We’ve reached the point in our streaming age where there’s an almost uncountable number of services to sign up to. And, what’s more, everyone seems to be signed up to a different combination of them. This makes recommending shows a tricky proposition; where one reader might just want the best of iPlayer, another might be signed up to niche delights like AcornTV.
To offer up something for everyone, we’ve gone all out this week, by recommending a show for pretty much every last streaming platform available. Whether it’s prestige crime drama or trashy reality TV you’re after, hopefully there’s something here for you.
AcornTV: The Chelsea Detective
This plucky streaming startup seems to primarily serve up cosy-if-old-fashioned detective dramas. If that’s your thing, then you may enjoy The Chelsea Detective, a cosy-if-old-fashioned detective drama elevated by the quizzical eyebrows of Adrian Scarborough.
All 4: Derry Girls
Lisa McGee’s comedy, set at the tail end of the Troubles, returns for its third and final series on Channel 4 next week. The previous two are available to wolf down in full on All 4.
Amazon Prime Video: The Boys
Hannah J Davies already flagged the excellent Hacks in last week’s newsletter, so let’s instead go for this acerbic, ultra-violent superhero satire, which returns in a couple of months for its third outing, giving you just enough time to rattle through the head-bursting, Marvel-skewering delights of its first two series. (Warning: it is really, really grisly at points.)
Apple TV+: Pachinko
I’m not alone in thinking that Apple is making the best TV of any streamer around at the moment. Regular readers of this newsletter will know about show of the year candidate Severance already, and there’s also rumpled spy thriller Slow Horses, speculative space race drama For All Mankind and likable comedies including Mythic Quest, Dickinson and, of course, Ted Lasso. Pachinko though might turn out to be the jewel in its crown: a beautifully shot, century-spanning epic following one family’s experiences as Korean immigrants in Japan, it’s TV elevated to the level of Palme d’Or-winning drama. Dynamite credit sequence, too.
BBC iPlayer: The Hunt for Bible John
Yes, we could point to any number of acclaimed scripted series from The Responder to This is Going To Hurt, but that wouldn’t be terribly novel, would it? Instead how about this excellent two-part documentary from BBC Scotland about a serial killer in 60s Glasgow, which largely sidelines the tawdry true crime stuff in favour of a fascinating social history of a city on the brink.
BritBox: The Beast Must Die
Predicted to fail pretty much from the moment it was announced, BritBox has endured thanks mainly to the strength of its back catalogue: where else can you catch all 10 series of Minder, after all? Its original shows are a slightly more patchy affair (*cough* Spitting Image *cough*) but The Beast Must Die was a pleasing exception: a taut thriller that sees the never-less-than-great Cush Jumbo aim to avenge her son’s death, with Jared Harris’s odious business magnate in her crosshairs.
Crunchyroll: Attack on Titan
Confession time: this anime-specific streaming site is very much not for everyone. And as someone slightly baffled by the appeal of most anime (except Akira, obviously), I’m not sure it’s for me either. But I did catch the first series of Attack on Titan – an extremely intense saga about a city beset by grinning, cannibalistic giants and the teens tasked with taking them down – when it was briefly on Netflix and I was completely and utterly hooked. It’s twisty, violent, very daft and often heart-stoppingly dramatic – so much so that every year I find myself signing up to Crunchyroll for a few months every year to keep up with the latest episodes.
Discovery+: The Men Who Sold the World Cup
Discovery’s splashy entry into streaming is good for those who want to catch up with the entertainment giant’s live TV channels without signing up to a costly TV package. It has some original shows too, including this revealing and timely two-part documentary about the grubbiness surrounding the award of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar.
Disney+: Reservation Dogs
Moon Knight? The Dropout? All nine series of 24? There’s frankly far too much to be found on Disney’s streaming service, but let’s opt for this slightly under-the-radar comedy-drama from Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo, about four Native American teens attempting to escape their reservation through fair means and foul. It’s stylish, sweet and extremely funny.
IMDb TV: The West Wing
For anyone who doesn’t want to fork out for streaming services, IMDb TV is a pretty spectacular option. You’ll need to watch it through the Amazon Prime app or have an Amazon-enabled TV or Firestick to view it (though you won’t need to fork out for a Prime account), and you’ll have to sit through a few ads, but there’s a hefty archive of TV shows and films on the other side of them: for example, it’s the only place you can stream all seven series of The West Wing at present in the UK.
ITV Hub: The Ipcress File
Pretty much everyone was expecting to hate this TV remake of the classic 60s spy thriller, but it turned out to be a welcome surprise: stylish, timely and with a lead (Joe Cole) who can go toe to toe with Michael Caine as Harry Palmer. Watch the lot on the ITV Hub.
Hayu: Top Chef
I run a mile from most reality TV, so Hayu – a streaming service that offers nothing but – isn’t really my thing. But it does have Top Chef, the much-loved US cookery show pitched somewhere between MasterChef and Great British Menu, and if there was anything that would sway me it’s probably that.
Alongside All Creatures Great and Small and many, many shows about Yorkshire, Channel 5’s streaming service has a pretty deep bench of American series, due to being owned by Paramount. Why not try one of the very biggest shows on US TV at the moment, the Kevin Costner-starring neo-western Yellowstone? My5 only has its first series at the moment, but series two is being repeated weekly from Saturday 16 April on 5Action.
Netflix: Standing Up
Netflix’s English-language scripted series have been a little weak as of late, but its international productions are picking up the slack. Here’s the latest sure-fire hit: a sharp comedy drama about Parisian comedians from the creator of Call My Agent!, no less.
NOW: Winning Time – The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
Did The Last Dance create a sudden and insatiable hunger in you for series about the NBA? You’re in luck: NOW are streaming HBO’s Adam McKay-produced, John C Reilly drama about the LA Lakers’ entertaining ‘Showtime era’ of the 80s and early 90s.
Shudder: Cursed Films
This horror-specific streaming service largely focuses on movies, be they thrillers, slashers, grindhouse shockers or anything in between. They do dabble in TV, too, notably ghoulish anthology series Creepshow, and this curious documentary format, that investigates the troubled productions of classic films, from The Exorcist to The Wizard of Oz. It’s a little uneven, but full of fascinating insight.
You’ll have to have access to Amazon, but at £1.99 a month, Starzplay is a bit of a bargain, with a strong catalogue of original series. You’ll already no doubt have heard about Outlander, The Great and the spellbinding Station Eleven, so let’s opt for the less heralded Ramy, a very funny, very insightful comedy about a second-gen Egyptian-American’s attempts to be a good person and a good Muslim.
Sundance Now: Good Grief
Another Amazon add-on channel – you have to pay £5 a month this time – but it’s probably worth it for The Bureau, which we’ve raved about before, alone. If you’re after a second reason, there’s also Good Grief, a New Zealand comedy about two sisters haplessly running a funeral home, which has a nice line in droll, morbid humour.
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