Entertainment is still a very major part of one’s personal life. As the nursery rhyme says, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” In fact, carving out downtime is crucial in keeping productivity levels high. This is why major companies like Google and Facebook make it a point to ensure that their employees get some downtime.
Of course, one pastime is universal: TV-watching. And if you’re a geek, we’re sure you have your geeky sitcom favorites. For most, The Big Bang Theory is the go-to geek sitcom. Even if you’re not a nerd or a geek, “funny” is always universal.
But for the quintessential tech geek, there may be a couple of niche sitcoms that you should watch if you haven’t discovered them yet.
John Reese, played by Jim Caviezel, is James Bond, amplified. Along with his boss, Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), they and their team take on threats as big as, or even bigger than New York. Aside from his skill at wielding gadgets in order to get the job done, he also kicks butt mano y mano. It’s the perfect mix of James Bond, CSI, and Big Brother, the book.
The premise of Person of Interest is simple: New York is in a state of 24/7 surveillance, and John Reese, as directed by his boss Harold Finch, fight to save people labeled as “Persons of Interest” by the central machine managing all the surveillance feeds in New York.
They run into, fight, or work with organized crime bosses, and they’re always on the run from the government that bought the Machine. Watch the cliff-hanging, nail-biting series as it takes you into a tangled web of high-tech surveillance, crime-solving, and an illustration of the potential omnipotence of Tech.
Think “28 Weeks” meets a standard zombie story. The premise is that an ancient evil is out to control the world by infecting people and turning all of them into zombies. The infection is spread through parasitic worms that get spread from person to person via biting, or if a worm manages to enter a wound. After a period of dormancy and seeming death, the human is turned into a zombie.
The cast of protagonists features a CDC team of doctors, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and Dr. Nora Martinez, a holocaust survivor and sworn zombie fighter, Abraham Setrakian, a rat exterminator, Vasiliy Fet, a computer hacker, Dutch Velders, Dr. Goodweather’s son, Zach Goodweather, Dr. Martinez’s mother, Mariela Martinez, and a hodgepodge of protagonists and antagonists that make the pre-apocalyptic scenes a series of interesting messes.
The Strain tries to make a pre-apocalyptic zombie story a little more believable, by turning it into an infectious disease. The back story of the ancient evil’s first appearances being set into the Holocaust milieu was also an interesting touch. However, no thanks to the elements of the “ancient evil,” zombies, and another story arc on the quest for immortality, The Strain instead gives you an attempt at making a zombie story more sci-fi-ish and with touches of history and medical drama.
I’m not sure how the series registers in your brain, but when I personally got over the confusion, the bottom line was that it was pretty entertaining. I can’t wait to watch more episodes.
Another take on the viral-outbreak-creates-immortal-creatures, Helix was a Syfy production that was canceled after just two seasons. The two seasons that made it through production and onto airing are still worth a binge-watch for a weekend or two.
The premise is that a team of CDC doctors were called to an Antarctic research facility, in order to investigate a viral outbreak. One of the infected is a brother of one of the doctors on the CDC team. What results is an ever-degenerating mess that includes the infection spreading through the CDC team and the rest of the research facility, and the revelation of why the viruses were created in the first place.
Helix is a lot more claustrophobic and focused than The Strain. The scenery has more machines and has more of blue-tinged foreboding, as opposed to The Strain’s amber-tinged scenery. Personally, Helix feels more suspenseful but sad, while The Strain feels a lot angrier and chaotic. In Season Two, Helix moves to a different setting, but the feel is similar: Lonely, monochromatic, and claustrophobic. Since the setting is a remote island, the scenery may remind you of documentary scenes from the island of Poveglia, where plague victims were quarantined.
Depending on your definition of “gross,” the infection’s symptoms in Helix may be a lot more tolerable to watch than the infection in The Strain. There are no worms, but the blood in infected victims is black. The victims turn into hairless creatures, and nerves pop out of their clammy, almost-translucent skin. So whether you can stomach worms or black blood and hairless creatures is really up to you.
The only sad part about Helix is the fact that it was canceled after two seasons.
These TV series are not reminiscent of The Big Bang Theory in that these are far more serious and deal with more macabre themes. Whether it’s the thought of 24/7 surveillance that scares you, or the thought of biomedical threats sweeping across the world, these series play on fears of the future. It makes for entertainment that shows you what cool things the future of tech can bring, tickles you with the possibilities of the future, but at the end of each episode, haunts you.
As they say, if art doesn’t leave you thinking or asking questions, it’s not art at all; these three geeky sci-fi thrillers leave you thinking, not thinking, staring into space, or at the very least, scratching your head, going, “WTF was that?!”