A wide variety of fantasy genre television series have enjoyed considerable success. Fantasy can be anything from supernatural to science fiction – there’s no clear definition and therefore much room for originality. I don’t think anyone can truly claim to compose a list of the top 5 fantasy genre TV series ever made, because there is so much personal taste involved. But, following are a list of five truly original fantasy TV series.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TV series spinoff from the movie of the same name created by Joss Whedon, aired from 1997 to 2003. During that time, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) grew from a teenager desperately wanting to fit in, to an iron-willed commander of an army of Slayers. It’s a shame that out of all the excellent writing, only one episode (Hush) was ever nominated for an Emmy. The stigma of science fiction does wonders for being taken seriously, apparently.
Firefly – Another Joss Whedon brainchild. The injustice that was Firefly still rankles “Browncoats,” fans of the short-lived series that aired in 2002 for only 14 episodes. The plot follows space captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew through rebellious and vaguely mercenary missions. There was comedy, there was action, and there was a beautifully Asian fusion steampunk western universe. After the series ended, fans garnered enough support to see the feature-length movie Serenity made. Since then, Fox has remastered the series for HD broadcast and a new Blu-Ray disc set.
Dr. Who – Originally airing on BBC in 1963, Dr. Who holds the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest running TV show. In it we follow the Doctor through his various incarnations/rebirths as he explores time and space in the Tardis, a dimensionally tricky spaceship with the outside appearance of a 1950s police box. The current actor playing Dr. Who is David Tennant.
Carnivale – Another short-lived series, Carnivale aired on HBO between 2003 and 2005. The plot is set in Depression-Era “dust bowl” and quickly establishes a good-versus-evil supernatural conflict between drifter Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) and preacher Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown). The choice of making the “good guys” circus freaks and the “bad guy” a preacher is kind of a subversive cliché, but it still works. It’s a sexy, ominous, quirky, and sad series.
Fantasy Island – How could any list of fantasy genre TV series be complete without Fantasy Island? Fantasy Island aired from 1978 to 1984. On a typical episode, guests would fly in to the island on a water plane and be greeted by the charming and enigmatic Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) and his sidekick, Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize). Guests who came to live out their fantisies would usually find that in some way, their fantasy was not what they wanted. Although the moral lesson of “be careful what you wish for” got old, the series was made entertaining by the debonair Montalban.