By Rob Shaul
In no particular order …. and avoiding the obvious Sopranos and Game of Thrones, below are streaming series I found worth the streaming time. Suggest your favorites in the comments, below ….
Friday Night Lights
A 5-season (2006-2011), NBC television series centered on high school football in a small Texan town, FNL did the impossible and added to the quality book and great movie of the same name. Touching and heartfelt, the series gave rise to the future acting careers of Connie Britton, Taylor Kisch, Kyle Chandler and Jesse Plemmons. Yes, it’s a dramatic series about teenagers and high school football, but great acting, writing and memorable characters make it special. I may have shed a tear or two while watching.
I’m old enough to remember the original, clunky Battlestar Galactica Television program with the chrome robots and red eyes. It was nothing special … but the series reboot which ran from 2005 to 2009 is special. A small fleet of the remaining humans race from pursuing robotic Cylons in ragtag spaceships protected by one warship – “Galactica.” The series is surprisingly deep and engaging. I was doubtful, but loved every minute.
Netflix, period series which begins in 1919 and follows a gang family in Birmingham, England, Peaky Blinders centers on gang leader, Tommy Shelby, and his goal to both improve his families fortune and move up the social class ladder. Raw, violent and impossible to watch without subtitles, you’ll blow through the 5 seasons (2013-2019) and wait, with me, anxiously for the sixth!
Amazon Prime, Science Fiction series with a believable space-based future. Earth is in predictable ecological decline, run by the UN. Most are unemployed and unhappy receiving universal basic income. Mars has been colonized and become independent, and risen as a military rival to Earth. Between are the “Belters” – an oppressed population who live and work mining raw materials for both Mars and Earth on the asteroids in the belt around Saturn, and yearn for respect and independence. The Expanse features solid acting, believable plots and great special effects. Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo stands out as a ruthless politician bent on protecting earth as does Wes Chatham as a violent, good guy, sociopath.
Approachable, 5-season, series centered on a French spy bureau. Best is it’s characters look like real people, the plot is unpredictable, and acting is solid. No trite James Bond characters, plots or wiz-bangery. Find it on the Sundance Channel.
Recently cancelled after only 2 seasons, Patriot manages to be incredibly funny and brutally tragic at the same time as it traces the ongoing struggles of an American intelligence officer trying to influence an Iranian Presidential election. Delightful in it’s originality, creativity and artistry. Ambitious and unpredictable – I’ve never seen anything like it.
Crime series which highlights the partnership between a British detective and his female French colleague, what makes this series is the slightly autistic French character, Elise, and the intellectual plots.
Finish cop drama made unique by the main character, Kari. Unlike the tough-guy stereotype American cops, there’s nothing macho about skinny-jean wearing, Karl. He’s tall, quiet, intellectual, and doesn’t like blood or guns. Karl and his unique approach to solving crimes, plus a noir filmmaking approach and solid supporting cast, make the series unique.