The Flash might have headed into the Speed Force for a while. The Expanse is floating around in an inky abyss until 2018. And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on an extended sabbatical. But despite all that, the airwaves will still be full of some great science fiction and fantasy over the next few months.
We’re taking a look beyond the obvious fare like HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s superhero team-up The Defenders to dig a bit deeper into the sci-fi schedule. So, if you’re looking for a new favorite show to geek out about, or just trying to catch up on a few, this is a good place to start.
Airs: Mondays at 9 p.m. on Freeform
It’s been a subtle shift, but Freeform (formerly ABC Family) is quietly becoming a home for some compelling and creative science fiction programming. The network has Marvel series Cloak and Dagger and New Warriors in development for next year, but it’s already airing quirky projects like Stitchers. The series isn’t perfect, but it makes for one heck of a wild, guilty pleasure. The show focuses on a secret program that “stitches” agents into the minds of the recently deceased in an effort to solve unsolvable crimes. It’s big on ideas—and admittedly a bit messy in execution—but it’s still a whole lot of fun. It’s also loaded with young and pretty people. Because hey, this is a Freeform series, after all.
2. Orphan Black
Airs: Saturdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America
One of BBC America’s first forays into original sci-fi drama was the critically acclaimed—and criminally under-watched—clone drama Orphan Black, which wraps up its fifth and final season this summer. With a twisty story about a group of women who come to realize they’re all clones, the series has become a critical darling thanks to lead Tatiana Maslany’s amazing performance. She plays more than a half dozen different characters (sometimes all in the same scene). With the show wrapping up its run, it’s the perfect time to jump in and find out what all the fuss has been about. Come for the compelling drama and rich characters, and stay for the tour de force that is Maslany. (Read Paste’s review of the season premiere here.)
3. Fear the Walking Dead
Airs: Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC
If you’re missing Rick, MIchonne and the rest of the gang from The Walking Dead, the spinoff series Fear the Walking Dead is finally evolving into the type of show that could potentially fill the void. The third season premiered with some game-changing twists, and the fact that it’s not beholden to the comic that inspired the flagship series gives it a certain level of unpredictability that can be a nice change of pace for zombie fans. The cast is solid, too, led by Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey (already a fan favorite among genre fans thanks to her stint on The CW’s The 100) and Colman Domingo. (Read Paste’s report from the Baja California set here.)
4. Blood Drive
Premieres: June 14 at 9 p.m. on Syfy
If you’re looking for something with buckets (or, more accurately, cars) full of blood and a whole lot of Grindhouse attitude, Syfy’s Blood Drive could make an interesting addition to the DVR. The series is set in the near-future apocalypse of Los Angeles (circa 1999) and follows a deadly underground race circuit where the cars literally run on human blood (just go with it). The trailers are about as silly as you’d expect, but stars Alan Ritchson, Christina Ochoa, Colin Cunningham, and Thomas Dominique look to be having as much fun as possible with the premise. If nothing else, Blood Drive looks like nothing else you’ll find on television this year. (Full disclosure: I also write for Syfy Wire, but this is a show Paste would recommend checking out regardless.)
5. The Mist
Premieres: June 22 at 9 p.m. on Spike
Spike is looking to get into the high-concept genre game with a long-form adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist, which follows the residents of a small town who are terrorized when a mysterious mist descends upon the town. Early footage and buzz from the 10-episode series looks encouraging, and the creative team promises a fresh and expanded take on King’s original story. King’s material has been mined quite a bit on television in recent years (Under the Dome, Haven and The Dead Zone, to name a few), but The Mist is arguably one of the most promising properties. The novella was most recently adapted as a brutally scary feature film by Frank Darabont in 2007, so there’s certainly a template for the tone that could make this series a terrifying surprise.
Premieres: June 25 at 10 p.m. on AMC
AMC has already had a whole lot of luck in the comic book game thanks to The Walking Dead, so the network took a shot at another iconic comic in the form of Gareth Ennis’ Preacher—and the results are pretty great. Producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg did a whole lot of world-building in the show’s first season, setting the stage for Season Two that finds the motley crew of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) and Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) hitting the road on a (literal) search for God. The first season was a dark, twisted and hilarious romp, and the early buzz on Season Two is that it goes even further.
Premieres: June 30 at 10 p.m. on Syfy
This Canadian co-production debuted with minimal fanfare two seasons ago, and turned out to fill the hole left behind by Joss Whedon’s dearly departed Firefly. As the series heads into its third season this summer, it promises even more space bounty hunter action, all wrapped up in a world on the verge of all-out war. Even better, it features breakout star Hannah John-Kamen, who will be all over the big screen next year in Tomb Raider, Ready Player One and Ant-Man and the Wasp. See what all the fuss is about before she’s famous.
Premieres: July 12 at 9 p.m. on CBS
Alex Kurtzman (Lost) is back in primetime with the suspense thriller Salvation, which focuses on the discovery that an asteroid will collide with the Earth in just six months. It’s a concept that’s been explored more than a few times in film, but digging into the period of time typically skipped over by feature films could be the perfect recipe for compelling drama. The project has been in various stages of development since 2013, but CBS has finally decided to pull the trigger and bring it to screen. Here’s hoping all that extra time in the oven will lead to a mystery (and outcome) that’s been fully baked. The series stars Charlie Rowe, Jacqueline Byers, and Santiago Cabrera.
9. The Strain
Premieres: July 16 on FX
This vampire horror drama has come a long way since its debut, and the fourth and final season this summer presents a world taken over by vampires and filled with all kinds of nightmare-fuel horrors. The concept was co-created by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth), and it brings a whole lot of the visual flair the filmmaker has become known for on the big screen. The show is positively terrifying, and if you’re tired of evergreen re-runs and cheery reality TV, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.
10. The Tick
Premieres: August 25 on Amazon
Amazon is bringing the bumbling superhero The Tick back to life, spearheaded by original creator Ben Edlund. The series stars Peter Serafinowicz as the namesake hero, and Griffin Newman as his sheepish sidekick, Arthur. The franchise has been around a long time, made famous by a beloved animated series and short-lived live action series back in the 1990s. Amazon released the pilot for the reboot last year and it strikes an interesting balance of humor, drama and action. If nothing else, it will make for a nice change of pace when compared to the glut of superhero shows already littering the TV landscape, and provide a summer respite that balances all the punching with a few good jokes to boot.
Trent Moore is an award-winning journalist and professional geek. You can read more of his stuff at Syfy Wire, and keep up with all his shenanigans @trentlmoore.