To escape into the imagination, nothing better than SF. At CNET, we firmly believe in the virtues of science fiction. What better way to change your mind and travel in these troubled times? The debate is open.
There are books, podcasts, YouTube channels, movies, but also TV series. We’re going to talk about these last ones here. On Netflix, Prime Video, OCS, Canal + or DNA, there are many nuggets.
Black mirror, The Expanse, The Collapse, The Leftovers or Psychopass… Here is our selection of the best in SF content from SVOD platforms. Spoiler : there should be something for everyone.
What are the best SF series available for streaming?
The best on Netflix: Black Mirror
With each new episode, a new universe and characters. Black mirror is an anthology dystopia in which all aspects are linked by the deployment of a new ambivalent and often criticizable technology. The series uses imagined future relatives to denounce the omnipresence of screens and the place of intrusive high-tech in our lives.
She questions the relationship between humans and all connected objects whose daily use has become the lot of the majority. Black Mirror is therefore deliberately “catastrophist” on the edges. Optimism is out of the question for its screenwriters who prefer to imagine a dark future where technology dominates people, not the other way around.
Why it’s a logical choice
At first glance, reading the summary does not necessarily make you want to take the plunge, it’s true. This is far from being the most engaging appetizer, we grant it. And yet… passed its somewhat arid pitch, Black mirror is truly a series not to be missed.
It has not stolen its rave reviews which make it one of the highest rated programs of all time on several review sites popular with series fans. Most episodes, unhealthy and disturbing at will, are cold in the back.
The discomfort is all the greater as they sometimes curiously echo reality, as when the characters find themselves trapped in an application that forces them to rate themselves. It is reminiscent of a similar system developed in China for some time … But it is also what makes the series charming.
Black mirror does not forbid anything and his uninhibited tone is good. It breaks the codes of more classic series and offers the screen a new and techno-critical look at our society where screens are occupying an increasingly important place.
Even if the episodes are not all perfect, the fault of often uneven scripts, the series remains a reference of the genre. Violent, ironic and often pessimistic, she slowly, but surely pushes her viewer to wonder about the future.
Special mention at Stranger things, Sense8 or Love, Death and Robots who could also have claimed the throne.
- Here is the trailer for this reference series:
A SF reference on Amazon Prime: The Expanse
In the XXIIIth century, humanity conquered and colonized the entire solar system. The United Nations rules, Mars has become an independent military power, and all planets depend on the raw materials of the Asteroid Belt.
Living conditions there are difficult and hundreds of thousands of workers are killed on the job. Between the Earth, the Red Planet and the Belt, tension is mounting and a war is threatening.
It is in this explosive context that detective Joseph Miller, seconded by the second of the space freighter who embarks him, sets out in search of a young girl mysteriously disappeared. Over the course of their discoveries, the two men will uncover a plot that threatens the future of the entire galaxy.
Why it’s a logical choice
Few pure SF series made such an impression on us that The Expanse. It’s a real good space opera, with a credible context, a complex geopolitical situation and a very pleasant spatial atmosphere.
The dialogues are not too caricatured and the scenario holds up well. Its cogs are a little long to set up, but it is worth hanging on during the first episodes. The Expanse don’t fall into the cheap special effects trap either.
The returned copy is therefore also more than honorable in this register. His level of realism is pleasant, the universe is rich, the characters interesting and the intrigue quickly becomes thrilling. So many reasons to start The Expanse without delay.
Special mention at Doctor Who, Tales from The Loop or The Man in the High Castle also received votes.
- Watch the trailer for the first season:
A nugget on OCS: The Leftovers
Sad day that the one where 2% of the world population disappeared from the surface of the Earth, without any plausible explanation. Husbands, children, neighbors, lovers … “rapture” has spared nobody, or almost.
For those who remain, then begins a period of misunderstanding, sadness and despair. Where are the missing? Why did they vanish? Will it happen again? What will happen next? One thing is certain, nothing will ever be the same again.
But as everyone tries to rebuild, agitation lurks. The population is always on edge and a strange sect is starting to be talked about.
Why it’s a logical choice
A magnificent series and an indisputable choice for us, even if Westworld is also a great series of SF. It’s simple, The Leftovers is simply one of the best shows products in recent years. You have to hang on a bit to realize this, the first episodes are quite arid.
Faithful to himself, Damon Lindelof gives few explanations and other details on the context of his story. It is up to the viewer to appropriate the story, to grasp the details and the roughness to fully understand his work. The Leftovers is therefore a demanding series, to say the least.
After these somewhat laborious beginnings, she then makes a copy almost flawless. It is a model of subtlety and poetry, with the added bonus of rare originality. Its beauty is indisputable: in the production, the script, the acting or the music, the performance is top notch.
However, the subject is not obvious and the writers give only few answers to the existential questions raised in the series. Surprisingly enough, that doesn’t prevent you from hanging on to it. It is not exciting, there is not always suspense or incredible twists and turns around each episode, but nevertheless. We are surprised to chain the episodes, and even to ask for more.
It’s the magic of The Leftovers, a slow series, quite contemplative, complex, but also fascinating. She uses the fantastic and many metaphors to reflect on our society. In short, if you have not yet watched the series, you are lucky. Do not hesitate, The Leftovers is a real safe bet.
Special mention at Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale which are also great programs.
- Discover the trailer of the first season of this first choice series:
The best on Disney +: The Mandalorian
The Empire is dead, long live the New Republic. Not sure that the Mandalorian hero of the series shares this philosophy. His job, bounty hunter, no longer pays since the return of peace. To pocket a large sum, he then accepts an unofficial contract.
His mission ? Find and bring a small being of the sort of late Master Yoda to his sponsors. But when he gets his hands on it, Mando realizes that créture is just a child. Against all expectations, he changes his mind and decides to save him. Then begins a dangerous journey in the galaxy for the duo who must escape the many enemies on their heels.
Why it’s a logical choice
The Mandalorian is a successful extension of the galactic universe of Star Wars. This is a quality that few productions can boast of since Disney bought the franchise. And yet, the entertainment giant does not skimp on resources. Each year, at least one new film is released in theaters, not counting series like Clone wars or Rebels.
In short, expectation and impatience went hand in hand with distrust and skepticism while waiting for the arrival of the new series on our screens. As of April 07, we launched our bodies and souls into the viewing of the first episodes posted on Disney +. First conclusion of this session of binge-watching : the adventures of the Mandalorian may well reconcile us with Star Wars after our last cinematic disappointments.
In a context different from that of the different opuses of the saga, with a character far from the Jedi versus Sith conflicts, we nevertheless find the atmosphere that made the charm of the universe Star Wars. The “western Spaghetti” side, a novelty, is quite tasty and gives a certain cachet to this dive into the shallows of the galaxy.
The staging is impeccable, the special effects successful and the hero very charismatic. The cute Baby Yoda has also won the hearts of many and once the viewing has started, we can easily understand why. On the side of the plot, nothing revolutionary, but an obvious desire to do well. If it is not always original or unexpected, it is always consistent and rhythmic, so that we take great pleasure in following the adventures of the Mandalorian bounty hunter.
The Mandalorian does not abrupt its spectator. The series takes its time, without being boring. The exploration of new nooks and crannies of the galaxy is successful and the series can count on its actors, notably Pedro Pascal in the main role, to do the job well. Finally, a special mention to the brilliant soundtrack that completes the excellent impression left by the first major exclusivity stamped Disney +.
- Here is the trailer for the successful return of Star Wars serial :
An amazing series on Canal + Séries: L’Effondrement
Catastrophe, the world as we know it is no more, we ended up exhausting it and pushing our society to its ruin. Shortages, violence and insecurity are now the daily lot of the population who must adapt to survive in this new reality.
In this anthology series, each episode takes us in the footsteps of different characters who try to cope, with more or less success. The Collapse spares no one and they will experience it bitterly.
Why it’s a logical choice
Another superb series passed under many radars. The Collapse is a narrative and technical bias. It is a committed and unique program that does not resemble the series that we are used to watching on Netflix and others.
Certainly, survival and the Apocalypse are recurring objects in the fiction of recent decades. However, almost no program feeds on the collapsollogy as much as The collapse. The French series does not only take inspiration from it, it strives to make it credible. It sounds very real, real and easily manages to take the spectator to the guts.
It’s deeply immersive and the series owes a lot to the audacity of its realization. The choice of a single sequence plan per episode is quite unique, it immerses us as close as possible to the reality of the characters. Obviously, we wonder what we would do in their place, if we ourselves had to fight for our survival in a world on the brink.
Realism makes you think and pushes the viewer to wonder about its time, and perhaps even to question certain things. The episodes are very (too) short, perfectly rhythmic and very well interpreted.
The anthology works very well, the characters have no apparent link and live in different crisis situations, which fits perfectly with the spirit of the show. As for the musical choices, they are also impeccable. The collapse is a nugget and a real favorite very highly recommended by the editorial staff.
- Here is an overview of this excellent program, still too little known:
An animated SF which keeps all its promises on DNA: Psycho-Pass
In 2112, science and technology have advanced considerably. Each citizen is equipped with a “Psycho-Pass”, a device which allows the authorities to assume the mental state of a person and the probability that he commits a crime.
When the “crime coefficient” is too high, the authorities get involved and arrest the (probable and future?) Offender. A choice is then offered to him: accept to be “rehabilitated” or end up imprisoned, when he is not shipped six feet underground.
In this authoritarian regime, “Executors” are the armed arm of the government. These criminals, supervised by “Inspectors”, track down possible thugs. The role of the young recruit Akane Tsunemori and his colleagues? Purge society of its potential disruptive elements.
Why it’s a logical choice
A good dystopian anime with a cyberpunk aesthetic? A rare commodity these days. So, when you come across a series of first choice, you should not sulk your pleasure. Psycho-Pass definitely falls into this category.
Technical innovation and its drifts, progress to the detriment of morality and the alienation of Man through his own technological discoveries … so many recurring themes and ultimately quite common in works of the genre. Because yes, Psycho-Pass does not invent anything, or at all not much. Lovers of the genres mentioned above will find in the anime references to certain reference classics.
However, this does not detract from the intrinsic quality of the series. The protagonists’ investigations are interesting, but leave the spectator a little hungry. Psycho-Pass really gets into the thick of it when its heroes start (a little) to question the system in force. “Sybil” is his name, and he embodies all the excesses of this society of the future.
These “policemen” of the future are an integral part of the system and they still struggle to really question. However, citizens are no longer free, they no longer have their free will and must comply with the dictates of the Ministry of Welfare in order to hope to survive.
But the instigators of control hide behind the “well-being” of the population to justify themselves, avoiding the real question: are the inhabitants really happy or is it just a sham? In any case, some are determined to overturn the order in place. This is the heart of the first season and it is very well orchestrated, both in terms of the script and the animation.
Despite their faults and an unfortunate tendency to horrify, we appreciate following Akane Tsunemori, zealous servant of the system, and her friends. Psycho-Pass is a success is one of our references of SF animes, even if others could also have occupied this place.
Special mention at Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Code geass or God Eater that we also love.
- look at the trailer of this very good anime: