Don’t bother looking on this blog, Part 1 isn’t here. It’s here, on my friend Brenna’s nerdy TV blog. Brenna has shamed/inspired me by being not only prolific in her writing, but consistently insightful and hilarious. Her other site, Cohesive Thesis, is a more general, but no less brilliant, blog. I say without fear of hyperbole that she is one of the most talented writers I have the pleasure of personally knowing. Read that shit, yo.
Given her ability to actually deliver content, instead of saving half-finished drafts and scrambled notes (which she might, I have no idea), it’s no surprise that she managed to write the article I had intended writing before I did. It’s a comprehensive and solid list of streaming Netflix shows. You could definitely spend most of 2013 just watching the shows she has listed. But in case you want more, if you’ve already devoted roughly 540 hours of your life to watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer repeatedly, or if you are a rabid Anglophobe with an aversion to hip neck-wear, here are 5 other Sci-Fi shows to stream away the day on Netflix instant, listed in less specific order than Brenna’s:
5. Doctor Who, Doctors 1-7
Netflix has finally compiled all of their available early Doctor Who material into one channel. Here you can find the ever popular Tom Baker, the ever reviled Colin Baker, the ever boring Peter Davison (sorry Tennant. He’s not my doctor), and all the others.
If you thought Season 1 of New Who had poor CGI, just wait. Bubblewrap monsters were once the height of monster effects, I suppose. But there’s some seriously good stuff in here, and it’s hard to classify oneself as a true Who fan without watching the roots of the show, as cheesy as some of them may be.
Total Seasons Available: Not really broken up into seasons, but rather 18 specials collected from over 25 years.
Total Episodes: Each special is between an hour and two hours long.
Best Episode: I’m particularly partial to The Curse of Fenric, the only special featuring the Seventh Doctor and Ace–an underrated pair. The Ark in Space is classic for a reason: both it and City of Death show Tom Baker at his best.
The Buffy spin-off featuring the broodiest, darkest-dressing hero since Batman is available on Netflix, and any self-respecting Whedonite should at least try this show. While Angel may have been a bland, cardboard-cut-out of a romantic interest on Buffy, Boreanaz finds many new levels on his own program, fully fleshing out the tormented, redemption seeking vampire with a soul. He’s aided in this by a fantastic cast. Whedon’s best work is always ensemble based, and Angel is no exception. Enjoy the titular character or not, it’s hard not to love the tormented and transformed Wesley, the beautiful and moral Fred, or the endearing and charismatic Conner.
The show’s main failings came from it’s tendency to stray into melodrama and out of allegorical space, while Buffy maintained its quality by remaining rooted in metaphor. Still, there are many fantastic episodes in this show, and it’s definitely worth it.
Total Seasons Available: All 5. Curse The Powers That Be for denying us our final two seasons.
Total Episodes: 110 at about 43 minutes each. A pretty good commitment. If you’re watching Buffy for the first time, try starting season 1 of Angel with season 4 of Buffy for the most accurate viewing.
Best Episode: It’s kind of sad, but most of the greatest episodes of Angel are in its final season. And that’s where its (arguably) greatest episode sits: Smile Time.
3. Star Trek: The Next Generation
Every season of every show from this massive Sci-Fi TV franchise is available for instant streaming on Netflix, from the original series to the much reviled Enterprise. There are plenty of arguments for why the original series is the best, or why Deep Space 9 is because it’s “so dark” (can we stop using that as an example of quality?), but they are all wrong: Star Trek the Next Generation is the best of the franchise, and you should watch it.
Jokes aside, Patrick Stewart carries this show, bringing the rest of the cast up to his level, and instilling real human pathos in a wacky sci-fi world. The show explores what humanity could be if we truly evolved; in an era where so many shows explore the bleakness of the future and the darkest aspects of ourselves, it’s refreshing to watch a show that insists we can be better than that.
TOS and DS9 are both solid shows and also worth a view, but if you have to watch only one Star Trek, watch TNG. It starts a little cheesy, but definitely picks up in the third season. Oh, and fuck Voyager.
Total Seasons Available: All seven, for the first time on digital release
Total Episodes: 178! Star Trek: TNG seasons are incredibly long. Each episode runs around 45 minutes. It’s quite the endeavor, but well worth it.
Best Episode: The Inner Light is often touted as the greatest episode in Star Trek history, and it’s hard to argue against that. Like Buffy’s The Body, it’s an episode that teaches us just how beautiful and moving genre fiction can be. However, I’m partial to Measure of a Man, another regularly celebrated episode, which contains some compelling arguments on how we apply people’s worth.
On the other hand, Sub Rosa is the worst episode of television ever crafted. I’d rather spend a day with my eyelids taped open watching Tila Tequila’s Shot of Love than be forced to submit myself to the horror that is Sub Rosa.
2. Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
While Marvel comics has outperformed DC is all other aspects, DC, for the longest time, completely trounced Marvel in the animated division. If Batman: The Animated Series was streaming on Netflix, you can be absolutely sure it would be on this list, and that I would never leave my house. Besides the nostalgic charm of the 90’s X-Men cartoon show (also available on Netflix), there really wasn’t anything produced by Marvel that was worthwhile.
Then Iron Man rocked theaters, Disney bought Marvel, and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was born, the greatest superhero cartoon show since Batman: TAS.
This one will probably only appeal to the nerdiest of viewers, to be honest. But if you ever read Marvel comics, you need to watch EMH. Great voice-acting, beautiful, classic superhero art, and amazing fight-scenes makes this show a tight, fantastically translated comic book cartoon show.
Total Seasons Available: All two of them. Bastards cancelled the show to make way for a new Avengers show that I am not optimistic about.
Total Number of Episodes: 52 full-length episodes, about 23 minutes each, and 20 “micro-episodes”, each only around 5 minutes.
Best Episode: Hail Hydra, just for the action scenes, especially involving the teamwork of Hawkeye and Ant-Man.
Once again, this list is not in order of quality. Supernatural isn’t the greatest sci-fi show ever, but there’s something eminently enjoyable about it.
Like just about every show on this list, it doesn’t start off amazingly (The racist ghost truck comes to mind…), but by the mid-seasons (3,4,5) it grabs you. Scary at times, hilarious at others, and one of the most violent shows on Network TV, Supernatural mastered the self-referential meta-fiction in a way no other show has. And, if nothing else, no other show has spawned as many fantastic internet GIFs and homoerotic incestuous fan-fiction as Supernatural has.
Total Seasons Available: Seven, and season eight is available on Hulu, though you may have to get Hulu+ for backlogged episodes earlier in the season.
Total Episodes Available: 149 on Netflix, and we’re up to 160 on TV. It’s arguable whether the show should still be on.
Best Episode: The French Mistake for being the dumbest, most well-executed concept for a TV episode ever. You’ll have to watch the whole show, and read about the actors a bit, if you want to get it, but no other show has pulled off what The French Mistake has.
So there you are, for your viewing pleasure. Now you have something to do this year.