Binge of the Month Archives

September 2019: Falling Skies

Original Network: TNT

Binging: 52 Episodes (5 Seasons)

Where To Binge: Amazon Prime

Brief Synopsis

Another post-apocalyptic series sees a small group of survivors attempt to fend off an invasion from out of this world. The series stars Noah Wyle, a former history professor who becomes the second-in-command of the 2nd Massachusetts Militia, as a group of civilians and “fighters” desert the Boston area seeking any form of asylum following a massive alien invasion that has caused chaotic devastation throughout the planet.

Why It’s A Must Binge

First, understand that this is a show executive produced by Stephen Spielberg, that should at least provide some instant insight as to what you would be getting yourself into. The show doesn’t deliver to those craving cinematic elements that this segment usually aims to highlight, but considering it’s the end of the summer, many may want to forget the cooler months are upon us by sinking their teeth into a fast-paced, high-action, and relatively unpredictable Spielberg story. Yup, that’s exactly what this is…

The series picks up right in the heart of story, providing an extremely fast-paced roller coaster ride that sci-fi (and Spielberg) fans should easily enjoy.

Final Word

Without providing any spoilers, the first three seasons of the series provide A Walking Dead vibe, as a small group attempts to fend off aliens (or skidders- yeah, wasn’t too thrilled with that name selection either, but you get over it) while tirelessly on the move as they seek safety.

The fourth season is where the show takes a massive chance to keep things fresh and exciting, and while I completely understood the premise of shifting the story-arc after seeing a similar sequence over a three season span, the writers took a risk, and this risk is exactly where the large audience the show had garnished began to dwindle.

Again, you would need to get there to understand what I’m talking about, but the producers took a risk, as one would assume this risk was to assure the longevity of the show by providing something a little different. I applaud them for taking it, unfortunately the specific risk at hand likely backfired, and lead to the rapid ratings drop that forced a perhaps rushed conclusion.

However, one great aspect is the fact there is a complete story here. The show was granted a fifth season in advance to end the story that many viewers had already committed 4 years of viewership to, and while the final 2 seasons don’t live up to the extremely entertaining start to the apocalyptic series, it does ultimately provide a satisfying conclusion that many shows never have the opportunity to cease.

Spielberg, aliens, fast-paced action, and an actual conclusion… Absolutely a binge-worthy selection to make the transition into winter a tad less painful.

August 2019: Santa Clarita Diet

Original Network: Netflix

Binging: 30 Episodes (3 Seasons)

Where To Binge: Netflix

Brief Synopsis

Joel and Sheila Hammond are everyday suburban real estate agents in Santa Clarita, California. The couple face a series of obstacles when Sheila has a physical transformation into a zombie and starts craving human flesh. As Joel and the family try to help Sheila through her transformation, they have to deal with neighbors, cultural norms, and get to the bottom of a potentially mythological mystery.

Why It’s A Must Binge

What makes Santa Clarita Diet worth the viewer’s time is its ability to balance a darker premise, along with a lighter, subtle writing style. Combine that with just about perfect on-screen chemistry from the entire cast and you combine to get a phenomenal delivery.

While the zombie genre seems but just another cliche derriving from the entertainment industry, Santa Clarita Diet allows the audience to look past that, and enjoy almost every other aspect when putting together a thirty minute sitcom.

Final Word

I get it, zombies running havoc throughout the entertainment industry has just about run its course. Had Santa Clarita Diet premiered a 5 years ago coinciding with the zombie trend that swept the nation, one could argue it may have been one of the most popular streaming choices among many. The downfall of this cleverly written and light-hearted comedy is its zombie premise of which it centralizes is yesterday’s news.

That being said, the chemistry between Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant bring a charming humor that makes this dated genre enjoyable to watch on screen. Newer faces Liv Hewson and Skyler Gisondo bring a similar effect with screen time of their own.

The lack of audience garnishment has caused Netflix to cancel the series after 3 seasons, but the series still provides 30 episodes of binge-worthy television for sitcom fans.

July 2019: Black Mirror

Original Networks: Netflix (Originally a Channel 4- UK Production)

Binging: 22 Episodes (5 Seasons)

Where To Binge: Netflix

Brief Synopsis

Black Mirror dives into the unfathomable horrid that technology has the capability of presenting itself within a futuristic society. Each episode is a new installment that highlights where potential groundbreaking technological advancement presents a rigorous backfire (some far worse than others), but while each episode hold’s a unique vantage point on the overall premise, every installment provides a gripping, thoughtful, and unique tale of the “wonders” of technology.

The series provides a new story each episode, and while some are produced at a slower pace, they all end up masterfully crafting in what seems to be random context into a correlating story that makes any viewer ponder the benefits of technology within society.

Why It’s A Must Binge

It’s a must binge just off the basis of how much the show makes one think, and almost diverges completely from what your average person sees technology as today, as well as its potential future among civilization.

This show provides perspective we have not seen much of when it comes to technology in 2019. It makes one really ponder, question, and contemplate what does the future hold, and while much of it is extremely bright, a quick benefit sometimes does not outweigh the long term effect.

Final Word

Each episode stands on its own with an entire new cast of characters, plot lines, and story development; that being said, if a certain installment doesn’t quite peak your interest, this is a perfect show where skipping an episode or two is perfectly acceptable (not that you would really want to).

The series initially premiered on Channel 4 in the UK in 2014, Netflix purchased the rights to the series in 2015, and produced two six-episode seasons on top of the original two produced in the UK.

Netflix continues to produce Black Mirror related content, as they debuted a spin-off original movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch in December of 2018. A fifth season of the series was just released by the streaming giant around a month ago.

June 2019: The Chi

Original Networks: Showtime

Binging: 20 Episodes (Renewed for Season 3)

Where To Binge: Showtime Anytime

Brief Synopsis

The Chi dives into familiar territory by providing a series of fateful events throughout a community on the South Side of Chicago. The show utilizes distinguished story arcs to unexpectedly connect the lives of Emmett, Brandon, Ronnie and Kevin that ultimately leads to an intriguing and authentic story all audiences can appreciate.

Why It’s A Must Binge

This is a series that relies solely on the brilliant storytelling, superb writing, and the complimentary acting that brings it altogether. It’s a show about people, period. This simplistic premise evolves into an enjoyable complex ignition of lives of certain characters crossing paths in a neighborhood within South Side Chicago.

The authentic premise provides some of the best writing on television. It places great emphasis on character development through the duration of the first season, and because the writing is top notch, they’re able to accomplish relatable character development while still gradually connecting the story arcs that bring jaw-dropping results.

Final Word

South Side of Chicago… Showtime… Well, this has worked before, attention garnished. If you’re looking for that story full of constant twists and turns, this show likely isn’t for you. Granted, it still provides plenty of juicy, jaw-dropping moments.

If you are one that looks for quality and authenticity, this show excels at every aspect. I’ve emphasized the storytelling, the character development, the writing, it’s a show that has little critical element flaws, and the end result brings a true piece of binge-worthy TV.

It’s still a young show that was just renewed for a third season by Showtime in April of 2019. So if you’re concerned with the lack of current content, rest assured, the story will carry on until at least 2020 (and hopefully longer).

May 2019: The Expanse

Original Networks: Sy-Fy & Amazon Prime

Binging: 3 seasons (36 episodes) 4th season to air on Amazon Prime

Where To Binge: Amazon Prime

Brief Synopsis

Based off The Expanse novels, this thrilling, intellectual series provides a future that sees a colonized solar system hundreds of years into the future. Civilization beyond the outskirts of Earth, The Belt (Asteroid Belt) has been colonized & is home to The Belter, and Mars has become an independent military force. The show follows & deliberates between the UN of Earth, Mars, and The Belt, as they all try to harmoniously live within Galaxy. Spoiler: “try” is the keyword here.

Why It’s A Must Binge

To start, sci-fi lovers will appreciate the genre dedication, and attention to detail. It’s a show that requires a viewer’s utmost attention, so if you’re looking for something to just kind of play in the background where you can look up every few minutes (and still understand what’s going on), this show isn’t for you.

The unique premise based off of James S. A. Corey’s novels is a primary consideration when tuning in, as the series is a genuine sci-fi tale. What separates The Expanse from many others from this genre is its focus on dialogue, visual effects, and character development. It’s not a sci-fi show that is focused on countless explosions, alien invasions, or zombie attacks. It’s likely one of the most intelligent sci-fi TV productions to date.

Final Word

The show aired its first 3 seasons on Sy-Fy, and after finding a cult following, the show was recently saved from a destined cancellation by Amazon. Current viewers should be thrilled with this outcome, as Amazon’s wallet is likely more willing to provide a larger budget than that of Sy-Fy’s. It will be interesting to see if an increased production budget & value is evident in season 4.

As for the show’s content itself, patience, attention to detail, and a thirst for a sci-fi adventure like no other is what one needs to enjoy this series in its entirety.

April 2019: The Missing

Original Networks: Starz & BBC

Binging: 2 Seasons (16 episodes)

Where To Binge: Starz

Brief Synopsis

This anthology drama series spans two short seasons, and while the 16 episode series might seem short of content, it is in no way short of a gripping series that consistently keeps viewers intrigued. The first season sets the stage within the first few minutes, as Tony, Emily, and their young son, Oliver travel to the United Kingdom in the summer of 2006. After their car breaks down, they are forced to alter their holiday in a fictional town in France. While watching the FIFA World Cup, Tony loses sight of Oliver in a large crowd of chaos, and is unable to relocate his son, opening a eerie story that is, “The Missing.”

The second eight episode season sees a new shivering story that sees the return of retired French detective, Julien Baptiste. Baptiste is swayed to temporarily come out of retirement to assist in a cold case revolving a missing girl, Alice, who mysteriously vanished in 2003.

Why It’s A Must Binge

“The Missing” presents itself brilliantly in numerous aspects. It requires critical attention to detail, as it utilizes flashbacks to swiftly navigate through the investigation’s entire duration. While many shows do utilize flashbacks, “The Missing” does it at a more consistent pace, almost presenting the series (each season) as its own puzzle, in which viewers are tempted to try to put all the pieces together.

The series provides a slower pace to account for each eight episode installment, but the slower pace is almost unnoticed with its superb writing and spontaneous unpredictability.

Final Word

The uncanny premise, unique presentation, and detail-focused pace combines to deliver a perfect remedy in producing spectacular (and ultimately) jaw-dropping television. For those that seek detail, unpredictability, and a more complex narrative, this series will not disappoint.

March 2019: The Americans

Original Network: FX

Binging: 6 seasons (75 episodes)

Where To Binge: Amazon Prime

Notable Critical Acclaims (84 total nominations)

2018 Golden Globe- Best TV Drama Series
2018 Emmy- Lead Actor In A Drama Series (Matthew Rhys)
2018 Emmy- Writing In A Drama Series
2016 WGAA- Best Drama Series
2018 WGAA- Best Drama Series
2013 TCA- Outstanding New Program
2015 TCA- Outstanding Drama Series
2016 TCA- Outstanding Drama Series
2018 TCA- Outstanding Drama Series
2018 TCA- Program of the Year
2018 TCA- Individual Achievement In Drama (Keri Russell)

Brief Synopsis

The series premise sets in the 1980’s, and provides fascinating insight on the cold war espionage between the United States & the Soviet Union. Our “protagonists” are trained Russian spies undercover as an average American family. The series presents plenty of realistic (and of course dramatizing for TV) stories that see our protagonists interact with FBI agents, KGB agents, and average American & Soviet citizens in any possible way that is seen as necessary to establish their homeland of Russia as the true superpower of the 1980’s.

Why it’s a MUST binge

History buffs will fall in love with this series almost instantly, as while still a scripted-drama, critics & audiences alike have praised the show’s ability to depict accurate espionage tendencies.

Even for your casual history persona, ‘The Americans’ can suck you in with it’s suspenseful storytelling, tremendous acting, superb writing, and some of the best story development I have personally ever witnessed. If you (as a show) can do all four of those effectively, premise irregardless, it’s guaranteed to be a quality piece of television.

What truly sets ‘The Americans’ apart as something different is how the show has no heroes or villains (usually you might see this in a history/based on real-life events premise, but it’s not as common as you think).

Yes, you have the “protagonists,” but viewers quickly find out, they are just as flawed, and wickedly capable as anyone else. There’s a point in the series where you come to the realization that you aren’t necessarily rooting for one side over the other, and in return, it forces the audience to choose a side on a case by case basis, which indirectly adds a unique, fascinating, and engaging element that contradicts most shows who make it their job to tell the audience, “this is who you are supposed to root for,” and, “this is who you are supposed to root against.” ‘The Americans’ brilliantly presents itself to where audiences are forced to pay closer attention, and make their own choices as to what side/character/organization they should root for.

Final Word

‘The Americans’ just concluded its sixth & final season in 2018. Its commonly referred to as, “the best show that nobody watches,” which is a damn shame, because it’s likely one of the best produced pieces of television this decade (and likely beyond).

Oh… And if you’re curious about how it all plays out (the series finale)…