Stream: HBO GO/ Amazon Prime (subscription required)
You know all those tourist traps that poorly recreate life in the old West? In the future, advancements in AI and robotics allow theme park designers to perfectly recreate what it was like. At this hedonistic getaway, the rich rotate between putting bullets, among other things, into the enslaved synthetic actors, as in the land of no consequences, rampant abuse and violence are just considered blowing off steam.
Based on the 1970s movie of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, you could probably guess things don’t go as planned. It's a fun and weird ride, and the questions it raises about the ethical creation and use of artificial life will have you thinking long after.
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Mike Judge has made a career of poignantly lampooning teenagers with Beevis and Butthead, Texans with King of the Hill, and cubicle slaves with Office Space. With Silicon Valley, the former programmer's target is the awkward, ambitious, innovators of Apple, Microsoft, and Google, along with all the new tech pervading our lives. The journey for fictional startup Pied Piper to turn its super algorithm into a marketable product has been full of twists, turns, and plenty of backstabbing. And as much as you want to hate the flawed characters, you have to wonder if these socially inept programmers are merely products of their environment. The scary thing is how real and accurate tech insiders consider it.
Rick and Morty
Being the smartest man in the universe has its advantages, like being able to invent anything at any time. The downside is you are constantly forced to deal with a bunch of idiots, like your family. This is Rick Sanchez's eternal struggle, which he deals with by bending space and time to his will for usually narcissistic, nihilistic reasons, taking along his "implausibly naive adolescent" grandson Morty.
Rick and Morty
That's the basic premise, but there's nothing basic about any episode of the show, which are driven by real scientific theories and drenched in dark comedy.
Stream: Amazon Prime
We may not reach Mars for a few decades, but when we do finally colonize the Red Planet and start mining the asteroid belt for rare minerals, will we reach the same conclusion as when the British Empire settled in North America? This show predicts yes.
Stream: Amazon Prime
Imagine that someone only read the headlines of science and tech news for a solid five years, and then wrote a show. That's Salvation, the most hate-watchable show of the year for its intriguing premise and cringe worthy execution. An MIT super prodigy finds out an extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth and teams up with a suave British version of Elon Musk to stop it or evacuate the planet, all the while working with and against warring governmental agencies. The show does boast having science advisers, and the equipment to manufacture the anti-asteroid defense are mostly real. Too bad the characters are wholly fabricated from the most general B-movie character traits.
Halt and Catch Fire
This highly regarded show, named after an early computer command, gives the "Mad Men" treatment to the dawn of personal computers and the information age. Its dramatization of the tech world provides perfect complement to the silliness of Silicon Valley.
Innovation isn’t just about having a great idea. It's beating the competition to the finish line. This 8-part series dramatizes the biggest industrial battles of the last three centuries, including Jobs vs Gates. Oppenheimer vs. Heisenberg, and of course, Edison vs. Tesla.Think of it as the Clash of the Industrial Titans.
Stream: Amazon Prime
Going strong since 1963, it would take a real Time Lord to be able to binge the whole series over one holiday break. You can start with the "new" version that began in 2005. It's got a lot of science-based plots and even more dry British humor. And soon the good doctor will be played by a woman, something America did 25 years earlier with a little show called Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Those Brits just can’t beat us at anything.
Legends of Tomorrow
Ok, so Doctor Who is infinitely more clever than this literal American time travel rip-off. Arthur Darvill, who plays the character Rip Hunter on legends, was first on Doctor Who. That's one of the few interesting things about this show, which does barely break into the "so-bad-it's-good" category for episodes like when they had to convince George Lucas to make Star Wars or history would be forever altered. Just shut off your brain and go with it. It's the American way.
Most teenagers think their parents are villains. In the case of this eclectic group of high school stereotypes, they're probably right. Based on a moderately popular Marvel comic, this Hulu original shows the struggle between successful, high-achieving parents (who occasionally abduct and ritualistically sacrifice kids) and their ungrateful kids who steal their tech and hack into their software companies.
Murderer or not, any dad who lets you use his super expensive 3D printer, the Stratasys J750, is A-OK. Well, maybe not, but it is cool to see kids excited about advanced manufacturing.
When you push the boundaries of science, something is bound to shove back. That's an essential rule to any sci-fi thriller, and something this show is no stranger to. Using the '80s as a backdrop and adopting that era's classic movie tropes, from Gremlins to Stand by Me, the show pays homage to Gen X'er nostalgia while creating something completely fresh. One example is casting the Department of Energy of all things as a villain.
That's not so crazy, as it got its start manufacturing the first atomic bomb.