How Science Fiction Shapes Prestige TV

With storylines rooted in the Cold War or climate change or any number of other deep earth concerns, no less than four new series (and counting) boldly proclaim an emerging era of prestige sci-fi this season.

Why this sudden burst?

“Sci-fi has always thrived when things weren’t going too well, and right now there’s just a ton of anxiety in the world,” says Apple TV+ series showrunner David S. Goyer. Foundation”.

That anxiety is reflected in these hugely varied, star-studded offerings: Goyer’s “Foundation,” starring Jared Harris, deals with “Dune”-style interplanetary conflicts set 25,000 years in the future; the folk drama “Night Sky” (May 20 Prime Video) features Oscar winners Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons as a couple who periodically visit a distant planet via the teleportation device installed in their garden shed; the time travel western “Outer Range” (Prime Video) stars Oscar nominee Josh Brolin as a Wyoming rancher frightened by a giant hole at the edge of his property and “The Man Who Fell on Earth” (Showtime) casts Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor as a charismatic alien.

And while “Star Trek” in all of its versions has been a relatively constant presence on screens big and small since the mid-1960s, its presence in the present day is growing, adding to the mix the recently launched “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (Paramount+), which follows Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and his crew of the USS Enterprise on new adventures. And there’s even more to come as Apple TV+ will soon be return to the space race with “Constellation”, starring Noomi Rapace and Jonathan Banks.

The Wrap spoke to these showrunners about how they’re reshaping sci-fi television in these troubled times.

For memory :

6:22 p.m. May 19, 2022An earlier version of this article misrepresented the episode count for “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. The number is 10, not eight.

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