TV dominates our lives. From the huge screens in our living rooms to the phones in our pockets, TV is with us constantly. It shapes our youth and in many ways defines our identities.
We are now in what many describe as a golden age of television. With the growth of streaming services, the decline in cinema attendance, and with many huge Hollywood stars turning their attention to the "small screen", it seems that it is through television that the next generation of huge stories will be told.
But hasn't it always been this way? TV has always been full of amazing shows and stories. Here are some prime examples of genuine classics that are available in their entirety on the major streaming apps for you to binge on.
- Where: Amazon Prime Video
- Stars: Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard
In 2004, David Shore, a former writer and producer on shows like Law & Order and Due South brought the world of Doctor Gregory House to our screens. The procedural medical drama quickly became a huge hit and ran for eight seasons, thanks in many ways to the outstanding lead performance of Hugh Laurie and the show's take on the theme of "Sherlock Holmes in modern day medicine".
Following Dr House, a leading figure in diagnostic medicine, each episode sees him and his team treat weird, random and deadly medical issues while dealing with their own problems and relationships. His caustic, cynical and sarcastic worldview forms the basis of the show – he's a Doctor who cares nothing for his patients only about solving the mystery that presents him. And that results in some fascinating stuff.
House MD ran for eight years, featured dozens of great characters. and was never anything but great. It still stands up, having aged surprisingly well, and is available in full on Prime Video for subscribers to revisit.
- Where: Disney+
- Stars: William Shatner, James Spader, Candice Bergen
There are many who think of William Shatner purely as Captain James T Kirk from Star Trek. But then, there are others who refuse to see him as anybody but Denny Crane from Boston Legal... the latter are correct.
A show with joint leads in Shatner and James Spader (The Black List, Stargate), Boston Legal follows the exploits of law firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt. It's a company that believes every case is winnable and that ethics are simply advisory and open to interpretation.
Each episode introduces a new case, which in turn brings its own drama, surprises and opportunity for Shatner and Spader to dominate the screen in what can be seen by many as career defining roles. Both are amazing and through them the show is a pure delight to watch.
In all honesty, Boston Legal has not aged well. Modern sensibilities make some episodes and scenes problematic, but the show never has anything but love for all its chosen characters and subject matters. There is never any hate or judgement and as such it rises above its faults and is perfect binge territory.
Watching this just for Shatner is perfectly acceptable, he was never better than when he was... Denny Crane!
- Where: Netflix
- Stars: Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan
TV shows about serial killers are so popular now that it seems we have a new release pretty much every week. They focus on the heroic cops hunting down the monstrous killer, pushing towards the inevitable and in many ways formulaic ending.
The Fall did something different. Based in Northern Ireland, it stripped away all the glamour of the normal Hollywood releases and replaced it with gritty realism, and a razor sharp and intelligent script. We also get a main protagonist we struggle to understand or like, and an antagonist, our killer, who despite our best intentions, we can't help but root for.
With outstanding performances from X-Files' Anderson and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) central to the show's success, it never lets up, never slows down and never stops being anything but tense and aggressive. It is a fantastic show and despite its initial success now seems to have slipped from the conversation when people talk about the best cop and killer TV shows.
It absolutely deserves a binge!