TV Recommendations: The Best of What You Might Not Be Watching

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.

 

Billions (Showtime)

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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)

TURN Season 2

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. 

 

Tyrant (FX)

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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)

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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.

Bosch (Amazon)

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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.

 

Have some more recommendations? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll add them to the list!

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September 2015 TV Premieres and What To Watch

Ready your DVRs! 

Fall TV is coming. While you still have to wait another month for big premieres like Homeland, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and Fargo…

(“…very friendly people”)

…but September is no slouch for new Television. After this week, CBS will be leading off big for Late Night TV lovers and it only gets better from there. 

September 8th

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS)

Stephen Colbert Late Show Premiere

10:35 PM CDT

The table is set for Stephen Colbert, who takes over for Davide Letterman at The Late Show. The Tuesday premiere schedule is pretty thin as is, and all eyes will be on Colbert to see how he transitions from his Comedy Central character and takes on the likes of Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel in that time slot.

For me, it’s a breath of fresh air after the disappointing showing so far from Colbert’s new CBS teammate, James Corden. I wasn’t expecting the spastic preteen pandering that Corden’s Late Late Show was going to bring. It’s a long “ughhhh” when you go from Craig Ferguson and his “Don’t give a shit” brand of comedy to…sing-a-longs with Justin Bieber. 

Here’s the slate of guests to look forward to with Colbert when the new Late Show kicks off. 

Tuesday: George Clooney, Jeb Bush and band leader Jon Baptiste with special musical guests

Wednesday: Scarlet Johansson, Elon Musk and Kendrick Lamar

Thursday: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Toby Keith

Friday: Amy Schumer, Stephen King and Troubled Waters

September 9th

The League (FXX)

League FXX

9:00 PM CDT

The 7th season of The League will be it’s last. It’s a show about a Fantasy Football league that only sorta talks about Fantasy Football, which is fine. Every few episodes have their NFL cameos that include Matt Forte, Darren Sproles, JJ Watt, Marshawn Lynch, Jay Cutler, and the “Cameron Jordan & Jordan Cameron” combo that never gets old.

I’ll be honest, I have only watched the show as a Netflix binge watch ever since their move to FXX. It’s a ridiculously quick watch that way. For the final season though, it’ll be worth the effort week-to-week. A lot of familiar faces will be reprising their roles like Rob Riggle, Will Forte, Zach Woods, Ike Barinholtz, Leslie Bibb…and Marshawn Lynch. And don’t forget all the near decade long running jokes between Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, Jon Lajoie, Stephen Rannazzisi, Paul Sheer and Katie Aselton and their quest for THE SHIVA!

September 10th

Longmire (Netflix)

Longmire Netflix

Full Season Available at 12:01 AM

Originally on A&E, Longmire is an excellent fix for fans of both Justified and Hell On Wheels. It’s a modern serial western about a Wyoming county sheriff solving gruesome crimes in both his jurisdiction and the neighboring Cheyenne reservation. Robert Taylor didn’t have much notoriety before playing Walt Longmire, but it seems like the role he was meant to play. Along with Battlestar Galactica and 24 alum Katee Sackhoff, Lou Diamond Phillips takes viewers back to his Young Guns days as Walt’s badass Native American sidekick.

September 13th

Doll & Em

9:30 PM CDT

If you’re having Emily Mortimer withdrawal since The Newsroom went off the air, this may be your fix. This 6 episode sitcom follows the actress and her best friend/assistant Dolly Wells around during their adventures in Hollywood and Broadway. It’s cheeky…Did I use that correctly? 

September 15th

The Mindy Project (Hulu weekly)

Mindy Project Hulu

Best Time Ever w/ Neil Patrick Harris (NBC)

Best Time Ever NBC

9:00 PM CDT

The Bastard Executioner (FX)

9:00 PM CDT

Kurt Sutter’s followup to FX’s highest rated show, Sons of Anarchy, is medieval in every way possible. It’s Game of Thrones with more historical relevance, as it takes place during King Edward III’s reign. Lee Jones has some Chris Hemsworth/Thor to him playing the protagonist Wilkin Brattle. True Blood fans will enjoy Vampire Bill aka Stephen Moyer back in a period piece in a co-starring role. Longtime Sutter enthusiasts will recognize plenty of familiar faces from his SOA and  The Shield  runs, including Katey Sagal and Timothy V. Murphy. 

September 16th

South Park (Comedy Central)

9:00 PM CDT

THIS IS SEASON 19!!! Trey Parker and Matt Stone truly have it made, as they have been renewed through 25 seasons with Comedy Central. It’s fun to speculate which pop culture and political news, issues and events will be parodied in the upcoming season…I’ll throw down some bets for Donald Trump, Star Wars, and Deflategate (they love their football and their Denver Broncos). 

September 19th

Doctor Who (BBC America)

Picture shows:  Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara

8:00 PM CDT

I have to confess…I’ve never seen an episode of Doctor Who (*ducks*). I guess it’s never too late to start, right? 

September 21st

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Big Bang Theory CBS

7:00 PM CDT

Minority Report (FOX)

Minority Report

8:00 PM CDT

Gotham: Rise of the Villains (FOX)

7:00 PM CDT

I’m not sure if anyone really loved Gotham’s Season 1. Whether it was the campiness of the show or the inconsistent schedule that made you forget it was still on-air…Regardless, all the Batman bad guys you saw in S1 are back for S2…and they are angry. 

September 22nd

NCIS (CBS)

NCIS

7:00 PM CDT

Scream Queens (FOX)

Scream Queens

7:00 PM CDT

The Muppets (ABC)

7:00 PM CDT

It’s the F***’n Muppets…what more do you need? 

September 23rd

The Goldbergs (ABC)

JEFF GARLIN, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY, GEORGE SEGAL, TROY GENTILE, SEAN GIAMBRONE, HAYLEY ORRANTIA

7:30 PM CDT

Empire (FOX)

Empire

8:00 PM CDT

Modern Family (ABC)

Modern Family S6

8:00 PM CDT

Going into it’s sixth season, Modern Family still guarantees at least one solid belly laugh every episode. 

September 24th

Heroes Reborn (NBC)

7 PM CDT

I understand that Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder  all return that evening, but Heroes is all that matters to me…and many. 

September 28th

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

10:00 PM CDT

By the end of the month, we’ll be comfortable with the new Late Show hosted by Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert…and we’ll finally get to know Trevor Noah better as he heads the post-Jon Stewart era. 

What TV shows are you looking forward to most this Fall? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter