By Robert Jones
We know, right? Netflix is great and all but, if anything, there's now so much content to choose from that actually making a selection is quite tricky. As soon as you think you're going to choose something, you scroll on just a little more and BAM, you see something else that you think might be better. This cycle then often goes on and on and on and on. As such, we've curated the finest TV shows available on Netflix right now. Comedy, action, adventure and more lies within...
If you aren't into anime or have been unsure where you should start then here is your answer, Cowboy Bebop, a western-friendly romp stuffed with bucket-loads of nicely drawn action.
Bebop has a somewhat legendary reputation in the anime community, with it becoming extremely popular both inside and outside Japan when it originally launched in 1998, and while it certainly isn't perfect it is very approachable and entertaining.
The Last Kingdom
The entire first series of this solid adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's historical novels (he of Sharpe fame) has just landed on Netflix in the pre-Christmas doldrums.
Set in 9th century Anglo-Saxon England, The Last Kingdom tells the tale of Uhtred, the orphaned son of a Saxon nobleman who is captured by Viking Danes and raised as one of their own. Naturally, when Uhtred comes of age, conflicted loyalties between his people and his native land, plenty of political intruige and fighting, as well as some sexy results with female protagonist Brida lead to a number of dramatic escapades.
With the nights now drawing in earlier and earlier, there's nothing better to watch than Wolf Hall while curling up on the sofa away from the cold.
British method actor du jour, Mark Rylance, plays Thomas Cromwell in this fictionalised biography of his life, charting in particular his rapid rise through the court of King Henry VIII.
What stands out most though about this period drama, aside from Rylance who is excellent throughout, is the BBC's dedication to historical accuracy. Artificially lit night scenes there are not in Wolf Hall, with many an atmospheric candlelit rendevous on show.
Suitably dark and full of death, this is some seriously good telly.
Don't Trust the B.... in Apartment 23
In what is essentially an odd couple comedy, one where simple country girl June clashes with city slicker, society girl Chloe (the titular bitch), Don't Trust the B.... in Apartment 23 is good, if not great, lightweight summer TV.
What separates it from the throng however is the fact that Chloe's best friend in the show is James Van Der Beek, who co-stars as himself. Obviously, Dawson's Creek gags come thick and fast and, much to his credit, Van Der Beek rolls with them and turns them up to 11. His slightly larger than life and surreal portrayal of himself is the best thing about the show and his plot lines each episode tend to be the high point.
A supporting cast of surreal and slightly crazy characters completes the ensemble to deliver a funny, if not particularly classy or resonant, final product.
We love you Dawson!
Along with Amazon Prime Instant Video's Preacher, this is one of the highlight shows of this summer's TV streaming season, one which T3 first wrote about back in January in our shows to look out for this year feature.
A pastiche of the 1980s, both in real life and the films and television shows the decade produced, Stranger Things is a soft science fiction tale about a small town in Indiana which, following the mysterious disappearance of a young boy, has its way of life turned upside down.
To say much more about the plot would be too spoilery, however the show includes all those cliches and tropes 80s flicks excelled in spinning you, such as shadowy government agencies, alien threats, mad science and far-reaching conspiracies.
Tonally, Stranger Things is like The Goonies smashed together with The X-Files, with child protagonists whisked off on an adventure filled with ambiguous sci-fi threat and intruige. However, while we're not saying that younger viewers can't watch this show with adult supervision, this show clearly isn't made for them, with a more adult, retrospective audience catered for.
The show stars only one actor of note - even though the lesser names all perform well enough - Winona Ryder, who is the mother of the young boy who dissapears. This is just absolutely perfect casting, as Ryder excells at playing fragile, damaged and crazy women and she really knocks it out of the park here. Here at T3 Towers, we fully expect Ryder to get A LOT more work off the back of this.
A nice, slow burn of a show that, thanks to Netflix's streaming model, has its entire first series ready for your consumption right now.
Attack on Titan
The whole first season on Hajime Isayama's acclaimed anime Attack on Titan is currently sitting on Netflix and, simply put, it's rather tasty.
The pitch here is that massive walking behemoths called Titans - obviously spun out of Greek mythology - now control the Earth and, 100 years before the show opens, we soon learn that they almost wiped out all of humanity. The only remaining humans now live in large, fortified cities, with collosal walls surrounding them entirely to keep the giants out.
And you want to keep the Titans out because they like nothing better than chowing down on tasty humans.
However, and we don't really want to drop too many spoilers here, disaster soon strikes in the show, leading series protagonist Eren Yeager to undertake some pretty dramatic life changes and embark on a new life course.
Post-apocalyptic imagery and tone is pervasive throughout, as too a good dose of human-fighting-Titan action, with typical manga-style weaponry and buckets of Japanese flair in terms of choreography.
A visually stylish dystopian action series which, despite getting a little lost within its own fiction, manages to entertain consistently for a titanic - see what I did there? - 25 episodes.
A new entry, W1A is a typical British mockumentary where we follow the exploits of Ian Fletcher, as played by the always good value Hugh Bonneville, as he takes up his new position of Head of Values at the BBC.
His team, as you would expect from a comedy, are largely useless, with a mixture of crazy and stupid PR bods, marketing experts and assistants essentially getting in Fletcher's way at every opportunity.
If you watch Twenty Twelve, another mockumentary that followed the planning of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London - which also featured these fictional characters - then you should expect more of the same, with each episode packed with The Office-style cringe-worthy moments, PR gaffs and red tape.
Typical plots include how the team deal with the arrival of Prince Charles, as well as how they manage problems on a new programme entitled Britain's Tastiest Village.
If you liked The Office, The Thick of It or Yes Minister, then you'll find plenty to like in W1A.
Oh, and we forgot to mention, David Tennant narrates.
A red hot new entry, The Musketeers sees four swaggering , fighting, lovin', smoulder factories tear up 17th century France for king, country and the pursuit of natural, explosive justice.
Seriously, if you missed this show, which ran for two 10-episode seasons a few years back, then you owe it to yourself to consume this ASAP, as it simply encapsulates the word "ROMP".
Each musketeer just oozes machismo and smoulder - seriously Aramis, played by Santiago Cabrera, may be the most handsome man ever born - while thanks to this being a BBC production, fight choreography, locations, costumes and script are all spot on the money.
Historically accurate this is not, however when compared to the absolute cow pat of the 2011 movie as directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, this is like an academic text book.
It's fun, snappy and full of swashbuckling bro-itude.
Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes
Spin-off! The sweetest words any TV fan can hear. And hopefully those words are voiced by the legendary Troy McClure. Well, fans of 4K original content programming by Netflix should rejoice as next up in this guide we've got Marco Polo spin-off One Hundred Eyes. The show, which is a single, half-an-hour episode, tells the origin story of Hundred Eyes, the badass assasin monk chap from the first series of Marco Polo. While we weren't super sold by the first season of Marco Polo, we were totally sold by Tom Wu's kick-ass performance of Hundred Eyes, and if you were as turned on as we were by his super slick martial arts mastery, then this is a must watch.
Now this is a classy show. Zen, which is based on the Aurelio Zen novels by Michael Dibdin, follows weathered Criminapol detective Aurelio - as played by the always good value Rufus Sewell - as he attempts to invesitgate Italy's criminal underworld all the while avoiding the political machinations of powerful forces hidden within the Italian state and complex human relationships. All of the show is shot on-location in Italy and it's just visual porn for the eyes. It's not as good as the books, which I can wholeheartedly recommend, however if you want to watch handsome men and beautiful women drive around Italy in a series of top marques while solving crimes, then this is a show for you.
Master of None
A slow burning, character-driven comedy from Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari, Master of None follows the professional and personal life of 30-year-old actor Dev, who struggles to get through each day in New York no thanks to his bizarre friends and family. While its not the funniest comedy you will have ever seen, its offbeat style and tone, as well as Ansari's personal charm, make it worth a watch. I'm guessing though that this will be a Marmite TV show, with you either loving or hating it right off the bat.
This show has been running for years now and, now that Netflix have landed the whole of the first two series, there's no reason for you not to get into this top rate comedy if you haven't already. Episodes follows the trials and tribulations of two British writers who sell their show to a US TV network only to see it not only radically altered and changed, but also saddled with disinterested and wild Matt LeBlanc, who plays a semi-based-on-reality version of his real self. It's a classic fish out of water comedy where British and American culture rub up against each other, however the real reason why it gets gripping is the complicated series of relationships that ensue, often leading to hilarious or juicy results.
Take Blade Runner, Ghost in the Shell and Minority Report and smash them together along with a good dollop of Japanese anime madness and this is the result. Psycho Pass is set in a world where society is organised and policed by the 'Sibyl System', a computerised system where people's mental states are constantly monitored and, through use of 'Cymatic Scans', it predicts their potential to commit crimes. As such, if any person's 'Crime Coefficient' exceeds a certain level, they are either brought into rehabilitation centres or marked for execution. The show follows the on-the-ground policing unit of the Sibyl System, which apprehends or executes people with their trademark hand gun, the Dominator, which ends up being the star of the show. It's certainly not without faults, but it's a mature anime with one hell of a kick ass gimmick in the hands of its protagonists.
No one says 'b***ard' better than Sean Bean. Fact. And the place where Sean Bean says it most is when he's playing Richard Sharpe, the heroic, Napoleonic War-era rifleman as originally written by Bernard Cornwall in a series of novels. Sharpe's Challenge is interesting as it technically isn't based on one of these novels and, in fact, isn't even set during the war, with Sharpe called out of retirement in the series to help find a missing British agent in India. Naturally, typical Sharpe-tastic action ensues, with familiar faces and fights telling a tale of rebellion and intruige in an exotic and alien landscape. This two-part TV series is also stuffed with top actors, including Toby Stephens as the wicked William Dodd.
Henning Mankell's Wallander
This is the original Swedish production of Henning Mankell's Wallander, rather than the English Kenneth Brannah-led adaptation, but don't let the language barrier put you off as it's a top show. Krister Henriksson stars in the title role of Kurt Wallander, a brow beaten and cynical detective who embarks on a series of mysterious, grim and super gritty cases involving murder, crazy religious cults and suicide. It's heavy stuff for sure, however it is gripping, well shot and worth a watch.
The Adventures of Tintin
Yay! Tintin! And not the dead-eyed Steven Spielberg-directed 2011 film either. Oh no, this is the 1992 TV series which is heavily based on the original books by Georges Prosper Remi. In fact, The Adventures of Tintin is so faithful that some frames from the original books were directly transposed to the screen and over the three seasons the show ran for (Netflix has all three) almost all of Tintin's adventures are adapted. The slow, genteel pace and traditional animation techniques make this a welcome change from the frenetic, hyper, digitally-crafted animations of today. A retro show where you don't need rose-tinted glasses to enjoy it.
We're like to think that we've got some class here at T3 Towers, which is why we're recommending this corker of a costume drama. This four-part adaptation of Emma, as originally penned by Jane Austen, has an absolutely cracking cast including Romola Garai as Emma, Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. George Knightley and Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse. Garai, Gambon and more are all good value and deliver Austen's lines with a naturalness often missing from these pieces, however Miller is absolutely on fire in this and delivers one of the most nuanced and faithful portrayals of Knightley on film. It's also absolutely gorgeous in terms of its cinematography. The perfect thing to carry away the January gloom.
Marvel's Jessica Jones
Ha! And there you were thinking we'd get through this without any mention of Marvel's Jessica Jones. Well, he we are, the show crept in right at the end. To be honest, we haven't watched much of Jessica Jones yet, however from reports around T3 Towers, apparently its not bad if you like your super hero stuff. Apparently more adult and with a darker tone than most of the rest of Marvel's infantile and oversaturated IPs, Jessica Jones follows the story of a woman with super powers who, due to dark events in her past, retired from the super hero profession to become a private detective and forget about it all. Unfortunately though for Miss Jones, big bad Kilgrave - as played by former Doctor Who star David Tennant - has other ideas.
A new entry, Babylon is a multi-part drama centered around the politics and publicity of the Metropolitan Police Service. James Nesbitt stars as the force's Commissioner, while relative newcomer Brit Marling plays the new age Director of Communications. Culture clash, political in-fighting and shadowry double-dealing ensues, with a number of flashpoints and scandals powering each episode along. What makes it from being too dry and worthy though is the script by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, who are the comedy masterminds behind hits such as Peep Show and The Thick of It.