TOR.com has an interesting article called Looking Back With Kitsch: 7 Science Fiction TV Shows We Barely Remember, about some relatively short lived series that perhaps we’re better off not knowing. I remember all but one (a rare British SF show I am not familiar with), and I don’t think they were necessarily as bad as they say:
Super Force (1990-1992, 48 episodes) – The longest-running of the list, it starred Ken Olandt as a vigilante with a high-tech suit and and a motorbike, mentored by a personality in a computer that sounds like Patrick Macnee (since it is his voice…) and looks like Patrick Macnee turned into an 8-bit computer graphic. Olandt seemed to get relegated to B movies and guest roles after this. It also featured Larry B. Scott, who’s other major credit is Lamar in the Revenge Of The Nerds franchise. I watched a few episodes, and I remember there was one of those changes between seasons to beef up the show for the next season, like a new suit, or something like that. And Traci Lords (yes, her) was a guest star in an early attempt to giver her legitimate acting creds. I haven’t the foggiest idea how it lasted two full seasons, except I think it was at the height of the first run syndication boom.
Time Trax (1993-1994, 44 episodes): This was one of the two debut series of the Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN), along with Kung-Fu: The Legend Continues (Babylon 5‘s pilot movie was distributed by PTEN and picked up as a series the following year). PTEN was an attempt at a 5th network, before the FCC regulations allowed the studios to have direct control on networks (resulting in UPN and The WB – neither of which still exist, having merged and morphed into The CW). Time Trax featured Dale Midkiff as Darien Lambert, a future cop sent back in time to track down and return a bunch of criminals who escaped into the past. He is advised by a computer hologram (Elizabeth Alexander) projected from a credit-card sized device, who looks like a librarian from the mid-20th century.
I watched the first several episodes, but I remember it being formulaic and it lost my interest pretty quickly. Given that PTEN only had two shows and one in development, they were probably willing to stick it out longer just to see. Midkiff seemed to survive only marginally better than Olandt, although for some reason I liked him in general.
Homeboys In Outer Space (1996-1997, 21 episodes): As I typed that, my first thought was “21 episodes?!? I thought it was done after the pilot…” I watched the first episode, or most of it at least, and I’ll usually give a show at least two episodes before tuning it out forever. What I thought I was getting: An African-American Red Dwarf. What I got: Lame humor, lamer effects. I don’t even remember James Doohan. About the only thing to survive this sundive was Keith Michael Richardson, who’s voice has been in about a billion things since, although star Flex Alexander did have a series for a few years (One on One).
[sfs=695]Space: Above and Beyond[/sfs] (1995-1996, 23 episodes): An attempt at a gritty military drama, set in outer space. I think it was better than Starship Troopers at least. A bunch of marine recruits really want to join the elite squad – and suddenly find themselves as the elite squad when the originals get killed off.
I couldn’t figure out the show though. It seemed like it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be an outer-space battle show, or a land-based battle show (which seemed improbable), or even a space opera. And when ratings seemed week, for a show that seemed to take the science at least semi-seriously, they started throwing things like ESP and stuff into the stories.
[sfs=895]TekWar[/sfs] (1994-1995, 4 TV movies + 18 episodes): Based on the books by William Shatner (who also appears in the series), it follows disgraced cop Jake Cardigan (Greg Evigan), a Tek (a sort of virtual reality drug) addict and framed for dealing in it, who is thawed out (criminals are frozen) after serving his time and becomes a private investigator for Walter Bascom (Shatner). It started as 4 TV movies as part of Universal’s “Action Pack” syndication package, and then became a series. It also starred Torri Higginson as Beth Kittridge, who later starred on Stargate: Atlantis – but like in that show she departed the series.
A note about who “Cowgirl”, mentioned in the TOR.com article – she appeared in two of the movies and two episodes, and was played by Lexa Doig, later of Andromeda and future wife of Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1).
I liked this show. I think Jake’s “non-lethal” gun was cool – I forget what it was called, but it shot something like a compression wave that could knock out a person – or crush them behind a wall. I liked Higginson better than her replacement as well (Maria del Mar) and was sad to see her leave – the episode in which she did caught me by surprise.
For inexplicable reasons, only the TV series episodes were released on [sfs=895]DVD[/sfs].
Space Rangers (1993-1994, 6 episodes): A bunch of misfits space cops stationed way out in the middle of nowhere, with a ship that’s barely held together, an engineer with a quirky mechanical arm (Jack McGee), a pilot with something to prove (Marjorie Monaghan), a semi-telepathic warrior monk who has to wear a collar to prevent him from becoming homicidal (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), the gung-ho rookie (Danny Quinn), and of course their rules-breaking captain (Jeff Kaake). They are all reined in by Linda Hunt, who despite her diminutive size seems to make a great authority figure.
This was an early attempt at using CGI extensively for visual effects, and you can tell the difference between that and Babylon 5‘s efforts the following year.
The series itself was campy, and I don’t think it quite deserved it’s early demise, but it wasn’t riveting drama. It hasn’t been released on a Region 1 DVD that I know of, but it does seem to occasionally pop up on TV as a series of TV movies.
Come Back Mrs. Noah (1977-1978, 6 episodes): I know nothing about it, save that the ending credits shown reminded me a lot of the style of the long running Brit sitcom Are You Being Served?, which is ironic as star Molly Sugden was Mrs. Slocombe in that show, and writers David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd wrote both shows and Croft producing both. Apparently their later effort was much more well received.