Our Favorite Bingeworthy Shows

In this time of quarantine and self-distancing, the Agents of Doux would like to recommend some of our favorite bingeworthy shows.

Sunbunny recommends... Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

I cannot say enough good things about this series. Available on Acorn (and totally worth the subscription), Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is set in Australia in the 1920s. Wild child Phryne Fisher opens a detective agency and spars over jurisdiction with a dreamy local detective, flirting all the time. The sumptuous costumes, sets, and CARS (and I'm not a car girl) make this period piece feel simply decadent. Charmingly light and humorous, MFMM offers a welcome respite in a world full of darkness and chaos.

Bonus: They just made a sequel film! It’s available to watch on Acorn RIGHT NOW! (I haven't seen it yet, I'm saving it.)



Josie Kafka recommends... Peaky Blinders

I have many regrets, but the regret foremost in my mind these days is that I binged Peaky Blinders a few weeks ago, back when I had a life outside of my apartment. It would have been perfect for my current isolation. Set in post-WWI Birmingham, Peaky Blinders follows the sultry, sordid career of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a veteran who leads a family in a life of crime.

The show is stylized yet personal: I was as caught up in the family drama (and crime drama) as I was in the stylish clothes, Brummie accents, and outre hairstyles.

Heather and Logan reviewed Season One, and if a British gangster series with heart and panache sounds like your cup of whiskey, I recommend checking out their review of the premiere before diving in. More reviews will come soon, too!



Baby M recommends... Hanna

Hanna (Esme Creed-Miles) is a most unusual girl. She was born in a secret high-security orphanage in Romania, from which her father Erik (Joel Kinnaman) stole her. For the next fifteen years, she lived off the grid deep in the Bukovina Forest in Poland with Erik, who has been training her in survival skills, and forbids her to go more than a kilometer or so from the cave where they lived. After Hanna defies her father and ventures outside this boundary, the outside world arrives in the form of a platoon of infantry in helicopters, under the command of CIA agent Marissa Wiegler (Mirelle Enos), acting on orders to kill Erik and capture Hanna. What follows is eight episodes of complex action adventure with plenty of twists and turns and a love triangle thrown in for good measure.

The premise is intriguing, the cinematography is stunning, the stunt sequences are exciting and yet realistic, and the plot is well thought-out. However, the success or failure of this series all comes down to one thing: if you can't believe in the character of Hanna, the rest of it won't matter. We’re talking about a character who has only ever lived in a cave in the wilderness; the only human being she has ever spoken to is her father; she's been drilled obsessively in combat and survival skills, but knows little of the outside world beyond some memorized facts and figures. She's deadly at 50 yards shooting offhand with a Browning Hi-Power, but has never seen a city or made a friend or eaten a piece of candy. Playing a character that unusual and making it believable is a tall order, but Esme Creed-Miles absolutely nails it. Whether she's discovering the joys of a Snickers bar or struggling, with limited understanding of social cues and context, to maintain her very sketchy cover story in a conversation with a family of vacationers who give her a ride, you're convinced Hanna is a real person.

The series is a remake and expansion of a 2015 feature film that I've never seen, so I can't compare it to the original iteration. On its own merits, though, Hanna easily rates four out of four secret high-security Romanian orphanages.

Season one is available now on Amazon Prime, and season two should be released later this spring.



Baby M also recommends... Undone

If Christopher Nolan made an animated series, you’d get something very much like this.

While driving down a street in San Antonio, Alma Winograd-Diaz (Rosa Salazar) loses control of her car after she has a vision of her father (Bob Odenkirk) – who died in an auto accident when she was eleven – standing on a street corner. When she awakens from a coma a few days later, her father tells her that the accident caused Alma to gain the power to manipulate time with her mind, something he was researching at the time of his death. He helps her develop her newfound abilities so that she can go back in time and prove that his death was not an accident. But has Alma really become a "shaman" with the power to manipulate time and space, or is this just a manifestation of the schizophrenia that runs in her family?

Undone is animated using rotoscoped images of the actors, combined with traditional cell drawings and CGI environments. This allows for some truly surreal visuals that probably couldn't be done any other way – while at the same time, the human figures avoid the Uncanny Valley and move realistically in realistic environments. Local landmarks such as the Alamo and the Riverwalk make a prominent appearance, and a friend of mine who grew up in San Antonio and watched the series told me that she recognized the particular neighborhood where Alma's family lives.

Four out of four newly-awakened shamans.



Victoria Grossack recommends... Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

My recommendation is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. DS9 is often considered Star Trek's stepchild, because it's darker and it takes place on a (mostly) stationary space station, instead of a ship racing through the galaxy. But these can be advantages in a show, because they allow much more continuity than I found in the other Star Trek offerings.

DS9 has fantastic characters, all with their own rich backstories, from Commander (later Captain) Sisko, who lost his wife in the Borg attack, to Kira Nerys, the Bajoran with a giant chip on her shoulder, and the Trill, Jadzia Dax, who has many past lives. Then there's Odo, the changeling, who doesn't know his story, but who will end up saving the Alpha Quadrant, and young Nog, who rejects the Ferengi quest for profit and takes an entirely different path.

The first season is a little rocky, but it soon improves, and most episodes are excellent. It holds up well, except for the music.

I bought a set of DVDs in Europe a long time ago, which means that I can watch them in multiple languages (the German version is especially good). The DVDs also got me through a rough time, after a ski accident that broke my arm and compressed one of my vertebra. I was in a lot of pain at first, and in a brace for four months. Deep Space Nine helped me through that, and even though it is fiction, it reminded me that many people have suffered far worse.



Lamounier recommends... Nobody's Looking

Miss The Good Place already? Well, Netflix might have just the right fix for you. Nobody's Looking is a supernatural comedy that follows the adventures of newly born guardian angel Uli. He is unable to follow the four basic rules that guide each angelus – "angel" is an incorrect term, we are told – and ends up in all kinds of trouble.

Make no mistake, though, this series is quite different from Michael Schur's dearly departed TV show. Where The Good Place focused on philosophy to dissect its characters, Nobody's Looking turns its eyes to sociology. Not that it's quoting sociologists every other episode, but the series takes its time to analyze how life in society shapes and limits people's behaviors. Sometimes it goes a bit overboard on that examination, but it usually delivers the goods. The show is also willing to abandon the cute for more grownup themes, such as sex and depression, which surprised me.

Nobody's Looking hooked me in the very first episode. By episode four I was a fan, and after the season finale, I wanted more. You will watch this in a heartbeat during the quarantine and wish there were more episodes to fill your time.

And I just found out the series was cancelled. I'm so mad, it had so much potential!!! But I'll maintain the recommendation. :)



Juliette recommends... Supernatural and Outlander

I discovered Supernatural by binge-watching the first nine seasons in two months a few years ago, when I finally gave in to Billie's championing of it and decided to give it a go! There are now 15 seasons and the series finale has been put on hold by coronavirus, so this is the perfect time to start – you get to watch almost the entire 15-year series in one go, and then maybe even experience the finale as it airs!

I'd also recommend Outlander. There's much less of this [than Supernatural], but it covers such a huge span of both time and geography and so much changes during the series, it works well as a binge-watch because everything just keeps moving and changing. It's also really beautifully shot, so it may help anyone craving the outdoors!

10 comments:

Baby M said...

I concur with Victoria's recommendation of DS9. It includes some of the best Trek episodes of all time--"Duet," "The Visitor," and "In the Pale Moonlight," to name just three.

magritte said...

What a great time for this particular feature. Oddly enough, I just started watching Outlander today before seeing this article. I concur with the recommendation of DS9, too. I have watched both TNG and DS9 in recent years, and Ds9 I would definitely recommend above TNG, though it was less popular at the time. The longer narrative arcs make DS9 more satisfying to binge, it feels much less dated (it's hard to believe they overlapped in time), and it has very few really bad episodes.

Supernatural is an awful lot to take in. Personally, I got frustrated a couple of times during its run and had to take a break from it. A few other shows I'd recommend: Travellers, the Expanse, Babylon Berlin, Sense8...and Buffy, of course.

Billie Doux said...

I've started making lists of shows to try, since I'm nearing the end of The Expanse -- thanks, Agents.

And I really ought to add that I didn't bribe Juliette to recommend my shows Outlander and Supernatural. Honestly. :)

Lamounier said...

Baby M, I liked both of your suggestions. Undone and Hanna sound very interesting. I think I'll try Undone.

I always thought facing Supernatural and its endless amount of seasons and episodes was too big a task, but an extended quarantine might be just the right time to accept that challenge.

Billie Doux said...

Lamounier, Supernatural can be tackled in pieces. The first five seasons up to "Swan Song" are basically one story with an ending. And at that point, if you're not into it, you can stop. Seriously!

Lamounier said...

Bille, thanks for the tip. Five seasons are more encouraging than five hundred and forty seven. (:

I'd probably keep watching it anyway. If I became a fan, I wouldn't be able to stop in the middle of the story (even if there is an episode that looks like an ending point).

magritte said...

A couple more bingeworthy shows that are reviewed on this site, both of which deal with mental illness in interesting ways: Mr. Robot and The Magicians.

An Honest Fangirl said...

I LOVE Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries! It's so, so good. Fun, sexy, funny, and with great dynamics and relationships between all of the characters. I didn't realize that the movie had been released! I'll have to see if I can find it/hope it comes to Netflix soon.

Anonymous said...

Miss Fisher rocks.

Anonymous said...

I tried a few episodes of Miss Fisher. While I liked the main character and supporting cast, I don’t find the mysteries interesting.