/ Lockdown TV: Essential Recommendations!
Whether we ever go into formal lockdown or not, many of us are now confined to quarters for the foreseeable future. Why not try and make the best of it, by using the time to catch up on great TV series we’ve meant to watch, but haven’t yet?
Post your suggestions below. We’re going to have plenty of time to explore!
Classic long-form dramas:
- The Wire
- The Sopranos
- Breaking Bad (and also Better Call Saul, which may even be better)
Other things I’ve really enjoyed:
- Battlestar Galactica [the reboot]
- The Deuce (new season just out)
- Westworld (first season is perfect, others less so)
- Generation Kill
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Noughts and Crosses (recently out on iPlayer, I was quietly impressed).
OK a lot of obvious stuff on this list, and lots I have forgotten about, but really it’s just to get the ball rolling.
I’m probably going to give Mad Men another whirl as I never got past the first season when I tried about 10 years ago.
Any hidden gems out there? Personal faves? Let us know!
The Stranger - Netflix is pretty good. Wife and I had to keep pausing to discuss developments to try and keep track
The Trials of Gabriel Fernandes - Netflix. Incredibly moving documentary which will make you extremely angry. Human behaviour so evil its almost beyod belief...not an easy watch
Yes enjoyed The Stranger, though the ending was a touch weak unfortunately
Westworld disappeared up its own beautiful backside in series 2 but that didn't stop me watching the start of S3 with my breakfast on Monday.
I would add the superb Ray Donovan to your list and also the very quirky but thought provoking The Leftovers.
And I really envy anyone who has never seen Band of Brothers and Homeland.
What's Final Space? Never heard of it!
> What's Final Space? Never heard of it!
It’s an animated space adventure series on Netflix - if the protagonist doesn’t put you off it’s very ambitious, dark and funny.
> - Battlestar Galactica [the reboot]
Wonderful. When it's finished, don't be tempted to watch 'Caprica' (the prequel).
If you're going back over old sci-fi, you have to watch Firefly. Shiny!
After which the film, Serenity, ties up a few loose ends from the abrubt ending when it was cancelled.
Say what you like about the ending of BSG (actually probably better not), but at least it did have an ending.
The Sarah Connor Chronicles is worth a go too. Surprisingly good series following on after Terminator 2, but it's another one that was abruptly cancelled so no ending - it just stops.
Remember Heroes? Glossy superhero thing, "Save the cheerleader, save the world"? Well this is a bit like that, but crossed with Shameless and set on a S London housing estate.
Edit to add: While it was extremely silly there were a couple of episodes of Misfits that were strangely thought provoking and affecting. I'm thinking of two episodes in particular, but can't say any more without spoiling a twist in the plot.
Oh, and speaking of superhero silliness - The Tick. (Specifically the 2001 one with Patrick Warburton as the big blue bug of justice - but the cartoon is great too. Haven't seen the latest version.)
> - Noughts and Crosses (recently out on iPlayer, I was quietly impressed).
I was disappointed by many aspects of the writing, simplistic plot, some very 2D characters. (I've never read the books.) There are some strong performances though, and it's worth watching for the costume design alone.
Not in the same league as The Wire, but The Shield could be worth a go. (American police procedural thing - Vic Mackie, the anti-hero is essentially a good guy but embroiled in corruption and it gradually spirals out of control.) The series that had Forest Whitaker playing the internal affairs detective breathing down his neck was superb.
> Any hidden gems out there? Personal faves? Let us know!
A hidden gem in general, but with many fans on here: Detectorists. (BBC iPlayer again)
It's very slow, thoughtful and gentle and hardly anything happens but it's wonderful stuff.
Sounds right up my street!
I had no real expectations of Nought and Crosses, and was predicting an obvious morality tale given it's adapted from a YA book, so I ended up being quite into how bloody dark it is.
And yes, Detectorists is SUPERB. In fact I would bump that near the top of anybody's list if they haven't seen it already.
The Shield was excellent
> Shield could be worth a go. (American police procedural thing - Vic Mackie, the anti-hero is essentially a good guy but embroiled in corruption and it gradually spirals out of control
Or was he a total A-hole who was just about managing to hold it together for a while?
I could never decide...
Speaking about “off the rails”, if the OP is in no way squeamish they might enjoy “Happy!” Basically a character study of what would happen if Chris Meloni’s Law and Order character let it all out... Meloni has really refined his unhinged comic genius first widely seen in Wet Hot American Summer.
Another thumbs up for the Shield...loved it.
ALL OF TWIN PEAKS
Also season 1 of Wayward Pines.
> Wonderful. When it's finished, don't be tempted to watch 'Caprica' (the prequel).
Community (comedy about characters attending a community college, sounds awful on paper and you'd be forgiven for thinking it looks like a latter-day Friends, especially from its title credits, but actually it is almost perfect - very smart, truly funny, and also gets you involved in the characters' lives very gradually as it goes on). There are six seasons, admittedly the final season is ramping down and weakening, but even then, the writers know it and reference it, it's that smart!
Mackie a good guy? I seem to remember him executing an internal affairs cop early in the first series.
Hm. My memory may be flawed. (I know it's flawed, it's utterly hopeless, but perhaps about this in particular.)
I could be completely wrong but I saw it as a sort of Shakespearian tragedy - he starts as a hero with a flaw in his character, one bad decision leads to another, and another until there is no turning back:
"I am in blood stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er."
Ooh - your 'film' thread reminded me..
Film and TV (same title): "What We Do In The Shadows".
Vampire spoof 'mockumentary'. The film is brilliant, the TV series even better. (BBC iPlayer again.)
While I'm on again, banging on about BBC iPlayer..
I assume we've all seen Fleabag and Killing Eve by now? We have? Ok then.
(Don't watch Fleabag with your kids or your mum - could be a bit awkward.)
Top Boy if you liked The Wire.
Fleabag, which is next level TV really.
Years and Years which might be a bit close to the bone currently.
Yes Top Boy is very good, if flawed.
Fleabag obviously sublime.
Dirty Money - Netflix
Two series of 1 hr long docos about corporate theft and greed - VW, HSBC, Jared Kushner all have episodes.
If you liked making a murderer you'll like this. Doco about a guy who killed his wife. Or not.
The Good Place
Surprisingly good Sitcom, Kristen Bell and Ted Danson feature.
- Man in the High Castle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_in_the_High_Castle_(TV_series) is excellent.
- We've just finished watching Unforgotten https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unforgotten and thoroughly enjoyed it (though the 2nd series is somewhat depressing).
Boardwalk Empire - I found this superb (admittedly I really like Steve Buscemi though)
Altered Carbon. Not much of it but what there is is very good
The Expanse. Classic space opera but done in quite a thoughtful and sensible way. More like an adult Babylon 5 than any of this Star Trekkian utopia tomfoolery.
The Boys. Alternative take on the superhero phenomenon. Dark and VERY funny (or at least I thought so)
>Dirty Money - Netflix
That's on my list.
I'd add Rotten on Netflix. A documentary series about the food supply chain and all the corruption and dodgy practice that goes into getting the food from source to your plate. Covers a wide range of topics, all of them interesting, some shocking.
> The Boys. Alternative take on the superhero phenomenon. Dark and VERY funny (or at least I thought so)
heard good things about this , will look out for it
staying with ‘superheroes’, Watchmen on Sky Atlantic was very nearly very good indeed. Didn’t quite land the ending but some near perfect episodes along the way
i though Dracula on the beeb was really good too, though again the ending didn’t quite work for me
I just finished watching Narcos and Narcos Mexico on Netflix. Both superb entertainment.
Oooooh, sounds good!
Walter Presents - loads of good stuff, too many to recommend them all but A very Scandi Scandal was very entertaining.
> i though Dracula on the beeb was really good too, though again the ending didn’t quite work for me
Two really strong episodes, followed by the same cast doing a fairly weak episode of 'Torchwood' to finish off.
If you liked that it might be worth looking out the BBC's 2007 series 'Jekyll'. A sort of updated 'next generation' take on Jekyll & Hyde, both roles played by James Nesbitt.
That was written by Steven Moffatt too and he clearly recycled a lot of the same ideas for Dracula. (Particularly the last episode, though they were much better executed the first time around.)
I'd forgotten about Watchman coming out. I'm slightly skeptical re Alan Moore's noninvolvement but open to be proved wrong as HBO has a solid record of great series.
In other news, Mr Robot was very good I thought. Definitely recommended.
Also Ash vs Evil Dead. Massive Bruce Campbell fan. This series takes the Evil Dead and My Name is Bruce and just continues that theme. Utterly brilliant if you like that kind of thing.
Yes I was skeptical about Watchmen- I didn’t mind the Zack Snyder film too much, the casting was mostly good and it looked great, but it missed the depth of the graphic novel. I was pleasantly surprised with the HBO series- it felt much more like a projection of the Moore universe forward to the present day, reflected current political issues, had a suitably convoluted plot and storytelling format, kept the squid, and ran with it, and introduced some good new characters. I think it fluffed the finale , but I’m prepared to overlook that because it was so good up to then.
i hope they leave it for another 30 years now though- would hate to see it become just another multi series franchise
> A hidden gem in general, but with many fans on here: Detectorists. (BBC iPlayer again)
> It's very slow, thoughtful and gentle and hardly anything happens but it's wonderful stuff.
Ditto This Country, currently drawing to a close, but all previous episodes on iPlayer.
French crime drama that has been on BBC4 for last 8 years. All 7 series. Excellent storyline, fantastic characters.
> Altered Carbon. Not much of it but what there is is very good
Do you mean the 1st series? Apparently this wasn't popular with fans of the books. I've never read the books but enjoyed the show. There's a new series just started, but the 1st episode was very confused and we didn't like it at all. Don't know if we're going to watch more.
Another vote for 'this country' and would add the excellent 'man named mobeen' also on BBC
… all 22 Marvel Universe Films, in order... starting with Iron Man and finishing with Avengers: Endgame...
> Mackie a good guy? I seem to remember him executing an internal affairs cop early in the first series.
I mean, I think he *wanted* to be a good guy...
we started it a few nights ago so are only a couple of eps in. Its may be worth persevering as we weren't convinced at all either and had no clue wtf was going on. Still don't but we're intrigued enough now to just keep going to find out.
> It’s an animated space adventure series on Netflix - if the protagonist doesn’t put you off it’s very ambitious, dark and funny.
How does it compare with the superlative Rick & Morty?
> How does it compare with the superlative Rick & Morty?
My take is that...
Rick and Morty oscillates between some of the very best television I have ever seen, and some very self-referential filler with a high dose of dross. I think one of the hardest hitting bits of TV I’ve ever seen was in R&M.
Final Space never quite hits the highs that Rick and Morty sometimes finds, but it holds a consistently high level throughout, and without the toxic undercurrent of nihilism and pointlessness of R&M. I also think it’s David Tennant’s best role to date. Also the writers have A Plan which it is increasingly apparent R&M’s don’t.
> Rick and Morty oscillates between some of the very best television I have ever seen, and some very self-referential filler with a high dose of dross.
I'd put R&M episodes in the same bracket someone once placed blow jobs and pizzas. Even the bad ones are pretty good.
> - Generation Kill
I had totally forgotten about this. Superb miniseries. Time for a rewatch I think!
Hannibal on Netflix is really good, series 1 and 2 are compelling but series 3 tails off a bit. 1 and 2 are the kind of series where Netflix starts playing the next episode and you simply can't turn it off!
Police drama set in a brooding North Wales.
Two series. Both suspenseful and excellent.
Find it on BBC iplayer.
Can also recommend “the young offenders”
Series following the adventures of 2 teenagers in Cork. Funny and heartwarming.
Also on the iplayer.
The original film of that is really good, haven’t seen the TV series though.
Just realised that Dark - the super complex and super ambitious German Netflix sci fi time travel drama - should definitely have been on my original list!
Not as much cragspotting in S2 since the action has moved from Llanberis to Blaenau.
The Terror season 1.
Very good and might remind us how to toughen ourselves up .....
The boys is excellent even the dodgy cockney accent !
Some great stuff referenced here but two glaring omissions (I think) are first series of True Detective and The Killing (original Danish version)
Just re-read the entire thread and you seem to be only the second person to mention Scandinavian dramas. Since you've mentioned The Killing the obvious next choice is The Bridge.
At the moment there's a fairly watchable Swedish thriller on Netflix called Caliphate which I'm a couple of episodes into.
Have to confess that I think the Scandinavian dramas tend to be over rated.
The Killing was decent but way too drawn out and the ending disappointing. The Bridge was fun but just got too silly for me. Borgen was utter dross, no idea how anybody could get through such nonsense (I have very similar feelings about the West Wing).
This list is good.
What about gaming?
Playing games during the lockdown session seems like a good idea.
> What about gaming?
That would be a separate thread wouldn't it? Paul started threads on film, tv and books - why don't you do one for games?
> Have to confess that I think the Scandinavian dramas tend to be over rated.
I've never got into them myself. I was wondering if reading subtitles helps to draw you in - I find subtitled things are often a bit more satisfying somehow because the require a bit of a commitment to get into the rythm of the thing. And it probably doesn't hurt that reading the subtitles forces you to put the bloody phone down and stop idly scrolling through facebook or whatever while you half watch the telly as well.
Speaking of subtitles, I remembered another science fiction thing..
It's a French production, but there is also dialogue in English, German and Italian. Just 10 short little episodes concerning a near-future 'space-race' involving two rival missions to Mars. It's visually beautiful (I think it's the only series I've ever binged and watched the title sequence all the way through every time) and has a fittingly spooky and intriguing Ray Bradbury-ish plot.
By no means all the Scandi dramas are watchable but that applies to most other countries too: very little comes out of France with the same zing as Spiral, though I enjoyed Witness. I think the rising star of the moment in Euro dramas is Belgium.
> I think the rising star of the moment in Euro dramas is Belgium.
Yes, I really like the fact that when I watch Dark I absolutely cannot pick that stupid phone up, or I'll miss a crucial detail and nothing will make sense (/ everything will make even less sense).
The BFI's page on 100 great films available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. There are some real corkers in here.
> What about gaming?
Lost in Space is in two series of 10 episodes so not too long. This is very different to the original TV series. It's much darker, more serious and with some great acting. Dr. Zachery Smith is particularly disturbing, almost too unpleasant a character. Cinema quality filming.
Secondly I think Gotham is really good. This is about the Batman world before Batman. It's begins with Bruce Wayne as a teenager just as his parents are killed. So it's a kind of origin story of Batman and all the classic villains like Penguin, The Riddler, Mr Freeze, Joker, Catwoman, Posion Ivy, Scarecrow and a whole bunch of others. Two of the main characters are Detective Jim Gordon and his partner. The acting is good to exceptional. The production values are cinema quality. Overall I think it's actually better than the films.
Good series also S2.
As with all Belgian shows the most intriguing thing is the way the characters switch from Flemish to French seamlessly according to the circumstances. It doesn't show on the subtitles but you don't need a trained ear to pick up on it.
>Borgen was utter dross, no idea how anybody could get through such nonsense (I have very similar feelings about the West Wing).
Then obviously I shall have to check out Borgen because The West Wing is utterly brilliant at the same level as The Wire and The Sopranos.
As Samuel Johnson once said “Sir, when a man is tired of The West Wing, he is tired of life; for there is in The West Wing all that life can afford.”
A few British classics. All a bit different but very good:
Utopia is two short seasons, very well written and acted and something of a cult series now I believe. I suppose it's a kind of a dark mystery / thriller and slightly comic.
End of the F**ing World is a short series of 20 min episodes following a teenage girl and boy who elope. The boy believes himself a psychopath and plans on killing the girl. Sounds dark but it's not really. Funny well acted and real gem if you've not seen it. All episodes add up to a long film length.
Third is Humans. This in 3 seasons. It's set in Britain when androids become a reality and follows a small group of escaped androids who are on the run. Production values are pretty low with minimal special effects but it's really well written and acted and interesting subject matter.
Watched the Aaron Hernandez documentary on Netflix over the weekend. Episode 1 is a bit slow, but tees up nicely for episodes 2 and 3 where the story really unfolds.
Had never heard of the guy before, but very much like a modern day OJ Simpson tale.
Absolutely loved The End of the F*cking World. I think the first season is *perfect*, and the second is very good whilst not quite managing to pull off the same level of amazing-ness as the first (how could it?)
Utopia is really, really good yeah.
Enjoyed the first season of Humans but couldn’t get on with the second.
I really enjoyed The Last Kingdom on Netflix. Series 1 is good, but unlike GoT, each series gets better and better. Series 4 is about to drop in April. Historical fiction based on Bernard Cornwal novels around the Viking invasion of Britain and King Alfred. The main character is played by a German actor who can take a few episodes to get used to, but i have been reliably informed from a few sources he is exceptionally easy on the eye. Very violent if swords/axes/arrows is your thing
Black Sails - Prime . Excellent 4 series story about the golden age of piracy. Brilliant acting, especially the main character (Toby Stephens - Dame Maggie Smiths son). Beautifully filmed in South Africa and if you are a fan of lots of nudity in brothels then this will be right up your street. Some great characters and a brilliant story arc stretching the whole 4 seasons. I was gutted when it ended.
Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred!
That's the one! I wonder if I am related?
Just came across Love, Death and Robots. This is a Netflix anthology of 18 sci-fi short animations (from 5 to 15 mins) produced by David Fincher and Tim Miller. Not watched them all yet but they're pretty good. They vary from basic 2D cartoons to highly realistic 3D stuff. Generally quite dark, weird and definitely not for kids.
If you can find it, ‘Oz’ is a TV classic.
As far as current stuff goes, if you’ve not watched Tiger King on Netflix, get on it!
We’ve started watching Pickard from the Star Trek franchise, entertainment so far in a none demanding sort of way
I watched 1-3 of The Mandalorian. Definitely has the right feel for a Star Wars franchise, although it's the 1st SW thing I've seen, film/cartoon/game, that doesn't have any of the classic SW musical themes, which feels kinda weird. It's episodic like most TV sci-fi, but there's hints of a story arc developing. Baby Yoda is well cute but I'm not sure how much the viewer can identify with a main character (The Mandalorian) whose face is never seen.
What we do in the Shadows (Iplayer) (only one season so far)
The Good Place (Netflix) (now finished in a very satisfying and unusual ending)
Two of the best comedies in recent times to lift the spirits.
One that seems to have bypassed everyone (probably because it is foreign language) is:
Dark (Netflix) Mind Boggling and moving in equal measure.
> The Last Kingdom on Netflix
At the other end of the scale, 'Norsemen' is an enjoyable diversion.
Since it looks like no-one else has mentioned it yet, I'm going to add:
- Archer (Netfilx)
I love Archer!
I've started watching The Americans and had a 4-episode binge last night. It's very good, extremely well made.
> Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred son of Uhtred!
enjoying the books at the moment
They have put ‘the missing’ on bbc iplayer. It’s fantastic
> They have put ‘the missing’ on bbc iplayer. It’s fantastic
Missed this first time around so will hopefully get to see this now.
Just completed s3 of Ozark.
The main protagonists are the most despicable and unlikeable couple I've seen on the screen in a long time but the twists and turns of their domestic and business powerplays are intriguing set in a background combining Missouri rednecks and Mexican drug cartels. Compelling stuff.
> Altered Carbon. Not much of it but what there is is very good
Just watched that over the past few days, just the first series. I thought that was really excellent. It's a complete story on it own, like watching a 9 hour film. Proper science fiction too, dealing with the issues around the technology that can make people immortal. Everything was spot on about this, from acting, effects and even the musical score.
I've no intention of watch series 2 which sounds crap from all the reviews, and obviously pulls down the average IMDB score quite a bit. But if anyone has not seen series 1 definitely a must, certainly if you like sci-fi, up there with the very best films.
> Just completed s3 of Ozark.
> The main protagonists are the most despicable and unlikeable couple I've seen on the screen in a long time but the twists and turns of their domestic and business powerplays are intriguing set in a background combining Missouri rednecks and Mexican drug cartels. Compelling stuff.
I've been mulling over whether to try this one for a while. May have to be my next watch...
You'll soon know if it's for you and the quality does not tail off at all.
I'm sure I read you recommending the new Twin Peaks series a while ago. I loved the original and I'd love to see the new one. Do you know if this is available anywhere to stream or do I need to buy the DVD box set?
I ended up getting a bit bored of The Americans by the end of season 1. It's just too much. This article basically sums up why I got a bit bored of it, and never continued past the first season
+1 for Ozark. Only a few episodes into the new season but it really is compelling, binge-worthy, high-quality long-format thriller material.
Yup, Dark is fantastic. Can't wait for season 3.
That Darlene, eh?
All of Time team.
Sorry, I don’t know. I bought it
I will look at the article tomorrow. Although I am enjoying season 1 I can see myself agreeing with you and whatever the article says, already.
I am always quite far behind with TV shows and when I see that they run beyond three seasons it tends to put me off. I am sure there are great exceptions but when you are starting from scratch, the notion of launching into so many tens of hours is daunting.
People may have forgotten now, given that it apparently picked up MASSIVELY, but the second season of Breaking Bad actually became, quite often, episodically dull. “Let’s make the sister in law a kleptomaniac to fill out some time in a few episodes” etc. It’s why I don’t actually watch many series; but on the other hand, being a few years behind means I get to learn what the real “modern classics” are , by reputation. So I have all of The Wire and Breaking Bad ready to go, plus The Handmaid’s Tale and S2 and S3 of True Detective, and Chernobyl and three seasons of Narcos. All bought for pennies 😃
Just finished watching episode 2 of Wolf Hall. The silences are gripping.
Good thread. I'm sure I'm get into some of those listed above.
Don't know if Money Heist has been mentioned...
One of the best things I've seen.
Season 4 just started... yeehah
Watched S1 and really liked it.
The Dali masks and red tracksuits were so cool that some real Spanish bank robbers adopted them, or so I read somewhere.
"Rake" on Netflix. My Brisbane based brother recommended it earlier this week and I'm 2 series into the 5 available series. Its an Aussie "Rumpole Of The Bailey"..if Rumpole was a coke-snorting, heavy-drinking, brothel-visiting, gambling, womanising, wise-cracking, Sydney-based barrister!
Lots of outdoor TV added to the schedule and online, might make you miss the fresh air even more though.
Julia Bradbury walks with a view on STV
Neil Oliver Coast BBC
Prunella Scales Timothy West Great Canal Journeys All4
> +1 for Ozark.
We're watching the new season. Some of the dialogue is a bit off, people just swearing at each other. Otherwise good, very darkly lit,
No one has mentioned Toon on Netflix. Quirky Dutch comedy, not at all bad.
No connection to Sunderland 'Til I Die, about the football team, on the same channel, also worth watching.
Also watched The Least Expected Day about the ructions at Movistar (Landa, Quintana, Soler), Netflix too. That was good fun, not least the scenery.
Partway through a Netflix mini-series called When They see us, a harrowing and depressing renactment of the Central Park Five rape trial.
Apparently still a defamation case in progress currently in progress with the main prosecutor unhappy at her treatment in the media and elsewhere.
A British hiker emerged from five days alone in the mountains of New Zealand to find that the country had unexpectedly shut down in his absence.