How often do you find yourself asking your friends for TV recommendations? Maybe you just wrapped up a nice long intimate binge-watch on Netflix, or you’re looking to kill time between new Walking Dead and Game of Thrones episodes. Perhaps you’d like to have something fun to show your friends who are in a similar predicament…
Before you jump on the next bandwagon show, I recommend giving these a try while they’re still on-air. They may not necessarily be Breaking Bad, but I wouldn’t mention them if I didn’t think they’d hook you enough to get caught up. As an old friend once described my taste in television, they’re #MichaelShows.
Starring: Damian Lewis (Homeland) and Paul Giamatti (John Adams)
This show was an excellent surprise during the past winter season Sunday lineup. As Wall Street becomes more and more in the political campaign discussion and after films like The Big Short and 99 Homes were big successes, a show like this has never been more relevant. You’ll also feel better prepared after seeing either movie. Giamatti is a federal attorney with a hedge-fund boss in his crosshairs, played by Lewis The contrast and battle between the two sides is awesome. Just don’t let the opening S&M scene turn you off, unless you’re into that sort of thing (it’s very brief, but very fitting).
Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy) gives a very under-appreciated performance that I think deserves Emmy consideration. Toby Leonard Moore (Daredevil) is also very good, as is the rest of the supporting cast. It’s smart, funny, suspenseful, sexy and has very cool ties to the rock music selections played each episode.
Season 1 is available in its entirety on Showtime Anytime.
TURN: Washington’s Spies (AMC)
Starring: Jamie Bell (Jumper), Angus McFayden (Braveheart) and Heather Lind (Boardwalk Empire)
TURN is great for history buffs but even better for spy genre fans. The idea of America’s first spy ring and the means to pull that off in the 1700s is fascinating. There’s a little bit of a Q-Branch/James Bond vibe at times when period appropriate technology is introduced to the rebel spies at different points. The mythos that surrounds George Washington when he finally enters the fold, in person, as are the moments that humanize him a little.
You don’t really empathize with the British at any point but there are some characters who garner your respect, specifically “counter intelligence” officer Major John Andre (played by JJ Feild). There are also a few recognizable faces on the show that will make you go “Oh, that guy from that thing”, like Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones), Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean), and Stephen Root (Office Space). Favorite character is Caleb Brewster, played by Daniel Henshall (The Babadook).
First two seasons are available on Netflix. Season 3 premiere is April 25th.
Starring: Adam Rayner (Hawthorne), Ashraf Barhom (Clash of the Titans) and Jennifer Finnigan (Better With You)
It’s the closest thing you’ll find that portrays a modern realistic Game of Thrones. I think that every episode I watch. It’s unpredictable, action-packed, scary, and not necessarily for the faint of heart. One brother believes it is birthright to rule his middle eastern country, Abuddin, while the other wants to implement democracy. All the while factions like the Caliphate are brutally making life outside their kingdom all the more dangerous.
Bassam, played by Rayner, is a mix of Tyrion, Daenerys and Jon Snow. His brother Jamal, played by Barhom, is combo of Joffrey, Roose Bolton, Cersei, and the crazy parts of Stannis. You can imagine the clashes based on that description alone.
Season 1 is streaming on Hulu. Season 3 will premier this summer.
Peaky Blinders (Netflix)
Starring: Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins) and Sam Neil (Jurassic Park)
When friends ask me about shows to check out on Netflix, my mind goes immediately to Peaky Blinders. Cillian Murphy’s Thomas Shelby is one of TV’s biggest badasses, it’s shot beautifully, the music rocks, and Tom Hardy joins the cast in season 2. It’s also an incredibly quick watch, as each season is just 6 episodes and the storylines are fast paced. At times, you’re reminded of the old Guy Ritchie films like Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrells…in part because of the organized crime themes, dialogue and HEAVY accents.
The new season begins on the BBC this May, but no date has been set for a Netflix release. Which gives you plenty of time to get caught up on the first 2 seasons. The theme song by Nick Cave is also dark and addicting.
First 2 seasons are on Netflix. Season 3 premieres on BBC Two in May.
Starring: Titus Welliver (The Town) and Jamie Hector (The Wire)
Bosch was my introduction into Amazon original programming and I’m very glad it was. Welliver is one of those “That guy” actors that seems to appear in just about everything, and now he’s in a starring detective role based on a Michael Connelly book series, similar to The Lincoln Lawyer. Apparently the two eventually meet in a crossover book…
The show is dark and fills a modern crime void that’s been left by Justified, for me at least. I wouldn’t stack the writing up with Season 1 of True Detective, but you get the noir vibe. Better yet, it’s FILLED with alums from The Wire. Bosch’s partner is Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield from The Wire) and his boss is Lance Reddick (Lt. Daniels). There are tons of faces you’ll recognize, both regulars and guest appearances, like Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead), Sarah Clarke (24), Matthew Lillard (Scream), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek Voyager), Brent Sexton (The Killing), Annie Wersching (24), and James Ransone (The Wire, of course).
First 2 seasons are available on Amazon Prime.