The AVForums TV Show Watchlist
So much to watch yet so little time...
126There have never been so many high-quality TV Shows, nor as many platforms on which we can watch them.
In fact, what we’re watching - whether it be via Netflix, Amazon, NOW TV or just plain old regular broadcast channels like Freeview, BT, Sky or Virgin – has become such a regular topic of conversation on the AVForums podcast, we’ve decided to make it a feature.
Between the five podcast regulars, there should hopefully be something for most of our readers and we’ll keep this updated as new shows we like appear.
AVF Editorial Picks
Better Call Saul – Netflix – Ultra HDBetter Call Saul has finished its third season and it’s much more than just a Breaking Bad spin-off, although the series has begun to introduce some of the major characters and storylines of that epic, binge-fest classic Better Call Saul remains a brilliantly written and acted series that charts the moral descent of near-respectable but small-time attorney Jimmy McGill into super-shady lawyer Saul Goodman. Witty, gripping and with a great soundtrack.
The OA – Netflix – Ultra HD HDRIf for no other reason than to give your HDR TV a workout, The OA is a decent sci-fi mystery and a Netflix Original. Seven years after vanishing from her home, a young woman returns with mysterious new abilities and recruits five strangers for a secret mission and, obviously, we can’t say any more about it. It’s only eight episodes long, making it very easy to binge, whilst the cinematography is generally excellent with some nice use of specular highlights.
American Gods – Amazon Video – Ultra HDAmerican Gods is an adaptation of one of Ed’s all-time favourite novels, by British author Neil Gaiman. It has finished its run on Amazon and it certainly delivered on all its promise. When Shadow Moon is released from prison he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, played superbly by the always reliable Ian McShane, and a storm begins to brew. Left adrift by the recent death of his wife, Shadow is hired as Mr. Wednesday’s bodyguard. He finds himself in a hidden world where magic is real, where the Old Gods fear irrelevance and the growing power of the New Gods, and where Mr. Wednesday is building an army to reclaim his lost glory. Weird and wonderful and decidedly adult in tone, this series is unmissable.
Bloodline – Netflix – Ultra HDThe third season of this Netflix Original is now available but somehow this brilliant series has slipped under most people's radar. Bloodline is a big favourite at AVForums with superb acting, headed up by Sissy Spacek as matriarch of the Rayburn family, who are hard-working pillars of their Florida Keys community. Only the Rayburns have a skeleton, or two, in their collective closet with the return of the black sheep of the family, Danny, set to cause cataclysmic consequences for all concerned. Its tense, taut and utterly gripping, with a plot that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. It also looks glorious in Ultra HD, despite the lack of HDR.
Jamestown – Sky & NOW TV – HDA period drama from the makers of Downton Abbey, Jamestown is heralded as a Jacobean Western and we can see why. The series is set in Virginia in 1619 and tells the story of three women who set sail to an all-male colony to marry men they’ve never met. The series has proved popular both critically and commercially and Sky has already commissioned a second season.
The Deuce – Sky & NOW TV – HDThis new series from The Wire creator David Simon charts the early days of the porn industry in 1970s New York. A starry cast that includes James Franco (playing twin brothers), Maggie Gylenhaal and Zoe Kazan fully commit in this first season that is full of exacting period detail, strong language, violence and very explicit sex scenes. It's compulsive viewing and you can catch it every Monday night on Sky Atlantic and catch-up on NOW TV.
Star Trek: Discovery – Netflix – HD & HDR/Dolby VisionAfter months of delays this new Star Trek TV series has finally arrived, premiering every Monday on Netflix. The extra time has really paid off with production design and effects that are feature film quality and a plot that revolves around a central character rather than the usual ensemble. The show is more action-packed than previous Star Trek series and despite claiming to be set ten years before the original series, it feels more like a reboot with the sensibilities of the JJ Abrams movies. It's only available in HD but unusually it does come with HDR and Dolby Vision, making the show look even more spectacular.
Curb Your Enthusiasm – Sky & NOW TV – HDLarry David is back with the ninth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so cue more hysterical misunderstandings as Larry's borderline sociopathic tendencies continue to annoy everyone. Expect strong language, adult humour and celebrity cameos galore in one of the funniest and most intelligent comedy series ever created.
Twin Peaks The Return – Sky & NOW TV – HDDavid Lynch and Mark Frost's return to the series that changed TV forever was one of the small screen events of the year. Almost the entire original cast returned, along with half of Hollywood, as Lynch and Frost created an 18-hour movie that is more Fire Walk With Me and Lost Highway than it was Twin Peaks but remained essential viewing. Brilliant and frustrating in equal measure, Twin Peaks The Return has redefined what is possible on TV all over again, so expect disturbing images, very strong language, violence and sex.
The Punisher – Netflix – Ultra HD & HDR/Dolby Vision & Dolby AtmosAs a tonic to the truly awful Inhumans, the dodgy Iron Fist and the surprisingly weak The Defenders, Netflix and Marvel are back on top form with the superb The Punisher. The perfectly cast Jon Berenthal is once again playing brutal vigilante Frank Castle aka 'The Punisher' in a plot that involves both the military and the intelligence community. The series has an excellent supporting cast, a good set of villains and some impressively violent action scenes and, whilst some of the plot twists are pretty obvious, the result is The Punisher done properly – bloody, brutal and brilliant.
The Walking Dead – Sky & Now TV – HDThe latest season sees all-out-war between our heroes and the Saviours, which is fine with us because no one enjoyed watching that smug git Negan lord it over our heroes for the whole of the previous season. We came close to ditching The Walking Dead during much of the seventh season but season eight has proved suitably entertaining. However the whole Saviour storyline has gone on too long and we really need to see Rick kill Negan this season or we doubt we'll be returning for the ninth.
The Orville – Sky & NOW TV – HDDespite a terrible title this new series has a great pedigree, it was created by Seth MacFarlane and boasts Jon Favreau and Star Trek stalwart Brannon Braga behind the scenes. The result is an entertaining show that is intentionally comedic but not afraid to tackle serious subjects in a sci-fi setting. Although MacFarlane is a weak leading man, the supporting cast are good and the production values and effects decent enough to carry the premise. Strangely, despite the laughs, The Orville is much closer to traditional Star Trek than Discovery, with plots that could easily have been used in The Next Generation. It's a nice throwback to a more simple time, when TV shows were episodic in nature and often had a message. It's early days yet but The Orville is certainly growing on us.
Shows you might have missed
Marseille – Netflix – Ultra HDGérard Depardieu, et al, c’est très magnifique in this French political drama/mystery/thriller which centres, unsurprisingly, around the eponymous, famous port city in Southern France. There’s much scurrilous behaviour, intrigue, back-stabbing (what were you expecting) as well as a see-sawing plot to keep you on your toes, as political affairs intersect those of the mob. If you can cope with some subtitles, we highly recommend checking it out – it’s kind of like a Gallic House of Cards, on absinthe.
The Expanse – Netflix – HDIf you’re a fan of high-quality, intelligent adult sci-fi with a degree of scientific accuracy and excellent special effects, this one comes highly recommended by the team at AVForums. Two centuries in the future, a missing person links an asteroid belt detective, the captain of an ice freighter and a diplomat trying to avert a war for what could be the beginning of an epic space saga. Season 2 is now on Netflix UK and is just as good as the excellent first season, so get bingeing.
Stranger Things – Netflix – Ultra HD & HDR/Dolby VisionThis one is loved by all the podcast team and if you haven’t checked it out yet, what are you waiting for? This Sci-Fi mystery blends a spooky storyline with ‘super powers’ and many satisfying references to iconic, music, TV shows and movies of your youth in what is an engrossing and engaging Netflix Original. And in more good news, Netflix has commissioned another second season which with the whole of Stranger Things 2 available on the 27th of October. So if you don't want to get left behind, binge your way through the eight episodes of the first season now – you'll thank us.
Mr Robot – Amazon Video – HDThis is another favourite of the AVForums team and this series has proved hugely popular since launching on Amazon Instant Video. The show centres around Elliot Alderson – superbly acted by Rami Malek - a social misfit cybersecurity engineer and vigilante hacker who is recruited to a underground gang attempting to bring down ‘corporate America.’ We think Season 1 is stronger than the follow-up but why not make up your own mind?
The Killing – Netflix – HDThere are two versions of The Killing available on Netflix. There’s the original Danish version, which spans two seasons, and a US made/Netflix Original incarnation which has four seasons. Our recommendation would be Season One of the Scandinavian version which teeters on the edge of having too many plot twists for comfort but just about stays on the precipice. It provided us with an almost unparalleled urge to watch the next episode, immediately, to discover what was going to happen next. The performances from the two leads are also superb and we’d go as far as saying – at least for Season 1 - that it’s better than, although highly comparable to, The Bridge.
Fargo – Channel 4 & Netflix – HDWe had grave misgivings about the cult classic Coen Brothers movie being adapted to a TV show but we needn’t have feared and it’s still going strong, with an excellent third season that has just finished airing on Channel 4 in the UK. Season 3 brings the snowy, Minnesota town more in to the present day, being set in 2010, and stars a barely recognisable Ewan McGregor in the lead roles; yes, that is a plural with McGregor acting out the lives of two brothers, Emmit and Ray Stussy, whose lives have taken very different paths following a petty incident. As always the cast are superb, the writing is sharp and the plot lines convoluted and slightly weird, making the third season of Fargo another winner.
Game of Thrones – Sky 1 & NOW TV – HDThere’s enough internet page space given to the world's most popular and pirated TV series to sink the server farm of a second world nation so there’s not much we can add. The Seventh – and penultimate – season of Game of Thrones has finished on Sky and is as compelling as ever. Unlike previous entries, Season 7 only has seven episodes but we’ll take quality over quantity and it's essential viewing as the show builds up to its epic end-game in Season 8. Massive battle scenes, spectacular violence and plenty of dragon action is guaranteed and if you’ve not yet caught the preceding six seasons – why not? – they’re all available now via NOW TV but you’d better get your bingeing hat on if you want to catch up!
American Experience: The Blackout – Netflix – HDAs Wednesday, July 13, 1977 dawned hot and humid, New Yorkers prepared themselves for another sweltering day. It was the first of a nine-day heat wave that would become the hottest in New York City history. The once-booming city had been suffering years of economic decline. It was on the verge of bankruptcy; both unemployment rates and crime rates were high; police and firefighters had been laid off; municipal services, including sanitation and after-school programs, had been cut; and a serial killer named Son of Sam was still on the loose, keeping everyone on edge.
When a severe thunderstorm hit, the lights went out, and some eight million people plunged into darkness in New York City and surrounding areas. By the time the power was fully restored more than a day later, more than 1,600 businesses had been looted, more than 3,000 people had been arrested, and firefighters had battled more than 1,000 fires. The affected neighborhoods would never be the same.
Hip Hop Evolution – Netflix – HDInterviews with influential MCs, DJs and moguls trace the genre's dynamic evolution from the 1970s through the 1990s in this documentary series. It’s an absolute essential for fans of ‘Old Skool’ and highly recommended by all of the AVForums team.
Five Came Back – NetfixAdapted from Mark Harris’ best-selling book, “Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War,” and directed by Laurent Bouzereau, this three-part docu-series tells the extraordinary story of how Hollywood changed World War II – and how World War II changed Hollywood, through the interwoven experiences of five filmmakers who interrupted their successful careers to serve their country, risk their lives and bring the truth back to the American people: John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens. It's quite simply essential viewing for anyone interested in cinema and World War II.
Chaos on the Bridge – Netflix – HDWilliam Shatner takes viewers inside the creation of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the bold attempt in 1986 to recreate the success of the original television series, in which Shatner played Captain James T. Kirk. The documentary, directed, written and presented by Shatner reveals the drama, chaos and controversy behind the scenes as producers tried to make lighting strike twice. Not only were the beloved original characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy excluded from the new series, the studio also attempted to block the involvement of the creator of the original series - Gene Roddenberry. Few believed it would work including those closest to the production.
The Keepers – NetflixIf you were a fan of docu-series How to Make a Murderer, The Keepers may just turn out to be essential viewing. It’s a seven-part series about the unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death. It’s made by the same team behind How to Make a Murderer and, like that series, The Keepers is compulsive, shocking and highly controversial as it reveals a terrible conspiracy at the heart of the Catholic Church.
The Vietnam War – BBC4 – HDThis ten parts series was ten years in the making and was made by Ken Burns who famously produced series charting the events of The American Civil War. This new series charts another national tragedy for the United States as the country gets pulled into a terrible conflict that was almost as destructive to American society as it was in Vietnam. This series tells the story from all sides, starting in French Indochina and going all the way to consequences of the ignominious US withdrawal in 1975. A must-see documentary that uses fully restored 16mm footage to present the war in unflinching and graphic detail.
AVForums Member Suggestions
Goliath – Amazon – Ultra HD HDROne of the surprise hits of last year, the tremendous drama Goliath remoulds a classic David & Goliath struggle into the legal arena, courtesy of The Practice's David E. Kelley. A great cast, including William Hurt and headlined by Billy Bob Thornton, on top form as an angry burnt-out drunk inadvertently given the chance to set things right when he gets involved in a case against a weapons manufacturer and the seemingly unstoppable law firm protecting them, which he also happened to have founded. With excellent twists that will blindside you at every turn, it's a fabulous star vehicle for Thornton's sharp, uncensored wit, and has already seen a second season commissioned.
[Credit: Casimir Harlow]
Sense8 – Netflix – Ultra HDFrom the Wachowskis and J Michael Straczynski (Babylon Five), the show follows a global ensemble cast as they are ‘born’ into a cluster and develop a sort of psychic connection with one another. Delivered in 4K (not HDR) it's a feast for the eyes. Developed as a thirteen-episode film, the first "act" of which takes up around three hours, it can be a little hard to get into but is thoroughly enjoyable, with the second season continuing the story. Homophobes/prudish types need not apply, as there are openly gay and transexual characters and quite a few orgy-ish scenes. Sadly the series has been cancelled by Netflix, although the creators will get a chance to tie up some loose ends.
Bosch – Amazon – Ultra HD HDRA tour de force and one of Amazon's headline shows. Old style noir in modern LA led by the thoroughly likeable Titus Welliver. Bosch is one of the best shows from Amazon and, like in Collateral, LA is portrayed in a very different light with some gorgeous night shots that make full use of HDR.
[Credit: mtenga & Cupp]
Billions – NOW TV – HDWealth, influence and corruption collide in this drama set in New York. Shrewd U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades is embroiled in a high-stakes game of predator vs. prey with Bobby Axelrod, an ambitious hedge-fund king. To date, Rhoades has never lost an insider trading case – he's 81-0 – but when criminal evidence turns up against Axelrod, Rhoades proceeds cautiously in building the case against Axelrod, who employs Rhoades' wife, psychiatrist Wendy, as a performance coach for his company. Wendy, who has been in her position longer than Chuck has been in his, refuses to give up her career for her husband's legal crusade against Axelrod. Both men use their intelligence, power and influence to outmaneuver the other in this battle over billions. The high-profile cast is led by Emmy winners Paul Giamatti (John Adams) and Damian Lewis (Homeland) as Chuck Rhoades and Bobby Axelrod, respectively.
[Credit: judge360 & jont]
The Night Shift – Netflix – HDA hospital drama with a bit of a twist and if you fancy that there are three seasons on Netflix you can binge through.
iZombie – Netflix – HDFrom Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars), this "dramedy" sort-of procedural revolves around Liv, a doctor who is turned into a zombie and and ends up working at a morgue (so she can have easy access to brains). It just so happens that she picks up the traits of the person who's brains she has consumed, so much hilarity ensues as she then goes on to solve their murder. For those of us who enjoyed the wittiness of Buffy and Veronica Mars, this is an enjoyable romp. There are three seasons available for your delectation.
Orphan Black – Netflix – HDTatyana Maslany stars as a single mum, seeking to reconnect with her daughter when she witnesses her doppelganger commit suicide. This leads onto multiple seasons of thrilling intrigue, drama and sci-fi where Maslany performs multiple character roles as the plot unfolds. It's hard to summarise without plot spoilers, but this show is the BBC (America) at its finest, particularly in the first season where it demonstrates just how much compelling drama can be achieved on a minuscule budget.
Narcos – Netflix – Ultra HDVery compelling story based on the true events of Columbian drug baron Pablo Escobar, the warring beween the cartels, and the efforts of the Columbian government and the US agencies to control it. Very well done, but beware, very adult with frequent violence and sexual scenes.
El Patron del Mal – Netflix HDIf you like Narcos then consider watching El Patron del Mal on Netflix. It's a Colombian production of the Pablo story and whilst it's a sympathetic portrayal of a monstrous murderer it is compelling viewing and there's about 80 episodes to go at so it's a binger's dream!
The Crown – Netflix – Ultra HDGreat show on Netflix. Great cast, well acted. One of the best things about The Crown is the way it is filmed and the attention to detail. It sends you back in time.
13 Reasons Why – Netflix – Ultra HDThis highly controversial series about teen suicide is an astonishingly good watch. Rollercoaster ride for the emotions, cute leading actress, stellar acting and an amazing script. Can't really recommend this one enough.
Dirk Gently – Netflix – HDIf you are into weird sci-fi then try the American TV series version of Dirk Gently on Netflix. It’s a complete story told in eight episodes but with clear hooks for the next series which starts in October. It is a hugely enjoyable BBC America production from Max Landis and it's nice to see a series with a story that runs to a conclusion rather than meandering all over the place. The second and sadly final season has just arrived on Netflix.
The Man In The High Castle – Amazon – Ultra HD & HDR
“You ever think how different life could be if you could just change one thing?”
Am Amazon TV series based on the Phillip K. Dick Novel and now scheduled for a third series. The Axis powers have won the Second World War and the US is split between the German and Japanese nations. Film reels of the Allied victory of World War II also exist. The first series was okay, but the second series really came into its own.
Lucifer – Amazon – HD
Lucifer Morningstar leaves ruling hell to run a night club in Los Angeles. He then becomes involved with LAPD detective Chloe Decker and helps her solve crimes. Along the way we meet Mazikeen, a demon, Amenadeil, an angel, and his therapist. This is another Amazon series that's been renewed for a third season.
As we said at the top, there are loads of good TV shows around and we’re just providing a snippet of the available content so we’d be more than happy to hear your suggestions in the comments below.
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.