Binge TV
June 13, 2015 11:42 AM   Subscribe

What will get me hooked?

I'm not much of a TV watcher other than news and sports. Recently made the wise decision... hmm, maybe I need to watch more TV!

I haven't gotten into anything since Prison Break which was appointment tv for me. Think I saw half an episode of The Sopranos once, same with Mad Men, Lost and Dexter. Downloaded a season or two of Breaking Bad and was bored after a few episodes. Never seen a minute of Game of Thrones.

Gave The Walking Dead a shot and bang! Hooked. Now I'm almost at the end of season 5 and freaking out that I will soon need new TV crack.

So looking for recommendations, even if selling me why I should give shows above another chance. I think I'm into the episodic, cliffhanger thing but open to any suggestions. Sci-fi doesn't really appeal but maybe LA Law/NYPD Blue-style intelligent stand-alones.
posted by raider to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

Bring your blood pressure meds for both.
posted by cashman at 11:50 AM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The thing that ties all of these kinds of series together is that they all take 3-6 episodes to really grab ahold of you, since they are essentially soap-operas with some theme permeating them, so you have to get into the groove. I false-started Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and Mad Men, but wound up powering through the initial learning curve and really liking them.

That said, I don't watch Walking Dead (another false start a couple months ago), but maybe Deadwood and The Wire.
posted by rhizome at 11:54 AM on June 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

Justified worked for me!
posted by lydhre at 11:58 AM on June 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Boardwalk Empire

Blue Blood

posted by HuronBob at 12:00 PM on June 13, 2015

[sticks head up out of sewer]


[/retreats back into sewer]
posted by tel3path at 12:05 PM on June 13, 2015 [14 favorites]

I agree with rhizome--it often takes a few episodes to get hooked on some very high quality shows that then suck you in like crack. I felt the same way about both The Wire and Deadwood. I'd recommend both as Very Worth It.

However, there are also good shows that hooked me immediately: the two that spring to mind are Broadchurch and Bron/Broen (Danish).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:06 PM on June 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

The Wire?

PS we found The Wire much easier to watch with subtitles on.
posted by vunder at 12:07 PM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Orange Is The New Black. Season 3 was just released on Netflix, but I haven't seen it yet.

Scandal. This one surprised me, its kinda trashy TV, but I was hooked from the first episode.

The West Wing. It holds up well, and I still think it's some of the best TV ever written.
posted by cgg at 12:11 PM on June 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

You mention it in your question, but I'm going to suggest Game of Thrones. I thought I was going to hate it, and now I just finished the third season and wishing I could cancel all my plans for the weekend and get into the fourth.

And, I'm going to repeat what rhisome said above: A lot of these prestige dramas take a couple episodes to get you into their world, but once you do, you're going to gnaw at the bit waiting for the next episode. And you're lucky because all the shows they listed are amazing and also are done, so you won't have to wait at all.
posted by General Malaise at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Adding my vote for West Wing--and at least the first two seasons of House of Cards--I haven't broken into the third season yet.
posted by bookmammal at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you only ever watched half an episode of the Sopranos, I urge you to go back to the beginning and watch four of them and see if you're hooked then. We are almost done rewatching the entire series and I honestly believe it's one of the best things ever produced. There's a reason it was such a big deal.
posted by HotToddy at 12:26 PM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by torisaur at 12:28 PM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Broadchurch. Lilyhammer. Dicte.
posted by trip and a half at 12:42 PM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I am hooked on Pretty Little Liars, although I freely admit it has many weaknesses, mostly plotholes the size of an elephant.

Also, Sherlock.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:50 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Done X-Files and West Wing, both great.

So far Deadwood is in the lead with House of Cards and Boardwalk Empire not far behind (and Hannibal?)

I appreciate the replies and to reciprocate, if anyone has not seen Band of Brothers that was my best binge-watch ever..
posted by raider at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2015

This is a list of the top-rated TV shows from IMDB. Most of them are very good, several I haven't seen and couldn't vouch for.

I think there are two styles. One is the attention must be paid (and is rewarded). I would put The Wire and Arrested Development as the tops in that category. The other is it grabs you. The Walking Dead is like that.

Another good grabbing series you may go for is Death Note (number 22 on the list). It does sort of lose its story line about two-thirds of the way through. (But does have a great ending.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:00 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I sometimes skip to the second episode if I can't get into a show right away. I didn't think I'd like Arrested Development after the first ten minutes of episode 1, but I skipped ahead, and I loved it from then on. Also, another vote to stick with The Sopranos--simply the best series, ever.
posted by feste at 1:10 PM on June 13, 2015

posted by Sassyfras at 1:11 PM on June 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Battlestar Galactica. But maybe have someone come check on you when you first dive in.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:22 PM on June 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Orphan Black hooked me from the start. Also seconding Scandal - it has lots of plot twists but so far I'm loving it! It's one of those shows were I find myself thinking, "Just one more episode before I go to bed." I'm exhausted!
posted by kbar1 at 1:26 PM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just watched two seasons of Orphan Black in 4 days, so that's my vote. I'm also offering up the first season of Veronica Mars, which is perfect television. You can decide what you do from there, but that first season is from heaven.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 1:55 PM on June 13, 2015 [8 favorites]

Halt and catch fire
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
posted by askmehow at 1:55 PM on June 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you do end up liking Deadwood, you'd probably also like Rome.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:13 PM on June 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

Say what you like about Sons of Anarchy, but it's like very an addictive drug that you know as going to eventually kill you (and probably everyone else)....
posted by HuronBob at 2:17 PM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Broadchurch (the original UK show) will CAPTIVATE you. If you start it tonight you'll be done with the first season before Monday, guaranteed.
posted by kate blank at 2:32 PM on June 13, 2015 [6 favorites]

Another vote for Buffy here.
posted by bunderful at 2:53 PM on June 13, 2015

Thought of a couple more: Well, now I see Bloodline and The Killing have been mentioned. Will second those. Rectify seems to be flying under a lot of folks' radar, but I think it's just stunning.
posted by trip and a half at 3:12 PM on June 13, 2015

True Detective
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:15 PM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also, if you like Firefly, you *might* like Defiance, which I'm watching now.

In a different vein. If you like Damages and/or Ridley Scott, you will probably enjoy The Good Wife.
posted by trip and a half at 3:18 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another thing to keep in mind when watching series, watch out for the bottle episodes. They can be either totally great or they will throw you completely off track. If you see something that's out of context with everything else, just think, this is a bottle episode, I should try another episode just to be sure.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:18 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by mudpuppie at 3:29 PM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Obviously Battlestar Gallatica.
posted by EtTuHealy at 5:10 PM on June 13, 2015

FORTITUDE! A grabber, within first three minutes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2015

Fear The Walking Dead arrives in August!
posted by otterboxdefender at 6:17 PM on June 13, 2015

Second Hannibal if you like the macabre at all or if you enjoyed The Silence of the Lambs. It's great.

Second also Orphan Black. Gets bonus points for one actor playing 10+ characters and being awesome at it.
posted by Gymnopedist at 6:19 PM on June 13, 2015

Oh man I LOVED Prison Break. That show was the BEST.

Other things I loved that were super addictive:
- Veronica Mars
- Buffy/Angel
- Firefly
- Battlestar Galactica
- ...BBC Robin Hood :x
- I wasn't a huge fan of West Wing but I really liked Sports Night
- Friend suggests Elementary too
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:20 PM on June 13, 2015

The Fall.

Wire in the Blood.

I also loved Peaky Blinders, but then I'm a die-hard British Crime drama fan and many aren't.

Nthing Broadchurch a million times, and The Killing.
posted by Everydayville at 6:27 PM on June 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Heroes, but it lost us before the end.
posted by notned at 7:23 PM on June 13, 2015

Borgen (if you liked West Wing).
posted by AwkwardPause at 7:48 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Currently, I'm hooked on The 100, which after the first 3-4 episodes, ends up having narrative momentum like woah. Serious cliffhangerness!
posted by suelac at 9:22 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed Terriers. It's only 13 episodes though.
posted by expialidocious at 9:59 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Orphan Black. First season = amazing. Second = great. Third = kinda dragging, but seems to be picking up now.
posted by sarah_pdx at 10:04 PM on June 13, 2015

We "cut the cord" from cable 3 or 4 years ago and became solely binge-watchers. Here are our favorites (in no particular order):

Doctor Who
Stargate SG-1
Stargate Atlantis
A Danish TV show called "Borgen," which is very much like the West Wing
Law &I Order
... and it's not TV but I have to shamefully admit to having recently binge-watched the Twilight movies, and it was awesome.
posted by amy27 at 10:17 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

-If you watch Stargate, do NOT miss Stargate Universe, which is one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen. I still think about it. I highly recommend all of them.
-Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated is amazing and clever and has so many 4-th wall, meta and pop culture jokes. A true gem.
-Many many hours of campy fun can be had with all the CSI series. So much fun, especially if you just want to put something on.
-Happy Valley is sooo good.
-Miniseries Gracepoint was good. (Or Broadchurch.)
-Parks and Recreation
- A Young Doctor's Notebook with Jon Hamm and Danielle Radcliffe - They play off each other amazingly.
-UK version of Being Human (didn't watch the US version).
-MISFITS! (OH, misfits.)
- The 100 is great (also past episodes on Fanfare.)
-Bates Motel
- In Treatment
- Possibly, Medium?
(And N-thing The Fall, The Wire, Law and Order, Luther, Stargate, Fringe, etc.)

I - uh, watch a lot of TV and Movies.... I'll probably think of more.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:41 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, Oh, and Manhattan. (UHG, SO GOOD.)
posted by Crystalinne at 10:46 PM on June 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen anyone mention The Shield. Has some imperfections, but it compelling and has one of the best series finishes of any show.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:58 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Something French: Engrenages (aka Spiral)
posted by rongorongo at 1:28 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another vote for "The 100". Season 1 was very good, season 2 was awesome.

The last two seasons of "Breaking Bad" are amazing although I appreciate it can be a bit of a slog to get there.

I enjoyed "The Mentalist" although the last season wasn't as good as the others.
posted by mr_silver at 3:51 AM on June 14, 2015

More votes for Orphan Black, Sherlock, Broadchurch, and Bron/Broen.

I love me some Breaking Bad (and its prequel, Better Call Saul), but if you weren't hooked after a couple of seasons, you're probably not going to be.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:22 AM on June 14, 2015

Dr. Who. The new ones. In order.
posted by slateyness at 7:02 AM on June 14, 2015

I lean on IMDB a bit when I watch a new series. It can help me get past the phenomenon of a show that becomes good but starts bad.
For example, The 100. A fair number of people have voted on the quality of individual episodes, in this case, on the average, a little under 1000 per. The first four episodes from season 1 are ranked as the four bottom episodes out of the 32 episodes ranked and the four most recent take up four out of seven of the top spots. In other words, it gets better as it goes along. Sometimes the actors have to fit into character, sometimes the writers get to see what is and isn't working. You can bail out on a good series without giving it a chance.

Another series with this phenomenon is Banshee, which hasn't been mentioned here. It has an ordinariness, just another show feel to it for about the first five episodes (four of them filling out the bottom five spots) , but then it starts dealing with the implications of its story line (a criminal who impersonates a cop) and becomes fascinating.

Person of Interest, JJ Abrams latest television effort, has some of that same feel. JJ Abrams, whether it is Alias or Lost, has a great start to his pieces (usually 2 to 3 years) before everything begins to fall apart. In the case of Person of Interest, the program has become more solid over the years (although being Abrams, I still expect it to fly apart). Look at how the first five episodes are ranked, all near the bottom. Look at the scores the recent episodes are getting 9.9 is something very few series ever peak at. It also has a Prison Break, loose feeling, suspension of disbelief aspect to it that you may like.

By the way, Lost is quite good if you just pretend as though it was an intriguing show that ended after three seasons and you never knew how it came out.

So use the IMDB rankings and you may get past the rough early bumps in shows.

Another way to use the IMDB ratings is for shows you don't have to watch in order.

With the 2005 series of Doctor Who the top five ranked episodes are:

3.10 Blink 9.8
- The Day of the Doctor 9.4
4.9 Forest of the Dead 9.4
2.4 The Girl in the Fireplace 9.3
2.13 Doomsday 9.3
4.8 Silence in the Library 9.3

Several of these are all time classic episodes (which get referred to again later and introduce some of the best villains). 4.8 and 4.9 are a two-parter.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:59 AM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, hell yes, Banshee.

Everyone talked about how great Daredevil was, and Banshee is 10x better.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:32 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh man, if you are looking for a rabbit hole to fall down, you've got to give Supernatural a try.

This show has been going for 10 YEARS, and is starting season 11 in the fall! It started out as a gothic back-roads Americana horror show that over time has morphed into a character-focused melodrama with supernatural elements, a rich and convoluted mythology, captivating characters, stellar acting, moments of breathtaking greatness and potential, and moments of infuriating squandered potential. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be shocked and amazed. Not gonna lie, the show has some issues. No other show is capable of infuriating me like Supernatural is. BUT! It is hands-down my favorite show, and if you get hooked, there is SO MUCH to dive into - the show itself, several yearly cons, the actors, who are total sweethearts, and best of all - the fans. There's a very active, literate, smart online fan community that produces insane amounts of high-quality meta, fic and other fanworks that makes watching in real-time a very enriching experience. And if you are at all into the philosophical side of things, there is a lot to contemplate, like: Free will vs pre-destination, self-actualization, the nature of happiness, chosen family vs blood, forgiveness, sacrifice, letting go and moving on, communication, friendship, love, what does it mean to attempt to live an ethical life...
posted by the thought-fox at 3:59 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I also just remembered The Leftovers. It was at times really gut-wrenching, but also unique and very well done. The Walking Dead is the closest thing I could compare it to.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:10 PM on June 14, 2015

My fave is The Wire. Top of the Lake mini-series is great too. Very much worth it to the creepy end.

Hubby loved The Sopranos and Deadwood.
posted by goodsearch at 9:05 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am pretty much an exclusive binge-watcher. A lot of my faves have already been mentioned here so I will add enthusiastic seconds to: The Bridge/Bron/Broen (get the Swedish/Danish one but I hear the US one isn't all bad either); The Killing (again, Danish rather than US); Borgen; Fringe (especially as you've liked the X-Files); Orphan Black; The Wire; The Good Wife; Sherlock; Veronica Mars and Six Feet Under. Buffy is great but not sure how well it would go as a first-watch now, parts of it have dated a lot. If you do, just bear with it past the first season, which sets up a lot of background but isn't necessarily the best. And I really liked Lost.

I don't think I have seen mentioned yet: Elementary, Lost Girl, Haven and a French show called The Returned. Not sure if it's binge-watching material exactly but I've also been quite enjoying Vera.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:45 AM on June 15, 2015

Hannibal and Sherlock are really standing out in my head right now.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2015

Five Shows to Watch if You Love The Walking Dead (self-link)
posted by obloquy at 10:53 AM on June 19, 2015

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