Five sci-fi and horror TV shows to watch if you liked ‘Black Mirror’

Header screengrab from dimension 404 trailer

In their heyday, television shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits were an honest spectacle, introducing rapt viewers to tropes that have since become staples of science fiction and thrillers. At the time, though, they were fresh and unheard of: talking dolls, cameras that predicted the future, even terrifying premonitions of certain death. The storytelling, single-sentence premises that hinged on what ifs? were inventive, and there was something to pique everyone’s interest.

Recent attempts to bring back TV anthologies have mostly resulted in forgettable one-season duds, but there was a time when they stayed on air for years and reached over 100 episodes. During its initial two-year run, Black Mirror appeared to be doomed to an obscurity bemoaned by its fans. But after a two-year hiatus, it was revived by Netflix — and became the massive hit it was meant to be.

This popularity, coupled with continued efforts to push what can be done on TV, has brought the biggest plot twist yet: a renaissance of sci-fi and horror anthologies. And it looks like they’re here to stay.

Settle in with these five spiritual successors to the legacy of Rod Serling and the Cryptkeeper. Your binge isn’t over quite yet.

Dimension 404

Adding a healthy dose of black comedy to the formula, Dimension 404 takes Black Mirror’s glassy sophistication and hurls it across the room for something more like a B-movie. Mark Hamill narrates tales that put the camp in campfire, featuring the likes of clones in love (no, not that novel-turned-Andrew Garfield movie), an ode to pop culture and the Mandela effect, a sinister arcade game, and an energy drink that puts you in bullet time. Guest stars include Sarah Hyland, Patton Oswalt, Ashley Rickards, Constance Wu, Megan Mullally, and Lea Michele.

Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories

A subtle yet engrossing limited series or collection of “short films” based on the work of Neil Gaiman, Likely Stories lives up to his name by revolving around seemingly ordinary people in odd situations that tend to happen to the best of us: a celibate young man who manages to contract a painful STD, a young tenant who lives next door to an elderly neighbor with a taste for raw hamburger meat, a photographer with a decades-long obsession with tracking down a beautiful model in an issue of Penthouse, and a man who recounts a weird childhood story about a house in the woods over drinks at a bar.

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams

This year, a whole new generation was reintroduced to legendary sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick thanks to Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the film based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The series Electric Dreams may not have been as talked-about, but it’s just as worthy of note. Richard Madden, Jack Reynor, Timothy Spall, Steve Buscemi, Anna Paquin, and Bryan Cranston star in episodes about telepathics considered outcasts by society, one woman’s plea for a last voyage to earth to recreate a memory, and a railway worker’s suspicions when a number of passengers begin to ask for tickets to a nonexistent destination, among others.

Room 104

Created by Jay and Mark Duplass, Room 104 finds its footing in the brothers’ mumblecore roots, focusing on character-driven narratives about human relationships. The stories all take place in the titular hotel room, set in different time periods and traipsing across genres. In this room, imaginary friends are evil, writers experience their worst nightmares, surviving a plane crash gets you stuck in limbo, and grief shows itself in mysterious ways. There’s even an episode told solely through interpretive dance. Melonie Diaz, James Van Der Beek, Nat Wolff, and Mae Whitman make appearances.

Channel Zero

Channel Zero commits to a single plot for an entire season, its main draw being that it adapts creepypastas: flash fiction and horror stories that originate and circulate around the internet, written in the first person and presented as “true” accounts. Its 2016 premiere featured Candle Cove, about a bizarre children’s television show that appears never to have existed, but is remembered by a number of people. The second season focuses on No-End House, in which a young woman and her friends are challenged to enter an elusive house of horrors where every room is more disturbing than the last. The original stories are usually covered in the first episode, and are further explored through the season — and since creepypastas are only as effective as the storytelling allows, you can bet the results are creepy and not easily shaken.


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