May 2019: The Expanse
Original Networks: Sy-Fy & Amazon Prime
Binging: 3 seasons (36 episodes) 4th season to air on Amazon Prime
Where To Binge: Amazon Prime
Based off The Expanse novels, this thrilling, intellectual series provides a future that sees a colonized solar system hundreds of years into the future. Civilization beyond the outskirts of Earth, The Belt (Asteroid Belt) has been colonized & is home to The Belter, and Mars has become an independent military force. The show follows & deliberates between the UN of Earth, Mars, and The Belt, as they all try to harmoniously live within Galaxy. Spoiler: “try” is the keyword here.
Why It’s A Must Binge
To start, sci-fi lovers will appreciate the genre dedication, and attention to detail. It’s a show that requires a viewer’s utmost attention, so if you’re looking for something to just kind of play in the background where you can look up every few minutes (and still understand what’s going on), this show isn’t for you.
The unique premise based off of James S. A. Corey’s novels is a primary consideration when tuning in, as the series is a genuine sci-fi tale. What separates The Expanse from many others from this genre is its focus on dialogue, visual effects, and character development. It’s not a sci-fi show that is focused on countless explosions, alien invasions, or zombie attacks. It’s likely one of the most intelligent sci-fi TV productions to date.
The show aired its first 3 seasons on Sy-Fy, and after finding a cult following, the show was recently saved from a destined cancellation by Amazon. Current viewers should be thrilled with this outcome, as Amazon’s wallet is likely more willing to provide a larger budget than that of Sy-Fy’s. It will be interesting to see if an increased production budget & value is evident in season 4.
As for the show’s content itself, patience, attention to detail, and a thirst for a sci-fi adventure like no other is what one needs to enjoy this series in its entirety.
April 2019: The Missing
Original Networks: Starz & BBC
Binging: 2 Seasons (16 episodes)
Where To Binge: Starz
This anthology drama series spans two short seasons, and while the 16 episode series might seem short of content, it is in no way short of a gripping series that consistently keeps viewers intrigued. The first season sets the stage within the first few minutes, as Tony, Emily, and their young son, Oliver travel to the United Kingdom in the summer of 2006. After their car breaks down, they are forced to alter their holiday in a fictional town in France. While watching the FIFA World Cup, Tony loses sight of Oliver in a large crowd of chaos, and is unable to relocate his son, opening a eerie story that is, “The Missing.”
The second eight episode season sees a new shivering story that sees the return of retired French detective, Julien Baptiste. Baptiste is swayed to temporarily come out of retirement to assist in a cold case revolving a missing girl, Alice, who mysteriously vanished in 2003.
Why It’s A Must Binge
“The Missing” presents itself brilliantly in numerous aspects. It requires critical attention to detail, as it utilizes flashbacks to swiftly navigate through the investigation’s entire duration. While many shows do utilize flashbacks, “The Missing” does it at a more consistent pace, almost presenting the series (each season) as its own puzzle, in which viewers are tempted to try to put all the pieces together.
The series provides a slower pace to account for each eight episode installment, but the slower pace is almost unnoticed with its superb writing and spontaneous unpredictability.
The uncanny premise, unique presentation, and detail-focused pace combines to deliver a perfect remedy in producing spectacular (and ultimately) jaw-dropping television. For those that seek detail, unpredictability, and a more complex narrative, this series will not disappoint.
March 2019: The Americans
Original Network: FX
Binging: 6 seasons (75 episodes)
Where To Binge: Amazon Prime
Notable Critical Acclaims (84 total nominations)
2018 Golden Globe- Best TV Drama Series
2018 Emmy- Lead Actor In A Drama Series (Matthew Rhys)
2018 Emmy- Writing In A Drama Series
2016 WGAA- Best Drama Series
2018 WGAA- Best Drama Series
2013 TCA- Outstanding New Program
2015 TCA- Outstanding Drama Series
2016 TCA- Outstanding Drama Series
2018 TCA- Outstanding Drama Series
2018 TCA- Program of the Year
2018 TCA- Individual Achievement In Drama (Keri Russell)
The series premise sets in the 1980’s, and provides fascinating insight on the cold war espionage between the United States & the Soviet Union. Our “protagonists” are trained Russian spies undercover as an average American family. The series presents plenty of realistic (and of course dramatizing for TV) stories that see our protagonists interact with FBI agents, KGB agents, and average American & Soviet citizens in any possible way that is seen as necessary to establish their homeland of Russia as the true superpower of the 1980’s.
Why it’s a MUST binge
History buffs will fall in love with this series almost instantly, as while still a scripted-drama, critics & audiences alike have praised the show’s ability to depict accurate espionage tendencies.
Even for your casual history persona, ‘The Americans’ can suck you in with it’s suspenseful storytelling, tremendous acting, superb writing, and some of the best story development I have personally ever witnessed. If you (as a show) can do all four of those effectively, premise irregardless, it’s guaranteed to be a quality piece of television.
What truly sets ‘The Americans’ apart as something different is how the show has no heroes or villains (usually you might see this in a history/based on real-life events premise, but it’s not as common as you think).
Yes, you have the “protagonists,” but viewers quickly find out, they are just as flawed, and wickedly capable as anyone else. There’s a point in the series where you come to the realization that you aren’t necessarily rooting for one side over the other, and in return, it forces the audience to choose a side on a case by case basis, which indirectly adds a unique, fascinating, and engaging element that contradicts most shows who make it their job to tell the audience, “this is who you are supposed to root for,” and, “this is who you are supposed to root against.” ‘The Americans’ brilliantly presents itself to where audiences are forced to pay closer attention, and make their own choices as to what side/character/organization they should root for.
‘The Americans’ just concluded its sixth & final season in 2018. Its commonly referred to as, “the best show that nobody watches,” which is a damn shame, because it’s likely one of the best produced pieces of television this decade (and likely beyond).
Oh… And if you’re curious about how it all plays out (the series finale)…