There’s an entire world of television outside of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Netflix original series (or Preacher, later this month), but too much of it goes unrecognized and unheralded on the internet. All our bandwidth is devoted to a handful of shows, while others have to struggle to sneak through the cracks. None of the five series below have the plot twists of Game of Thrones or the body count of The Walking Dead, but each deserve to be seen for being exceptional, funny, well-acted, engrossing, and mysterious.
If you’re looking for something to enrich the hours between Sunday nights on HBO and AMC, try one (or all) of these five great under-the-radar TV shows.
The Last Panthers
The Last Panthers is getting next-to-no buzz here in the United States. In fact, many of my colleagues in the critical community haven’t heard of it. It is, however, seriously worth tracking down. Currently airing on Sundance TV, the six-part series from Jack Thorne (Skins, The Fades) and stylishly directed by Bo Johan Renck (Breaking Bad) is inspired by the infamous Balkan jewel thieves called the Pink Panthers. The series itself kicks off with a Pink-Panther inspired jewel heist, which takes us into the seedy, criminal underground of Europe, where a Balkan jewel thief (Goran Bogdan) tries to unload the diamonds. Meanwhile, a French-Algerian police officer (Tahar Rahim) is pursuing him on homicide charges because a little girl was killed in the aftermath of the heist, and a British insurance adjuster (Samantha Morton) is trying to track down the diamonds. The insurance adjuster is racing to capture the criminal before the police do, lest her company (run by a man played by John Hurt) lose the $200 million diamonds.
Buoyed by strong performances and bleak cinematography, it’s a grim cat-and-mouse series peppered with violence, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into Europe’s criminal underground. It also admirably humanizes the thief, the cop, and the insurance adjuster — each a unwilling victim of circumstances in their own way — as the viewer’s empathy is pulled into several directions. Do we pull for the insurance investigator, under the thumb of her boss; the police officer, who risks the lives of others to track down a man accused of homicide; or the thief himself, who was only trying to better his life and that of his brother?