As a follow-up to my previous article I now list 2020 Most Anticipated Sci-Fi Series. As with the list of Sci-Fi I limit the number of superhero series as well as sci-fi -- so that excludes anything with zombies, wands, teen-angst and Doctor Who. For the most part this list won’t surprise may people, but if you disagree then feel free to comment below or in the discussion board or subscribe to this blog by filling in your email address in the widget to the right.
So lets start the list of 2020 Most Anticipated Sci-Fi Series with Altered Carbon.
The series I am looking forward to the most is Altered Carbon. Based on the novels by Richard K. Morgan the series is a thriller set in a dystopian cyberpunk world. The main character is Takeshi Kovacs who has just been resleeved into another human body after his mind was imprisoned following a failed rebellion. In Altered Carbon the wealthy can get away with anything while the poor have to suffer corruption and violence.
Altered Carbon did not shy away from gore and nudity and felt like a worthy alternative to Game of Thrones. The sword fight near the end of season one between Kristin (plated by Martha Higreda) and fully nude Reileen (Dichen Lachman) made it feel like a swords-and-sandals such as Spartacus. For season 2 the principal character will be played by Anthony Mackie as Takeshi is again resleeved. No release has been set though I suspect this spring! If you want to know more about this franchise than read my review of the comic Download Blues from November.
The second season of Westworld was not much to my liking. I felt as if I did not understand the plot -- it was too cerebral even for more. However, the trailers for season 3 look absolutely spectacular. It depicts how much of the story is now set outside of the parks as Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) continues her revenge against Delos and humanity. Westworld has often been touted as a potential replacement for Game of Thrones now that show has ended.
It could be, but the two year release cycle hampers it ability to keep an audience. People are excited about it but may have the attitude that they will see it when its out. For season 3 the line-up of parks is further enhanced with World War 2, at least occupied France. It would be thematically interesting to see what the worst period of human history will mean for the show. Westworld also has no set release date though I suspect either in the spring or early summer.
The first Star Wars lice-action series was a blast to watch. The Mandalorian has it all, action, mystery and intriguing characters. Some of the episodes fell short of expectations but not because of its principal character -- Mando (played by Pedro Pascal). The season only just ended with an episode directed by Taika Waititi. It featured considerable heartbreak. The deaths of IG-11 and Kuill as well as the annihilation of the Mandalorian coven. The series also had its own star -- baby Yoda. What the remains of the Empire want with this force sensitive baby is unknown -- though I suspect it ties in with The Rise of Skywalker. Meanwhile the show has also found its villain -- moff Gideon -- played by Giancarlo Esposito. Gideon sports nothing less than the Mandalorian Darksaber. Season 2 has been confirmed for fall 2020.
Since 2017 friends have been telling me watch Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville. Its a lot like Star Trek The Next Generation they, and its much better than Discovery. Earlier this year season 2 concluded and I started paying attention. After binge watching both season I have to agree. The Orville is good fun and takes a lot from Star Trek. So far opinions have been divided though. Critics slammed it for being derivative and muddled with its attempt to include both drama and comedy.
However, season 2 was already much better received with improved production values and stories. In The Orville MacFarlane plays Captain Ed Mercer while Adrianne Palicki plays First Officer Kelly Grayson and Ed’s ex-wife. With an eclectic set of characters and lots of tongue-in-cheek references to Star trek and its fanbase the show is definitely worth watching. No release date has been set, but it won’t be before fall 2020.
Star Trek: Picard
As if CBS understands that discovery is not quite what fans had expected they have ordered another series, this time focusing solely on Patrick Stewart’s TNG character Captain Picard. Star Trek Picard is set for January 24th. Thus it is the first show on this list to be released. From the trailer it is hard to get a reading on the show’s vibe. Featuring a large ensemble cast Picard sets of once again trying to prevent ruin and destruction. I hope it will harken back at least a little bit to TNG and that it will go easy on the fan-service. Fans of Voyager have also something to look forward to -- Seven of Nine played by Jeri Ryan is also onboard.
Star Trek: Discovery
If there is one series I am reluctant to watch than it is Discovery. Then why watch it? Well, if you stick with its worthwhile. Discovery was meant to be a new type of Star Trek show -- less procedural with special effects normally only seen on the big screen. What ended up happening was a show with way too much drama. Critics have been kind to Discovery, fans less so. However the show did move into high gear with season 2 as it introduced Section 31. Two stand-out characters of Discovery have so far been Captain / Emperor Philippa Georgiou and Captain Pike. Both are set to get their own series. Though I hope the series would stop making a habit out of spinning off fun characters.
Snowpiercer was a movie from 2013 based on a French graphic novel. The film depicted a train continuously driving through the wastelands following global warming. The wealthy onboard the train live near the front while the poor in the tail. The movie starred Chris Evans and was effective and made a modest amount of money. I did not think it would spawn a series, but we are getting one. A series could do justice to the many subtle plot points of the movie. It will star Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs. The series is set for the spring and a second season has already been confirmed.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
I very nearly managed to complete this list without including a single superhero series. I remember a time when everybody was highly expecting Agents of SHIELD, only then to be wowed when Marvel went on a spending spree and we nearly ended up with a half-dozen series at a time. Little of it was any good, but boy am I intrigued by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The titular characters will be played by the actors starring in the MCU movies: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Little is known about the series other than it is set after Avengers: Endgame and that it will stream on Disney+. The series is expected to arrive late 2020 for an initial run of 6 episodes. It will also star Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter and Daniel Bruhl as Helmuth Zemo.
My final entry on this list may not be Sci-Fi at all. Devs is billed as a drama series by Hulu. Sonoya Mizuno plays Lilly, a computer engineer investigated a company called Amaya. The company is developing Quantum computers and Lilly suspects the man who runs it -- Forest -- to be involved in the disappearance of her boyfriend. As Quantum Computing is involved I think this should be considered Sci-Fi. Also the show is being developed Alex Garland whose directorial credits in include Ex Machina and Annihilation and who has written 28 Days Later. The teaser trailer definitely has a vibe similar to Ex Machina. The series is set to be released in the spring.
Honorable Mentions in the list of 2020 Most Anticipated Sci-Fi Series
There are always a few shows that don’t make the cut even if they do abide by the rules. One such series is Another Life starring Katee Sackhoff. While I enjoyed the series, and it has been confirmed to return, it did have a fair number of problems. The series was highly derivative and at times clunky. Which is a shame as it did have drama and some horror themes that could stand on their own. I hope season 2 will reinvigorate the show -- otherwise I hope it will be its last. Meanwhile Black Mirror might return for a few more episodes. At this moment I am considering it may not be a show but more an anthology of short movies. Of course there is also agents of SHIELD -- which is enjoyable as ever but slowly starting to show it age and not really sci-fi anyway.
There are a number of series which in theory may see a season released in 2020, but which I think as unlikely. These are Stranger Things, The Expanse and Dark. If you have not seen them I suggest you binge watch them immediately!
So there we have it, my list of 2020 Most Anticipated Sci-Fi Series. What is noticeable are the large number of high-concept series. This is not doubt due to major players such as Amazon, Netflix, HBO and Disney+ pumping in large amounts of money into the streaming market. Not that I am complaining. If you only we could a series based on William Gibson’s Neuromancer novel -- hint!