Wrench yourself out of the Streaming Swamp and bathe your aching self in a delicious pool of televisual delights - the best films and TV shows to watch across Netflix, Amazon, iPlayer and Now TV
The great TV and streaming shows we’re still committed to even after the hype has died down, unsung heroes you may have missed, shows that we’re determined to enjoy despite their lack of bingability or ‘meme potential’ and old favourites you didn’t know were back.
Cast: Hiam Abbass, Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox
Running time: 56-61 minutes
Ralph Jones, staff writer
Would it be fair to say that Succession is one of the greatest shows of all time? Yes it would be fair to say that Succession is one of the greatest shows of all time.
Granted, I seem to think more highly of programmes when I watch them on aeroplanes (hello Nathan For You, well hello Big Little Lies), but, as I soared high above miles of anonymous ocean on my way to a Mauritian paradise, I fell so deeply in love with Succession it couldn’t just have been the altitude.
There’s good TV, and then there’s great TV. Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian no less, told ShortList that if Shakespeare wrote TV drama, it would look like this. Old Alan is bang on. Succession (created by Jesse Armstrong, co-writer of Peep Show) is about what happens when a billionaire media mogul begins to lose his grip on reality. The father of four sniping adult children, Logan Roy is a fantastically terrible man, unwilling to hand over the keys to his empire without a savage and bitter fight. By the tenth episode I was clutching my head, oblivious to turbulence or offers of airline food, utterly gripped by the scenes that were unfolding in front of my eyes.
I am shaking you by the shoulders now, through the screen, urging you to watch this show. Please…please do not disobey me.
Cast: Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer
Running time: 42 minutes
Dan Masoliver, deputy editor
I watched Bodyguard because everyone was watching Bodyguard, temporarily and uncharacteristically forgetting that popularity does not necessarily equal quality. Well that backfired! Yes it was tense, but it was also completely implausible and nowhere near as clever as it believed itself to be. Stung – like a wildlife documentarian through the heart – I took my cynicism and suspicion out on the similarly hyped Killing Eve, stubbornly refusing to watch it.
Well that backfired! Now I’m the idiot that mistakenly assumed Bodyguard would be good and mistakenly assumed Killing Eve would be bad. It is not bad. It is excellent. Created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag fame, Killing Eve is about a female MI5 officer (Sandra Oh) on the trail of a female assassin (Jodie Comer), and manages to be simultaneously slick and silly; heart-in-mouth thrilling and hand-on-belly funny. Everything, in other words, that Bodyguard was not.
Making A Murderer (season two)
Cast: Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey, Kathleen Zellner (as themselves)
Running time: 47-77 minutes
Alex Christian, staff writer
Yep, it’s another writer bowing down and offering you their two cents on Making A Murderer. I’m through the first three episodes of the new series. You could well have binged through it all during its release weekend, so you’ll know whether or not the pace cranks up a notch. Hell, you might even know by now whether he did it or not (for what it’s worth, I’m quietly confident he’s the killer). This time around the focus feels different. Whereas the first season was the true crime equivalent of bottled lightning – four decades’ worth of murder trials, false convictions and a whodunnit you’d never heard of – the follow-up is another 10-plus hours, only this time, zeroed in on the past two years and the minutiae of the US circuit court system. It may not be a bolt out of the blue this time around, but for fans of True Crime documentaries and the justice junkies out there it’s essential viewing.
Cast: Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson
Running time: 48-61 minutes
Bobby Palmer, front section editor:
I’ve been rewatching the whole of Daredevil in anticipation of the new season. It’s loosely (but only very loosely) set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it started before Netflix went a bit OTT in trying to build a ‘universe’ of their own (RIP, Iron Fist and Luke Cage). It’s surprisingly serious, surprisingly brutal, and plays out almost operatically – especially in its handling of the tragic arcs of its villains and antiheroes. Season 1 had Vincent D’Onofrio’s captivatingly monstrous man-baby Wilson Fisk, season 2 had Jon Bernthal’s electric turn as the rage-filled Punisher, and now in season 3 we’re getting an angst-ridden reboot of long-time Daredevil nemesis Bullseye. Unlike the 2003 film, he’s not played by Colin Farrell, and he doesn’t kill old ladies by flicking peanuts down their windpipes. As far as we know.
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Corey Stoll, Christina Hendricks
Running time: 84-88 minutes
Joe Mackertich, editor
I’m cynical when it comes to the relentless torrent of mega-budget blockbusters being produced by the two big streaming companies at the minute. Every week there’s another record-breaking screen saga, jam-packed with Hollywood talent, vying for your free time. The Romanoffs looked to me like just another expensive but dull television series, designed solely as a muscle-flexing exercise for Amazon. Reader, I was wrong, and I beseech you to put aside the mere four-and-a-half hours necessary to catch up with the series’ first three episodes (new ones are dropped every Friday). The Matthew Weiner-written-and-directed project is made up of feature-length chapters, each one with a totally different cast, setting and story. It’s slow, it’s cool, it’s a bit sexy, it’s varied, it’s funny, it’s smart and it makes every terrestrial drama look like a barely-funded AmDram production by comparison.
Cast: Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, Justin Theroux
Running time: 26-47 minutes
Chris Mandle, entertainment director
“I’m sticking with Maniac, and just finished episodes six and seven (aka the one with the eagle). It feels like the perfect example of a show that’s great in theory even if the episode-to-episode reality is like wading through brain treacle. Am I enjoying it? I… think so? After the first couple of episodes, once the drug trial properly kicked off, I started to appreciate Maniac’s world-building and the Lost-season-six-meets-Inception brain journeys. I think seeing Annie work through her sister’s death in the Lord of the Rings inspired kingdom has been satisfying in ways that Owen’s mumblecore journey through his family dynamic hasn’t been. Elsewhere, Sally Field is great, Justin Theroux is consistently funny as the melodramatic James Mantelrey and Sonoya Mizuno (who I loved in Ex Machina and Annihilation) is subtle and brilliant as the fixated, chain-smoking Dr Azumi.”