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5 Streaming TV Series You Always Meant to Get Around to Finishing But Totally Forgot

By Dustin Rowles | Netflix Movies and TV | February 25, 2014 | Comments ()


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(All the series below are available on either Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant)

Rubicon — Like most folks, I bailed on AMC’s incredibly challenging, excruciatingly slow drama after five or six episodes It’s one of those shows, however, where those that finished the first and only season swear that it not only got better, but that it transformed into a remarkably great series by the end. I never know if they’re saying that to justify their own patience with the series, or if the series actually did improve significantly. It had a nice cast, led by James Badge Dale, and I often wonder if we simply hadn’t been trained yet to stick with slower-moving, more complicated series. I still can’t tell you what the series is about, though, and I’ve always wanted to go back and investigate, if only to satisfy my curiosity about where the show takes the viewer, and if those who praise it are being honest with themselves.

Dollhouse — If you’re a Joss Whedon completist, but couldn’t force yourself through the rough early goings in Dollhouse, those who stuck with it also contend that Dollhouse was worth our patience. Again, I bailed, and never found out because I could not abide by the Dushku, but now I’m finding that there are references that I don’t get because I couldn’t stick it out for the series’ entire run. It’s part of the reason why I jumped back on the Agents of SHIELD bandwagon recently after taking a month or two off: If it gets better, as people say Dollhouse did, I don’t want to miss it.

The RichesThe Riches was one of those casualties of the writer’s strike, and who knows how long this show might have lasted had it not been interrupted. We could be looking at the 7th seasons of The Riches and Pushing Daisies right now. The Riches starred Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard as the heads of a family of Irish Traveller con artists and thieves. They travelled around in an RV and pulled off little mini-capers throughout the series. I liked the first season immensely, but — like a lot of people — bailed after the delay caused by the writers strike. Though I saw the first season in its entirety, I didn’t even realize until this very moment that the older son and daughter were played by Noel Fisher and Shannon Woodward, familiar to fans of ShamelessRaising Hope.

The-Riches-cast-708349.JPG

Bunheads — I like to believe that those who began watching Bunheads didn’t bail on it because it was so good, but it lost enough viewers between its fall season and winter season (really, networks shouldn’t break up seasons like this) to cost the show a second season. The first season and only season, however, was delightful if you stuck with it. It’s basically Gilmore Girls set in ever-so-slightly different whimsical town populated with ballet students taught by the fast-talking and quick-witted Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop, who basically reprised her Gilmore role. The pilot, the midseason finale, and the series finale will gut you, but along the way, it’s a banter of riches.

Sleeper Cell — Before there was Homeland, there was Sleeper Cell, and I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Sleeper Cell was the better of the two series, both of which dealt with terrorist threates. In Sleeper Cell, the soulful Michael Ealy infiltrated a cell, and ultimately ended up developing some sympathies with the men tasked with suicide bombings. Not with their causes, mind you, but with their motivations. it’s very much in the vein of one of those movies like Donnie Brasco where a cop infiltrates the mafia to take them down from the inside, but here, the stakes are much larger. The gripping and intense series simply came out ahead of its time. I don’t think viewers were ready to see the humanity in terrorists yet, and for my part, as much as I loved the first season, I never did get around to watching the second.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Rocabarra

    You forgot the most important part of Sleeper Cell: it has Oded Fehr! One of the most beautiful and charming men in the world! Well okay, maybe the amazing and intense plot development is also important.

  • cruzzercruz

    Midway through season one, Dollhouse becomes intriguing, but by that first season finale, it kicks into full scale insanity. The second season is full throttle barreling toward something totally awesome. And it has all the Whedon-feels.

  • Cheetahdriver

    My secret confession about Dollhouse (being a huge Buffy and Firefly fan) was that while it was on, I only watched the first episode. The story was derivative, the characters were too fresh out of other work and it just didn't work. In a long dry spell, however, I decided to watch it on Netflix. Being slightly Netflix challenged at the time, I watched the Season1 finale first, then the Season2 finale. I then backed up through the entire show, and it not only made sense going backwards, it actually kept me watching because I kept getting the answers to earlier questions. Of course, then I needed to find out what the questions were, and how we got from Ep1 to the end of the world...and back.

    Watch it backwards. It's a great show with deep meanings. The Episode numbering is just wrong.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Dollhouse was on Fox, and as usual, they showed the episodes out of order. It made things more difficult than they should have been. Good ole Fox.

  • Rubicon - the beginning and end of my Pajiba popularity with the commenters. I wish I were less angry about life while I was watching that show because I JUST. WANTED. SOMETHING. TO. HAPPEN. And when it didn't... GAAAAH! JBD was pretty hot though, in that Lindsey Buckingham sort of way. That was nice.

    I still don't have any idea what that show was about either. Don't read my recaps either unless you want some classic venom-wrapped vitriol from me. Those were the days...

    Miss you guys, you're still the bestest.

  • Billybob

    A lot of people seem to have dismissed Dollhouse because they missed the fact (which, admittedly, was also missed by the first five episodes) that the premise was supposed to be inherently creepy and wrong. The show isn't about a sci-fi whorehouse; it's about the potential for technology to be abused and misused, and the survival of the human spirit when all else is stripped away.

    And also about the fact that Olivia Williams does sexily morally ambiguous three times better than any of Joss Whedon's other female villains.

  • stella

    Dude Eliza Dusku aside, the cast of dollhouse was so good.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    God, Olivia Williams could do whatever she wanted to me whenever and however she likes. It's absolutely absurd to me that she has that effect, because she can also do, you know, just totally adorable English lady equally well.

  • To me, the truly interesting thing about Dollhouse is that THE best episode never aired on t.v. In fact, it was so good that the series finale was even a sequel to it.

    I really enjoyed the first season of The Riches, but the later two just weren't as good.

    And, as for Bunheads, even if you don't watch anything else, watch the finale's closing performance. It's pretty wonderful. http://youtu.be/VKcQ-9mRhWo

  • MarTeaNi

    I couldn't do Dollhouse, I just couldn't. Not just because of Dushku, but that show was one great big flashing problem. Especially the character that existed to get raped in every plot she was in. And that's nauseatingly impressive in a series that's already got a creepy sex theme.

  • cruzzercruz

    They move past her sexual engagements fairly quickly and begin to tackle the concept of identity, whether you can artificially create one that's more valuable than your natural one, and the dangers of tampering with human mind. By the season one finale, the show kicks into epic mode.

    Not to mention, they eventually start implanting certain characters minds into other's bodies and it makes for an amazing display of acting chops. Not for Dushku, obviously.

  • MarTeaNi

    I stuck around for a season and a half before I gave up. I even suck in past Belonging, the gross episode where Girl Who is Raped is revealed to have a gross rape back story. I threw in the towel with The Attic. The show made itself needlessly complicated and didn't explore identity so much as relative levels of exploitation and how ok it is and the good/bad intentions therin. It didn't help that I would say half the cast is a charisma vacuum, particularly Ballard (other than Dushku), and the whole "love conquers not having a functioning memory or brain" thing. Victor was also as dull as white toast.

    I didn't care that I had most of the show finished. I had no more patience for a show this persistently gross.

  • Sara Habein

    I LOVED Rubicon when it was on. Shame to see it go.

    My series that I keep meaning to finish but haven't yet is Awake.

  • pissants_doppelganger

    Man, The Riches was pretty fun, even if some of their cons were beyond ridiculous. The insight into supposed Irish traveler life/rules was interesting. I felt really bad for Eddie Izzard because Minnie Driver got the outrageous southern accent that is pretty easy to pull off (or makes it easier to not betray your British accent, at least). He got the more "normal" American accent and I could faintly detect his real accent nearly every time he talked, especially when he said "Panco" and it sounded like "Painco". It reminds me of the uncanny valley American accent Ewan McGregor did in The Men Who Stare at Goats. But it was a fun show that unfortunately just got dropped with a cliffhanger at the end of the second season.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Ewan McGregor had that very same problem in August: Osage County, and Cumbersnatch was even worse. Those two really took me out of the moment every time they spoke.

  • emmalita

    I really liked Rubicon. I thought the cast and the characters were fantastic, but the plot bogged on the larger mystery. It was a case of trying to shoehorn some mythology onto what could have been a very good show about people who break codes and identify threats.

  • e jerry powell

    Re: "The Riches"

    Part of me kept watching in hopes of Eddie Izzard making out with Gregg Henry for some reason.

    You also forgot to mention Margo Martindale as Nina Burns.

  • loo shag brolley

    Emily Gilmore, reacting to the accusation that she's just like Fanny Flowers:

    http://plinkplunk.files.wordpr...

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Word (it's the 90s, apparently?). The characters may have served similar to identical functions, but the characters themselves were very different.

  • I still have a shed full of pitchforks, ready to protest the canceling of Bunheads. WHO IS WITH ME?

  • Three_nineteen

    O Captain my Captain!

  • Three_nineteen

    That's not really the plot of The Riches. Sure, they drive around in an RV in the pilot, but then they get in a car accident that kills some rich people who are moving to a new place, whose last name is "Rich". The family steals their identities and moves into the dead couple's new house, and Eddie Izzard takes over the dead guy's new job. Margo Martindale plays their neighbor.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Sleeper Cell's first season is fantastic. I never thought that watching a Bosnian would-be-terrorist rapping "I left my wallet in El Segundo" could be that fascinating.

    Ealy's good, too.

  • el_mediocre

    Dollhouse and Sleeper Cell are excellent choices, well worth viewing. Dollhouse especially, after you pass the first 5-6 episodes.

    I need to get back to The Riches, myself.

  • Mike

    Fringe was a show that I fell behind around season 3 and told myself I would eventually catch up on it. The series has since completed its run and all 5 seasons have been on Netflix (for a while now). I have yet to go back to it and it's not because I'm not interested. There's just so many other great shows on right now!

  • thatsmrsnyder

    I tried to get through Fringe twice. I always give up a couple episodes into season 3. I hear it gets better, but at some point it's just not worth it.

  • Fringe was truly terrific up until Season 5. In S5 they irrevocably shit the bed plot-wise. Watch through S4 and skip S5 entirely and save yourself some grief.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I'm not the only one who hates the last season? I always felt so weird, because most people seem to dig it and I'm just all, "But... Why do I care?" We got thrown into basically a completely different show with essentially an inferior lead (which isn't even an insult to Georgina Haig; this is mainly a creative misstep) and a storyline that... I mean, I guess it made sense, but it lacked any real connection to the Fringe that had come before. I get that the show had a habit of pretty completely reinventing its storylines season to season, but season five was just way too far in the wrong ways.

  • No, it did not make any sense to remake the Observers in the way that they did. None of that--the Observers' weird about-face, their supposed motive, none of it--made any sense at all. It still makes me sick to think of what they did to what had been one of my favorite shows of all time. I still miss Walter. I wish Walter lived in my basement. I would take down trays of sandwiches with the crusts cut off and Twizzlers and strawberry milkshakes and look over his latest inventions.

  • Uriah_Creep

    And you would also have a cow in your basement. I don't know how I'd feel about that.

  • Jiffylush

    The first season of sleeper cell was amazing, just really great television. The second was nowhere near as good but still worth watching.

  • Modernlove

    Bunheads is one of those shows I was honestly devastated to see canceled. I watched every episode as it aired and I'm still bitter it's gone. That finale killed me in the way only Amy Sherman-Palladino can do.

  • Emilie

    the cancellation of bunheads is why i cut the cable cord. it was unforgivable.

  • foolsage

    Bunheads was delightful. It was quirky but not obnoxiously so. It had a solid cast of interesting, multidimensional characters. Damned shame they didn't renew it.

  • Modernlove

    I've never forgiven ABCFamily. (Except for The Fosters. That show is the tits.)

  • Michelle

    Yes. Also: it gave me an appreciation for the wonderful Sutton Foster.

  • Billybob

    And me an appreciation for Sutton Foster's wonderful legs.

    But seriously, I'd never heard of her before this show, and she is nonstop awesome.

  • foolsage

    Seconded, on both counts. ;)

  • NaturalFro79

    Isn't Sutton Foster amazing? The whole cast was so talented and funny. I binged watched the whole thing, not realizing there was no second season. I nearly lost it.

  • Michelle

    Dollhouse season 2 was actually surprisingly good, even with the charisma-vacuum that is Eliza Dushku.

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