It's like having a virtual VCR
YouTube might be best-known for memes and a flood of original content by creators big and small, but it’s also a refuge for old TV shows that are becoming obscure and hard to find.
Many of these shows never made it to DVD or BluRay, or they are locked behind regional restrictions. This makes it hard to stream them outside the US. It’s always worth searching YouTube for copies of old shows you can’t find anywhere else.
To get you started, here are some of the best forgotten TV shows on YouTube. Do be quick about it, not all of them are going to hang around forever!
The original RoboCop film is an absolute masterpiece of satire and quirky 80s science fiction. Despite being an R-rated movie, it spawned toys, an animated series, and this TV series.
The show loses the extreme violence of the movie but retains a lot of what makes RoboCop great. While Richard Eden isn’t quite in the same league as Peter Weller, he nonetheless carries the show on his broad mechanical shoulders. This is a must for any RoboCop fan.
The 90s were a wild time for video games and nothing epitomizes that time as much as Cybernet. In a time before most people had internet access or could afford expensive gaming magazines, this weekly variety show had it all.
It introduced players to new games and hardware while also offering tips, tricks, and cheat codes. Most of the episodes from the show’s prime are narrated by Lucy Longhurst. It’s Dr. Longhurst now, as the iconic lady is now a doctor of Psychology.
Cybernet isn’t just a nostalgia trip, it’s also a chronicle of many video game releases and gaming news that have been forgotten. Luckily, YouTube plays host to several copies uploaded by users over the years.
The Computer Chronicles ran from 1983 to 2002 and chronicled the major developments in personal computing. Anyone with an interest in computer technology should watch this show. It’s fascinating to see how computers progressed over the two decades the program was on.
What’s more interesting is how some things have stayed the same. You’ll hear a lot of opinions and speculation that seem eerily familiar in the modern context, but there’s also plenty of stuff that turned out to be hilariously wrong.
4. Alien Nation
While not many people remember the films or this TV series now, Alien Nation was a groundbreaking show for its time. Alien refugees crash on Earth and have to integrate into human society. The show centered on an alien police officer, who along with his human partner had to deal with the fallout of that integration.
The show is strongly allegorical of course, dealing with issues of xenophobia that are with us still today. Long before Neil Blomkamp’s District 9, Alien Nation already had the gritty “aliens live on Earth ” thing down. It’s hard to track down these days, but there are still preserved copies on YouTube.
This animated series starring French Stewart as Bob was canceled far too soon. God and the Devil make a wager on whether Earth will be destroyed. God doesn’t want to do it, so he says that if even one person can show they’ve made the world a better place, he won’t.
The catch is that he lets the Devil choose the person, “just to be fair”. Unfortunately, the person the Devil picks is Bob. An unremarkable schlub, who now must save everyone by just being a decent human being. That turns out to be a hilariously high bar to clear for the hapless factory worker.
ReBoot has the distinction of being one of the first-ever fully CG TV shows. The visuals might look primitive by modern standards, but it’s still as entertaining as ever. ReBoot is set within a computer and all characters are essentially software programs. So in a way, it’s a little like the Matrix with its agents and other programs.
The main character, Bob, is a system guardian. In every episode, he has to protect the mainframe from both the games uploaded by the mysterious User and the main villain Megabyte.
Netflix has recently subjected us to an awful live-action reboot of the show but the original still hasn’t been topped.
In the early 90s, we had a slew of amazing Marvel and DC animated shows. These include classics such as the animated X-Men, Spiderman, Superman, and Batman shows. These are still well-remembered today, but WildC.A.T.S was just as good as X-Men and offered an alternative to the Marvel and DC universes.
The WildC.A.T.S are a group of alien superheroes who are defending Earth against another alien threat in the form of Daemonites. The Daemonites can have human bodies and hide in plain sight. But that’s not going to stop the WildC.A.T.S. If you liked any of the classic 90s animated comic shows, do check it out.
In the 90s, there were several great TV shows from Australia (such as Spellbinder) and the UK for young adult audiences. One seemingly forgotten series is Aquila. Two boys named Tom and Geoff, discover an alien spacecraft buried in a field. Over the course of the show, they restore it and manage to operate it. The Aquila, as it’s named, has some amazing capabilities and as you can imagine in the hands of two youngsters it causes plenty of problems.
This forgotten TV show has a surprisingly mature tone, which proved too much to survive a 1997 reboot of children’s programming at the BBC. This is why, sadly, the third series of Aquila was never made.
That Should Be in a Museum!
It’s always a shame when great old shows disappear. But hardcore fans preserve and share copies of programs the original creators no longer care about. If you have a favorite forgotten TV show that still lives on thanks to YouTube, share it in the comments below.