A couple of weeks ago, Netflix released 15 new episodes of the cult hit Arrested Development. This was a remarkable achievement in many ways, considering that the show was broadcast on Fox for three seasons a decade ago and then was cancelled. The show slowly built up a loyal following based on syndicated reruns and DVD sales. There were always rumours that an Arrested Development movie was in the works, but nobody expected that we would get over eight hours of new material all at once. This left the fans with a conundrum: Do you sensibly watch one or two episodes at a time and space it out over a week? Do you treat it like a network TV show and just watch one a week? Or do you get together with a group of friends and watch them all at once? There is a word for the third option.
Binge viewing is a fairly recent phenomenon, isn’t it? Back in the day, you would faithfully record your weekly installment of Friends or Seinfeld and pretty much watch them within a couple of days. You did this because everyone else did it and if you wanted to talk about it with your friends or co-workers you had to keep up.
Nowadays, entire series are available on streaming sites like Netflix or are available on DVD to buy or to borrow from your library. You tend to want to binge view these shows, either because they become addictive or, in the case of a library DVD, you need to get them back in a week.
So to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite shows to binge view. Enjoy (in moderation if you can – we dare you!).
When it comes to approaching a new series, I tend to look at how many seasons have already happened. My rule of thumb is, if it is four or less, I will probably try to watch it. Anything more than four, and I’ll probably give it a pass. For example, I’ve heard great things about the show House M.D., but I’ve never seen an episode, and at eight seasons, it feels a bit daunting. I’m sure there are some who wouldn’t mind the challenge, but for my time, shorter is sweeter.
Here are a few series that you may want to sit down and spend a weekend with:
Veronica Mars is your typical high school kid, with the exception that her dad used to be the sheriff and now runs a detective agency. The first season revolves around solving the murder of her best friend, and most episodes end on a cliff-hanger, so you’ll probably have a hard time watching just one at a time. The show lasted for three seasons, but then a unprecidented kickstarter campaign raised enough money to reunite the cast for a Veronica Mars reunion movie, being filmed this month. You have a year to get caught up!
British series tend to run only six or seven episodes at a time, so even though there are three seasons so far, you can easily get caught up. I don’t usually go for the whole “costume drama” thing, but after watching the first episode of series one, I had to find out more about the Granville clan and their household.
My wife and I watched all of season one over a weekend.The thrust of the first season is answering the question, “is this guy a terrorist or what?” and there are enough twists and turns and cliffhangers that I couldn’t imagine trying to watch one a week, as it originally aired.
There was only one season of Joss Whedon’s follow-up to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a huge hit on DVD. There is a dedicated following of “Browncoats” who often call for a reunion, or another movie, or a web series, or anything. With the success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter, is a Firefly kickstarter-funded project far off?
Another “One and Done” series with a dedicated fan base. Freaks and Geeks, produced and written by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow, follows a group of high schoolers, circa. 1980. Throughout the total of 18 episodes, you get to see early performances from Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardellini, Busy Phillips, Jason Segal, and the wonderful inclusion of SCTV’s Joe Flaherty as a dad.
So those are our picks. What are your favourite shows to binge view? -Trevor