Let's Talk Budget Sci-Fi on Today's Open Thread

Today, I’m going to talk about 'Orphan Black,' so grab your clones and get chatting.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/lets-talk-budget-sci-fi-on-waypoint-open-threads

I played Mankind Divided even though I knew I’d have some issues with its… whole thing, because if there’s an immersive sim, I’m there. With bells on, and probably a gravelly voice, let’s face it.

… Prey looks really good.

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I keep meaning to actually sit down and binge through Orphan Black, 'cuz the episodes I’ve caught here and there have really appealed to me.

In terms of genres or sub-genres that I can’t get enough of, I love that Space Western/Wagon to the Stars-type stuff. It’s why I put 70 or so hours in to Mass Effect: Andromeda, despite its many, many problems.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m getting picky over that sort of thing in published novels, but I’ll try and get my grubby paws on TV shows, comics, webcomics, decent fanfics, movies and especially video-games that give a Space Western/Wagon to the Stars kind of vibe.

SOMA came up in a recent thread here. Great example of hard sc-fi. It’s made by an indie team so i’d consider it low budget. it falters in some places but overall it’s really fantastic.
Sense8 is probably my favourite low-budget sci-fi series. Now, to be fair I am a HUGE fan of everything involving the wachowski sisters, but the nice thing about sense8 is that it’s much more upbeat and fun than most of the shows that deal with these kind of topics. I strongly recommend pretty much everything by the wachoskis. It’s all great( YES, EVEN JUPITER ASCENDING. FUCK YOU)

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ahhhh i love orphan black soo much, but i’ve still only watched the first two seasons :disappointed_relieved:

Orphan Black is so good, I did not even realize it could be considered “budget,” but it seems clear now. Few special effects, limited settings, a limited number of actors. But the story it tells is very enthralling.

However, I feel like it may slowly go down the deep end and get too heavy into its own fictional faction war? This kind of extreme focus on conspiracies always feels a bit retcon-ish to me. Also makes the show very hard to get into. I just hope they have a clear endpoint in mind and don’t start meandering, is what I’m trying to say, I think.

i could be wrong, but i heard that season 5 is gonna be the last season

I do not know if it is considered “budget sci-fi”, but for awhile, I really enjoyed what agents of shield was doing in terms of science fiction. Then it delved into stuff I wished was not explained with science, like Ghost Rider.

Moon and Primer are some of my favorite pieces of sci-fi (budget or otherwise) of all time.


do we have a Brooklyn Definition of “budget scifi” yet cause I gots thoughts


Moon is an easy go to, Sam Rockwell is a treasure.
Stargate SG-1 was extremely formative for me as well, it is/was the greatest Sci-Fi show on TV; this is totally a hill I’m willing to die on.

You are SO RIGHT about SOMA. One of the best hard sci-fi stories in a game, and still creeps me out to think about.

I love Sense8 as well, and my lord, Jupiter Ascending is one of my favorite movies from the year it came out. Paraphrasing a smart person from the internet, but! It’s the movie that would happen if you gave Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers millions of dollars to make whatever the hell she wanted to, and it is beautiful to me that it exists in our dim reality.


Share your thoughts!

I don’t have a hard or soft rule, but for me, the stuff that comes to mind tends to be sci-fi produced for cable television and often at least partially shot/produced in Canada.

Stand out for me is Total Recall 2070, which, despite the name and the inclusion of the Rekall corporation, is very clearly a Blade Runner TV show. There’s a detective (Favre) who works with a one-of-a-kind android (Hume) that he doesn’t quite trust. It’s like a late 90s Almost Human (which maybe also counts as budget sci-fi that I love.)

Anyway, Total Recall 2070 is hammy and bad and hard to watch, but like most budget sci-fi, it often is able to find some really great premises. One of the core ones (at least, the one that sticks with me the most) is that Favre and Hume work for the Citizens Protection Bureau, whose jurisdiction only deals with the individual crimes of citizens. That distinction is important because there’s also another policing agency, the Assessor’s Office (great name), and that agency is the only one allowed to police the megacorps of The Consortium. The conflicts between those two agencies are easily my favorite bits of the show.

Fuck. Now I need to rewatch this garbage. Damn it.

Anyway, here’s the intro:

And here’s a very bad-good, banter-y clip:


I LOVE Orphan Black. The first season is one of the most incredible, propulsive seasons of television I’ve seen. Tatiana Maslany is a chameleon - I forget sometimes when multiple clones are on the screen that they’re the same actress. Like some of my favorite sci-fi it uses a very direct and heavy handed metaphor (about female autonomy) with aplomb. It’s gone a little off the rails ever since (season 2 was good not great, season 3 was kind of a mess, and season 4 was a course correction that still doesn’t meet the highs it used to hit) but I still can’t wait for the last season next month. I’ve never considered it budget sci-fi (the rare special effect is typically not great but I attributed that to them pouring their money into the wicked camera rig on rails they have for the clones) but like DerBonk said I definitely see it.

Also? Give me a Krystal Goderich: Private Eye spin off immediately.


People that dislike Jupiter Ascending clearly just DON’T recognise royalty. Unlike bees, who do, in fact, recognise royalty.
(Also you should do Guide to Games more often your picks are much better JUST SAYIN’)


Kolchak: The Night Stalker! Low budget and a bit campy, but dang do I love this series. Kind of like X-Files but with the dad from A Christmas Story as a reporter. Every episode is a monster of the week, Kolchak investigates and resolves the issue, and write a story that no one believe. I would love to see a reboot of this series.


I was sort of into Falling Skies on TNT for a while. Mostly for Noah Wyle.

VERY much agree with the Canadian aspect of this (and also - Australia, for producing my favorite series of all time, bar none, Farscape). I now cannot wait to dig all the way in to Total Recall 2070.

(Killjoys is also excellent low-budget Canadian sci-fi, I adore it so.)


The LOST episode where Jack gets his tattoos was definitely budget sci-fi.


Yeah I mean I am all here for budget and trash sci-fi~ (hello Lost Girl) but either of those feels harsh applied to Orphan Black cause that :clap: shit :clap: is :clap: so :clap: good

@danielle do you class Sense8 as budget?!