Last week, I offered a brief list of upcoming broadcast shows that threaten to break the feeble machine mind of my DVR, and leave me always in the position of being what I like to be least: running behind.
The thought that I’m still wired into a major cable provider may strike some of you as quaint. But, for those of you who get the entirety of your televised entertainment from one of the many streaming services vying for your attention, I have a question for you:
Doesn’t your Netflix list stress you out just as much as my DVR makes me crazy?
I have to worry about both, and it’s driving me to distraction. In any event, I’m relatively sure if I severed my ties with my DVR, I would still feel like I have a part time job trying to catch up with my shows.
Here are just a few shows that are part of the wave of programs coming to the watch instantly services. Just accept that they’re there and get to watching. One show at a time. One season at a time. One day at a time. We’ll get through this together.
Orange is the New Black
The first breakout streaming hit* did several miraculous things. First, Craz—I mean, ahem, Suzanne. All of Suzanne. Second, the series has elevated Kate Mulgrew from somebody I never cared for as an actor** into an undeniable badass. Third, that glorious second season finale. Rosa saves the day. It’s the most satisfying episode of television since the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special, only this episode had more nuns in it.
Seasons three and four were fine. They were. Maybe I missed Jason Biggs more than I ever thought I would. Maybe they can never top the end of Vee’s reign of terror. At any rate, it’s not that seasons three and four have been less good, just less memorable. A sufficient cliffhanger ending to season four means just anybody could be shot when season five picks up, and I’ll still be there.
Season five premieres June 9th, 2017 on Netflix.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The first season of this show was absolutely stellar. Starting off with the same kind of breakneck bordering-on-cartoon sensibility that propelled Tina Fey’s other sitcom 30 Rock to seven seasons of brilliance. It also had the role Jon Hamm was born to play. Sorry, Don Draper. The third season promises—if the finale of the second season is to be believed—more Kimmy, more Tituss, more Mrs. Voorhees, and most importantly, more Hamm. If I manage to make it the whole first weekend without watching the entire season, I’ll be severely disappointed in myself.
Season three premieres May 19th, 2017, on Netlfix.
House of Cards
Like a show we talked about last week, Veep, House of Cards is returning in a new world that may not welcome its more dastardly plot elements with the same appetite. The first two seasons of this remake of the British miniseries were insidiously good, seducing us into nearly liking protagonist Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) before fully revealing his depravity. Kind of like the electoral college, am I right?
Seriously, folks. For my eyes, the show has suffered a little bit since Underwood has gotten everything he could have possibly wanted, but now that Mrs. Underwood (Robin Wright) is undeniably his partner in crime in every possible way, and he’ll have to fight what he’s accomplished, the show might find a new life again.
Season five premieres in its entirety on May 30th, 2017 on that old chestnut, Netflix. Hopefully, this is just after you’re caught up on everything else you’ve been meaning to watch on your “My List” list.
This is the one I have been looking forward to the most. The show aired some of the worst-of-the-worst in B-movies, but instead offered enough snark to fuel the entirety of the 1990s. Sadly, the chatter of Crow, Tom Servo, and their resident human from the confines of the Satellite of Love were ignominiously removed from the Saturday morning schedule of the Sci-Fi channel in the fall of 1999, and I don’t think I’ve bothered watching the network since, whatever it calls itself now. Both Joel Hodgson and Michael J. Nelson have gone on to bring MST3K-like content to the internet, but it hasn’t been the same, mainly because trying to get the Rifftrax audio files to sync up with your DVD turned into a bit of a chore.
Now, Netflix (remember them?) continues their groundbreaking work in curing the scourge of cancellation, and is bringing back the B-movie mocking show with a crowdfunded season. Joel Hodgson is creatively spearheading the new episodes, but will not rejoin as its star. Standup comedian, MST3K-acolyte, and Nerdist co-host Jonah Ray will join the Bots as Jonah Heston. Fans of the show often like either the Joel years or the Mike years. I’ve been a fan of both, so even if I haven’t always been Ray’s biggest fan, any additional episodes of the show are a good thing.
The season’s 14 episodes premiere on April 14th on a streaming service that rhymes with betflix. But, if you’re uninitiated and the show sounds intriguing to you, Netlfix currently has a run of some of the best episodes available now. I particularly recommend Manos: The Hands of Fate (although I would recommend Manos even without the funny show surrounding it), Pod People, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians… As it turns out, I may be a Joel-guy. Who knew?
Honorable Mentions: Premiering Sometime?
Or, hey, maybe we should talk about a Hulu show during this post!
I liked last year’s Hulu miniseries 11/22/63, bringing to life Stephen King’s best book in recent years. Some complained about the casting of James Franco, but I didn’t mind it, even if he wasn’t who I was picturing when originally reading the book. Some complained about the ending of the series, but it was pretty close to the book, and I think it worked.
The one problem I had with the miniseries was understandable. They omitted one neat sub-plot, which featured Jake Epping traveling through the town of Derry, Maine during one of his jaunts to the early ‘60s. There, he encounters a few of The Losers Club from IT. I mean, I get it. With the narrow constraints of TV, to say nothing of the far-flung rights of King’s oeuvre, getting the connections in his work can be a little tough.
Tying together IT, Shawshank, Misery, and more? Sounds fantastic. Now, next to nothing is known about what the show will actually be, but if there’s not a battle royale between Annie Wilkes, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and Andy Dufresne, then they’ve failed to deliver on the promise of their trailer.
Premiering sometime, although even production isn’t scheduled to start until this August, so it may be a bit of a wait.
Star Trek: Discovery
At the start of this year, I was ready for a new president, whomever she, he, or it might have ended up being. I knew I could weather the post-Obama world, safe in the knowledge that there would be new weekly Star Trek to help ease the pain. When Bryan Fuller—who cut his teeth on Trek, and went on to make the insanely terrific Hannibal—rose to be the showrunner of the new series, all the better. When Nicholas Meyer joined the writing staff, it might have turned into my most anticipated series ever.
Then it became clear that they would not make their January 2017 premiere. Then Bryan Fuller left his regular duties with the show, in an awkward realization that he was too busy to commit the time needed to make the show as good as it needs to be. Then, the show wasn’t going to make it’s revised premiere date of May. The new series—set ten years before the voyages of Kirk and company in the original series—is now scheduled to be released sometime.
What returning streaming shows fill you with anxiety for the time you are guaranteed to spend on them? Let me know in the comments. For now, though, I have to stop this blog where it is. If I keep writing, I’ll never get caught up on all this TV I feel the need to watch.
*Except for maybe Homestar Runner. Kids, ask your parents.
**I’m looking in your direction, UPN.