Happy Friday! I know you have big plans for the weekend — errands to run, social events to go to, maybe even finally get to the beach before summer ends! You’ve got no time for frivolities like watching television!
I’m kidding, of course. You won’t get anything accomplished this weekend. The couch is warm, you’ve got some new delivery coupons to use, and Netflix is filled with interesting stuff to watch.
With that in mind, we proudly present ten series on streaming that make for great binge viewing! Granted, there are hundreds of shows available, so don’t get mad if the likes of “Twin Peaks,” “Columbo” and “Batfink” aren’t listed. This is just ten, but I could have easily done fifty.
10. Amazing Stories (1985-1986)
Steven Spielberg’s fantasy anthology series wasn’t as well-received as the publicity campaign at the time seemed to promote, but there are some fine episodes with great casts and notable directors, and you can pick up any episode at random.
Best episodes: William Dear’s “Mummy Daddy (Season 1, Episode 4), Paul Bartel’s remake of his own “Secret Cinema” (Season 1, Episode 20), Robert Zemeckis’s campy “Go to the Head of the Class” (Season 2, Episode 8) and Brad Bird’s great “Family Dog” (Season 2, Episode 16)
9. Suspense (1949)
One of the first thriller anthologies was this 1949 show that started as a radio series. While the format was mastered by the likes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” you can spot a lot of great performers in clever little morality tales.
Best episodes: Boris Karloff in “A Night at the Inn,” Lilli Palmer in Robert Stevens’ “The Comic Strip Murder” and Hume Cronyn, Anne Francis and Ray Walston in the wax museum-centric “Dr. Violet.”
8. Terriers (2010)
While “Terriers” never found enough of an audience to warrant a second season a few years ago, the sole season that was made makes for great binge-watching, as Donal Logue plays a private eye who, along with his best friend, uses his less-than-traditional resources to solve crimes. Sure, it sounds typical, but Logue is outstanding and it’s a great example of how to do a well-worn concept right.
Best episodes: Start from the beginning.
7. Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-1974)
Best episodes: “The Lorelei Signal,” with a planet of ladies in lingerie, “Yesteryear” and “Mudd’s Passion,” a follow-up to the Harry Mudd episode of the original series.
6. Spaced (1999-2001)
As much as I love the cinematic teamings of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, to me, Pegg will always be Tim, the comic book artist whose meeting with a would-be writer (Jessica Hynes) develops into a roommate partnership. “Spaced” is one of the best comedy series ever made, and the fact that there are only 14 episodes in all make this perfect for weekend binging.
Best episodes: If you don’t like “Art,” you’re basically wrong about everything.
5. Archer (2010-Present)
Adam Reed’s spy comedy is essentially an updating of the comic eurospy flicks of the ’60s, filled with solid pop culture goodness and some of the wittiest writing and perfectly-cast voice acting that an animated show ever had. How could you hate a series where the lead character is obsessed with Burt Reynolds movies, and wants to make a (second) sequel to WHITE LIGHTNING? You can’t.
Best episodes: “Skytanic,” “Honeypot,” “Diversity Hire,” “Movie Star,” “Swiss Miss”…. An argument can be made for most of them, save for the overlong “Heart of Archness” three-parter.
4. Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)
Best episodes: Scatman Crothers and Antonio Fargas guest in “The Zombie,” and “The Vampire,” a semi-sequel to THE NIGHT STALKER, the pilot film that ranks as one of the best TV-movies ever made.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2002)
You have to get through a mediocre first season, but that’s what binge viewing is for. By the third season, you’ll be able to understand why Joss Whedon is such a noteworthy storyteller, and you can even forgive the fact that, of all the characters, friggin’ DAWN is somehow one of only three that makes the “cover” photo on Netflix.
Best episodes: Season 4’s “Hush,” obviously, and Season 6’s “Once More, With Feeling,” a better musical than any episode of “Glee.”
2. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1958)
Best episodes: While a number of great episodes aren’t among these seasons, we recommend “Breakdown” (Season 1, Episode 6), “Whodunit” (Season 1, Episode 26) and “The Glass Eye” (Season 3, Episode 1)
1. The Twilight Zone (1959-1960)
Again, only two seasons available, but what a two seasons! “The Twilight Zone” is probably the greatest anthology TV series of all time, and even the “bad” episodes are still watchable, with the great episodes among the best TV gets.
Best episodes: “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” (Season 1, Episode 22), “The Four of Us Are Dying” (Season 1, Episode 13), “Time Enough At Last” (Season 1, Episode 8), “Eye of the Beholder” (Season 2, Episode 6) and “The Invaders (Season 2, Episode 15)
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