This awesome, scary show about giant, electricity-emitting sea beasts had its monstery life cut tragically short after just a half season. But this riveting tale of crytozoology lives on in fans' hearts. Even though it had very earnest giant monsters, Surface never took itself too seriously. And that's what made it brilliant.
The original Transformers animated series is where we learned where we stood. Did you side with the Decepticons of the Autobots? Transformers was the ultimate imagination generator — anything is possible when you have a robotic alien species that can transform into a truck or plane, or even a boombox. Plus Optimus Prime could very well be one of the best leaders on television. He was noble, caring, big-hearted, driven and had a velvety voice, all without being as treacly as Adam Prince of Eternia.
This isn't the first show about young Superman — there was the absurdly campy Superboy show a decade or so earlier. But by keeping Clark from becoming Superman, and showing him going to high school and having growing pains like other kids, Smallville kept its hero more grounded — even as Kryptonite meteors were turning people into super-powered freaks right and left.
If you were a child in the mid-80s, nothing was as exciting as the sight of Jan Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine flying around in their eponymous indestructible super-helicopter in this "Knight Rider in the air" rip-off. Sure, looking back, it turns out to be an insanely-right wing fantasy about the CIA saving the world, but hey. We were all younger back then.
Angel co-creator David Greenwalt brought us this show about Jake, an NSA computer expert who gets injected with nanobots that give him superpowers, including the ability to control technology. Before Chuck, Jake was our favorite super-charged nerd-spy.
The visiting alien ALF was quite possibly the coolest puppet to graze the small screen — well, he had the most street cred anyway, with his snappy pop-culture references and born-to-be-PG-bad attitude. His real name was Gordon Shumway and he was the last known survivor of the planet Melmac who just happened to crash in suburbia. Making friends with a stereotypical family, the Tanners — a nuclear family of four, with your stereotypical braces-wearing teenage daughter and an annoying pipsqueak little brother — ALF taught us all how to survive being aliens in suburbia.
Even with the proliferation of superhero narratives on our screens these days, few shows have grappled with the joys and drawbacks of super-powers as much as Heroes has — for both good and ill. What would it really be like to hear other people's thoughts? Should people with powers be allowed to roam free, using them to cause havoc for everyone else? When Heroes managed to have relatable characters asking these questions, it was the most watchable show on TV. When its characters became incomprehensible, well... That's why it's #84.
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century
This show may be the guiltiest pleasure that doesn't actually break any federal laws. Buck Rogers gets frozen for 500 years and finds himself in a post-apocalyptic future, where everything is trashy and disco, and he hangs around with a penis-headed robot who says "beady beady." And the scary-glam Princess Ardala wants him to wrestle with her heavily muscled Pantherman, so she can marry him and an obedience collar on him. All this, plus weird dancing.
Creepy and fun, the series based on Stephen King's novel is about a man named John Smith who awakens from a longerm coma to discover that he gets psychic readings off anything he touches. This makes him an idea detective, and also the target of a zillion shady characters who want to use him. Fun fact: Dead Zone was also made into a movie by David Cronenberg, which has nothing to do with the TV series.
Call us sentimental old fools if you must, but we still miss Bryan Fuller's romantic (in every sense of the word), larger-than-life murder mysteries, especially when we think of the whip-smart old-school screwball dialogue, the unfailing sense of fun and, most of all, Chi McBride's cynical private eye, Emerson Cod.