The TV selection on Amazon Instant Video is quite good indeed – a nice mix of classic shows, recent releases and their own original series. Here are eight of what we consider to be the best shows to sit back and enjoy on Amazon in the UK …[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Next”]
Star Trek: The Original Series
It was the Starship Enterprise’s very first five-year mission, boldly splitting infinitives in the late 1960s. Now you can enjoy the adventures of Kirk, Spock, Bones and the gang in stunning remastered high-ddefinition. Those green-skinned alien girls have never looked better.
This very smart family comedy – an original Amazon series – stars Jeffrey Tambor as a father whose long-held personal secret causes tremendous upheaval in his already offbeat family. Tambor plays Maura Pfefferman, a senior citizen with three grown children who is beginning to transition from the identity of Mort Pfefferman. Jay Duplass, Judith Light and Gaby Hoffmann star as his children, who have plenty of their own personal issues. Transparent is, so far, the most successful original show that Amazon has made, and a second season has been ordered.
Leave it to the genius that is Joss Whedon to come up with a space show without aliens. The smart writing he brought to Buffy turned the universe into one big frontier, where those who don’t conform to authoritarian rule are forced to eke out a living among outlying planets where the law can’t follow. The characters might explore space, but the show simply explores humanity. Either you’re one of the people who have seen Firefly and therefore love it, or you’re one of the people who can’t stand it because everyone else won’t shut up about it. At just 14 episodes, the prematurely terminated Firefly is one of the few shows that bears repeat viewing because of the strength of both the writing and the cast.
Back on everyone’s radar thanks to the news that creator David Lynch is bringing us some new episodes next year, Twin Peaks has all the necessities of a cult classic: psycho killers, a dashing coffee-addicted detective and what appears to be an unsolvable murder. It’s a tale of small-town America that scratches the surface to find the dark undercurrent that runs beneath. Lynch gave the early 1990s TV landscape a unique voice with this two-season series that’s both humorous and horrific.
The West Wing
Television’s best-loved American political drama began during the Clinton years, soldiered on through the era of Bush and 9/11, and ended in the earliest days of the Obama administration. Yes, for some strange reason, the show’s political climate was far more stable than the real world. And that was probably a big part of its appeal. Created by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin, The West Wing showed audiences a government not as it was, but as it could be — a White House run by witty, good-hearted public servants who believed in governing with decency. And Martin Sheen’s President Josiah Bartlet would give any of his real-life counterparts a run for their money.
In the US, The Shield essentially did for basic cable what The Sopranos did for premium cable – it showed that dark, gritty, complicated and well-written dramas could work on a network such as FX. Many people believe The Wire to be the best cop show ever made. I beg to differ; for me, The Shield is hands down the finest police drama to ever come out of LA. And corrupt but loveable detective Vic Mackey, superbly portrayed by Michael Chiklis, is one of the best characters ever created for the small screen — yes, he’s right up there with Tony Soprano and Frasier Crane.
Dark, daring, dangerous and utterly delightful, Dexter is probably the best US drama to come along since The Sopranos. It’s the absorbing tale of your friendly neighbourhood serial killer, Dexter Morgan (Michael C Hall). Who just happens to have a day job as a blood spatter analyst in the forensics department of the Miami police force. And if you like your humour blacker-than-black, then you’ve come to the right place. Dexter is television at its best — gripping, thrilling, atmospheric stuff that is never less than watchable thanks to brilliant acting, writing and production values. And topping it off is probably one of the best opening credit sequences ever. Whichever way you cut it, Dexter is simply bloody good television.
It takes about half a dozen episodes to get in to the swing of Community, but stick with it – the ride is definitely worthwhile, for this is one of the greatest sitcoms ever to come out of the Hollywood machine. At first, it appears that Community is the story of Jeff Winger, a smart-arsed lawyer who has been disbarred because his degree (which he got in South America) is declared invalid. He enrols at Greendale Community College and sets up a fake study group – primarily in a bid to bed beautiful blonde Britta from his Spanish class. But Britta nvites her friend Abed, who invites fellow classmates Troy, Annie, Shirley and Pierce. And thus the Community is born. The true joy of Community is watching these characters get to know each other and become friends and even, yes, a sort of family. A dysfunctional family, true, but one that you find yourself wanting to spend time with.