2020 Obscure TV Shows That Inspire Me

Self isolating and social distancing for this pandemic provides more time to watch shows and to think. When you mix those two, you start pondering old shows you used to enjoy and now have an urge to watch again and share with your daughters. Some shows I already have, but others I am now looking to acquire so I can share them.

Within these media musings, memories have returned of one-season shows that at the time had a huge impact on my gaming hobby. I thought I would share my top ten of these “one hit wonders” of my media memories. You might want to seek out some of these classics to watch yourself for a little inspiration. You probably have some time on you hands while at home.

My grandparents introduced me to westerns like the Lone Ranger, the Cisco Kid, Have Gun will Travel, the Wild Wild West, and Bonanza. But it was just after college that I stumbled upon The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. I was heavily into the Hero System during college and had Western Hero on my shelf. This show spawned a short-lived but fun steampunk-inspired Western Hero campaign while I was in graduate school. It also inspired later games of Deadlands and a custom Feng Shui 2 one shot.

Automan and quite a few shows below heavily influenced my Champions gaming in high school. Automan and Tron inspired multiple superheroes that had crazy technology that could generate solid and usable holograms to be whatever equipment or vehicle was needed. And they all had that blue neon glow to them.

Had to include Firefly here, as it has become so popular that many who are not fans do not realize it only had one season. Even before Firefly, I was running misfit crews in games like Star Frontiers, but Firefly resurrected that interest in scifi gaming, so I pulled out Traveller, Star Wars, and Feng Shui 2 at various times to run a ragtag crew on misadventures across the galaxy.

With the new Flash series on television and the actor from this version on the show, there are many who do not remember The Flash series that really inspired my gaming. My first foray into RPGS was superheroes via Villains & Vigilantes. I have played so many superhero RPGs over the years but when The Flash came out, I was really into Heroes Unlimited (and other Palladium games). Being able to visualize the costumes and action on the TV really enhanced our passion for superhero gaming so many campaign were born from this TV show.

The Highwayman came during a time my high school gaming group was really into Car Wars, and then GURPS Autoduel was released. Being able to roleplay characters and have vehicular combat was amazing to us. Needless to say, when I saw this show, I had to have a high tech war rig of my own and a driver who had a shotgun pistol. Now, I am excited once again for vehicular mayhem with Gaslands Reloaded.

Manimal provides another influence to my Champions gaming. I really got into shapeshifting powers after watching this show. Even in my AD&D campaign at the time, I managed to talk my DM into letting me play a werebear for a one shot.

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know I like the post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk genres a lot, and a large influence on that was the Max Headroom series (yes, it aired two season but that is because they split one season of episodes into two short seasons..so I am breaking my own rules here). The Blade Runner movie, the Neuromancer series of books, and Max Headroom spawned multiple long running Cyberspace campaigns. Getting the itch to return to a cyberpunk campaign again and looking at Carbon 2185 as a possibility.

Though I missed The Middleman when it originally aired, I was introduced by one of my current gaming group and fell in love with this show. The wit, the pulpy story lines, and the over-the-top action are the model I try to follow for nearly all my Feng Shui 2 adventures. If you want to know how to run Feng Shui 2, then watch The Middleman as a series and the movie Big Trouble in Little China. You will then have the perfect mindset to run that rpg.

Pulp stories have always fascinated me, growing up reading and watching stories like Tarzan, Allan Quatermain, Solomon Kane, Doc Savage, and Indiana Jones. So when Tales of the Gold Monkey aired, I was hooked. The adventure and humor pulled me in and made me want to experience my own adventures. In 1984 I was introduced to roleplaying with Villains & Vigilantes, which fulfilled my urge to experience superhero comics that I loved. But then I found a Justice, Inc. box set in my game store, which let me run my favorite pulp storylines. Later I found the first edition of Feng Shui, and it became my new goto rpg for pulp adventures.

Any science fiction fan who grew up in the 80s likely was impacted by the V miniseries. Even if you watched it later, the story line and the special effects grabbed your attention like nothing else at the time. It introduced me to this concept of conspiracies within conspiracies, which later inspired my passion for The X-Files show, running a Conspiracy X game, and playing in a The Hunter’s Hunted campaign, which was the genesis for my modern gaming group of players.

Now I would love to hear from you. Did you watch any of the shows I listed? What did you think of them? Have I inspired you to seek out any of these obscure shows to watch yourself? What obscure TV shows had a big impact on your roleplaying hobby? Perhaps there are shows I should seek out to watch.

One-season shows that inspired my roleplaying hobby

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