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Shows Like Netflix's The Silent Sea That Sci-Fans Need To Watch

Debuting on December 24, 2021, just in time for families looking for something to do together over the Christmas holiday, Netflix's Korean sci-fi thriller "The Silent Sea" has become a surprise smash, with critics praising its stellar visual effects and compelling performances. The story of a future Earth on the brink of ecological collapse, "Silent Sea" follows a team of scientists led by astrobiologist Song Ji-an (Bae Doona from "Kingdom" and "Sense8") to a long-abandoned laboratory on the moon in the hopes of recovering a mysterious sample that can save humanity. What they find, however, is that the laboratory is not as abandoned as they had believed, and the "sample" they were sent to retrieve is more dangerous than they could ever imagine. The series is a potent blend of space adventure, haunted house thriller, and family drama, anchored by Bae's performance as a woman trying to run from her grief, only to find that grief everywhere she turns — even the moon.

Netflix has not announced when, or if, a 2nd season will be on the way. While we wait, though, here are some more streaming series that scratch that sci-fi itch.

Another Life

The two-season Netflix series "Another Life" premiered in 2019. In the near future, a giant floating figure-eight-shaped structure lands on Earth, presumably from outer space. Astronaut Niko Breckinridge (Katee Sackhoff) takes an untested crew to explore the structure's planet of origin, while her scientist husband (Justin Chatwin) leads the team on Earth exploring the strange artifact. As her ship nears its destination, Niko must keep her crew safe from both the perils of space and each other, or else there may not be a home to return to.

While the show's sci-fi tropes are somewhat reheated from classics like "Arrival" and "Alien," and the soapy melodrama sits uneasy with its end-of-the-world stakes, the real draw is Sackhoff's performance. The "Battlestar Galactica" veteran grounds every scene she appears in and sells the reality of the series just as much as its big-budget special effects. Throw in Chatwin, Tyler Hoechlin ("Superman and Lois") as Sackhoff's resentful second-in-command, and Selma Blair as a hammy journalist, and you have a cast capable of smoothing over the plot's sometimes rough edges.


"Away" comes to its earnestness naturally. Created by playwright Andrew Hinderaker, the 10-episode Netflix series from 2020 was executive produced by Jason Katims, the tear-jerking mastermind behind "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood," and Edward Zwick, known for the classic 1980s dramedy "Thirtysomething" and the films "Courage Under Fire," "The Last Samurai," and many others. Hilary Swank stars as a former Navy pilot given the opportunity to lead the first manned mission to Mars. She accepts the assignment, even though it means being apart from her husband (Josh Charles) and teenage daughter for over three years.

The series is less concerned with the nuts and bolts of its space-adventure plot than with the emotional struggles of Swank's character and her international crew — namely, the titular condition of being separated from the ones you love, and indeed, all of humanity. The series was completed before the COVID-19 pandemic but took on unintended relevancy when released in September 2020, when lockdowns and stay-at-home orders made even the next town over feel as distant as another planet.

The Expanse

Planets and genres clash on "The Expanse," Amazon's adaptation of James S.A. Corey's series of novels. Originally airing for three seasons on SyFy, the series was canceled, but after a fierce online campaign to revive it, Amazon Prime picked the show up for a 4th and 5th season. A shortened Season 6, intended as a finale for the series, premiered on December 10, 2021.

Set in a distant future where humans have colonized the solar system, "The Expanse" examines the fragile peace between the governments of Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planet Alliance (OPA), which represents the asteroid belt and moons of Jupiter and Saturn. An OPA cop (Thomas Jane) is searching for a missing young woman, while a diplomat (Shohreh Aghdashloo) works to prevent war between Earth and Mars; what they discover could change the course of mankind forever. With its striking blend of hard sci-fi, film noir, and dense political intrigue, it's no surprise that Rolling Stone called "The Expanse" "the best sci-fi TV show you're not watching."

For All Mankind

Rather than point to the future, the Apple TV+ series "For All Mankind" looks to the past: An alternate 1969 where the Soviet Union won the Space Race and put a man on the moon before the United States. Forced to play catch-up, the effort regalvanizes America's dedication to space exploration, as seen through the eyes of disgraced Apollo astronaut Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman). Soon the race is not to land the first man — or even the first woman — on the moon but to establish the first permanent lunar base. In Season 2, the action jumps ahead to 1983, where rising nuclear tensions on Earth threaten to spill into an all-out war on the moon.

Co-created by "Battlestar Galactica" helmer Ronald D. Moore, the show excels at world-building, spinning out a plausible alternate history of the mid-20th century with just a little bit of wish-fulfillment thrown in. After the Soviets send the first female cosmonaut to the moon, NASA follows suit, allowing women and minorities opportunities that wouldn't come for a decade or longer in real life. President Ted Kennedy passes the Equal Rights Amendment, and by the 1990s, mankind has made it to ... well, we'll see what happens when Season 3 premieres later in 2022.


They said it couldn't be done. After many years and multiple attempts at getting off the ground, Isaac Asimov's celebrated "Foundation" trilogy of novels was finally adapted for the screen. Spearheaded by writer and producer David S. Goyer (The "Dark Knight Trilogy") and produced by Apple TV+, the 1st season (of a proposed eight) premiered in September 2021. An eight-season, 80-episode series sounds perhaps overly ambitious, but for a story that spans 1,000 years and the entire galaxy, it may not be ambitious enough.

The story of a mathematician (Jared Harris) whose algorithmic predictions of the future run him afoul of the galaxy's ruling empire in the far distant future, "Foundation" is chock full of ideas — perhaps too many ideas, and perhaps too blatantly designed to be the streaming service's answer to "Game of Thrones." Still, the production is handsomely mounted — with every dollar of its astronomical budget seemingly up on the screen — and anchored by strong performances, particularly by Harris as the brilliant Hari Seldon and Lee Pace as the latest in a long line of cloned emperors.

Lost in Space

Danger, Will Robinson! In 2018, 20 years after a poorly-received big-screen adaptation and more than 50 years after the original, beloved 1960s series, Netflix took a crack at remaking "Lost in Space." Still loosely inspired by the 19th-century novel "The Swiss Family Robinson," the new series follows the Robinson family, interstellar colonizers who are forced to evacuate when their mothership is attacked by aliens. Escaping to an unfamiliar planet, the family must work together to rejoin their fleet, lest they become ... lost in space.

The series has a few twists for fans of the original show. Young Will Robinson's beloved Robot is now an alien AI, torn between its duty to its race and its newfound affection for Will. And Parker Posey makes a meal out of every scene as the treacherous stowaway Dr. Smith, who has a much more fleshed-out backstory here. Though the effects budget is much higher than anyone in the 1960s ever dreamed, the remake still keeps the original's whiz-bang sensibility; this is a sci-fi adventure for the whole family.

Memories of the Alhambra

The Korean sci-fi drama "Memories of the Alhambra" imagines an augmented reality game that becomes a little too real. Inspired by writer Song Jae-jung's experience playing Pokemon GO, the series follows slick tech CEO Yoo Jin-woo (Hyun Bin), who receives an invitation to Granada, Spain, to try out an advanced AR game based on the city's medieval past. But when the game's mysterious designer goes missing, Jin-woo seeks out the man's sister Jung Hee-joo (Park Shin-hye), who owns a local hostel. As Jin-woo tumbles further down the rabbit hole of the game, fighting off scimitar-wielding warriors and falling into a romance with Hee-joo, the boundaries between the game and real-life become increasingly blurred.

"Memories of the Alhambra" originally aired for 16 episodes on South Korean cable network tvN in 2018 and was picked up by Netflix for streaming in the United States and other countries. It was an immediate hit in its home country, with critics praising its twisty plotting and the chemistry between Hyun and Park.


"Next" is a show for anyone who makes sure to thank Alexa after she answers a question. John Slattery ("Mad Men") plays Paul LeBlanc, a former tech CEO and genius turned anti-technology firebrand. Paul is called in to consult with the FBI's cybercrime task force on an unusual case: It appears that a rogue AI program has gotten loose into the world and is wreaking havoc, even going as far as to commit murder. But is that what's really going on, or has Paul's paranoia, exacerbated by a degenerative brain disorder, finally got the best of him?

Slattery, as always, is a delight; he could play this kind of cocky master of the universe in his sleep by now. But the bigger draw is behind the camera: Show creator Manny Coto was one of the masterminds behind "24." He knows a thing or two about crafting crackerjack entertainment from so-so (or morally dicey) material. Despite this one-two punch of talent, however, the show did not attract much of an audience when it ran on Fox in Fall 2020, and the network canceled it after two episodes. Luckily, all 10 episodes are available to rent on Amazon Prime.


Bearing more than a little resemblance in premise to the 2000 film "Frequency," the 2016 K-drama "Signal" centers on a link between past and present. In 2015, criminal profiler Park Hae-young (Lee Je-hoon) discovers a police walkie-talkie that allows him to speak with Lee Jae-han (Cho Cin-woong), a detective living in 1989. Given a literal line of communication from past to present and back again, Hae-young and Jae-han — with the help of Jae-han's future protege, Cha Soo-hyeon (Kim Hye-su) — attempt to solve old cold cases, as well as prevent some from ever happening. As always, though, time travel causes unintended consequences, as the team learns that not every trauma can be wished away.

The show became a hit when it aired on tvN in 2016 and is notable for basing its storylines on real-life cold cases. The second episode is based on a serial killer case so well known in South Korea that it had already inspired several other adaptations, including Bong Joon-ho's 2003 cult classic "Memories of Murder."

Sisyphus: The Myth

A man is forced to face the consequences of actions he hasn't yet taken in the twisty Korean time-travel action series "Sisyphus: The Myth," which premiered on Netflix in 2021. Haunted by his brother's death years earlier, erratic tech genius Han Tae-sul (Cho Seung-woo) invents a time machine known as the "Uploader," which can transport things into the past. Soon, though, people begin arriving from the future that Tae-sul's device has created — a future where Korea is ravaged by war and ruled by gangsters.

Also arriving is battle-hardened warrior Gang Seo-hae (Park Shin-hye from "Memories of the Alhambra"), here to prevent the disastrous future that she grew up in. As the world inches closer to war, she and Tae-sul fight for survival and uncover the identity of Sigma, a shadowy figure from the future who has been pulling the strings all along. With inventive fight choreography and strong chemistry between Park and Cho (who fall in love, naturally), "Sisyphus" is concerned with the ways that trauma and emotion can change the future as much as any piece of hardware. The 16-episode series remains compelling even as its plot becomes a little too convoluted for its own good.