If you’ve already watched the Best 25 Best Shows on Netflix, powered through the Next 25 Best TV Shows on Netflix, and got caught up on this week’s best new movies on Netflix, here’s a best of list of previous Netflix recommendations. It’s the holiday weekend, and there’s nothing new out on Netflix TV, so this is basically a Clip Show, plus one new recommendation.
The Returned — If you have an eight-hour binge window, check out the French series, which is one of the best things going on Netflix. Though it predates it considerably, the premise is somewhat similar to the inferior ABC show Resurrection in that people who have been long dead suddenly return to life at the same age as before and attempt to re-assimilate into their old lives and families (a premise that is also similar to In the Flesh, except that these undead were never zombies) … It’s a brilliantly acted, instantly addictive series. It actually won the International Emmy for Best Drama series last year, and the series second season will air on Sundance later this year (before likely moving on to Netflix). Honestly, however, it’s a better show to binge watch than to see week-to-week because the mystery is so compelling, you’re not going to want to wait to find out the answers it has to offer.
Boss — Boss is basically the Tommy Carcetti subplot in The Wire crossed with House of Cards, only its grimmer and darker than both series. It’s essentially Kelsey Grammer’s version of All the King’s Men using the Chicago political machine as the backdrop. Grammer plays Mayor Tom Kane, who not only controls Chicago, but the entire state of Illinois through insidious compromises, political corruption, graft, and even murder. As anti-heroes go, there’s nothing heroic about Mayor Tom Kane — he’s like the blisteringly angry version of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but unlike that movie, there’s no sympathetic protagonist. Kane is the protagonist, and he is a f**king awful person.
The Fall — The Fall tells both sides of the investigation. On one side, we follow Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) as she attempts to find and apprehend a serial killer. On the other side, we follow Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), the serial killer who is terrorising Belfast. He has a wife and two children who are unaware of his activities, and he works (ironically) as a bereavement counsellor. His targets are all young, professional women … Despite the fact that we know who the serial killer is, there’s still plenty of suspense in knowing when he’ll be caught, and whether he’ll get away with the next disturbing murder. It’s an intense series that taps into the political tensions of Northern Ireland, and while it’s a slow burn, there are only five episodes. It’s definitely worth the investment.
Life — Life concerned Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a detective just released from prison after serving 12 years on a life sentence. DNA evidence, however, exonerated him, he rejoined the force with Detective Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi), and the two pursued murder investigations. However, unbeknownst to the police department, Crews was also investigating the conspiracy behind the triple murder he for which he was framed, and that’s really the most interesting part of the series, the hook that brought us back week after week … Life really was the whole package: Entertaining, engrossing, and smart. But it had one specific element that so many of these new crime-serials seems to be missing. For all the great performances, the grisly murders, the high stakes, and the complex plotlines, they’re missing what made the NBC series so great: It was fun.
Top of the Lake — The Elisabeth Moss series from Jane Campion is a slow burn, but it is an engrossing, incredibly well acted mystery thriller about a missing, pregnant 12-year-old girl and the many secrets of a small New Zealand town. It is basically a better version of The Killing crossed with Twin Peaks that will pull you in, keeping you guessing the entire series, and then gut punch you with a twist that I never saw coming. The seven episodes are better meted out over two or three nights, because the heaviness may be hard to take in one binge-watching session. Elisabeth Moss also gets nude, if that’s your bag.
The Chicago Code — There was only one 13-episode season of The Chicago Code before Fox foolishly pulled the plug on yet another Shawn Ryan series, but it was a stellar cop show. For many, it also introduced us to Jason Clarke, who is destined to be a big deal in the next few years (he’s one of the leads in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, he’ll play John Connor in the next Terminator movie, and he will star alongside Tom Hardy in the upcoming Child 44). The Chicago Code does what Shawn Ryan does best: He plays in the moral and ethical grey areas, here a Chicago police department that is riddled with corruption. Jason Clarke plays Chicago Police Detective Jarek Wysocki, who leads the special unit fighting against the corruption. He was assigned to head the special unit by his boss, the newly appointed first-female Chicago Police Superintendent and his one-time partner, Teresa Colvin, played by Jennifer Beals, who butts heads with everyone. Matt Lauria (Friday Night Lights) plays a rookie cop, and Delroy Lindo — playing an alderman and a target of the corruption investigation — is an absolute force in this show. Though it was cancelled after one season, it also has a fairly tidy ending, so it won’t leave you completely hanging. It’s good, solid, engrossing television, and a must watch for any fan of Shawn Ryan and The Shield>