite Next Gen and Star Trek: Voyager characters.

Was the first season good?

Yes. Star Trek: Picard is a beautiful show. It’s superbly written, directed, acted, edited, set-designed and scored.

It is not your typical Star Trek show, and is very distinct in tone and pacing from Star Trek: Discovery, but it is still firmly Star Trek.

Star Trek: Picard is a character driven pleasure from start to finish, and oozes both a love of and respect for, Star Trek and its fans. Where as Star Trek: Discovery has you reeling from sometimes too many plot points and twists and action set pieces, Star Trek: Picard gives you space to breathe and think and luxuriate in the experience that Michael Chabon and his team have crafted for us.

One of the things I loved most about the show is that, in many ways, it’s a lyrical, inspiring and meaningful study on something that effects all of us, if we’re lucky – the process of growing older. The show does not attempt to make Patrick Stewart an action hero, thank the Great Bird of the Galaxy! The character has aged and the writers do not shy away from that fact. Instead of going all Star Trek: Nemesis on the character, the writers highlight the strengths that come with maturity, and they don’t shy away from the odd pitfall either.

If modern Trek has missed the mark for you, and you’ve avoided Star Trek: Picard as a result, cue up the first four episodes at the very least and take a look. You might be pleasantly surprised. The first few seconds, at least, are bound to bring a smile to your face as a particular ship drifts into view on the screen, in all it’s resplendent 4K glory.

Star Trek: Picard airs on Amazon Prime, and stars Sir Patrick Stewart.

Next up?

Season 2 ups the tension and pulls the Robinson family apart.

Lost in Space season 2 actually dropped on Netflix just before Christmas 2019, but many of us didn’t dive into it until early 2020, so I’ve included it here.

I actually think this show is one of the most underrated family dramas and sci-fi adventure series out there at the moment. Having said that, it did take me two episodes to really get into the second season. Despite that, I was definitely entertained and engaged by those episodes, they just felt like they were trying a little too hard. That all changed from episode three or four on, and the magic of season 1 returned – and was amplified.

Everything about the new Lost in Space is excellent, and in season 2 they fixed the only real thing they didn’t land in season 1, Doctor Smith. It felt like she became a three-dimensional character in season 2, and that was very welcome because Parker Posey is one heck of a talented human being.

The entire season builds with real tension and drama right up to a completely unexpected finale that will have you hanging for season 3. It was huge, it was twisty and turny, and it was risky as all get out!

As much as I am grateful for some of the new streaming platforms that are bringing us cinema-quality entertainment day after day, I’m also a little miffed at them because they don’t really do a lot of promotional work like the more traditional networks.

Shows like Lost in Space are huge – they’re historic, full of spectacle, often star outstanding actors, and are made by multiple-award winning creatives. But the streaming platforms don’t do a lot to promote them unless you live on social media, which fewer and fewer of us are these days (because social media is a poisonous wasteland). There was a time when you’d get rolling write ups on entertainment sites and in hard-copy magazines, and if the show had legs you’d see collectors items on the shelves of shops and advertised everywhere.

Not so these days. There are a number of excellent shows in the science fiction genre that are producing incredible work, with barely a mention outside of their particular streaming platform. Netflix and Prime in particular are pretty bad at promoting their talent.

But, getting back to that season ending cliffhanger, it will get resolved. Netflix have green-lit year three, which has now finished production and is expected to be released in the last half of 2021. Season 3 will be the last for the show, which was originally conceived to run for only three years with a clear start, middle and end.

As mentioned, Lost in Space seasons 1-3 can be watched on Netflix, and stars Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Mina Sundwall, Parker Posey, Taylor Russell, Maxwell Jenkins, Ignacio Serricchio, and Brian Steele as the Robot.

Don’t watch if you’re offended by poo jokes. To be more specific, one long, orbiting, ongoing poo joke.

Now for a change of pace.

Do you like your science fiction served with a side of laugh-out-loud comedy? Then you just might enjoy Avenue 5.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this show, and it ended up surprising me episode after episode.

It has a fantastic cast, surprisingly good special effects, and an engaging story (that borders on the absurd) that all come together to make it completely binge-worthy. I couldn’t stop watching the show and was left wanting more at the season’s end.

If you’re more into aliens, space craft whizzing by in adrenalin fuelled dogfights, and laser beams blowing everything up, you may want to skip Avenue 5. There isn’t an alien in sight, and I don’t think there’s even a laser beam, and there are definitely no dogfights in zero-g!

The premise is crazy simple – a cruise ship that sails around the solar system suffers a momentary loss of gravity that kills their Chief Engineer, and sends the ship (the Avenue 5) a few degrees of course, extending her time in space from eight-weeks to three years. Cue passenger panic!

Hugh Laurie is great as the captain, and brings surprising depth to a role that might have been nothing more than a caricature in less capable hands. Josh Gad is brilliant as the eccentric civilian owner of the ship, as is Suzy Nakamura as his snarky side-kick Iris Kimura. Special mention, however, needs to go to Rebecca Front as Karen Kelly (this woman knows how to get the attention of the manager), and Ethan Phillips, as the disgustingly amorous, washed up astronaut, Spike Martin. I also want to highlight Daisy May Cooper as Sarah, who steals every scene she’s in as a wonderfully inept crew member (and former hand model).

Avenue 5 has already been renewed for a second year, so you can expect more whacky shenanigans from that crew soon – and I can’t wait.

The show is available on iTunes and stars Hugh Laurie.

Worlds apart – her family on Earth, astronaut Emma Green must find the strength she needs to stay focused on her mission to Mars.

I still don’t know what to make of this show. I ended up enjoying it, but I don’t think it ever really knew what it wanted to be? Science fiction? Workplace Drama? Soap opera?

It was a little bit of all of those things, and more.

Away is about the first crewed expedition to Mars, on board the good ship Atlas. The crew is a five-person international team, and some of them don’t trust their commanding officer, Emma Green, played by Hilary swank.

That’s pretty much the premise in a nutshell. The show also takes place on Earth where it focuses on Emma’s husband, Matt Logan, played by Josh Charles, and their daughter, Alexis, played by Talitha Bateman – who does a great job throughout the 10-episode arc. Matt is a NASA engineer with a medical condition who has a bit of an upset not long after Emma leaves Earth for the moon and her eventual journey to Mars. A lot of the time spent on Earth is about how Matt and Alexis cope with Matt’s condition, and missing Emma. The characters, both on Earth and on the Atlas, were what kept me wading through an at times very slow show full of contrived drama and far too-many flashbacks.

Speaking of the characters, the Atlas is made up of a small international crew that are mostly interesting – though it is here that a lot of the series’ potential is wasted. The most fascinating character is the complex Lu Wang, a Chinese astronaut and chemist who is trapped in a loveless marriage. Her Russian friend, Misha Popov, is also an interesting one – he develops a condition related to the effects of spending too-much time in space, and his struggle to keep it a secret and then adapt to it fuels a lot of the drama on the ship.

Filling out the crew are Kwesi Weisberg-Abban, a Jewish British-Ghanaian botanist, and Group Captain Ram Arya, Emma’s 2iC, the ship’s co-pilot and doctor. A lot more could have been done with these last two characters, instead, their time is wasted on a truly strange flashback I didn’t get (I probably need to watch it a second time), and a completely unnecessary B-plot love(?) story that should have been dropped in favour of exploring Ram’s other motivations. His infatuation with a member of the crew does nothing to help his character, and detracts completely from how interesting he was starting to get.

Having said all of that, the show is worth your time. Every episode looks beautiful, Hilary Swank gives a strong performance throughout, as does Josh Charles and Vivian Wu, and there are a couple of gut-churning zero-g moments that are impressively filmed.

It took me three or four episodes to feel engaged, but once I was, I found myself curious enough to want a second season. Sadly, that won’t happen. Away did not perform well, and was not renewed – which shows a lack of imagination on Netflix‘s behalf, because I really do believe the show would have ‘settled’ in its second year and become really interesting.

Away is available to stream on Netflix, and stars Hilary Swank, Josh Charles, Vivian Wu, Ray Panthaki, Mark Ivanir, Ato Essandoh, and Talitha Bateman.

Sometimes, being the best can be the worst!

Space Force is another show that didn’t grab me right off the bat. I ended up enjoying it – mostly because of Steve Carrel, John Malkovich, Jane Lynch and Lisa Kudrow – but it did miss a few beats.

In many ways, the show set itself up to flounder. It has an amazing cast, and a number of them are renowned for their comedic ability, so everyone watching it went into the series with very high expectations… that were not realised. Is Space Force funny? It has it’s moments, but not enough of them.

Despite that, Netflix has faith in the show and has renewed it for a second season.

With the characters and the situation more or less set, maybe year two will bring the humour year one so badly needed? Hopefully, Netflix will share some of Avenue 5‘s writers, because if I had to pick one show over the other, it would be Avenue 5 every time.

If you decide to check it out, I encourage you to persevere. It does get more entertaining toward the last half of the season.

Space Force is streaming on Netflix right now, and stars Steve Carell, John Malkovich, Lisa Kudrow, Jane Lynch, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Tawny Newsome, Don Lake, Noah Emmerich, Concetta Tomei and many, many others!

Season 5 split our heroes up and takes them on very personal journeys, as elements of the Belt unleash a catastrophe on Earth.

The Expanse is hands down THE best science fiction television show on air at the moment, and it’s latest season proves it has no peer.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know I adore Star Trek, Babylon 5, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica, but The Expanse is better than all of them. Yes, it has its roots in bits of each of those science fiction juggernauts, but it has outpaced them. And far out it hurts to say that!

Up until season 5, I would have said The Expanse was on par with the best of those great shows, but this season is epic. Holy crap. It is SO good.

Every season has been a master class in how to write and produce excellent science fiction for television, but The Expanse has out done itself in it’s fifth year.

I don’t want to spoil a drop of this season, but I will say that Dominique Tipper shines. There aren’t words to describe how riveting and how moving her performance is. Your heart will break for her, and your anger at her ex will bubble over into the odd unpleasant word that might be hurled at the screen.

The show has always been well cast, and everyone in this season shows the very best of their acting chops – Shohreh Aghdashloo, Wes Chatham, Steven Strait, Cara Gee, Nadine Nicole, Chad L. Coleman, and Frankie Adams, as do the newcomers to the series – Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros, Olunike Adeliyi as Karal (both of whom you will love to hate), and the very talented and perfectly cast Jasai Chase Owens who brings Naomi’s son, Filip, to life. Because of the intimate nature of this season, with each character separated from the other, it’s design gives Naomi the best chance to stand tall and blow us all away. How she did not get a nomination for an Emmy is beyond me.

The Expanse will be returning for a sixth and final season later this year (2021). For those of you who have read the books, you’ll get why they’re wrapping things up. For those who haven’t, book seven jumps 28 years into the future. The producers chose not to go that path with the TV series. The complexities of that would be staggering, and if they chose to recast Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex it probably wouldn’t go down well with fans – neither would really bad ageing makeup!

One character who was in Book 6 won’t be returning alongside the rest of the team for the final season. Cas Anvar, the Actor who played Alex Kamal, was embroiled in multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault in June of 2020. The investigations are ongoing, and in November of last year, Alcon Entertainment announced Anvar would not return.

The Expanse seasons 1-5 are currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Series 5 stars Steven Strait, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, Cas Anvar, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Frankie Adams, Cara Gee, Keon Alexander, Jasai Chase Owens, Nadine Nicole, Olunike Adeliyi, and Chad L. Coleman.

An unexpected gem.

The Fox Networks Group, StudioCanal, and Urban Myth Films production of War of the Worlds (not to be confused with the BBC remake) is my surprise hit for 2020. I stumbled across it on iTunes when desperate for new scifi content in the middle of the pandemic.

Like a lot of science fiction fans, I’ve always loved the H.G. Wells story, and have more or less enjoyed the various adaptations over the years. When I saw the show for sale on iTunes I wasn’t completely won-over by the preview, but decided to buy the first three episodes and check it out.

By episode two, I’d bought the entire season pass (it was still being released week to week by Apple at the time).

I was completely sucked in, and on the edge of my seat episode after episode.

The series is only loosely based on the original source material (written in 1898), and first premiered in France on the 28th of October, 2019.

This version of the classic alien-invasion story takes place in modern day Europe, primarily across France and the United Kingdom. Astronomers detect a transmission from another star that is definitive proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence. As the people of Earth wait for more, objects begin to land and crash around the globe, and, within hours, most of the planets’ population is wiped out bar a few small pockets of humanity.

This is NOT a cheery show. It is gritty, dark, moving, frightening, and confronting.

Despite that, I’ve been recommending it to everyone who I know loves either good sci-fi or engrossing drama, and every single person who has watched it has been stunned by how good it is. Even those who couldn’t care less about science fiction and H. G. Wells.

War of the Worlds (2019) is not a special effects extravaganza. Where they do go the special effects route, they do it well, but it’s more a psychological thriller that is part horror movie, part intense drama.

If that’s your thing, check it out.

The series has been very well received, and went into production on season 2 in July of 2020. It wrapped filming in October. There is no release date for the second season yet, but we can assume it will come out between July and October of this year, based on the current turn around for most quality series trying to get things done during the pandemic.

I don’t know if this show is streaming on any platform, but you can purchase it on iTunes.

War of the Words (2019) stars Gabriel Byrne, Elizabeth McGovern, Lea Drucker, Adel Bencherif, Bayo Gbadamosi, Stephen Campbell Moore, Natasha Little, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Ty Tennant, Emilie de Preissac, Aaron Heffernan, and Stephane Caillard.

Star Trek: Discovery boldly goes where no Star Trek has gone before, in season 3 of the award-winning show.

Another highly anticipated show for 2020 was season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery.

Season 2 blew season 1 out of the water, and the season 2 finale set up a brand new future for Star Trek with one heck of a cliffhanger.

Perhaps a lot of the anticipation around season 3 was curiosity about that potential new future? Would the set up for season 3 pay off? Would thrusting the crew of the Discovery into the far future work?

I’m here to tell you it did. The cliffhanger was paid off in some surprising ways, and this new time period is the breath of fresh air Star Trek: Discovery needed. Even many of he critics who have had issues with Star Trek: Discovery, have expressed how impressed they were.

Season 3 premiered in October 2020, having completed filming only days before the global pandemic was declared in March by the World Health Organisation. As such, it was one of the first major series to navigate the brave new world of scoring, editing and generating special effects while in lockdown. The result? You could not tell the difference. It’s interesting to note that Star Trek: Discovery is also one of the first major series to attempt to film a new season under COVID-Safe restrictions!

Season 3 follows the adventures of the Discovery crew as they attempt to find their way in a future that is very different, in many ways, from their former present. Starfleet has changed. The United Federation of Planets has changed. The entire power-balance throughout known space has changed, thanks to a little something called “the Burn.”

Because I’m avoiding spoilers, all I’ll say is be prepared for a fan-favourite character to leave, a piece of TOS history to make a major reappearance, an unexpected promotion or two, and conflict between two main characters that may change the dynamics on the ship for a very long time.

If you’ve been disillusioned with Trek’s rebirth, give Star Trek: Discovery another shot. It will surprise you! The series has found its legs, and is coming into its own. There is not one bad episode in the mix, and the choices the writers have made are fascinating… particularly where the Vulcan’s and Romulans are concerned!

Star Trek: Discovery will, thankfully, be back next year.

The series is streaming on Netflix right now, and stars the very talented Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Wilson Cruz, Rachael Ancheril, Michelle Yeoh, Tig Notaro, Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander, Janet Kidder, Hannah Cheesman, and the brilliant Oded Fehr as Admiral Charles Vance.

Season 2 promotional image for Star Wars: The Mandalorian.

It’s safe to say that Star Wars: The Mandalorian was a world wide hit when it aired on Disney+ in 2019. So much so that it’s second season became one of the most eagerly anticipated shows ever.

The second season did not disappoint – though I started to worry when it first kicked off.

When The Mandalorian gets Star Wars right, it is insanely good. When it doesn’t, it annoys you.

Those of you who read my critique of season 1 know that I loved the series, but found it too simplistic. Season 2’s stories started with more of the same, before a little bit of much appreciated complexity wove its way into the last few episodes.

Alongside the complexity, the show also did some great work on its characters, further developing them – and it added to the overall ‘universe’ of Star Wars is some really interesting ways. We saw a little bit of the New Republic in action, and we also had a brief insight into what happened to some fan favourites (from the Clone Wars and the original trilogy time frame) during the time of the Empire, and after Palpatine’s ‘death.’

The only thing that really bugged me this season was the dialogue. By and large it was great, but at the beginning there was a line or two that made me slap my forehead (“I have been quested to bring the child…” WTF?). Thankfully, that was one of only two or three atrocious turns of speech!

Over all, the second season was incredibly satisfying, and the season cliffhanger was mind-blowing! This show is constantly pushing the boundaries, particularly with special effects, and the work it is doing to enrich the mythology of Star Wars is respectful. In many ways, this show has done more for the universe of Star Wars that the recent sequel movies did.

So, make time to binge watch it if you haven’t seen it yet.

As you might guess, Star Wars: The Mandalorian will be back later this year for a third season.

One more thing before moving on… while watching the second season I was reminded of something that has always mystified about about Star Wars – why does everyone (but particularly the Empire) hate guard rails? Have you ever noticed (whether live action or animated) how often you see an Imperial installation that has walkways over gaping pits, or control panels hanging over chasms, and not a guard rail in sight?

Anyway, The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+, and stars Pedro Pascal as the titular character.

Ever wondered what happens during a second contact? Wonder no longer!

The Star Trek Universe on television has been growing, and in a very careful and curated way – which is wonderful.

The real strength of the Kurtzman-led era is that we’re getting Star Trek in ways we never thought we would – like Short Treks, or in ways that we have enjoyed in the past… but with a twist, like the new Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Back in the glory days of the 90s, when we had Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, plus the syndicated original series and animated series, there was a shared universe that would feature characters from other shows in special episodes, generating buzz (and the odd criticism). It was great, and something Marvel and DC have really taken to in their shared universe work in recent years. Where 90s Star Trek eventually came undone, was in its “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy. There was a formula that ’90s Trek’ stuck to that wasn’t bad, but did lead to fan-fatigue.

The new era of Trek is doing everything it can to avoid that. We have the often action packed, twisty Star Trek: Discovery, the more cerebral, personal Star Trek: Picard, the fun and often universe-enriching Star Trek: Short Treks, and now the completely irreverent, slightly off the wall, Star Trek: Lower Decks. Soon we’ll have a more traditional Star Trek show in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and a kids animated adventure in Star Trek: Prodigy.

But back to STLD. It is pure joy. It is most definitely a balm for the soul – particularly if you’re a Trekker who grew up with the Next Gen.

As many of you know, animation isn’t anything new for Star Trek. In the 1970s they ventured into animation with the sometimes excellent, sometimes terrible, but never-the-less award winning Star Trek The Animated Series. It lasted two years, and brought William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei and Majel Barrett Roddenberry back to the 23rd Century. Sadly, due to financial restrictions, Walter Koenig couldn’t join them – but he did write an episode of the series.

Now, 46 years after TAS’s last season originally aired, Star Trek is in animated form again in a dramedy that focuses on Starfleet‘s least important ship.

Despite being released in the US and Canada months ago, it only dropped in Australia recently and I binged it like a crazy man. For once, I went in with zero expectations. I was ready to like it, but I was also ready to dismiss it like I have all the strange Lego stuff they do with Star Wars. But, I loved it. It’s so well done – the writing, the vocal acting, the direction, design, story lines, and art are phenomenal in every way. No matter how many times I watched the opening sequence, I would always snicker at the creature sucking on the warp nacelle, and chuckle or smile at the ship losing power after clipping an asteroid. Yes, at times Ensign Mariners predilection to yell a lot got to me, but within seconds I would be laughing at something or having a fan-boy meltdown at a sneaky ‘treat’ the creatives included for long time fans.

For me, the show had the same effect on me as the brilliant Schitt’s Creek. At the end of every episode you feel good, and that’s so rare for modern TV fare.

Star Trek: Lower Decks is a warm hug on a cold night, and it’s smart, it’s naughty without being nasty or disgusting, and it’s what we all need in a world full of yuck.

Even if you’re not a Trek fan, you should give it a go.

My favourite character? Badgey. He’s the psychotic 24th Century holodeck version of the old Microsoft Clippy tool. If Clippy wanted to kill you.

Star Trek: Lower Decks is streaming on CBS All Access and Amazon Prime, and stars Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Noel Wells, Eugene Cordero, Dawnn Lewis, Jerry O’Connell, Fred Tatasciore, and Gillian Vigman. It’s been renewed for a second season.

And now, before we wrap up this article, I wanted to introduce you guys to another reasonably new show I stumbled across.

Pandora, Season 1. Hit or miss? You decide.

Pandora is aimed at a younger audience, but don’t let that dissuade you! If you can get past the humdrum teenage angst and the prolific use of fluorescent lights, it will grab you.

The biggest fault of the series (apart from the aforementioned unnecessary angst and fluoro lights) is that, like Roswell New Mexico, it tries to fit too much in and as a result aspects of certain stories suffer. Things eventually even out, but the ‘rush’ to get our characters from A to B can interrupt your enjoyment of the episode you’re watching.

If you can get past that, there’s a lot to love about this show. There are strong and interesting characters, entertaining stories, a bit of a mystery, and a lot of promise.

If 2019 and 2020 have taught me anything about my viewing preferences, it is that I need to give shows a bit more time – and persevere. Every time I have, I’ve ended up pleasantly surprised. I’m hoping Pandora does that, like Avenue 5, The Mandalorian, Another Life, and so many other shows have done.

Pandora season 1 premiered in July 2019, and it’s second season premiered in October 2020. The show focuses on Jax, a young woman who loses everyone she loves in the first five minutes of the pilot, and her time training at the Space Training Academy on Earth.

Jax is the reason I stuck with the show. As much as her single-minded focus can get annoying, it’s also completely understandable and true to her character. The actor, Priscilla Quintana, sells it and draws you into the story every time.

The show does not have a good rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but I rarely agree with other critics anyway!

Try it, stick with it for the first half of the season, and see if it tickles your fancy.

Pandora is streaming on Amazon Prime, and stars Priscilla Quintana and Oliver Dench.

That’s it for now. There were a heap of other shows released in 2020 that are worth a look, but if you haven’t seen most of the above – you’re really missing out.

Happy viewing, and let’s hope the scifi offerings we have in store for 2021 are just as good.

Live long, and prosper.

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