With brilliant television offerings from network channels, cable stations, and streaming sites, there’s an overabundance of TV series to pick. No amount of diligent binge-watching will get you through the dauntingly massive amount of currently airing programs, not to mention the hefty backlog. Need a bit of guidance on what show to plunge into next? Here are the top ten shows you need to watch but probably missed.
1. “Marvel’s Agent Carter”
When “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” debuted in 2013, it gradually became a huge hit, bringing the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) from the big screen to the small screen. “Marvel’s Agent Carter” followed in 2015, which presented Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) as an agent working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). Like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Agent Carter” features characters from MCU films such as Carter and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), and offers insight into the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. with its precursor the SSR.
Season 2 brought a change of location, and the sophomore entry exceeded the superb season one. “Marvel’s Agent Carter” is available for streaming on demand from the ABC website, and for purchase from a variety of vendors.
2. “Turn: Washington’s Spies”
Washington’s Spies” – AMC has dominated original programming in recent years, from “Breaking Bad” to “The Walking Dead.” One of AMC’s most unique entries is “Turn: Washington’s Spies.” Set during the Revolutionary War, it’s based on Alexander Rose’s Washington’s Spies: The True Story of America’s First Spy Ring. Following Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell), Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall), Major Benjamin Tallmadge (Seth Numrich), and Anna Strong (Heather Lind), it’s a well-acted and stylized period piece. There’s a nice mix of narrative, early espionage incarnations, and historical figures including George Washington (Ian Kahn) and Major John Andre (JJ Field).
“Turn” is slated to begin airing its third season on April 25, 2016, and season one is streaming on Netflix.
3. “Murdoch Mysteries”
Long-running TV series are not uncommon, but it’s rare to see a show with several seasons which is still at its finest. Enter “Murdoch Mysteries.” The Canadian drama follows Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a Toronto Constabulary police inspector. With a forthcoming tenth season, seasons eight and nine of “Murdoch Mysteries” (“The Artful Detective” stateside), were some of the series’ best. There’s an excellent cast of regulars with Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), Doctor Julia Ogden (Helene Joy), and Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris).
Based on novels by Maureen Jennings, “Murdoch Mysteries” remains fairly historically accurate, even throwing in characters such as Mark Twain (played wonderfully by William Shatner), and Lucy Maud Montgomery (Alison Lauder). Detective Murdoch isn’t simply a clever investigator: he’s also an inventor who frequently concocts marvels such as fingerprinting. The CBC website has all nine seasons of “Murdoch Mysteries” available for streaming, and it’s on Netflix for streaming as well.
Stephen Fry starred in the oft-overlooked “Kingdom” as Peter Kingdom, a solicitor in Norfolk, UK. “Kingdom” radiates a cozy, small town vibe, and according to producer Georgina Lowe, the series used local businesses whenever possible, from props to food and equipment. It’s quirky, comedic, and heartwarming. The all too short-lived “Kingdom” ran for three seasons and (spoiler alert), ends in a small cliffhanger.
Snag a copy of “Kingdom” from your favorite media outlet.
Genius director and actor Kenneth Branagh may be best known for his dabbling in Shakespearean adaptations, or more recently his directional work on “Thor” and “Cinderella,” but “Wallander” sees Branagh at his finest. Debuting in 2008, the BBC adapted Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander novels into a television series. Through Branagh’s masterful acting, the haggard Swedish detective feels decidedly real.
A fourth and final installment of “Wallander” is set to air in the UK in May, 2016. Catch up on “Wallander” on Netflix.
Steven Moffat’s resume features standout series such as “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who.” Among his vast repertoire is a 2007 BBC miniseries “Jekyll” which adapts Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The British miniseries added a modern spin, and portrayed the titular Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde (James Nesbitt). A campy horror theme, modern setting, and great balance of comedy, sci-fi, and horror make “Jekyll” an amazing sleeper hit.
Hulu has “Jekyll” for your watching pleasure.
7. “Jeeves and Wooster”
P.G. Wodehouse may be the most hilarious author you’ve never heard of. Starring the seasoned, comedy duo of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, “Jeeves and Wooster” brought Wodehouse’s stories to the telly in riotously hilarious episodes. Mocking the British aristocracy, “Jeeves and Wooster” used Highclere Castle as a filming location well before the insanely popular (and rightly so) “Downton Abbey.”
What makes the “Jeeves and Wooster” series so fantastic, including the fourth season that deviated from Wodehouse’s original source material, is the natural chemistry between Laurie and Fry. The pair previously collaborated on “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” as well as “Friday Night Live.” Google Play offers “Jeeves and Wooster” for digital purchase, and it’s also available for purchase on DVD.
8. “The Night Manager”
The works of John le Carre have made for exceptional TV and film fodder. His novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy spawned a miniseries with Alec Guinness, and movie starring Gary Oldman, and 2014’s “A Most Wanted Man” derived from a le Carre novel. 2016’s “The Night Manager” headlines Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. While it’s based on the 1993 novel bearing the same name, the BBC iteration has updated the story to the present day.
Catch “The Night Manager” episodes starting April 19 on AMC, or catch up online via BBC.
NBC’s “Aquarius” dropped in 2015 starring David Duchovny. While it centers on Detective Sam Hodiak (Duchovny) and the investigation of Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony), “Aquarius” transcends the hunt for Manson. Instead, it’s more a portrayal of 1960’s L.A. framed through the lens of Hodiak and his partner Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) probing the Manson Family undercover. There’s a second season in the works, so re-live the fun, or experience it for the first time care of NBC.
“Helix” was one of the greatest shows to grace the sci-fi genre, and received a tragically short lifespan. Season one was a mix of “28 Days Later” and “The Thing,” with a delightful blend of horror, sci-fi, and humor. A second installment changed locations, moving from season one’s isolated arctic setting to a tropical island.
What made “Helix” a gem was melding of genres, innate campiness, and insane plot twists. Both seasons ended in substantial cliffhangers, and unfortunately the second entry won’t be resolved as Syfy cancelled “Helix” in 2015. Luckily the entire series can be streamed on Netflix.
11. Honorable Mention
AMC’s “Rubicon” unfortunately got cancelled after just one season despite stellar critic reviews. It’s available on Microsoft Movies & TV/Xbox Video. The six-season spanning drama “Judging Amy” offers heartwarming, funny entertainment, though it’s difficult to (legally) obtain. In the mood for a World War II drama? Try “Foyle’s War.” Comic book fans should watch “iZombie,” a decidedly unique comic book adaptation on the CW which has lately found quite a niche in the fandom universe with comic-inspired shows such as “The Flash” and “Arrow.” Showtime’s “The Affair” received rave reviews from both critics and fans. Chances are if you loved Ruth Wilson in “Luther” (and let’s be honest, who didn’t?), you’ll adore her in “The Affair” as well.