THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-64)
Rod Serling’s masterpiece The Twilight Zone is so excellent, it almost can’t be defined in words known to this dimension. At once poignant, eerie, and instantly memorable, the ahead-of-its-time (pun intended) program could teach viewers a lesson just as easily as it freaked them the heck out. The series would go on to influence decades of film, television, literature, and pop culture, and you probably know all that, since the odds are you clicked this list to find something to watch that isn’t just The Twilight Zone again.
THE OUTER LIMITS (1963-5)
If you liked The Twilight Zone, but felt it never satisfied your taste for the menacing, The Outer Limits is your show. It’s as absorbing as its better-known predecessor, and elevates the unsettling into a true art form. The average episode of the horror anthology clocks in at around 50 minutes, all of which were described as “surreal,” “gothic,” and “expressionist” by the SyFy network. Also, the introduction is so famous, you might not realize how often it gets referenced in other programming. Fans of ghoulies and the abstract will be all about it.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1964-6)
This sitcom-y take on the creepy, kooky Addams Family is Hulu’s hidden gem. The black-and-white Addams Family series paints a wackier, gentler image of the family than the version ’90s kids came to know and love, which makes it even weirder. Also, as much as the internet loves Christina Ricci’s malevolent tween Wednesday, this version shows the spider and headless doll-enthusiast at around five years old. The family is depicted as decidedly more wholesome than fans might expect them to be, but fear not: They’re still goth icons.
LOST IN SPACE (1965-8)
So maybe 1997 didn’t look exactly way Lost In Space predicted back in 1965, but don’t let that take away from your enjoyment of the show. This sci-fi classic follows the Robinson Family, whose plan to bounce from an overcrowded Earth is foiled mid-flight, thus rendering them lost in space. It’s kind of a grim premise if you overthink it, so try not to! Focus on precocious Will Robinson, the trusty Robot, and semi-villainous Dr. Smith instead. Season 1 is in black and white, but Seasons 2 and 3 are in color, which is pretty awesome.
THE TIME TUNNEL (1966-7)
The Time Tunnel takes elements of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and turns the camp up a notch. Whether that’s intentional is hard to say, but there’s still something so enjoyable about dramatic line-readings like, “Tomorrow I’m headed back to Washington to cut you a blank check — or cut your umbilical cord.” Plus, tinfoil hat types, it’s a secret government branch that has access to the time tunnel. (Because, of course.) The series was cancelled abruptly enough that they weren’t able to provide a satisfying conclusion, so it’s safe to assume that the scientists are continually bouncing around the annals of American history.
STAR TREK: ORIGINAL SERIES (1966-9)
It’s right there in the name! The first-ever Star Trek television show, which fans only later came to know as “The Original Series”, introduced the universe to the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Star Trek: The Original Series is thoughtful, intelligent, and immensely entertaining from the jump, it’s obvious that devotion to the franchise would eventually become a lifestyle.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000
While not technically a blast from the past, the first run of Mystery Science Theater 3000 did introduce us to enough era-appropriate B-movies to make it count. If your introduction to MST3K was via last year’s charming Netflix adaptation, you’ll definitely enjoy the original flavor.
What’re your favorite sci-fi classics to binge? Let us know in the comments below!