Wednesday, December 23, 2015

5 Shows Worth Binge-Watching Over Hiatus [Guest Poster: Marilyn]

Hiatus is a bear, am I right? The shows completely abuse this, leaving us with amazing cliffhangers so that we’re suffering extra over the five or six weeks until we can get answers. The best thing you can do during this time is distract yourself. And there are few better ways to distract you from the agony your current show is putting you through than by binge-watching another really good show.

Hiatus is the perfect time to find a show whose complete series is indexed on Netflix or some other streaming service, and then power-watch through the whole thing, experiencing all the highs and lows in one fell swoop. That way, before you know it, the weeks are over and that favorite show of yours is back on television once more. Plus, you might have a new favorite show to add to your (never-ending) queue.

So here are my top five shows worth binge-watching over hiatus. Let’s go!


My number one pet peeve since LOST aired its finale over five years ago is the fact that there are people who misinterpreted that ending and, as a consequence, the entire show. I argue for the truth and it almost always ends up with me loading up episodes to re-watch. I can’t help it — this show is just that good.

There’s also an amazing cast of characters, which — for me — is the most important thing about a television series. You have Jack, the impromptu leader. Kate, the damaged heroine. Sawyer, the scoundrel with a heart of gold. Jin and Sun, a couple in love and struggling. Claire, the pregnant and prophesied young woman. Charlie, the reformed bad boy. Hurley, whom everyone loves. And so many more. You suffer with these people, endure their heartaches, their triumphs, their strengths and weaknesses. And by the time the show has finished, you are sad to never see these people again because you feel a bond with them.

You can find all six seasons of LOST on Netflix. I’ll warn you right now that season three was the weakest of the lot, but once the show got itself back under control, things got so good.

Best Episodes:
“The Constant” (season four, episode five) “Through the Looking Glass” (season three, episodes 22/23)

Worst Episode: 
“Fire + Water” (season two, episode 12) “Stranger in a Strange Land” (season three, episode nine)

Favorite Line: 
“See ya in another life, brotha.” — Desmond


Back in 2005, I broke my ankle trying to break up a sheet of ice on my driveway (not my brightest moment, I’ll admit) and as a result, I had a lot of time on my hands that winter to lay in bed and watch television. At the time, TBS was running Dawson’s Creek episodes — two a day, every morning. I had watched through season four when the show was still airing, but had missed everything that came after. This was my chance to right that wrong.

I was captivated by the melodramatic tales of the teens of Capeside; Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Jen... Jack and Andie too. I despised Dawson (especially during season three), adored Pacey, and shipped the heck out of Joey and Pacey. Make no mistake, Dawson's Creek is a guilty pleasure of a show to watch. But I guarantee you that you’ll feel better about your own life after you watch this show. Plus, the series finale was gloriously cathartic.

Sadly, Dawson’s Creek isn’t on Netflix. You can buy the six seasons to stream on Amazon and probably elsewhere if you’re enterprising enough to look. Maybe the DVDs will go on a super sale after Christmas!

Best Episodes: 
“True Love” (season three, episode 23) “Castaways” (season six, episode 15) “Must Come to an End” (season six episode 23)

Worst Episode: 
“Homecoming” (season three, episode two), “Hotel New Hampshire” (season five, episode eight)

Favorite Line: 
“I never really put much faith in all that 'if you love someone set them free' crap, as evidenced by everything I've done in my life up to this very moment. But I am determined to be happy, Joey. Happy in this life. And I love you. I mean, I always... I have always, always loved you. But our timing has just never been right. And the way I figure it, time is no man's friend. So I have to get right with that and be happy now.

Because this is it. I mean, this is all that we get... I also want for you to be happy. It's really important for me that you be happy. So I want you to be with someone, whether it be Dawson or New York guy or some man that you haven't even met yet. But I want you to be with someone who can be a part of the life that you want for yourself. I want you to be with someone who makes you feel like I feel when I'm with you. So, I guess the point to this long run-on sentence that's been the last ten years of our lives... is just that the simple act of being in love with you is enough for me. So you're off the hook.” — Pacey in “... Must Come To An End.”


(... but only through the Russell T. Davies era.)

Doctor Who is renowned in fandom. But to those unfamiliar with it, it might appear to be a little daunting. There’s over 50 years of television episodes in the series! So you might have some questions and hesitations before binge-watching. Do you have to watch the whole thing? Is there some sort of primer you have to study before you can start watching? Never fear — you do not have to watch the whole series, and you don’t need a primer. ... So long as you start at a good spot.

I recommend starting with series one, episode one of "New Who" (yep, you can find Doctor Who on Netflix!). The reboot first aired in 2005 and starred Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor and Billie Piper as his companion, Rose Tyler. It was a re-launch, of sorts, as the show, as many knew it, had been off the air for quite a while. The show was launched with the knowledge that some of its audience might not know anything about the classic episodes. As a result, you’re told what you need to know about the history of the series — through The Doctor, companions, and other characters — as you watch.

Series (how the British refer to "seasons") one through four are often referred to as the “RTD Era.” And, in case you are unfamiliar with that particular bit of lingo, RTD stands for Russell T. Davies, who was the showrunner during those years and the man responsible for bringing Doctor Who back on the air.

His focus as showrunner and writer was on telling amazing character stories against the backdrop of science fiction and adventure. Sure, some of the stories and effects are a little on the cheesy side for being as late into the 2000s as the show was. But the series gained respect from the masses by not missing a single character beat and also because of the fantastic character work is what sold some of the more silly concepts. Plus, the RTD era has David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. Yeah, you’re going to want to see that.

Best Episode: 
“The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit (series two, episodes eight and nine), “Father’s Day” (series one, episode eight)

Worst Episode: 
“The Girl in the Fireplace” (series two, episode five) “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” (series four, episodes eight and nine)

Favorite Line: 
“There’s a lot of things you need to get across this universe — warp drive, wormhole refractors... You know the thing you need most of all? You need a hand to hold.”  — The Doctor in “Fear Her.”


This show has a bit of a reputation. I’ve heard some say they don’t want to watch it because it seems too gritty and promotes drug-culture. Which... okay, I’ll give partial credit there. It sort of is and it sort of does. But Breaking Bad is also so much more than that. Again, this is a character-heavy program and it’s the investment in those characters that drives a lot of the momentum in the show. Walter White goes from being a meek man who you feel sorry for because life isn’t terribly kind to him to being an anti-hero to being the antagonist of his own story. And it’s fascinating watching that transformation occur.

And that isn’t to say that Breaking Bad is an entirely dark, gloomy show either, because it’s not. That’s one of the things that surprised me the most when I binged this one with my husband — there are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the series. There is a sort of dry, sarcastic humor at times. And sometimes, the humor is downright black and you wonder, “Should I be laughing at this?”  Yes, go ahead. I’m pretty sure the writers wanted you to.

I sat on the edge of my seat for so much of this show, right up until the very end. It’s great television, a supreme distraction and absolutely perfect to keep your mind off of things during a long winter hiatus.

Best Episodes: 
“Face Off” (season four, episode 13) “Ozymandias” (season five, episode 14) “Box Cutter” (season four, episode one)

Worst Episodes: 
“Rabid Dog” (season five, episode 12), “Cancer Man” (season one, episode four)

Favorite Line:  
"You clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!” — Walter White.


I saved this one for last because Sons of Anarchy is near and dear to my heart. Like almost all the rest on this list, this one is available to stream on Netflix. There are seven (short) seasons available to watch, and each episode of each season packs a serious punch. This show isn’t for the weak. But, if you enjoy great characters, fast-paced plot and enthralling action sequences, you might want to give it a shot.

Sons of Anarchy a modern-day Hamlet, featuring a young man struggling to understand more about his deceased father, while his mother and her new husband plot shenanigans. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in this story of a California motorcycle club. This isn’t a happy show, but it is a good one. There’s a reason it’s listed among my favorite shows of all time.

But, all seriousness aside, Sons of Anarchy also stars Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller and that alone is reason enough to watch. You get to see plenty of this man (and I do mean plenty) in all his tattooed glory.

Fair warning though? This show is violent. SUPER. DUPER. VIOLENT.

Best Episodes: 
“NS” (season three, episode 12, season finale) “Laying Pipe” (season five, episode three) “Papa’s Goods” (season seven, episode 13)

Worst Episodes: 
“Darthy" (season five, episode 12), “Straw” (season six, episode one)

Favorite Line: 
“With this ring, I vow my love. And I promise always to cherish and protect you… And treat you as good as my leather and... ride you as much as my Harley.” — Opie in “Out.”

I’ve given you more than enough to keep you busy for the duration of this hiatus (and maybe given you some shows to consider for the looming summer hiatus as well!). Those long winter days won’t seem quite so long now! And with Netflix’s help, we will get through this.


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