Binge watching history
September 9, 2016 8:19 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to settle into a nice, weekly marathon tele night where I can binge on one or two episodes of a riveting historical drama series or mini series...

I have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, and Hulu; I have a soft spot for shows set pre-1900/post-medieval, but I can be flexible. I know some of the usual suspects (Downton Abbey, The Tudors, John Adams, Wolf Hall, Outlander), but I'm wondering if there's more of the same or similar that I might enjoy that's been produced since this question was asked? What do you recommend?
posted by pinkacademic to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
A bit past your time limit of 1900, but if you like the feel of Downton Abbey, you might also enjoy Indian Summers, set towards the end of the British Raj. It was made pretty recently (apparently the DVD was released under a year ago).
posted by ClaireBear at 8:34 PM on September 9, 2016

OMG Netflix just got the new BBC adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and it's fantastic!

I'm a sucker for period TV and thought I'd have a million recommendations from your period. However, skimming through stuff I've liked and other recommendations from my various digital sources, it looks like there's a sharp divide in period TV between 20th century (which includes things like Downton and the scores of turn-of-the-century knockoffs like Peaky Blinders and Lark Rise to Candleford as well as your Mad Men and Call The Midwife and Land Girls) and pre-1600s (things like The Last Kingdom and The Tudors). There actually aren't a lot of shows that take place from the 1600s-1800s. Which seems pretty shocking, but there you go.

The only things I came up with which weren't already on your list are:

North and South (the BBC one about Manchester, not the 80s American miniseries about the Civil War)
Hmmmm, speaking of the Civil War, the recent Roots remake was really good!
Death Comes To Pemberley (A Pride & Prejudice spinoff series)
Ripper Street (might be a stealth turn of the century period piece a la Downton)
The Buccaneers
Gunpowder, Treason & Plot
Ruby In The Smoke
The White Queen
Black Sails
Hell On Wheels

And yes, as I said, if you're flexible on pre-1900 and up for stuff in that hazy Edwardian/WWI era, there is a ton more. That's a really popular period for TV, for some reason (probably the success of Downton).
posted by Sara C. at 8:53 PM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I see it was suggested in the other thread and it's a couple decades past your preferred time period but Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries was fantastic and you should definitely watch it. Unlike other shows of its ilk it ends on a satisfying note that feels, if not complete, at least finished for the moment, so although it's not a miniseries it left me with that completed miniseries feeling.

Have you considered some historical Asian dramas? There are tons of them, of varying levels of quality and binge-ability. Many of the South Korean ones are slightly more light-hearted whereas the Chinese ones I've seen (with subtitles so I can watch them, so there's probably some self-selecting going on) tend to be more serious and sad. Hulu and Netflix have an okay selection of Korean dramas for you to check out though a lot are more modern at the moment. To really explore what's out there and find various ways to watch shows check out DramaFever. Their historical shows listing.
posted by Mizu at 8:59 PM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Gran Hotel
posted by Sassyfras at 9:13 PM on September 9, 2016

Wives and daughters and the other Gaskell adaptions. All the Austin adaptions.
posted by kjs4 at 2:53 AM on September 10, 2016

We really enjoyed Turn: Washington's Spies.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:33 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not dramas (thought lots of drama happens), but these programs were just wonderful. Some of them are on YouTube in full

1900's House
1940's House
Frontier House
Victorian Farm
Edwardian Farm
posted by james33 at 5:43 AM on September 10, 2016

The Knick. Medical drama in a NYC hospital in the early 1900s. Main conflict / story points are: inventing new surgical procedures and devices, fighting for the recognition of work done by blacks and women, doctors with drug or gambling addictions, keeping the hospital funded and, of course, romantic involvements. Stories go outside the hospital often enough to give a good view of life at that time. 20 episodes.
posted by Homer42 at 8:53 AM on September 10, 2016 [2 favorites]

Deadwood is at the top of my all-time favorites list. If you are offended by bad language though, you won't get past the first fifteen minutes. (There's a good reason for the swearing, and I got used to it quickly.)

Also, Rome is captivating. And beautiful to look at.
posted by Gusaroo at 9:33 AM on September 10, 2016

Poldark ( set in 1700s) I recommend both the series made in the 1970s and the new reboot.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 10:14 AM on September 10, 2016

Have you looked at the miniseries John Adams or Carlos?
posted by erattacorrige at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Granted, WWII but Band of Brothers is historical, binge-watching crack.
posted by raider at 12:33 PM on September 10, 2016

Crossbow the Adventures of William Tell is a very good series. The only place I have found it is on youtube. Wish the series was available in more formats.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2016

Other bbc period drama we've recently binge watched includes Cranford (and return to Cranford), Land Girls, Island at War (both ww2) and although it is more murder mystery than drama we absolutely love Foyle's War for all the reasons top quality period drama works.
posted by tillsbury at 2:18 PM on September 10, 2016

Whoops, sorry, I went post-1900 not pre-1900. My apologies
posted by tillsbury at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2016

Just remembered that there's a series called Underground, about the Underground Railroad, on Hulu.
posted by Sara C. at 4:49 PM on September 10, 2016

Borgia (the first season is subtitled "Faith & Fear") on Netflix is awesome, even though some of the plotlines are less interesting than others. Do not confuse with the horrible Showtime "Borgias" which I could not watch at all.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:43 PM on September 10, 2016

This is basically what I'm always looking for. I can never find enough 17th and 18th century!

It's definitely over-the top, but "The Devil's Whore" (English Civil War) probably fits your criteria. And has Michael Fassbender and Dominic West to boot. There's a "sequel" miniseries called "New Worlds." I watched an episode and found it too ridiculous, but also in period.
posted by thivaia at 8:36 PM on September 10, 2016

Late 1900's to mid twentieth century: the 3 box set of Young Indiana Jones will totally fill your winter!
posted by Mesaverdian at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2016

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