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8 Netflix Instant Watch TV Series To Make The Bleak Winter Downright Cozy

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | November 14, 2012 | Comments ()


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Winter is coming, y’all. For many of you, it’s already here. And while there are still plenty of shows in the air, pretty soon we’ll be facing the fallow Winter hiatus of many of our favorite shows. I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be using that hiatus to deck the halls and smooch under mistletoe and mull cider and, ye gods, talk to each other. Well to avoid that horror of horrors, here are 8 TV shows you can cuddle up in front of on Netflix in the upcoming months. This is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list. Just something we like to do from time to time to highlight some shows you may not have seen or those you want to revisit.

“Life”: With the Damian Lewis “Homeland” star on the rise, NBC has to be kicking themselves over canceling this fantastic show. Season 1 is, admittedly, far superior to Season 2, but both Lewis and his parter (played by Sarah Shahi recently of “Fairly Legal”…the only show USA has ever cancelled) are fun to watch. Equally fun is the crazy talented supporting cast (Adam Arkin, Donal Logue, Robin Weigert, Garret Dillahunt, Titus Welliver, etc.)
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“The Riches”: I’m biased because I have a weakness for all things Izzard. But even I get why FX cancelled this show after only two short seasons. But, then again, it’s two fun, short seasons with some vintage Minnie Driver, that cute brunette from “Raising Hope” and Eddie Izzard. Someone find this man a TV vehicle that will stick. He’s just the best.
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“Prime Suspect”: Yes you all worship at the alter of Helen Mirren, but have you all done your Mirren homework? Dame Helen played DCI Jane Tennison for 15 years and if you think the American version with Maria Bello taught you anything about how great this show was, you are dead wrong. Most of the “seasons” come in three hour chunks. Lap ‘em up.
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“Traffic Light”: This was such a fun and frothy sitcom, both Dustin and I were saddened when it was cancelled. If you pretend it’s a comedic mini-series, you might not feel the same pangs when it comes to an end.
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“United States Of Tara”: Toni Collette got all the attention for this show. As well she should. It’s a bravura performance that puts most other lead actresses to shame. But the rest of the cast (the under-appreciated John Corbett, Brie Larson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Keir Gilchrist and the great Patton Oswalt) are what make this show truly a joy. It’s funny, it’s terrifying and it’s lovely.
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“Shameless”: I’m sick of people talking about the American version and, specifically, Emmy Rossum’s breasts. You know what? The British one was better. And James McAvoy’s breasts were better. SO THERE.
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“Dollhouse”: Oh, Joss. This could have been amazing. This could have been an incredible series. But Joss had to cast Dushku in the lead and her leaden performance just drags the whole thing to its knees. But BUT, if you ignore Dushku, dear god this is Whedon gold. Much specific love to Olivia Williams, Fran Kranz (now of Cabin In The Woods fame), Enver Gjokaj (soon, we hope, of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” fame), Dichen Lachman and Reed Diamond. If you watch it (and skip the stupid episodes where Dushku is a dominatrix or a cheerleader) you’ll be rewarded with fantastic turns from Whedon Regulars like Tudyk, Glau, Acker, Sheppard and Day.
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“Criminal Justice”: It’s no surprise that this British miniseries is being adapted by Richard Price (“The Wire,” Clockers) for HBO. It feels like “Oz” and “The Wire” had a blue-tinged, British baby. In the first season (the only one currently available on Netflix), Ben Whishaw (“The Hour,” Cloud Atlas, Skyfall) plays Ben Coulter, an aimless young man who is accused of murder. The show follows him through arrest, jail and court. Like a loooooong episode of Law & Order, with a lot more prison rape. The late great Pete Postlethwaite shows up in episode 2 as an older con in the system who looks out for Coulter. It’s a great, gritty, juicy drama which, like “The Wire” has a slow burn. Though I haven’t seen Season 2, I understand the British series (like Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story”) was an anthology, picking up with a different accused and new actors each season. That should be great fun on HBO with James Gandolfini in the lead and Richard Price at the helm.
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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Adrienne Marie

    Every time I see someone talk about "Life," I get pissed off all over again. Thanks, Pajiba. I'm still not over it.

  • Eva Halloween

    Oh, lovely list. There were moments of “The Riches” that seriously made me ache. If I may, "Slings and Arrows" and "The IT Crowd" are both available and excellent, and the first season of "Black Books" is basically the funniest thing ever.

  • AudioSuede

    Enver Gjokaj is such an underrated actor. Dude killed it on that show, easily the best actor in the room in almost every scene. Now if only I could pronounce his name...

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Dollhouse and The Sarah Connor Chronicles used to show up in my hulu queue at the same time and I always got a thrill seeing them there.

  • blorft

    I've been watching Hart of Dixie, which, I know. But if you are part of the very specific demographic that needs a blatant Everwood/Gilmore Girls feel-good ripoff, it totally works. It is heartwarming. Also, Jason Street is in it, and an offensively overacted Southern Belle who is named after a citrus fruit.

    Didn't realize Shameless was on Netflix though! My crush on James McAvoy has been waiting eight years for this. And also it's appropriate because the theme of this comment is shame. So much shame.

  • chanohack

    I'm surprised you didn't mention Eddie Izzard as a recurring guest on "United States of Tara!" I like trying to guess which lines he improvs. And Viola Davis is a great recurring guest, too. I think the world of that show. It's just so lovely.

  • There is so much goodness in this list! Life is awesome with great performances from Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi, along with that fantastic supporting cast (and, as much love as she gets on Pajiba, I'm a little surprised that you didn't mention Christina Hendricks in her recurring guest role). I feel the need to eat some fruit just thinking about it. :)

    Dollhouse is amazing. The thing that most interests me about it though, is that the best episode, Epitaph 1, never aired on t.v. If THAT was what Joss had in mind the whole time, it makes me sad that his vision was cut short. Alternately, I would've loved to watch the Victor and Sierra show.

    The first two seasons of Shameless are frakkin' hilarious. I get kind of tired of it after that. Side note, Fiona, the love interest of James McAvoy's Steve, is played by his real-life wife.

  • Blake

    Huge +1s for Life and United States Of Tara (mostly for Damian Lewis and Brie Larson).

    Skins UK is another show worth checking out but start with Series 5 (2011) for Dakota Blue Richards.

  • Did you really recommend people to skip the first generation of Skins UK.

  • Blake

    I know, I know (only because of Kaya Scodelario).

  • Are we going to have to get greased up and wrestle out our differences.

  • Liz

    I know you didn't just write a whole paragraph about Dollhouse without mentioning Tahmoh Penikett. Love me some Helo!!

  • Fabius_Maximus

    It's a shame that my local "dealer" has never heard of Criminal Justice. Moffat writes for the series, and it's second season features Matthew MacFayden, Eddie Marsan, Zoe Telford (Sherlock), and Steve MacKintosh (Luther).

  • Three_nineteen

    If it wasn't for Dushku, Whedon would never have made Dollhouse. Eliza was the one who had a series deal with Fox, and she got Joss to create a series for her. Plus it is a great show. Dusku isn't a great actress, but she's doesn't ruin the series.

  • Crystal O.

    I marathoned United States of Tara this summer and was so happy I did. Such an awesome little show with by far one of my favorite TV families ever.

    Also, I've been in love with Captain Dick Winters forever but have had to miss out on Homeland because I don't have Showtime. I think I'll settle for Life until Homeland hits Netflix, which will probably never happen with my luck.

  • I just finished Dollhouse, and I agree that it is really good. I was seriously disappointed with the SHIELD casting, because I thought the parts of the scientists/tech specialists sounded perfect for Acker and Kranz. The serious lack of Whedon regulars in the cast so far is very disheartening. Hopefully Gjokaj will be brought aboard and make up for that.

  • BWeaves

    Eddie Izzard needs to star in a TV show where he cross-dresses. I'm sorry, but he's way sexier that way.

  • Mel C.

    I love the British Shameless. Thank you! So much better than the American version.

  • Reginald

    The American Shameless is so much better than the British version. You are wrong.

  • Lubeg

    I'd also like to point out that Patton also had a brilliant turn on Dollhouse.

    I was crushed when they killed Life. Lewis's character was so much fun.

  • Bedewcrock

    Three things:

    1. Adam Arkin is Alan Arkin's son?

    2. I think Enver Gjokai is spelled Gjokaj.

    3. Prime Suspect is so.damn.good.

  • Dollhouse is amazing. Fox ruined it by airing stuff out of order and taking control of the first 4(?) episodes, but had they not screwed around with it, it would have been awesome. Slow start but mind-blowing ending. Stick through both seasons and you'll be so happy you did!

  • annoyingmouse

    Wait, Fox aired episodes out of order...for a Joss Whedon show...again? Seriously?

  • Anna von Beav

    Agreed. It's actually a really good show, despite Dushku. And it's a good one for marathoning through.

  • Fredo

    Who wants some fruit? You really need fruit.

  • RilesSD

    Pete Postlethwaite? I'm there.

  • Yep, my hand slipped on my scroll pad and I ended up landing on that screencap. I don't even know what the rest of the list contains, and I don't care.

  • badkittyuno

    Wow apparently Sons of Anarchy is a reunion show for like half the people on "Life". I recognize the chick on the left as the MC's lawyer, Adam Arkin played Zobelle and isn't Titus Welliver one of the Irish assholes?

  • Bert_McGurt

    He's Jimmy O, indeed. Of course I've always thought of Sons in the context of a post-Deadwood reunion, of which Life also has a good claim to from the looks of it.

    Apparently being a Deadwood alum is a hell of a resume booster. Which makes it all the more puzzling that Ian McShane hasn't shown up anywhere lately. Though he IS slated to show up on American Horror Story, it's not the FX show I'd hoped to see him on.

  • AudioSuede

    Ian McShane was likely too busy kicking the s*it out of every NBC executive involved in canceling Kings and not pushing it for Emmy gold, where he surely would have won Best Actor.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Oh but this is going to be AMAZING. http://i.imgur.com/5xbdW.jpg

  • Bert_McGurt

    Ok, that appears equal parts lecherous, ominous, and festive. I approve!

    Maybe he can do both? If Adam Arkin can show up on Sons of Anarchy AND Justified...

    In a way it's kind of a shame - McShane would have been amazing either as Art OR Arlo. Then again, Nick Searcy and Raymond J. Barry are also fantastic and it's hard to imagine the show without them.

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