Last month’s list of 12 binge-worthy shows was so popular, I thought I’d add 7 more to the list. Unlike most, this and the previous list do not include shows that everyone is already seeing; no Breaking Bad or The Wire on our lists. Instead, we’ve selected the best shows that fewer people are seeing, shows that deserve to be more in the spotlight based solely on their quality.
As usual, no spoilers.
If you’re wondering why this uncanny list is shorter than the unconventional list of the past, it’s because we’re very particular. Only shows that absolutely deserve to be mentioned will ever make our lists. Otherwise, it’s just filler and you can find plenty of those lists on other sites.
Also of note is that we won’t be repeating shows from the previous list. Those are still very relevant, so check them out first if you haven’t already.
Here we go…
7. Pine Gap
I really, really hope we get to see another season of this Aussie drama. It follows the mysterious real-world installation of Pine Gap, a campus as shrouded as NORAD and as controversial as Area 51. But this isn’t a standard espionage show. It dives into the personal relationships and awkward real-life trials of those who work in the secretive base.
Based on the real Pine Gap base outside of Alice Springs in the heart of Australia, the show speculates on what really goes on at the top secret facility. It’s a joint operation between the United States and Australia that feeds intelligence to the NSA, CIA, and Pentagon as well as the Australian counterparts. Nobody knows the full scope of what goes on at the base because it’s been shrouded in levels of secrecy that make Area 51 seem like an open book.
The first thing to know about this show is that it’s quite authentic. Only after watching it did I learn 18-year Pine Gap veteran David Rosenberg consulted on non-critical aspects of the show such as language, processes, and at least a glimpse into the politics. Even without this knowledge, one becomes acutely aware that this couldn’t be based purely on speculation. Everything seems so realistic that it can actually get a little boring watching these cool cucumbers making decisions off of intelligence on their screens.
Of all the shows I list as binge-worthy, this is the first one I’ll mention that doesn’t necessarily require you to watch it all the way through. I loved season 1, hated season 2, and was okay with season 3 (which some consider to be the best). Nevertheless, this crime drama is not cut from the same mold as Luther or Sherlock in that the detectives aren’t exceptional in any way. The crime wasn’t exactly mind-blowing, either. Nevertheless, it’s an extremely interesting character-driven work that just happens to also be a crime drama.
Broadchurch, an eight-part drama on BBC America (Wednesday, 10 p.m.), is a textbook example of excellent writing, well-developed and complicated characters, superb acting, a perfect sense of place and, perhaps most important, just the right number of hours to tell a murder mystery without unnecessary padding or corner-cutting cheats.
In short, it’s the anti-Killing. But even bringing that up to show the disparity in execution does a disservice to Broadchurch, because it has been crafted in a galaxy far above what went down at AMC.
5. Black Mirror
Okay, so this isn’t exactly an unknown series, but I was surprised to learn how few people are watching it. I really expected it to be one of the most popular shows on streaming television based on its quality and dark content, but I was wrong. This is a mistake. It should be widely watched, even if only as a warning against the direction that much of society is heading today. Be warned. Some of the episodes will leave you really concerned about how events in the world are unfolding around us.
Much has been published about the groundbreaking Bandersnatch interactive story released this week by Netflix. The story is the first on the platform to give the viewers choices on how the narrative will play out on the screen in the same basic way that old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books captivated kids (and adults) in their heyday.
This won’t be a review of the story (I loved it overall) or a a list of the possible endings that had many reviewers going through it time and again for hours in order to get the full picture. Instead, let’s talk about what this may mean for entertainment in the future.
Of all the shows on this list, Counterpart may be the most enigmatic. In many ways, it was a huge disappointment. I expected more action, less dialogue, and much less lesbian sex. But J.K. Simmons shines in his dual role, giving a master course on how to play two similar characters by highlighting their differences without making them parodies of each other.
With season 2 of the Starz hit Counterpart getting going, I thought I should go ahead and binge the first season to see if it’s one to follow going forward. Despite a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and universal acclaim, I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t move forward to season 2 if it weren’t for two letters and a surname: J.K. Simmons.
Very minor spoilers ahead for the sake of understanding why you should see this show.
Imagine if the world we know copied itself 30-years ago. These two worlds continued without knowledge of each other, save for a select few on each side who are aware of the tunnel below a building in Berlin that connects the two worlds. Now, imagine if both sides kept the existence of this secret from everyone, even most of the world’s governments, and instead ran a shadow organization in the building above the tunnel that allowed the two sides to cooperate.
3. The Night Manager
Tom Hiddleston in his best role to date.
There, that’s all I need to say.
He’s too posh. He’s too pretty. He isn’t intimidating. He’s too big as a Marvel character. There are many reasons people have dismissed the notion of Tom Hiddleston playing the role of James Bond in the famed series. All of these reasons can be dismissed by watching The Night Manager.
Available on Amazon, the AMC-BBC collaboration is six episodes long. There are reports that it could be brought back for another series, but if it never comes back, rest assured the single series is still worth a watch. The funny part is that Hiddleston might be the main draw, but he’s not even the best overall performance. That honor goes to Hugh Laurie, the well-mannered villain of the show.
2. The Americans
I know what you’re probably thinking. This isn’t “uncanny” like the list claims. It’s quite popular, actually, in both viewership and at the awards table. But here’s the thing. This is one of the best dramas ever on television, and as long as there are still a large number of people who haven’t seen it, I’ll keep reminding them that they need to. The 80s called. They want their excellent spy game back.
The end was written in the history books. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings were on the losing side of The Cold War, and The Americans never gave any indication that it was going to revise the outcome of that long-concluded conflict. The Jennings were destined to fail, and The Americans’ challenge was in making us care about the people caught up in that downward spiral, a task it met by keeping the stakes high but the scale small—it isn’t until these final few hours of the show that the Soviet sleeper agents are caught up in anything that could truly shift the balance of power between the United States and the USSR. After all those near misses with stealth technology, biological weapons, and agricultural sabotage, the end of the Jennings’ time in the U.S. comes down to a plot to unseat the most powerful man in the Soviet Union. According to showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields, those details were determined early on, and as seen in “START,” they landed on a conclusion that reflects the series as a whole: Tense, understated, affecting, and one of the greats.
Are you surprised to see a time-traveling science fiction show set in modern day as the #1 pick for this list? Then you haven’t actually watch Travelers. If you had (and you should), you’d completely understand why I’m so smitten by this Canadian show. I even put out my own little fan theory about the ending of the last season that you obviously shouldn’t read if you haven’t watched the first three seasons yet. But if you have, then I encourage you to check out my theory.
This is a totally spoiled fan theory, so only click on the link if you’re already seen the first three seasons of the show. Otherwise, it’s time to have your mind blown.
If you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for? This is listed as one of my favorite shows for a reasons. Excellent acting, incredible storylines, epic cliffhangers, stupendous conclusions – this show has it all.
What did we miss? Are you ready to start binging one of these shows, yet? Or are you waiting for The Mandalorian on Disney+? My prediction: don’t wait. You’ll be disappointed. Watch these shows instead. They’re available now.
Harden scores 48 points, Rockets beat Lakers 138-134 in OT
HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden was the star for the Houston Rockets as usual on Saturday night, but he and the team got a big boost from Eric Gordon in his second game back after recovering from a bruised knee.
Harden scored 48 points, Gordon added 30 and the Rockets overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 138-134 in overtime.
The Rockets trailed for most of the night and were down by 18 in the second-half. Gordon sent it to overtime with a 3-pointer, and made four free throws in the last seconds of the extra period.
“He’s playing unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Gordon.
Coming off 57- and 58-point games, Harden had his 19th straight game with at least 30 and he’s had 40 in 10 of the last 13. He was 14 of 30 from the field, going 8 of 19 on 3-pointers, and hit 12 of 15 free throws.
Harden was asked if Gordon being back after missing eight games before his return on Wednesday night eased the burden on him a little bit.
“A little bit? It takes a lot of burden off me,” Harden said. “He’s so offensively gifted and talented being able to shoot the basketball, being able to get to the rim, being able to make plays for others. You get a guy like that on the floor with you it makes it easier for not only myself but for everybody.”
Brandon Ingram missed a 3 for Los Angeles before Harden hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 132-130 with less than a minute left. Ingram tied it with a basket, and Harden again made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 133-132.
Los Angeles missed a 3 before Gordon also made just 1 of 2 free throws to leave Houston up by two with 12.6 seconds left. Kyle Kuzma lost the ball and it went out of bounds to give Houston the ball back. Gordon added four free throws after that to secure the victory.
It was the second straight overtime game for both teams after Houston lost to Brooklyn on Wednesday night and Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Kuzma had 32 points for Los Angeles and Ingram added 21 in a game where coach Luke Walton was ejected in the third quarter.
Already without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers have another injury concern after Lonzo Ball sprained his left ankle in the third quarter. Walton said his X-rays were negative but that he’d have an MRI and “we’ll see where we are after that.”
Four straight points by the Lakers stretched the lead to nine in the fourth quarter, but Harden and Gordon made consecutive 3-pointers cut it to 112-109 with about two minutes remaining.
Los Angeles made four free throws to make it 116-109 about a minute later, but Harden made two 3-pointers around a basket by Ivica Zubac to get Houston within three with about 30 seconds left.
Lance Stephenson missed a 3-pointer and Harden made two free throws to cut the lead to 118-117 with 5.7 seconds left.
Zubac made two more free throws before Gordon’s off-balance 3-pointer with 2 seconds left sent it to OT.
“I saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope running out to me and I thought he was going to fly right by me, but he stood right there,” Gordon said. “So I had to try to shoot it with confidence and I’m glad it went in.”
The Lakers built a huge lead early and were up 64-46 at halftime, with Kuzma scoring 24 points.
They were ahead by 17 with about eight minutes left in the third quarter after scoring five straight points capped by a basket from Kuzma before Houston scored the next 15 points to cut it to 74-72 three minutes later. James Ennis had five points in that stretch and P.J. Tucker capped it with a 3-pointer.
Ball was injured just before Houston’s run began. He remained on the court for a couple of minutes talking with trainer’s before he was helped to his feet where he hopped on his right foot for a few steps before being carried off the court and to the locker room by Stephenson and Michael Beasley.
Walton was ejected a couple of minutes after that when he got two technical fouls after yelling at officials during a timeout.
Ingram pointed to losing Ball as when things started to get away from the Lakers.
“Right when Lonzo went out,” he said. “That’s exactly when it went away. We lost momentum a little bit.”
Lakers: James was out for the 13th straight game with a strained left groin and did not make the trip. … Stephenson finished with 16 points.
Rockets: Harden also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. … Ennis returned after missing Wednesday’s game after cutting his left leg in a fall at his house. … Chris Paul missed his 14th game in a row with a strained left hamstring … Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
THEY SAID IT
D’Antoni on Houston’s comeback: “Words don’t do it. That was just our guys showing a lot of heart.”
Lakers: Host Golden State on Monday night.
Rockets: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.
‘Unsolved Mysteries’ is coming back, only ‘Stranger’
Robert Stack brought us over 500 Unsolved Mysteries episodes from 1987 to 2010 across three networks. Apparently, that’s not enough, and now the executive producer of Stranger Things wants a shot at rebooting the iconic television show for Netflix.
The series, which was hosted by Robert Stack and ran for over 500 episodes between 1987 and 2010, is being refreshed by Stranger Things EP Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment and Netflix.
The 12-part show will use re-enactments in a documentary format to profile real-life mysteries and unsolved crimes, lost love, cases involving missing persons and unexplained paranormal events. Each episode will focus on one mystery. In the original series, actors played the victims, criminals and witnesses but family members and police were regularly interviewed.
This is one of those shows that really doesn’t have a conclusion. It could conceivably go on indefinitely because there are always new and interesting mysteries to be solved. Since each one has its own spin and attachment to reality, there’s no need to worry about fatigue.
Some shows need to be buried forever. Others have a valid reason to keep going and get a reboot. Unsolved Mysteries falls in the latter category.
Trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum reveals everything we need and nothing we don’t
Fans of action movies have been foaming at the mouth over the John Wick series since it was launched in 2014. The first movie was amazing, scoring an uncanny 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, a rarity for action flicks. The sequel in 2017 was even better, scoring an 89% and breaking from the Hollywood tradition of completely botching things the second time around.
As the series reaches its cinematic climax, hopes are high that the long journey of the titular character, played by Keanu Reeves, will be the exception to the rule by delivering on three great movies. Few series have been able to do this, especially in the action genre. One can argue the Mission Impossible, Fast and Furious, and James Bond series were able to do it, but none of them did it consecutively. There were stinkers mixed in.
Lord of the Rings was a fantasy series with action while the original Star Wars trilogy did science fiction action like no other. Can John Wick be the first purely action trilogy to pull the trifecta?
If the trailer is any indicator, yes. Yes they can.
It has motorcycle sword fights. There’s a giant in the mix. We even get to see gun play on horseback. Throw in Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, and the amazing supporting cast that has returned and suddenly there’s hope that the impossible can happen. They might be able to go from great to greater to greatest. Thankfully, this is a rare “good” trailer that gives us just enough information to know where we stand in the series but does’t have real spoilers that ruin the whole thing.
It’s noteworthy that this series has been one continuous series of events. Chapter 2 picked up shortly after the first, while Chapter 3 is an immediate continuation from Chapter 2.
The subtitle of the film, “Parabellum,” is Latin for “prepare for war.” That may not be possible since nothing can prepare fans to wait for it to come out, but we’re almost there. The film hits theaters on May 17.
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