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How to binge watch some great classic sci-fi for free

We take you on a tour of some hidden (and free) gems at the Internet Archive. Who knew? It's a gold mine of old-timey science fiction happiness.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

Are you stuck at home this long holiday weekend? No big gatherings in the town square? No chance you'll be able to partake of Mrs. McCarthy's award-winning strawberry scones at the fair? No trip to cousin Bill's house for the annual spring grilling extravaganza?

Are you bored of Netflix? Is Hulu seeming humdrum? Have you watched up all the new Star Treks on CBS All Access? Is Game of Thrones so last year?

Yawn. Sigh. Squirm. Are you SO BORED YOU COULD SCREAM?!?

Yeah, you're not alone. And while I can't provide you with any new science fiction on TV, or even reassure you that there will EVER be new science fiction on TV, I can take you down memory lane, into the ultra-secret vaults where some classic science fiction series have gone to hide out the pandemic.

I'm talking about the Internet Archive at archive.org.

Sure, you may know of Archive.org for its Wayback Machine, its browsable backup of over 439 billion pages that make up a priceless historical snapshot of the bygone Internet.

But did you know that the Internet Archive also has a boatload of commercial free, completely free-to-watch classic science fiction? It does.

Detour for a security warning

Before I take you there, here's a quick warning. If you happen to mistype archive.org and leave out the "R," you'll be taken to a page by operated by some bottom-feeders who want to scam you into installing some sort of nefarious Chrome extension. Don't do it.


So be careful. Type the full a-r-c-h-i-v-e-dot-o-r-g. And never download an extension just because you land on a page.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

So go ahead and click the movie icon. 


That will take you to the Moving Image Archive. Type Gerry Anderson into the search block and hit return.


Now, look below the search box to the Topics & Subjects section. Click Series.


I present to you season one and two of Space 1999, most of Captain Scarlet, the complete UFO series, the complete Fireball XL5 series, and most of Supercar.

Sadly, the Thunderbirds is not on Archive.org but you can buy the original Supermarionation series on Amazon or watch the actually pretty good modern CGI remake on Amazon Prime.

If you make your search term "science fiction" "tv series" (both phrases in quotes), you'll find the Prisoner, Star Blazers, Logan's Run, V, six episodes of Red Dwarf, some random pilots, and a lot more even more random ... randomness.

If you happen to like Japanese science fiction, you've hit a gold mine. There's just a ton of great, old school entertainment here, much of which has subtitles.

There's more. Lots more. But you'll just have to dig around to find what's there.

What about copyright?

If you're like me (concerned about intellectual property rights, among other things), a small voice in the back of your head might be asking, "But, what about copyright?"

I wondered the same thing, and reached out to the team at the Internet Archive. Here's what they told me:

Thank you for the inquiry. The Internet Archive generally does not advise as to the copyright status of items in the collection at www.archive.org and does not guarantee the accuracy of information posted on items' details or collection pages, including information regarding copyright or intellectual property rights of any kind. Our terms of use (http://www.archive.org/about/terms.php) require that users make use of the Internet Archive's Collections at their own risk and ensure that such use is non-infringing and in accordance with all applicable laws.

Please be aware that a great many of the items on archive.org and accompanying information have been posted by account-holders (both private individuals and individuals acting on behalf of public and private institutions) and not by Internet Archive directly. Internet Archive does not review their submissions for accuracy.

You should, of course, feel free to contact any donor institutions, authors, or publishers using information posted on details or collections pages at http://www.archive.org if you seek to obtain more information from them. Should you wish to pose questions to the uploader, it may be worth your while to post a review to the item (our system will attempt to automatically notify a user whenever a review to one of their items has been posted). The Internet Archive cannot provide contact information other than that which is provided on these pages.

So there you have it.

Go forth and binge

I love the internet! Go forth and binge. And let me tell you this: if you haven't watched any of the Gerry Anderson classic science fiction series before, you're in for a treat. They're somewhat inconsistent, and shows like UFO go from campy kids' fare to dark as heck, but they're wildly entertaining.

I also want to mention that Anderson Entertainment and the Gerry Anderson estate have a YouTube channel that contains some production notes, back stories, and primers for the series. It's another incredible resource worthy of your locked-inside viewing time.

What are your plans for the holiday weekend? Have you been binge watching anything noteworthy? Let us know in the comments below.

*Special bonus points if you know who Mrs. McCarthy is. Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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