This is the maiden voyage of a new weekly feature here on the blog: A weekly suggestion of something cool to check out online. I’m going to start with Netflix, then expand to include Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime, to help you with the full online streaming experience.
I’m going to ease into this with a few TV shows that I feel are all kindred spirits (no pun intended), and are solid entries into the sci-fi procedurals. Clicking the images and headlines will take you to the Netflix page for each of the shows.
I know, I know… “DUH! You don’t have to tell me to watch that. I already saw it back when it first aired!” So did I. I grew up on the show, as did many nerds of my generation. But I don’t think I’ve watched a single episode since it went off the air back in 2002. Not that I’ve been avoiding it, and I may have caught a random episode here or there over the years in the wee small hours the morning during local programming. But I’ve yet to fully revisit one of my all time favourite shows. And that’s what I’m in the process of doing right now (as well as another personally formative show I’ll discuss next week).
I’m a little over halfway through the first season (I only recently started this endeavour), the exploratory season. You can definitely tell that Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are finding their footing on this groundbreaking series. It was a unique program to join the line-up of the then 6-year-old FOX Network, which was still trying to stake a claim in prime-time, and had already found some success with Married… With Children, 21 Jump Street, Beverly Hills 90210 and, of course, The Simpsons. But that’s always been the fascinating thing about FOX, they’ve always been just a step ahead, and quite bold with their programming choices. A prime-time animated sitcom which led to a whole block of animated program. Roseanne got the glory, but Married… with Children beat it to the punch on blue-collar dysfunction. Even into the 2000s, if it wasn’t for both The X-Files and later 24, we probably wouldn’t have seen Lost. But I digress, back to The X-Files…
As long as there’s been TV, there’s been cop shows, Dragnet started all the way back in 1951. The X-Files took that long tradition of solving cases and threw aliens, ghosts, monsters and demons at it, but rarely strayed into the truly ridiculous. OK… there were a few episodes (mostly in the admittedly uneven 1st season) that got a little off topic, but once you push through the muck and WTF moments, the show really hits its stride.
What always kept my interest was the balance between “Monster-Of-The-Week” episodes, the stand alone stories, and the ones that fell under the purview of the running narrative arc – Mulder’s quest for the truth, specifically as it pertains to his sister’s disappearance, and the alien cover up conspiracy. The addition of the fantastic Mitch Pileggi in the second season gave Mulder and Scully an authority figure to both clash and commiserate with. Skinner was both friend and foe, but not out of inconsistent writing, but out of the intricacies of the character. His arrival was when the show really started to pick up, and just a year after that, Vince Gilligan joined the writing staff, and he would go on to create Breaking Bad, one of the best TV shows of the past decade.
Say what you will about the first season, and there’s a lot to be said about it, but it’s a landmark show and I’m thoroughly enjoying the trip down memory lane. All 9 seasons are available for streaming on Netflix by clicking here. Run through the whole series, or just catch up on your favourite episodes.
I spent a lot of time talking about The X-Files, so I promise to keep the next two relatively short. I was first introduced to Warehouse 13 by my dear friend Joel. I believe his exact words were “Dude, you gotta check out Warehouse 13.” It had just started, so the first few episodes were there for my viewing pleasure on Hulu. I marathoned them all and became an instant fan. I remember discussing the show a few days later and referring to it as “X-Files: The Next Generation.” Federal agents in a sci-fi show tracking down the weird and unexplained… I think it’s an apt description. It’s a little heavier on the comedy than The X-Files was, but it works.
I was attracted to this show because of its pop culture references. Not pop culture references the way Community and Psych (both great shows, Psych is on Netflix, Community is on HuluPlus) make Star Wars jokes. Pop culture references like… Victorian era authors. Centuries old world leaders. The show really hit the ground running, and I think benefits from the shortened seasons of cable. It’s definitely worth a watch, with seasons 1 & 2 on Netflix which you can watch here, season 3 will be released soon, and season 4 starts this summer. Also worth a watch: their sister show, Eureka, which is coming back this summer for its 5th and final season. All 4 seasons are on Netflix.
Admittedly, I initially dismissed this show as “Great… another Buffy retread featuring guys who are way too good-looking, and it’s on the CW, so whatevs. GIRL SHOW!” But then I started hearing really positive things about it. From people whose opinions I trusted, and I wouldn’t have normally pegged to have enjoyed my perception of what kind of show Supernatural was. Then the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon kicked into high gear, and I started seeing it recommended on Netflix, on Hulu, I saw it mentioned a lot on Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, it even showed up in Fark. So I said, “FINE! I’ll give it a shot!”
Holy shit! I totally should have been watching this from the beginning. It’s a damn good sci-fi/fantasy/horror show that very much follows the mold of The X-Files in that it does the aforementioned “Monster-Of-The-Week,” but also balances it with an overall arc. Since I’m watching this one in tandem with The X-Files, I’m still only on the first season with this one, as well. Though there are a few later season episodes I’m looking forward to, including the S5 finale set in Stull, KS, which as any good Kansan (like myself) will tell you, is allegedly one of the gates to hell. And there’s a S6 episode that gets really meta, which I’m looking forward to watching.
Mostly I’m disappointed I ignored this one for so long. It’s a really good show and if you aren’t watching it, catch all 6 seasons on Netflix here, and it’s currently in its 7th.