Hibernation TV suggestions

veronica mars still

No mystery: Veronica Mars was a really good show.

Snowshoeing, skiing, pond skating -- all fun things to do during the winter, and good ways to get out of the house. But you know what: Sometimes in the deepest part of winter you just want to stay inside, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, and hibernate. Preferably with some good TV to watch.

We would argue the best hibernation TV is made up of series that can be block (or binge) watched. So here are a handful of our suggestions. It's just a few shows, so we're hoping that you'll add some of your favorites in the comments. One of your faves could be totally new to someone else -- and become a new favorite for them.

So, please share!

Veronica Mars

The premise for Veronica Mars sounds kind of cheesy: A teen private detective who solves crimes, big and small. But it has snappy dialog. Kristen Bell, as Veronica, is great. And the cast of the supporting characters is really fun. Take it from none other than Joss Whedon himself: "Best. Show. Ever. Seriously, I've never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn't making, and maybe even more than those. Crazy crisp dialogue. Incredibly tight plotting. Big emotion, I mean BIG, and charsimatic actors and I was just DYING from the mystery and the relationships and PAIN, this show knows from pain and no, I don't care, laugh all you want, I had to share this."

Of course, like most great shows, its run was cut short and oddly so. (Veronica walks off into the rain and... we never find out.) But Rob Thomas, the show's creator, raised $5.7 million on Kickstarter for a movie -- and it's set to be released this spring.

How to watch: The series just became available on Amazon Prime streaming.

Party Down

This comedy had two short seasons on Starz. Each episode of Party Down follows a catering team -- made up mostly of struggling/failed actors and screenwriters -- as they work a different party around LA. The cast -- Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Jane Lynch, Ken Marino, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen (with others joining in along the way) -- has great timing and chemistry, and there are a lot of fun guest stars. (It's another Rob Thomas production, so a lot Vernoica Mars people pop up.) Many of the episodes are really funny (the first one's a little slow) -- both haha funny and cringe funny.

For discussion: All the laughs aside, we've come to think that Party Down is also a criticism of the we-should-all-be-entrepreneurs/you-can-succeed-if-only-you-want-it-enough culture.

How to watch: It was available for a while on Netflix streaming, but no longer (sad trombone). So you'll have to get ahold of the discs.

Firefly

Joss Whedon is now king of the geek galaxy, but in the early 2000s he was mostly "only" known as the guy who created Buffy, which was for all its critical success, a minor hit on networks few people watched. But Firefly -- a space western set in the far future (really) -- was set to run on Fox and a wider audience awaited. But it bombed. Hard. In part because Fox showed the episodes out of order. (And, yeah, the whole space western thing maybe doesn't totally work.)

As a result, there's only half a season of Firefly. And it's really, really good. (The best thing Joss has ever made? Very possible.) There's the great writing and dialog you'd expect from a Whedon production, and the chemistry of the cast is excellent. Nathan Fillion is fantastic as the captain, a good guy who kind of wants to be a bad guy. (Someone, we can't remember who, once said Firefly is sort of what would happen if you made a show about Han Solo.)

How to watch: It's available on Netflix streaming. There's a also movie -- Serenity -- made after the show was canceled. It's good. And you'll want to watch it after the series. But it's not as good as the series.

Friday Night Lights

This show ran for four seasons to great critical acclaim, and apparently, almost no one watching. Maybe it was the premise that kept people away: It's based loosely on Buzz Bissinger's book about Texas high school football. But it's not really about football, it's more about the people of Dillon, Texas trying to find their way.

Friday Night Lights is now well-known for being underrated and unwatched, so it's not really either one of those things any longer. But we still encounter people who have never watched it. So if you haven't seen it, watch it. The show is really great. The acting and shooting is remarkably naturalistic. Kyle Chandler (the coach) and Connie Britton (his wife, a guidance counselor) have fantastic, realistic chemistry. And Tim Riggins is just... oh, Tim Riggins.

Also: You know how anti-heroes are so big on TV now? FNL is the opposite of that. You really want to root for these people. It's kind of retro and refreshing.

How to watch: It's available on both Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime streaming.

Top of the Lake

This short mystery series -- co-written by Jane Campion and starring Elisabeth Moss (and Holly Hunter in a small, weird role) -- was released in 2013 on the Sundance Channel here in the United States. Moss plays a detective in rural New Zealand investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12 year old. Top of the Lake is intense and unsettling. And Moss's performance is great.

How to watch: It's available on Netflix streaming.

The Mind of a Chef

This PBS documentary/cooking series follows David Chang -- of the Momofuku empire, one of the most influential chef/restaurateurs in the world -- into kitchens and food sub-cultures around the country, as well as Japan and Denmark. While not all of the episodes of The Mind of a Chef are great (oh, look, they're eating ramen again), much of it is really interesting, if only because you get a sense of how Chang and other chefs think about and create food. Also: It's produced by the same crew that does Anthony Bourdain's stuff (Bourdain narrates), so it looks great.

How to watch: It's on Netflix streaming.

Orphan Black

This is a new Canadian/BBC show, its first season premiered last year on BBC America. It's about a woman -- well, women -- who's a clone, and the mystery that surrounds her "clone club." Really, the story and some of the production is just OK. But Orphan Black is worth watching if only for one reason: Tatiana Maslany, who plays the main character(s).

Yep, Maslany plays all the clones: the feisty screw-up, the scientist, the soccer mom, the (we won't give it away). And she's amazing. So distinctly does she play each clone that it's easy to forget that they're actually all the same person. The fact that Maslany wasn't nominated for an Emmy is yet more evidence that the Emmys are ridiculous.

How to watch: Orphan Black is available on demand from BBC America.

still: Warner Bros.

Comments

Favorite oldies for binge viewing:

- Are You Being Served?
(British comedy from the 1970's and early 1980's. If you like your humor along the lines of the old British music hall style, complete with cheeky double-entendres, then watch this and you'll be chuffed to bits.)

- Freaks and Geeks
(Charming American comedy-drama. A member of the 'cancelled too soon' club.)

- Fawlty Towers
(Only twelve episodes from the mid-to-late 1970’s, but another British comedy gem. Expertly crafted by John Cleese.)


Big fan of Veronica, Firefly, & FNL, so I LOVE the new ideas, thank you! I'd recommend: The Wire, Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, & Battlestar Galactica.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

My favorite show to watch in the winter is always Babylon 5. It's a serialized sci fi show from the early 90's so the effects are cheesy and the acting isn't always the best, but the stories and characters are wonderful. The first season is a little bumpy, but the rest of the show is some of the best stuff I've seen on television. I think you can buy it through Amazon and stream it, sadly no free streaming that I know of. I've watched this show a half a dozen times and I never tire of it.

I also just recently battled an addiction to the original Upstairs Downstairs from the 70's. It's on Amazon Prime and Netflix. It was a really great show - but don't bother watching the reboot from a few years ago.

My So Called Life: so much angst! Plus it's only one season.

The West Wing

Foyle's War: great long running period police drama from the BBC about a small town police detective who can't serve in WWII. It continues after the war, as well, and is really a great look at common British life during WWII.

I'll also add another BBC drama: Doc Martin.

Orange is the New Black, Damages, Downton Abbey, and Breaking Bad. I believe all can be streamed on Netflix!

Sherlock! Cumber your batch now! BBC One, Hulu, or the tubes.

I second The Wire and Deadwood and will add Six Feet Under for HBO shows.

I loved the British(not the American remake) comedy The Inbetweeners about four teenage boys - I apparently have the sense of humor of a 16 year old boy.

More recent was Derek on Netflix - more brilliance from Ricky Gervais.

If you enjoy David Cross - The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

Always ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

I will second the Firefly recommendation, and add on Battlestar Galactica... Mmmmm nerdery. =D I have both on BluRay, but I think you can also find them on Amazon Prime Streaming...


Baseball by Ken Burns.. Not a TV show but with HOF inductions and wishful spring thinking, this is where its at... and because someone already beat me to Arrested Development

I'm in the middle of a Futurama binge. I don't normally get into comedies; I think the sci-fi component cinches it for me.

As luck would have it, Friday Night Lights is FIVE seasons, not four. Meaning: one extra season of glory. Unless AOA's four seasons count excludes the sub-par season 2 due to its bizarre murder plot.

I've got "Parade's End" lined up as the Better Downton Abbey. Covers same time period in England based on the tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford. There is a 1960s BBC mini series starring Judy Dench I'm watching this week-end, then the 2013 HBO mini series. Then I'll listen to the 30 cd unabridged audiobook so I'm doing a total "Parade's End" immersion this winter.

Scandal (guilty pleasure...but now everyone knows :/)

The Wire, no streaming but dvd's! Great series.

Luther, Sherlock- BBC

Big Bang Therory...never watched it all these years NOW it is on TBS 2 to 3 hours a night...my god it is funny. BEST OF ALL it is all new to me

Homeland
24 (an oldie but a goodie)
House of Cards (Netflix original)
Orange is the New Black (Netflix original)
The Killing
The Walking Dead (of course)
Girls (even the fellas will like this one)
Portlandia
Luther (BBC)

I could go on but winter's not THAT long...

I'd like to add Breaking Bad (such a good show and you'll want to keep watching show after show) and the Wire (same reason as Breaking Bad).

Another vote for Friday Night Lights... NBC was crazy to let that show go (they always seem to let go too early).

Over the last few months we've binge watched Suits, Homeland, The Good Wife, Person of Interest and just started Justified... really liking that one so far.

I recently finished watching Friday Night Lights--and I have to echo what other say. So good. And I'm not the least bit interested in football, but I loved, loved the show.

Just started Downton Abbey and had low expectations because I didn't think I could get into a TV show set in 1910's England, but I'm hooked.

The Killing
The Walking Dead
Blue Mountain State
Justified
Deadwood
Community
30 Rock
Parks and Rec
The Shield
Homicide: Life on the Street
American Horror Story
House of Cards
Orange is the New Black

I wil be wrapping up my West Wing binge this weekend and I think it is time to move on to Top Gear (the british version). I think I will be revisiting the winter olympics episode from season 7 in preparation for Sochi. It was watching the mini Cooper ski jump and the speed skater race the jaguar on the oval that got me hooked. The drive to the north pole episode will help you put our weather in perspective (season 9).

Growing up in the 1990's, I still love bingeing on ER, X-Files, and Friends. I also have an addiction to the British comedy Vicar of Dibley and the contemporary Big Bang Theory. Otherwise, I'll second (or third) Battlestar Galactica.

Surprised nobody mentioned 'Magic City'?
It is one of the BEST SHOWS ON STARZ , T.V. !
A show about the mob, showgirls, and Cuba in the late 1950's, and 1960's is ignored by the general public,and T.V. Guide? How uninformed can they be?

Northern Exposure is a good one for this.

Lot's of great suggestions. I'll add:

The Mighty Boosh
Mr. Bean
ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series
Twin Peaks
Mad Men
Shameless
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I just got hooked on a BBC show "Call the Midwife" available on Netflix streaming. It follows a nbunch of young midwives working in the poverty stricken East End of London in the 1950s. Sounds like it would be sad but it is SO well done. Funny, sad, thought provoking, all of it. There is not a single character that you don't love. Disclaimer: They are midwives, so there is at least one birthing scene per episode and they are done very realistically.

I would suggest a little watched comedy called "My Boys".
Not only did I find it very very funny, but I just felt so comfortable watching it, like I was hanging out with friends.

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