Cable left, Streaming right

Cable to the left of me,
Streaming to the right of me, here I am
Stuck in the middle with delight.*


I was luckier than many kids. I grew up in the Los Angeles area.

I know.

LA isn’t considered an ideal environment for child rearing, but I didn’t care. I was in grade school and had seven TV stations available to me. Four more than the three network stations that dominate TV in those days. The Big Three (ABC, CBS & NBC) produced most of the original content on TV and brought me some great stuff like Gunsmoke, Davy Crockett and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin.

However, the small stations offered unique old movies and hokey local productions. Sheriff John’s Lunch Brigade was a favorite local show when I had a sick day at home. Crusader Rabbit and Underdog were his best cartoons. But, the old movies were better. Buck Rogers, Roy Rogers, and Tarzan were beloved stories to me.

In a way, I’m reliving my youth. Ironically, I live in a rural community today, but that no longer matters. Cable networks and streaming are the “local” stations in my world, but they have surpassed the hokey stage by a long way.

This reminiscing got me thinking about shows I’ve come to enjoy that are available because of the new sources. So, I’ve decided to share my top five “local” shows you need to see. Two caveats. I’ve only included alternate-reality genres that have premiered since 2015, and I left out Stranger Things because everyone I know has seen it. If you haven’t, you should. As far as I’m aware, none of these are available from Netflix and the other streaming service, but I suspect they will be down the road.

Okay. Here we go. My countdown of my Top Five Alternate Reality TV Shows since 2015 are:

Number 5. Preacher

My take: Quirky, unusual, strange filming and settings—yet familiar. I hesitated to watch because of the religious aspect, but I’m glad I did

Premiered: 2016
Source: AMC
Genre: Horror/Paranormal
Synopsis: After a supernatural event at his church, a preacher enlists the help of a vampire to find God and so much more.
Rating: Imdb 8.1 Rotten Tomatoes average: 87%
Streaming: On Demand & Pay per view.

Number 4. The Magicians

My take: Harry Potter and the Narnia kids goes to college, contemporary setting, witty take on the genre, fun.

Premiered: 2015
Source: SyFy
Genre: Fantasy/Magic
Synopsis: After being recruited to a secretive academy, students discover that the magic they read about as children is very real and more dangerous than they ever imagined.
Rating: Imdb 7.5 Rotten Tomatoes average: 79%
Streaming: On Demand & Pay per view.

Number 3. Legion

My take: Stephen King rewrites One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nests. The story is slowly revealing David’s powers or curse; it’s not evident yet. But I’m intrigued and want more.

Premiered: 2017
Source: FX
Genre: Super Hero/Paranormal
Synopsis: David Haller was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, and has been a patient in various psychiatric hospitals since. After Haller has an encounter with a fellow psychiatric patient, he is confronted with the possibility that there may be more to him than mental illness
Rating: Imdb 8.8 Rotten Tomatoes average: 93%
Streaming: On Demand & Pay per view.

Number 2. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

My take: Magic saves Britain from Napoleon, beautiful sets and filming, interesting story with plenty of action, drama, and twists.

Premiered: 2015
Source: BBC
Genre: Fantasy/Magic
Synopsis: With magic long since lost to England, two men are destined to bring it back; the reclusive Mr. Norrell and daring novice Jonathan Strange. So begins a dangerous battle between two great minds.
Rating: Imdb 8.2 Rotten Tomatoes average: 90%
Streaming: On Demand & Pay per view

Number 1. The Expanse

My take: The best hard science fiction I’ve seen since 2001 a Space Odyssey. This show respects physics and portrays a realistic view of the future. Plenty of action keeps it moving but, as always, the real strength is in the characters and plot.

Premiered: 2016
Source: SYFY
Genre: Hard SciFi
Synopsis: A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth’s rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.
Rating: Imdb 8.2 Rotten Tomatoes average: 85%
Streaming: On Demand and Pay per view.

Well, that’s it. I have a list of “also-rans, ” but I’ve wasted enough of your time. Please share your thoughts.

David P. Cantrell, Myrddin contributor

* My apologies to Stealers Wheel for the rip-off of their “Stuck in the Middle with You” lyrics.

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