Binge-worthy TV shows to stream this winter
Winter is the ideal time to get under a blanket on the couch and catch up on the best Netflix and other streaming services have to offer. From superb Scandi Noir to intelligent humour on what it is to be a good person, there’s a bundle of great TV to be enjoyed.
One and done
Sometimes you want a self-contained series that you can binge through, get to the climax and shut the door. No cliff-hanger that leaves you literally hanging out for season two. It’s much more satisfying. Here’s a couple that wrap everything up in eight tight episodes:
Safe (Netflix): Starring Michael C Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) Safe drags you along like a gripping page-turner of an airport thriller – no surprise given it was written by Harlen Corben, who does suspense as well as anyone in the business. There’s an occasional plot twist that will have you asking “what the …?” but don’t over-think, just go with the flow of the powerful narrative. The story is set in a gated community in England and focuses on widower surgeon Tom Delaney (Hall) searching for his missing daughter Jenny while maintaining a fraught relationship with local police detective Sophie Mason. The layers of story-lines leave you guessing until the end.
Below the Surface (Lightbox): Scandi Noir has become such a thing that there’s even a satirical take on the genre called Fallet, which you can find on Netflix. But you can’t beat the real thing. And the latest from the creators of The Killing and Borgen is superb. Below The Surface is about a Copenhagen subway train hijacked and 15 people are held hostage underground. The man charged with resolving the situation, Philip, is a former special ops solider who recently escaped after being held hostage himself in Afghanistan. There’s a hint of Homeland about the early episodes but don’t go thinking you know how it’s going to pan out because this on is an excellent roller-coaster ride.
Light and bright
It’s one thing to have a good murder mystery or a dark terror-driven but sometimes you want a good laugh.
Grace & Frankie (Netflix): When Grace (Jane Fonda) and Frankie (Lily Tomlin) learn their respective husbands Robert (Martin Sheen) and Sol (Sam Waterston) have secretly been in love with each other for 20 years (yes, it’s a weird premise) … you’ve got an interesting recipe to explore sex, aging and relationships. This is a seriously funny show that pokes fun at the nature of getting old without mocking the elderly. And it’s not just for baby boomers, having proved hugely popular with younger audiences. It’s up to series four but it’s an easy trip to catch up.
The Good Place (Netflix): Starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell this joyous romp through the afterlife is a Philosophy 101 look at morality. It’s a slow-burner that can appear a bit kitsch at first but will have you genuinely laughing out loud. The premise is that Bell’s character, downright nasty Eleanor, dies and ends up in “The Good Place”. She’s convinced there’s been a mistake and that she should be in “The Bad Place” but is determined to prove she’s worthy of her place. Each episode is an exquisitely funny 20-minute bite of chocolate-coated fun.
Ain’t nothin like the real thing
Netflix has made itself the top destination for true crime – both documentary-style and with fictionalised true stories.
Evil Genius (Netflix): Weird but gripping short series about the “pizza bomber” case that dominated American news 15 years ago. The opening 10 minutes is the most compelling TV you could hope to see … there’s a feeling of dread and “surely this can’t be real?” as you watch pizza delivery man Brian Wells handcuffed and sitting on the ground wearing a collar bomb that he tells police is going to explode any minute. It’s riveting and doesn’t let up for the four tightly-scripted episodes.
Unsolved (Netflix): A dramatisation that looks at the murders of friend-to-enemy rappers Tupac Shakur (Marcc Rose) and Biggie Smalls (Wavyy Jonez) in the late-1990s. It focuses on the police investigation of Greg Kading (Josh Duhamel) into the murders which was reopened some 10 years later by Russell Poole (Jimmi Simpson) and morphed into an LAPD corruption investigation.
Tips on how to watch
There are heaps of ways to watch Netflix, Lightbox and other streaming services. Read our broadband tips for advice on how to set-up streaming at home and tips on getting the most out of your broadband connection.