“So what’s good?” is the question those who watch a lot of TV for a living are asked perhaps more often than any other. But with the proliferation of networks and streaming services offering exciting and intriguing programming, it’s harder and harder to keep up with all the good TV out there. For purposes of this list, we’ve removed the shows you surely already know about—the Breaking Bads and Parks And Recreations of the world—and herewith offer a list of TV shows that aired new episodes in 2013 (so far) and can be viewed legally over the upcoming long weekend. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive survey, simply a look at some potentially overlooked programs that might become new favorites.
The Americans (FX)
What it’s about: Two Soviet spies living in an arranged marriage in early-’80s Washington, D.C., work to advance the rise of communism, staunch the tide of capitalism (even within their own home), and determine just how real their “fake” marriage actually is.
Why you should watch it: In a year of great new dramas, this just might be the best. It’s at once dramatically potent and emotionally insightful, even as those emotions are kept beneath a chilly exterior that threatens to break at any moment. Darkly comic and beautifully shot, The Americans features scripts with the psychological clarity of great short stories but also a lot of fun spy capers and storylines. And it’s anchored by three of the best performances of the year, from Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich, with the always-great Margo Martindale in an important recurring part.
Who it’s for: People in arranged marriages; anyone who still refers to tense situations with DEFCON levels; Ms. Pac-Man enthusiasts.
Availability: Purchase on Amazon and iTunes.
What it’s about: An ex-con assumes the identity of a dead sheriff in the middle of Pennsylvania Amish country, where he unravels mysteries, attempts to look out for himself, and encounters, uh, Amish gangsters. Also, since this is Cinemax, there’s lots of nudity and violence.
Why you should watch it: Cinemax has been slowly but surely making inroads into the world of less reputable but so satisfying TV, like a grimier, more immediately visceral sibling to the tonier, older HBO. The network’s strategy also resulted in Strike Back and Hunted—both worth watching—but Banshee is the newest, best example of what Cinemax can do when it puts its mind to it, a downright crazy series that never sees a story point it can’t make at least 25 percent more batshit insane. And that’s saying nothing of the action sequences, which are among TV’s best.
Who it’s for: Anyone who read the words “Amish gangsters” and said, “Yeah, that’s probably for me”; appreciators of fine plot twists; Amish people who secretly own televisions.
Availability: The complete series can be streamed on Max Go, and it’s available for purchase at Amazon and iTunes. DVD and Blu-ray are also available.
Borgen (Link TV)
What it’s about: After a string of fortuitous events and unlikely coincidences, Denmark’s first female prime minister finds herself doing whatever she has to in order to push her agenda forward in the halls of power in Copenhagen. At the same time, her right-hand man and spin doctor tries to clear the way for her and an enterprising young journalist tries to get ahead. Oh, and the prime minister’s personal life starts to fall apart.
Why you should watch it: Aside from the fact that supporting Link TV’s import of the program will allow additional availability for foreign-language TV in the U.S., Borgen is also riveting, complex drama that takes its time letting viewers get to know its characters and what matters to them before wrenching those very things away. In its main character, Birgitte (the mesmerizing Sidse Babett Knudsen), the series has inadvertently created the perfect TV hero for the Obama age: a politician who stands for a new era but is gradually worn down by systems that long to preserve the old one.
Who it’s for: Barack Obama, when he needs a good cry; people who don’t understand parliamentary legislative systems but would sort of like to; anyone who wants to rub it in the United Kingdom’s face that the U.S. will air the English language debut of season three.
Availability: Episodes are available on LinkTV.org for two weeks after airing, but the full run periodically becomes available for two weeks at a time. The first two seasons are also available on DVD, with the third arriving on Link October 4.
The Bridge (FX)
What it’s about: When a body is left on the bridge at the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua—seemingly so it will intentionally set off an international cooperation that will inadvertently comment on how infrequently the two nations cooperate—one American detective and one Mexican detective dive directly into the fascinating world of border politics and the less fascinating world of capturing yet another murderer.
Why you should watch it: The longer The Bridge goes on, the more it reveals itself to be a Trojan-horse show, where the ostensible reason to watch and the probable reason it got on the air—i.e., that murder investigation—reveals itself to be far less interesting than everything else on the show, from the setting (unlike utterly any other on television) to its long string of weird supporting and recurring players, including Lyle Lovett as the Texas equivalent of Saul Goodman and Catalina Sandino Moreno somehow finding new notes in the “long-suffering wife” routine. And when the show needs to do something with immediacy in the murder investigation—like an out-of-nowhere shootout—it handles that with panache, too.
Who it’s for: People learning Spanish and/or English; appreciators of fine Mexican cuisine; everybody who’s ever wanted to see a middle-aged female Mexican crime boss receive oral sex.
Availability: Airing currently on Wednesday nights on FX. All episodes are available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, and some are available to stream on Hulu.
Broadchurch (BBC America)
What it’s about: In the small seaside community of Broadchurch, two police detectives—one of them (David Tennant) fleeing the big city and accusations of evidence tampering, the other a local (Olivia Colman) who blames him for taking the job she had expected to be promoted to—investigate the murder of a local boy.
Why you should watch it: Thanks to top-notch acting and the breathtaking scenery, this is the cream of this summer’s vast crop of shows about male-female detective teams investigating crimes that are horrific and heartbreaking, even by the envelope-pushing standards of ambitious recent series.
Who it’s for: Armchair tourists who’d like to gaze on the charm and beauty of a British beachside community without getting sand in their shoes and tripping over a dead body; Dr. Who fans who know that even a forensics report sounds kind of lyrical when delivered in Tennant’s voice; and, maybe, Dr. Who-haters who’ll delight in seeing Tennant looking more miserable and unhealthy than any young male lead in recent history.
Availability: The first season is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.
Bunheads (ABC Family)
What it’s about: Escaping a career cul de sac in Las Vegas, a ballerina-turned-showgirl makes a new career as a dance instructor in a sleepy California town—where she has as much impact on her young charges and the townsfolk at large as they have on her.
Why you should watch it: Because, like so many of its characters, the show deserves an encore. A return to series drama for Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, Bunheads wrapped its first season on a fantastic string of episodes—only to be let go by ABC Family after lingering for months in a renewed-or-canceled limbo. Its first-time leads (chief among them Tony winner Sutton Foster and sweet-and-sour spark plug Bailey Buntain) are now available to scooped up by other shows, but will those shows give them occasion to hoof it to showtune standbys and college-radio staples? That’s not to mention the way the show used the performing arts to channel (and compare) adolescent and middle-aged angst in ways Smash and fourth-season Glee could only fantasize about.
Who it’s for: Recovering theater geeks; reference spotters; fans seeking a new TV “What if?” scenario now that the Sherman-Palladino-less seventh season of Gilmore Girls is so far in the past.
Availability: The complete series is available via Amazon Instant Video.
Call The Midwife (PBS)
What it’s about: A group of young women living in Britain in the 1950s aim to bring safe childbirth procedures to the expectant mothers of the time, all while living under the roof of a convent with a bunch of nuns working toward the same goal.
Why you should watch it: Though that may sound like the most boring premise possible, Call The Midwife is frequently riveting; its exploration of medical procedures and class distinctions around the 20th century’s midpoint makes for surprisingly intricate television. And if nothing else, it’s one of the most female-friendly programs on the air, positing a community of women trying to make a better world in the midst of one where they are surrounded by poverty and suffering. It works as a sort of flipside to Orange Is The New Black and might make a good comedown for those seeking a way to follow-up that Netflix series.
Who it’s for: Grandmothers who use the word “tea cozy” unironically; those fond of babies; anyone trying to write a novelty single to the tune of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.”
Availability: Both seasons are available on DVD and for purchase at Amazon and iTunes.
The Chris Gethard Show (Manhattan Neighborhood Network)
What it’s about: Chris Gethard’s raucous, underground cult sensation of a late-night show recently passed its 100th episode and is just getting better with age.
Why you should watch it: While celebrating the big “hundo,” Gethard admitted that the New York public-access show (which he funds out of his own pocket) probably wouldn’t be able to last forever, but TCGS is showing no sign of slowing down. The newest “Random” (a civilian unknown to the main cast who joins the panel for 15 weeks), dubbed Messenger Bag, has injected even more unpredictable energy into a show that occasionally has to deal with problems like all the lights in its studio not working. Delving into TCGS’s voluminous online archive is an incredibly rewarding project, but it’s not hard to jump right in and have fun with it, either.
Who it’s for: Awkward teens; alt-comedy nerds; the dispossessed.
Availability: Every episode is archived as a podcast on iTunes or at www.thechrisgethardshow.com.
What it’s about: When CBS decided to reinvent the Sherlock Holmes/John Watson pairing yet again, it was seen as largely unnecessary—especially since PBS’ British import Sherlock covers similar territory so well. But Elementary has turned into a terrific little crime-solving show, with great performances from Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Holmes and Watson.
Why you should watch it: CBS has quietly been breaking out of the “dark crime-solving show” box it built itself in the mid-2000s, if not in terms of genre at least in terms of tone. Holmes and Watson are better articulated as characters than many of the network’s crime-solvers, and the more the show goes on, the more it playfully reinvents and subverts the famous Sherlock Holmes mythology. It’s also the kind of show that could—and should—see a big step up in its second season.
Who it’s for: Open-minded Sherlock fans who can appreciate a different spin on the same basic premise; anyone who enjoys crime-solving shows where those solving the crimes are more interesting than the crimes themselves; owners of stock in companies manufacturing pipes and deerstalker hats.
Availability: The first season is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, as well as on DVD. A handful of episodes are available to stream at CBS.com at any given time.
The Fall (Netflix)
What it’s about: This intense crime drama, set in Belfast, follows two characters on a collision course: a married grief counselor who is living a secret life as a serial murderer of young women and a take-charge police detective who is on his trail.
Why you should watch it: This smart, challengingly fresh take on the procedural genre is powered by a chilly but compelling performance by the increasingly busy Gillian Anderson. She plays a blunt, intelligent investigator whose ability to enjoy sex without love is a source of confusion and dismay to her male colleagues, though it’s part of what makes her a higher order of being than the repressed, misogynistic killer.
Who it’s for: Gender Studies majors; people who always thought they would have liked The X-Files more if Anderson hadn’t had to share the screen with a partner, and if the aliens and other monsters had been replaced with something really scary.
Availability: The first season is streaming on Hulu and Netflix.
The Good Wife (CBS)
What it’s about: An initial riff on the plight of the philandering politician’s wife has evolved into a complex political/legal drama set in the bruising atmosphere of Chicago.
Why you should watch it: Though it has largely fallen off the Emmy radar, The Good Wife remains one of the strongest dramas on TV, network or otherwise, spinning out complicated season-long arcs of political campaigning and white-shoe law-firm intrigue, while also managing to remain a case-of-the-week procedural. And then there are the crackling romantic subplots, the incredible roster of recurring guest stars, the admirable (and sometimes dorky) topicality, and the show’s willingness to acknowledge the ethical compromises that come with being a high-powered attorney. Season four ended with a surprising twist that pretty much guarantees a good time this fall.
Who it’s for: Bitcoin investors; Chris Noth revivalists; anyone who feels they outgrew Law & Order.
Availability: All four seasons are available for purchase on DVD or iTunes and are streaming on Amazon Instant.
What it’s about: TV writing super-genius Bryan Fuller took what sounded like the worst idea in history—a series about fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter—and turned it into an intimate horror tale that inverts the usual crime procedural with a healthy helping of gore, psychology, and emotional woundedness.
Why you should watch it: One of TV’s best-looking shows, Hannibal is an ingeniously constructed puzzle box that works to unlock the intricacies of the human psyche. The series is built around Hugh Dancy’s riveting, vulnerable work as Will Graham—the criminal profiler who will eventually catch Hannibal Lecter (as per the books the series is based on) but for now regards him as something of a friend—and Mads Mikkelsen’s terrifyingly subdued work as Dr. Lecter. Hannibal is a Gothic horror tale about the cost of looking at violence done to fellow human beings, a story as likely to present something terrifying to viewers as it is to suggest that terrifying thing’s presence is a black mark on humanity as a whole.
Who it’s for: People who scoff about the idea of a TV show about Hannibal Lecter; psychology graduate students; seemingly three-quarters of the slash-fiction corner of Tumblr.
Availability: It’s streaming on Amazon and iTunes, and the first-season DVD comes out in late September.
Moone Boy (Hulu)
What it’s about: In a small Irish town in the early 1990s, a 12-year-old boy tries to make sense of the world around him with the help of his imaginary friend, a tall, bearded man in a suit named Sean Murphy (played by series creator Chris O’Dowd).
Why you should watch it: Of all the foreign-made series that have premièred in this country as “Hulu Exclusive Series,” this funny, imaginative, down-to-earth domestic sitcom is one of the best.
Who it’s for: People who’ll get a nostalgic tingle from references to the political and popular cultures of Ireland circa 1991; fans of Calvin And Hobbes who miss the comic strip so much than they’ll be grateful for something in a similar vein, even if the tiger is played by a phlegmatic Irishman.
Availability: The first season is streaming on Hulu.
Nathan For You (Comedy Central)
What it’s about: In the guise of a consultant skilled at saving struggling businesses, comedian Nathan Fielder sends up quick-fix reality-TV clichés.
Why you should watch it: After working in the writers’ rooms for Comedy Central series starring Demetri Martin and H. Jon Benjamin, Fielder acquits himself as a unique talent worthy of his own show with a deadpan delivery and an uncanny ability to maintain a straight face in increasingly ridiculous circumstances. Thanks to a viral video in which a petting zoo’s “hero pig” saves a drowning goat, the show achieved online notoriety well before its debut. However, Fielder is careful to always make himself appear more foolish than his clients, as best exemplified in “Claw Of Shame,” a one-off compilation of failed solutions that climaxes with a handcuffed Fielder attempting to avoid embarrassment at the metallic hands of a robot.
Who it’s for: Struggling business owners seeking ways not to save their businesses; Canadians seeking ways to win the hearts and minds of Americans; tourists trying to figure out what the deal was with that “King Of Sting” caricature artist at the Santa Monica Pier.
Availability: The first season is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
What it’s about: Piper Chapman (the excellent Taylor Schilling), a yuppie living a comfortable upper-middle-class existence, is convicted of a crime she committed years ago and sent to prison for just over a year. While there, she encounters women from all walks of life, serving time for all manner of crimes, as her comfortable life slowly erodes on the outside.
Why you should watch it: In a year of great new shows—particularly great new dramas—this one is among the very best. After more than a decade of TV shows primarily about the travails of white male antiheroes, Weeds creator Jenji Kohan and her writing staff dig deep to tell stories about women who wouldn’t normally appear on TV, from older Russian immigrants to trans-women to mother-and-daughter Latinas. As is by now hopefully common knowledge, Piper is just a window into a larger, more fascinating world, yet she remains compelling herself as her priorities and allegiances shift. By season’s end, she may have changed as much as anyone on the show.
Who it’s for: Anyone who’s ever had a serious fight with a significant other over watching a Mad Men episode without them; chickens seeking positive portrayals of their own kind in the media; everyone, probably.
Availability: Currently available exclusively on Netflix.
Orphan Black (BBC America)
What it’s about: A woman witnesses her lookalike commit suicide, then assumes her identity, eventually realizing they’re clones—and that there are lots more of them.
Why you should watch it: A ridiculously fun mix of sci-fi, serialized puzzler, and action show, Orphan Black is smart enough to be just smart enough. And it’s got a not-so-secret weapon in Tatiana Maslany, who plays every major character with such individualized flair that it’s never distracting. (With the wrong actor, it could’ve been a disaster.) And the story is simple at its heart but complex in its carefully doled-out answers: Who created these women, and to what end?
Who it’s for: Soft sci-fi enthusiasts, soapy sci-fi enthusiasts, Joss Whedon fans who’ve burned through Dollhouse too many times.
Availability: Purchase on DVD and through iTunes and Amazon Instant; for free on-demand on some cable systems.
What it’s about: Friday Night Lights mastermind Jason Katims continues a winning third act in his long, illustrious career, turning out the finest small-scale family drama since Party Of Five and maybe even since thirtysomething. The series’ Braverman clan makes its way through the minor pitfalls of everyday life and keeps its heart and humor intact.
Why you should watch it: Okay, only a handful of episodes actually aired in 2013, making this a bit of a marginal case for this list. But if the series keeps up the streak it’s on where every season is better than the last, then season five should be absolutely fantastic. Parenthood has fewer obvious hooks than some shows on this list, but it’s one of TV’s best dramas all the same, with a deep yet nuanced look at what it means to be a family in the 21st century that somehow never once becomes overly sentimental or cloying.
Who it’s for: Anyone in your own family you can rope into watching it; fans of any one of the many previous shows the cast members have been on who are just looking for something worthwhile; parents, probably.
Availability: The first three seasons are available on DVD, for purchase at Amazon and iTunes, and streaming on Amazon and Netflix. The fourth and most recent season is on DVD but is also streaming at Hulu Plus.
Person Of Interest (CBS)
What it’s about: A reclusive billionaire computer genius and a retired CIA field agent team up to form a not-for-profit security service for all of New York City. They get their cases by hacking into a top-secret national-security database (which the rich techie created) to identify threats against people the government deems too insignificant to worry about.
Why you should watch it: After a slow start in its first season, this sleek, paranoid thriller has developed into one of the weirdest and most morally complex dramas on network TV, and one of the most exciting. The second season set off a string of game-changer episodes as if they were firecrackers, leaving the road wide open for season three.
Who it’s for: Libertarians who think that national security should be privatized; paranoids of every persuasion.
Availability: Both seasons are on DVD and are available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.
Please Like Me (Pivot)
What its about: With his 21st birthday approaching, Josh (played by the series’ writer-creator, Josh Thomas) realizes that he’s gay, negotiates the minefield of his first same-sex relationship, and moves in with his mother, to care for her after she’s attempted suicide.
Why you should watch it: The special charm of this Australian import is that, though the hero is totally self-denigrating, he’s actually tough and resilient enough that none of the calamities and life-altering developments that fall in his lap turn out to be that big a deal; he reacts to everything with a nervous giggle and a shrug, and then just keeps going with the flow. He’s abetted by an able supporting cast, including David Roberts as Josh’s guilt-ridden Dad and Judi Farr as Aunt Peg, who do their part to make this one of the funniest shows you haven’t heard of.
Who it’s for: Anyone who’s ever seen someone on a talk or reality show going on about the hardships they’ve had to overcome, and wanted to yell at the screen, “Oh for God’s sake, get over yourself!”
Availability: The first season is available for purchase on iTunes. Pivot has also posted the entire first episode on YouTube.
What it’s about: When new DNA evidence frees a death-row inmate, he must readjust to life in the small town he left behind 19 years ago—a particular challenge given the percentage of the population that’s convinced of his guilt.
Why you should watch it: For a show that occasionally portrays humanity at its absolute ugliest, Rectify features some of the most beautiful images to be broadcast on 2013, the sun-dappled haze of its Georgia setting a stark contrast to the cell that Daniel Holden called home for nearly 20 years. As Daniel, Aden Young gives an astonishing performance, his thousand-yard stare transmitting the strange sensation of a man whose life “ended” as a teenager and who must now struggle to find his place in a world that didn’t just keep turning after his incarceration—it turned against him as well.
Who it’s for: Viewers who enjoy the Southern setting of Justified, but find its sense of morality and justice too defined; anyone who’s ever sincerely said to themselves, “This is not my beautiful house”; people who are too happy in their workaday lives and could stand to spend a long weekend bummed the fuck out.
Availability: The first season is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes, the latter of which offers the première, “Always There” as a free download.
What it’s about: Olivia Pope (Emmy-nominated Kerry Washington) is Washington D.C.’s top “fixer,” the woman who figures out ways the rich and powerful can get out of the scandalous situations they’re caught in without irreparably harming their reputations. But because this is television, Olivia’s own reputation is constantly dancing just ahead of being ruined by all the illicit things she’s done.
Why you should watch it: There’s been lots of talk about female antiheroes in recent years, women who aren’t very obviously male characters with the name changed in Final Draft but still pull all their tricks from the bag currently carried by Walter White. This talk conveniently ignores that TV already has a great female antihero—she’s just on a primetime ABC soap where few know how to find her. Olivia and her crew are among TV’s most amoral characters, and watching them work to save their own skins is at once exhilarating and queasy-making. Add crackerjack dialogue from creator Shonda Rhimes and her writers and an enthralling, cliffhanger-every-second pace, and viewers will find one of TV’s most addicting shows.
Who it’s for: Those who watch C-SPAN and wish it had better cliffhangers; anyone who imagines they look good in a white cowboy hat because Kerry Washington will lead by example and show them they don’t; anyone who doubts network TV still has relevancy.
Availability: All episodes are available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon, as well as streaming on Hulu Plus. Season one is available on DVD and Netflix, with season two soon to follow.
Shark Tank (ABC)
What it’s about: A parade of would-be tycoons marches before this reality show’s titular “sharks,” successful businesspeople who are putting real money on the line to potentially invest in the weirdos they’re exposed to because they’re on TV. And sometimes a great idea slips in!
Why you should watch it: Shark Tank all but demands to be watched in a hungover haze the night after getting the drunkest you’ve ever been. It’s a superb “shout at the TV” show, complete with people making asses of themselves, successful businesspeople making potentially idiotic decisions, and segments where the sharks may as well be lighting cigars with $100 bills and cackling directly at the camera. Oh, it’s also a surprisingly educational show about basic business principles.
Who it’s for: People who need to learn how to balance their checkbooks; bald men who hope to reclaim their vitality; anyone who enjoys yelling.
Availability: Episodes are available for purchase at Amazon and iTunes.
What it’s about: Cops in L.A. doing cop stuff—from heroic to ugly to mundane, but always intensely watchable.
Why you should watch it: Southland charged through the everyday lives of cops in some of L.A.’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods, gathering gravitas over five seasons (and two networks, and two cancellations). In the grand tradition of gritty cop shows like NYPD Blue and Homicide (and, yeah, The Wire), it brings the ugly and the beautiful together with an unblinking eye. The final season, which aired this year, was a heartbreaker on several levels—one being the fact that the audience won’t have any more time with some of these amazing characters.
Who it’s for: Anyone who needs at least one semi-realistic portrayal of cops and criminals at all times. Justified is an incredible show, but it never feels as real as Southland.
Availability: Purchase on DVD, iTunes, and Amazon Instant.
Top Of The Lake (Sundance)
What it’s about: A cop returns to her hometown in backwoods New Zealand and uncovers a history of violent misogyny while a makeshift battered-women’s shelter crops up in a prairie owned by a violent town patriarch.
Why you should watch it: In a wasteland of quirky murder-mysteries, Top Of The Lake roars with furious purpose. This isn’t just about a missing girl and a property dispute; this is about rape culture and entrenched power structures and shame. The way the miniseries devours pulp tropes and spits out symbolism, it’s nothing less than a gender war. Jane Campion and co-director Garth Davis mine the idea of women and children trying to escape the town’s traditional order for some of the most evocative images of the year, including a hippie community frolicking in the grass and a stomach-dropping chase up a mountain. A steely Elisabeth Moss leads a hall-of-fame cast including Peter Mullan, Holly Hunter, and David Wenham.
Who it’s for: People who think Antichrist is soft; anyone who regularly uses the term “patriarchy”; people who miss the accents from Flight Of The Conchords.
Availability: The miniseries is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes, and it’s streaming on Netflix.
What it’s about: A foul-mouthed vice president and her dysfunctional staff try to hang onto their jobs and maybe even gain power, or at least prestige, in the center of a political machine obsessed with scandal.
Why you should watch it: From the pratfalls to the creative vulgarity, Veep goes down easy. And there are only 18 half-hour episodes. Put one on and lose an afternoon to this satire about the illusion of power in a modern technocratic bureaucracy. Created by Armando Iannucci and written by the team behind The Thick Of It and In The Loop, it’s no wonder Veep has such sharp teeth. Then there’s the casting, which earned all four of Veep’s Emmy nominations this year, including one for incumbent Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the arrogant lead, Tony Hale as her doormat, Anna Chlumsky as her sour chief of staff, and one for the casting department itself. A less-crowded field might find room for Matt Walsh and Timothy Simons, too.
Who it’s for: Powerless factotums; fans of the opening credits of Fahrenheit 9/11; masters of the polite glare-smile.
Availability: The first season is available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray as well as Amazon and iTunes. Both seasons are streaming on HBO GO.
What it’s about: Vikings!
Why you should watch it: Vikings! (And its commitment to providing a rough-and-tumble look at Viking voyagers in the distant past as well as functioning as the best sci-fi drama of the year if you look at it cross-eyed, with intrepid adventurers visiting strange alien lands and coming into conflict with all manner of odd species.)
Who it’s for: Vikings!; Minnesota Vikings!; everyone who’s been waiting for a dark and gritty Hägar The Horrible reboot.
Availability: The series is available for digital download at iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube. It will be available on DVD in October.