By Robert Jones
The Streaming War has now abandoned its preliminary long-range artillery strikes and is now in full force, with Netflix, Amazon and more really taking the fight to the enemy with fervent vigour. Don't be affeared though T3 reader, as that can only mean one thing for us consumers, a battalion-load of TV incoming at Howitzer pace. But, now you're being bombarded with so much telly, what do you actually watch? Yeh, we know, there's just so much choice. Here we've curated Amazon's latest volley of Prime content to reveal to you the best of the rapidly expanding catalogue.
And, if you don't have Amazon Prime,then why not check out the benefits of a subsciption.
As a typically slow but, for once, surprise-filled summer season comes to a close (thank you Stranger Things and Preacher), we find ourselves in TV land limbo, with the pre-holiday season content dump yet to land.
That's why falling into Amazon's new original series, The Collection, is a welcome diversion, offering a new IP that - amazingly - actually covers a fresh topic area.
The show is based in post-World War II Paris and covers the life and times of a French fashion house run by two clashing brothers. While the show is full of rivalries, romances and family fueds, which add a suitable amount of juiciness to the proceedings, it is the fashion and the workings of the fashion house that are the real stars of the show.
A bit of a wild card entry, mainly due to the fact that we are currently only four episodes into the first series, however Preacher is worth at least a shot if you like dark, Frank Miller-style comic book adaptations.
Preacher tells the tale of a West Texas preacher named Jesse Custer - played by smouldery Englishman Domini Cooper - who, as well as having a dark past, also soon finds himself possessed with a powerful yet ambiguous supernatural power, that arrives out of the blue one day in the sleepy Texan town of Annville.
To reveal what said supernatural power is would be too spoilery if you aren't familiar with the story, however needless to say, it leads to some interesting results, with a nice mix of slow-burn comedy as well as sharp action and horror carrying the episodes so far.
Cooper gets some pretty solid backup in Preacher too from fellow Englishman Joseph Gilgun, who plays - naturally - a booze-tastic Irish vampire called Cassidy, as well as Ruth Negga as Tulip O'Hare, Custer's kick-ass ex.
A stylish American TV series that feels nicely... different.
Outlander Season 2
The time travelling escapades of Claire and Jamie continue apace in Season 2 of Outlander, with the couple fleeing Scotland for Paris, France.
From what we've seen so far, as the second season's episodes are dropping every Sunday right now (we've had two so far), it's business as usual too for the period drama-come-soap, with much fightin', lovin' and plottin' abound.
Early plot signs indicate much of this season will revolve around the Jacobite rising of 1745, however Black Jack Randall's reported survival after last season's dramatic finale, will surely spice things up even more.
If you've yet to get into Outlander, then now is as good a time as any, as Amazon have the entirety of Season 1 available to watch as well.
Next up is a TV show stuffed full of ripping good yarns. See what I did there? (You're fired. Ed.) Ripper Street is an historical drama set in London's Whitechapel district toward the close of the 20th century. The show begins six months after the infamous Jack the Ripper killings and follows the members of Whitechapel's H Division, the police force responsible for policing the area, as they attempt to solve a series of further murders involving women. Despite this show being passed around a few studios now, it's just now rolled into its fourth series, so someone's doing something right. Ripper Street stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg, who are all on form and deliver three dimensional, nuanced performances. Dark and brooding, this show is like a From Hell-Sherlock Holmes hybrid, mixing together mystery, action and horror in a tidy package.
One for those of you who like your gritty drama, The Fall tells the story of Metropolitan Police Superintendent Stella Gibson (played by the excellent Gillian Anderson), a senior investigating officer tasked with reviewing investigations. As a murder case in Northern Ireland has remained opened for more than 28 days, Gibson is seconded there and soon discovers a serial killer is on the loose, brutally killing women in the city of Belfast. Can Gibson and her team build a case against the killer and bring him in? Or will unforeseen complications lead to a series of shocking twists? Only by watching will you know the answer!
The Man in the High Castle
This TV show, which stars Rufus Sewell and is produced by Ridley Scott, is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's alternate history novel where the Allied Powers lose World War II. In the fiction - which is set in 1962 - the world proceeds to be carved up by Germany and Japan following the war and, inevitably, the two start to turn against each other in a cold war full of tension and covert warfare. Here at T3 we feel The Man in the High Castle is certainly not without its flaws, however the high production values and interesting premise are enough to warrant a recommendation, especially because a second series has already been commissioned. It's in 4K too, so if you're equipped then you can enjoy all the action in ultra crisp fidelity.
Yes, now this is a show! Rome follows the trials and tribulations of Roman soldiers Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo as they are engulfed in the events that lead Rome to transition from a Republic to an Empire. So, you get all the big stuff, including Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon and taking Rome. You get his famous assassination too. Oh and you get all of Marc Antony's spectacular rise in Rome and then fall in Egypt and much, much more as well. The series is also absolutely stuffed with top acting talent, including Ciarán Hinds as Caesar, James Purefoy as Marc Antony, Kenneth Cranham as Pompey Magnus and Tobias Menzies as Marcus Junius Brutus. The best historical portrayal of Rome and Roman culture ever made for TV.
Masters of Sex
A kind of sleeper hit, with the show recently renewed for a fourth series, Masters of Sex is a largely fictional retelling of the lives and research of Dr. WIlliam Masters and Virginia Johnson, who were two pioneering researchers of human sexuality at Washington University in the 1960s. As you would expect, this is a character-driven drama where people and their relationships are key, with a series of nuanced and human performances from its leads, which include Michael Sheen as Masters, carrying the show. If you're still unsure based on this spoiler-free summary, then the fact that the first and second series received a 90 and 97 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes respectively, tells you all you need to know.
In The Mimic British impressionist Terry Mynott plays Martin Hurdle, an everyday maintenance man that has an incredible knack for mimicking other people's voices. As such, while this TV show's plot is very stately and largely uneventful, the real juice comes from watching Mynott run through his large and impressive repertoire of celebrity impressions, which include Christopher Walken, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough, Terry Wogan, Alan Carr, Michael Caine and many more. It's a very British comedy, stuffed with inhibition, pessimism and dry wit, however the impersonations break it free from the genre and make it accessible to anyone. Amazon has both the second and first series too, so there's plenty of content to get your teeth into.
A high-budget prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island, Black Sails is set two decades previous and follows the quest of the ruthless Captain Flint (played by the always good value Toby Stevens) as he attempts to chase down and capture the largest Spanish treasure galleon ever put to sea, the Urca de Lima. We won't go much more into the plot to avoid spoilers, however this is some top rate pirate programming, mixing a bunch of good actors and glamorous locations together to create an entertaining expanded fiction. It's kind of like if Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean had a baby. Oh, and as it's an American TV series set in a post-Game of Thrones world, there's plenty of sexy results too.
Toast of London
Matt Berry's latest insane creation, Toast of London, follows the comedic escapades of Stephen Toast, a failed actor who is demeaned on a daily basis by his job, his agent and his chief acting rival, Ray Purchase. The show features many Berry trademarks, including surreal musical numbers, absurdist comedy, eccentric and flamboyant characters and more, evolving well the sort of work he delivered on Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh. This has been one of the funniest original comedies of the past three years and, now Amazon has the entire first series, if you haven't seen the show now is a great time to start watching and then repeatedly quoting, “Yes, I can hear you Clem Fandango”.
We class it up a bit now with the selection of Parade's End, the top rate BBC TV adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's novel of the same name. He's so hot right now Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the show's lead, Christopher Tietjens, a brilliant government statistician from an old-fashioned aristocratic, landowning family who enters into a painful and doomed marriage with beautiful but cruel socialite Sylvia. Set against a backdrop of the First World War, this is a proper epic that spans a number of years narratively and is reminiscent, at least tonally, of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
The House of Cards
The famous original show upon which the modern, Kevin Spacey-led remake was based on, The House of Cards is just fabulous telly. Francis Urquhart, as played by the late-great Ian Richardson, is fictional chief whip of the Conservative party in 1990 and, when Margaret Thatcher resigns as leader, he remains professional and neutral amid fierce infighting, refusing to take sides in the new candidate war. When a new man is elected who Urquhart has not only helped in the past numerous times but who has also indicated that - due to his highly respected standing within the party - he will be given a top job in the new cabinet, completely overlooks him and installs cronies instead, Urquhart uses all his political savvy to orchestrate their downfall and see himself elected Prime Minister.
A new entry, Catastrophe is a modern Rom-Com where Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan get it on a little too vociferously and the latter ends up knocked up. As the pair barely know each other and hail from very different places, Rob from the USA and Sharon from Ireland, a rude, crude and off-beat odd-couple comedy ensues as they deal with the pregnancy and coming to know each other. The situation is, of course, exacerbated by both their friends and relatives, with Star Wars' Carrie Fisher playing Rob's crazy, damaged mother. Episodes flash by at a rapid pace and the gag count is high.