Stream these now
Summer gives us an opportunity to do what the spring semester prevented us from enjoying: watching television. Since binging television shows is becoming much more popular in our current age of Netflix streaming, I thought it’d be fun to recommend a few shows that you’ve probably never heard of to binge on.
To make this list, I stuck with short shows that one could easily finish over the weekend and are readily available for free on most services. Enjoy!
Format: 13 hour-long episodes
Availability: Season one streaming for free for Amazon Prime members
During the Hannibal panel at the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this week NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt wondered why, if the show is so critically acclaimed, no one’s watching it. Since I love Hannibal, I’m using this post partly as a soapbox to get more people addicted to the series so that by the time season three comes to TV next spring more viewers will watch it.
As the availability label says above, season one is streaming for free for Amazon prime members so if you have that service, I recommend viewing the show. Yes, Hannibal is about one of the most violent serial killers in entertainment history and the show has plenty of gore and is sometimes terrifying to watch. If there’s one thing it has going for it, it’s that Hannibal is an unbelievably beautiful television series that explores the after effects of violence on an individual that’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Lead actors Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, meanwhile, provide two of the best performances currently on the air.
Season two isn’t streaming for free, unfortunately. But if you end up loving season one as much as I hope you will, you won’t mind spending $21 to stream the second season, especially with the cliffhanger ending of Hannibal’s first season.
Rick and Morty
Format: 11 half-hour episodes
Availability: Streaming for free on Adult Swim
Are you a fan of animated shows in which an alcoholic grandfather drags his grandson to dangerous missions throughout the galaxy and across several alternate dimensions? Then this comedy from Adult Swim is perfect for you!
On the surface, the show looks like a simple twisted version of the relationship between Back to the Future’s Doc and Marty as the titular alcoholic scientist Rick has seemingly little regard for his grandson, Morty. Take for example how the pilot features Rick forcing Morty to smuggle giant alien plant seeds up his butt as they go through an intergalactic customs checkpoint.
Each episode is bold, envelope-pushing television that mocks conventional storytelling that is bleak, existential and laugh-out-loud hilarious. While a lot of the humor hinges on how Rick seems to not care for Morty, the show has a surprisingly strong amount of heart that gives their characters enough depth that helps them come across as three dimensional people despite the deranged levels of uncomfortable weirdness and inventive comedy that will totally mess with your head.
This is an extremely enthusiastic show that is as vulgar as it is hilarious.
Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated!
Format: 52 half-hour episodes
Availability: Streaming on Netflix
Yes, I’m recommending that you watch the latest incarnation of the classic Scooby-Doo cartoon. Just hear me out on this, you meddling readers.
The show is both a spoof of the 45-year-old franchise and an homage to it. In it, Scooby and the gang are solving monster-of-the-week mysteries in their town of Crystal Cove, much to the annoyance of the public since their crime-solving gets in the way of the revenue made from tourism due to all the crime and hauntings in Crystal Cove.
Mystery Incorporated differentiates itself from other Scooby-Doo cartoons thanks to its serialization format that has the gang investigating the disappearance of the original Mystery Incorporated, an earlier generation of sleuthing teenagers and their talking pet. This mystery ultimately leads the gang to uncover a centuries-long conspiracy involving their town and hidden treasure that Professor Pericles, the most dangerous criminal mastermind in the world, will stop at nothing to get.
It should be noted that Professor Pericles is a talking parrot, just one of the many tongue-in-cheek developments in the series that is ridiculously silly and yet legitimately serious. By the end of Mystery Incorporated, the show gets surprisingly dark for a Scooby-Doo cartoon with an epic scope that is reminiscent of the fifth season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
Also, the show has Shaggy and Velma dating, perfect for you fans who have ever shipped those two.
Format: 13 hour-long episodes
Availability: Streaming for free on Netflix
This is one of the great shows that was cancelled due to low ratings, so the downside here is that Terriers ends on a cliffhanger that will anger you, and then fill your heart with a large empty void that nothing can ever replace.
As depressing as that is, I beg you to watch this show anyway. In it Donal Logue (Fox’s upcoming Gotham) stars as Hank Dolworth, a disgraced detective and alcoholic who opens up a private investigation business with his friend, ex-con man Britt. Did I mention that this P.I. business is unlicensed?
The duo then set about investigating crimes in their California town that feels like Chinatown with a So-Cal tone. Part of the show’s success is how, despite the high stakes, Terriers comes across as such a laid-back and relaxed series. Even with the crime though, Terriers is a quirky character drama with a fantastic cast and equally great dialogue.
It’d be a crime to not watch this show.
Format: 29 hour-long episodes
Availability: Streaming at Netflix
True to her word, we are indeed seeing Laura Palmer again in the form of a mega awesome Blu-Ray set of this surreal soap opera due at the end of the month. This upcoming home video release means it’s the perfect opportunity for many of you who’ve never seen the show to finally do so.
Twin Peaks is the jaw-droppingly bizarre drama from the king of weirdness, David Lynch (Eraserhead, Mulholland Dr.). The series follows FBI agent Dale Cooper as he goes to the titular fictional town to investigate the murder of high school prom queen Laura Palmer.
The show’s first season, which consists of just seven episodes, is near perfect television. Part of the fun in Twin Peaks is how the show is a commentary on life in small towns as it crosses into many genres that range from noir, surrealism, slapstick comedy and even straight up horror. This is a wonderfully weird show whose characters include double-crossing businessmen, a dwarf from another world who speaks backwards and, my favorite, the Log Lady. She’s an elderly woman who delivers the messages her psychic log says.
Unfortunately, season two is the very definition of messy as the series ultimately collapses under all the storylines going on that makes it feel as if the show is struggling to keep it together. Despite this shortcoming, I still recommend checking watching this show because even at its worst, Twin Peaks is still a unique experience that television seemingly has yet to replicate despite the fact that the show ended over 20 years ago. After watching the show, do go to the UTPA Library to check out Fire Walk with Me, the theatrical prequel film that I ranked highly in my list of favorite movies based on TV shows.
So, those are my recommendations, which of these will you more likely watch? What other shows do you recommend other people should binge on? Comment below and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter.