Today, gentle readers, I’m going to treat you as I treat my real life friends. I’m going to shower you with love and tasty alcoholic beverages and then I’m going to harangue you until you watch all my favorite movies and TV shows. That way you’ll get ALL my jokes and references (oh, yes, and you’ll enjoy watching them because I have excellent and empirically impeccable taste). The thing that has made my haranguing that much easier in recent years is, of course, the advent of Netflix. It’s all there, my friends, a wide-world of entertainment. All you need to do is make a list! Oh and get your mail. Oh and then there’s the keeping track of that envelope. Followed by the mailing BACK of the envelope. And then the waiting…dear God, the waiting.
We’re so spoiled. When a show I love pops up on Netflix Instant Watch, first there is the quiet and dignified dancing followed by the bellowing. It goes something like this, “Ahem, dear friend or loved one. WHY HAVEN’T YOU WATCHED PARKS AND RECREATIONS YET? IT’S MADE OF SWEETNESS AND LIGHT. YOU DON’T GET ANY OF MY ADORABLE LI’L SEBASTIAN JOKES, THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE POST-HASTE.” Frak, to be honest, I didn’t watch “Battlestar Geeklactica” until it popped up on Instant Watch. Now I can make “hilarious” toaster jokes. The world is a better place.
The point I’m trying to make, poppets, is that you should watch the following shows. Your teeths will glow brighter, your hairs will be more luxuriant, and I will seem like a much more sane and balanced person when I refer to people as “frittatas.”
“The IT Crowd”: People have been telling me for years to watch this show because they know I like British things. I finally cracked because of my burgeoning love for Chris O’Dowd (charming in Pirate Radio and oppressively winning in Bridesmaids). This is for the lovers of silly things. If you’ve enjoyed similar British series like “Spaced,” “Black Books,” and “Green Wing,” I can recommend this with confidence. The adorable O’Dowd is a bit more loutish than I’d seen him before and is almost overshadowed by the timid comedic stylings of Richard Ayoade. As I’ve said, it’s quite silly, but it’s silly done quite well. (The IT Crowd Seasons 1-4)
“Reaper”: I’m a bit of a sucker for supernatural dramedies (damn you, Joss Whedon) and “Reaper,” which originally aired on the CW, got such a short shrift. It’s sort of like “Chuck” meets “Buffy.” All the younger actors in the series are pretty adorable but it’s Ray Wise’s turn as Satan that steals the show. I’ve mentioned before how much I love a smiling, charming villain. The show was created by Kevin Smith, but don’t let that deter you. Or, are we liking him again this week? I can’t keep track. (Reaper Seasons 1-2)
“Luther”: I think I can convince you to watch “Luther” with only two words: Idris Elba. What, you haven’t watched “The Wire” yet? What in the hell is wrong with you?!! Okay. Idris Elba is a BAMF and all-around dreamboat. In this series he drops the fake (but very convincing) Baltimoronic accent and threatens and broods and solves crimes in his native Brit. The first season is only six hours and the show will return to BBC American this fall with a “miniseries sequel.” Elba is mesmerizing and the series is tightly paced and gripping throughout. It’s like a weightier “MI-5” (aka “Spooks). Like watching “The Wire“‘s McNulty on simmer instead of boil. (Luther Season 1)
Sports Night: Sometimes you tumble to a series that is so chock-a-block full of talent, you are truly baffled as to why it wasn’t the most watched, most beloved series of its time. Such is the case with Aaron Sorkin’s freshman television effort “Sports Night.” I know many/most of you have watched this series at one point (right? come on, right?!), but if you haven’t, now is the time. Peter Krause and Josh Charles have gone on to anchor several great TV series and Felicity Huffman, well, her series isn’t great…but it sure is on! Watch it for them. Watch it because they eventually dropped the laugh track. Watch it for Sorkin’s snappy dialogue. Watch it so that when a guy calls you smoky, you’ll know he means it as the highest compliment. (Sports Night Seasons 1-2)
Twin Peaks: Here is a pop-cultural staple. A must-see. David Lynch’s creepy and compelling series was the talk of every water cooler in the early 90’s. The “Lost” of its time…only replace the Polar Bears with midgets and Apollo bars with cherry pie. Kyle MacLachlan is fantastic playing the only character I’ve ever seen Kyle MacLachlan play. Only somehow better. The ladies are gorgeous, their hair is ninetiestacular and it contains the least obnoxious Heather Graham performance of all-time. Wash it down with a cup of damn good coffee…and hot. (Twin Peaks Seasons 1-2)
The League: Full-disclosure, I watch things like “The League” to keep my pretension in check. If you feel you have your pretension well-handled, you can move along down the page, that’s dandy. “The League” is a show about assholes being assholes to each other. It’s sort of like “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” but with a cozy, familial warmth that makes it more palatable. (I can’t watch It’s Always Sunny, I cringe.) The show centers around a group of fantasy football leaguers who have known each other most of their lives and mercilessly mock and taunt each other. It’s honestly (based on my outsider experience) one of the most realistic depictions of male friendship I’ve seen and a f*cking laugh riot. There are kids and wives (one of whom knows more about sports than most of the guys and saves the show from being rampantly sexist) but mostly it’s about these manchildren played magnificently by “hey it’s that guy” actors. Nick Kroll’s total toolbag “Ruxin” is my favorite. No knowledge of sports or fantasy leagues required. (Season 1)
Sherlock: We’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink on this site talking about this show and how magnificent it is. Creator Steven Moffat (“Coupling,” “Doctor Who,” the underrated
“Jekyll”) and his band of merry writers have done a bang-up job updating the classic Holmes stories. Benedict Cumberbatch is something of a revelation as Holmes: arrogant and dismissive and lightning quick. Like a less cuddly Dr. House. (Sidebar: When someone told me “House,” and specifically the House/Wilson relationship was based on “Sherlock Holmes” I let out an audible “SHUT UP.”) Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the absurdly named Cumberbatch who is counterbalanced perfectly by Martin Freeman (“The Office, UK,” Love, Actually, A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the once and future Hobbit). While Freeman excels at affable and winning, he plays a Dr. Watson who is afflicted with PTSD and is equal parts sweet and completely closed-off. The show is magnificent and it’s only three episodes. DO IT! (Sherlock Season 1)
Friday Night Lights: Really, honestly, you still haven’t watched it? After all the kind words we’ve said about it? What’s wrong with you? I throw my hands up in disgust. You sicken me. I’m truly frightened by your obstinacy. (Friday Nights Lights Seasons 1-4)
Joanna Robinson can’t even talk to you about “Doctor Who.” If you haven’t watched it yet, she weeps for you.