Photo Credit: NBC/Sony Pictures TV
Welcome back to the latest installment of CraveOnline’s The Binge!
Summer is here at last, but the era of Peak TV means that there is rarely a break from the constant barrage of new programming. It’s a good problem to have! Just a few years ago, summer was the domain of repeats and reality shows. Now, we have original series debuting year round.
However, that comes with its own set of problems. There just isn’t enough time to watch everything and a few entertaining shows fall through the cracks of cancellation. Even the continuing shows face audience erosion simply because people either lose interest or fall too far behind. That’s why we have The Binge! As part of our Summer Entertainment Guide, we’re recommending seven shows you should make time for this summer and where you can find them.
James Spader could read a newspaper out loud for an hour and still make it entertaining. Fortunately, The Blacklist is much better than that, and Spader is particularly good as the enigmatic Raymond “Red” Reddington, a master criminal who essentially turned himself in to the FBI to worm his way into the life of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and take down his list of enemies and former allies.
The first two seasons are up on Netflix now, and the third season should be going up in August or September, so there’s a lot to catch up on! NBC is also preparing a spinoff series, The Blacklist: Redemption for next season, but it’s already been set up in the waning episodes of the third season.
In a surprising development, Homeland has been benched from its usual slot on Showtime in the fall. But that may play out in your favor if you want to get up to speed on its five season run. For its first two seasons, Homeland was one of the most acclaimed dramas on television, as CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and former POW Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) played a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And some fans gave up on the series after the third season dragged out the resolution of Brody’s story.
However, the series has reinvented itself in its fourth and fifth seasons, which means that even lapsed Homeland fans have something to look forward to. If you have Showtime, you can find all of the episodes on Showtime Now, and there’s also the option to stream Showtime series through its standalone service through Hulu.
Admittedly, Jessica Jones isn’t a primetime show, because it has no timeslot. As a Netflix original series, you can watch it whenever you like. The reason it’s on our list is that Netflix is premiering its third Marvel series, Luke Cage on September 30. Mike Colter made his debut as Cage on Jessica Jones, and his relationship with Krysten Ritter’s title character was very compelling. Aside from reading a lot of comics, this is the best way to learn more about who Luke Cage is and what he can do.
Even on its own, Jessica Jones gave the title character one of the more challenging stories of any Marvel hero or heroine, as well as a truly great villain played by former Doctor Who star David Tennant.
The Man in the High Castle
Amazon doesn’t seem to have quite as high a batting average as Netflix when it comes to first rate drama series. But The Man in the High Castle blows every other drama that Amazon has previously done out of the water. It’s an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel that explored an alternate world in which the Japanese and the German forces won World War II and subjugated America.
The Man in the High Castle also did an exceptional job of depicting characters with multiple dimensions. Even the most monstrous lead character, SS Obergruppenführer John Smith has moments of humanity when faced with the consequences of ethnic and genetic cleansing that strike a little too close to his home. This world may be too far gone, but it is a gripping story. There’s a new season coming to Amazon Prime later this year, and that should be enough time to catch the 10 episodes from season 1.
We named Fargo as 2015’s best drama on TV for many reasons. But the simplest reason is that it really is that good. The first two seasons are loosely connected tales separated by a few decades, with only a handful of characters appearing in each season. But the writing and the acting are unparalleled. Established stars Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and Colin Hanks were joined by Allison Tolman in the first season, while Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, and Ted Danson headlined season two.
The first season of Fargo is up on Hulu, while season 2 episodes can be purchased from Amazon or you can pick up the Blu-ray and DVD set.
It feels like it’s taken forever for Syfy to get entertaining sci-fi shows back on the network. And while Dark Matter and Killjoys will be back next month, the new season of The Expanse is being held for late 2016 or early 2017. The Expanse is based on James S. A. Corey’s novel series about the human colonization of the solar system as Earth and Mars are on the verge of war. But all of humanity is threatened by an even larger conspiracy at play.
The first season of The Expanse was excellent, but the streaming options are limited for now. Amazon Prime has episodes available for purchase, or you can pick it up the first season on DVD or Blu-ray.
The Leftovers may be the best show on HBO that doesn’t have the audience it deserves. Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta (the author of the original novel) have turned The Leftovers into an amazingly gripping tale of what happened to the world after the Rapture came and went. The emotional fallout destroyed lives and caused a great deal of misery. But as dark as this world can get, The Leftovers has earned its moments of redemption and hope. The first two season finales also had uplifting turns of surprising power and resonance.
HBO hasn’t set a date yet for the third and final season of The Leftovers, but you can find the first two seasons on HBO Now or HBO Go.
What TV shows do you want to catch up on this summer? Share your picks in the comment section below!