I’m a Star Trek nerd in the middle of a dry spell. Star Trek: Discovery wrapped up in early January, season 2 of the very amusing Lower Decks doesn’t arrive until August, and all those new series they’re making come even after that. So in my quest for something to scratch my nerd itch (along with the ten gazillion other shows I love), I’ve found some gems to share.
Nerdy Cool: WandaVision (Disney+)
Marvel fans have it a lot easier than Star Trek fans. The movie franchise is huge and now they’re creating must-watch TV shows too. If you’re like me and you dabble in Marvel without fully committing to all of it ( Somehow I can’t get excited about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier), you’ll still have a lot of fun watching WandaVision.
I literally know nothing about the main characters; their big movie was Age of Ultron, which I’ve never been able to sit through. But it doesn’t matter!
Even though I didn’t have the satisfaction of recognizing references and deep cuts, I still had a blast watching the show; in fact, not knowing what was happening was half the fun. The first chunk of episodes are straight-up parodies of sitcoms of different eras, starting with the 1950s. It’s a nostalgic trip through the history of sitcoms with a superhero twist; what more could I ask for? Throw in a bunch of great actors, a big budget, and an intriguing story whether or not you’re Avengers-savvy, and you’ve got a great miniseries ahead of you.
Nerdy Relatable: Superman & Lois (The CW)
I’m hardly in their target demo, but I enjoy some of the CW’s superhero shows a lot, and this year brought a new series to add to the pack called Superman & Lois.
I love me some Superman, but what I’ve always been drawn to aren’t the big fight scenes so much as the personal adventures of an alien who gets adopted by farmers on Earth, has an unwavering moral compass, and tries to blend in as a regular human and keep his secret identity going at the same time.
And now I’m hooked on this new CW drama that explores the family life of Clark Kent after he marries Lois and they settle down, more or less, with their two sons.
While we’re used to the struggles women have balancing jobs and home life, this show spins the trope by putting constant pressure on Clark to be there for his family when he can be summoned at any time to literally save the planet. Yes, the meeting with his son’s therapist is really important, but so is that nuclear threat!
At the beginning of the show, his sons don’t even know who he really is, which raises even more complex questions about how they can function as a family while keeping such massive secrets. This show is about Clark trying to be a dad, but still has flying around, saving the world, and capes. It pairs nicely with The Flash and a glass of wine
Nerdy smart: For All Mankind (AppleTV+)
I don’t know why it took me so long to watch this! It was co-created by Ronald D. Moore, an essential part of all that great ‘90s Star Trek on TV and in the movies.
At New York Comic Con a few years back, I went to hear him speak and walked away feeling inspired, determined to use what I learned to invigorate my own writing.
For All Mankind is an alternate history show about what would have happened if the global space race had never ended, starting with the shift that the Russians landed on the moon before the Americans.
From there, it’s a beautiful combination of the familiar and the utterly original. And because it’s an alternate version of the past, there’s a hell of a lot more variety in main characters than there would be with a straight-up historical show.
There’s a successful push to get women and people of color into space and at NASA early on, so it’s not just the story of a whole lot of white men with crew cuts. The characters are rich and complex, and the storylines will break your heart, fill you with awe, thrill you, and resonate on a deep level. I’m about to finish season 2, although I’ve been putting it off because I don’t want it to be over. It’s already been picked up for another season, thank goodness… and they have plans for seven more.
Just plain nerdy: Resident Alien
Nerd cred: one of the executive producers on the show is Robert Duncan McNeill, famous for playing Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager but also a really busy, talented, and thoughtful director and producer. (I know, I interviewed him a while back for TrekMovie and I never miss an episode of The Delta Flyers, the podcast he co-hosts with fellow Voyager star Garrett Wang.)
More nerd cred: My pal Christine, a longtime fan of the show’s star Alan Tudyk who goes by the online moniker of Starfleetmom, insisted I watch it. We don’t like too many of the same shows, but she knew this one would be right up my TV alley, and she was right.
Resident Alien tells the story of an alien who crash-lands on Earth, then has to balance his secret mission of wiping out all life on the planet with the identity he’s taken on of a man he killed upon his arrival, a pathology physician on vacation.
The show runs heavy on the comedy, as “Harry” (as he is now known) has to navigate social situations he doesn’t understand, keep searching for his ship and missing tech, and deal with the fact that the mayor’s young son has that one-in-a-million trait that allows him to see Harry’s true alien form.
The show is smart and stupid, serious and funny, grounded and bonkers, and throws in some great guest stars, like Linda Hamilton (of Terminator fame), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), and Nathan Fillion (Firefly) as an octopus in a restaurant tank who has a hilarious telepathic conversation with Tudyk’s Harry.
Honestly, it’s hard to explain without sucking the joy out of it. Just watch, and do so with the assurance that they’ve already announced there’ll be a season 2.