It's a golden age of television - except there is so much junk it is impossible to find anything. I rely pretty much entirely on recommendations for discovery. To make my life easier, here's everything I think is worth watching.
This list skews very heavily to adaptations of science fiction and graphic novels, which obviously is a thing I like, but I think is also somewhere that streaming has really allowed to flourish - these stories often take time to develop and rarely work as movies. They also need the investment in the sets and effects to make them work.
Many of these were great books that would have seemed unfilmable once, so its great to see them work in this format.
The real stars of this list are the following, and I think everyone should give these a go:
- The Expanse
- House of the Dragon
Each of these transcends their genre and does something genuinely great.
Anyway in no particular order, these are the series available on streaming platforms in the UK which I recommend. I have tried to link to the actual series themselves, but who knows how stable the links are going to be.
House of the Dragon
A sequel to A Game of Thrones, but genuinely better in my view, with great scripting, casting and acting. They've leaned-in to the "flawed individuals discussing politics in darkened rooms" which was the great strength of GoT, even if the dragons and the boobs were what was promoted.
Currently only one season, but another is in the works.
An excellent adaptation of the William Gibson novel. Currently only one season and no official confirmation of a second, but it looks likely.
3 seasons of this adaptation of the Garth Ennis graphic novels, and they get better and better. Antony Starr deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Homelander.
Simple stuff but a well put together adaptation of the book Killing Floor by Lee Child. Only one season so far, but a second one is being made.
Annoyingly this wasn't picked up by Amazon directly, so this requires an additional subscription to Lionsgate+.
This is another adaptation, of the wonderful novel by Emily St John Mandel.
An adaptation of the series of science-fiction novels by James S.A Corey. I loved the novels and this is a very faithful version that captures much of what was great about the books. This is grown up science fiction, with realistic physics (except where there is Weird Alien Shit going on).
The Man in the High Castle
Initially based on the book by Philip K Dick, this has 4 seasons and develops its own plot. Executive produced by Ridley Scott and with a brilliant performance by Rufus Sewell as John Smith.
Flawed adaptation of the graphic novels, which are some of my favourites. I would love to really recommend this, but it really didn't quite work in my view.
Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, this has a great performance by Ian McShane.
Worth getting Apple TV for on its own, this is genuinely excellent in every way. Cast, script, plot, acting, sets, camerawork - the lot. Utterly enthralling and unpredictable. I cannot recommend this enough.
For All Mankind
This didn't get anywhere near the sucess it deserved. Brilliantly scripted and totally unpredictable.
Everyone has heard of this. Warm and funny.
Great adaptation of an excellent book. Second series is in production.
Weird German time-travel series with some great acting. I really loved this. Make sure to watch it in the original German, with subtitles, the dubbing really doesn't help.
Extraordinarily faithful adaptation of the Neil Gaiman graphic novels. Shows that adaptations don't have to change much to work well - I wish they'd adapted Preacher like this.
Created by the same people who made Dark, this is another weird Lovecraftian tale. Make sure to watch this with subtitles too, although the option you want is English this time. There are a lot of different languages spoken and again the dubbing kind of ruins it if you leave it on.
You can't have avoided hearing about this. An adaptation of the novels by Andrzej Sapkowski this is actually really quite faithful. The novels are a bit cheesy. It really took off in the English-speaking world with the release of the excellent computer game Witcher 3.
Henry Caville is great as the lead character, but unfortunately won't be in season 4 due to DC playing footsie with him over his role in Superman (which he now is also not doing). Liam Hemsworth will be taking over, but Henry Caville really made the role his own and I am sceptical if it will work.
The Good Place
Another unavoidable show. The first few series were legitimately great but it kind of lost its way and went on a bit long. Definitely worth watching the first few seasons though.
Locke and Key
Another graphic novel adaptation, this is very faithfully done.
Spin off from the massive-but-flawed Cyberpunk 2077 computer game from CD Projekt Red (who made Witcher 3). This is bang on anime and if you like anime it is definitely worth checking out. A single season only, it ties up a single storyline well.
You don't need to know anything about the game to watch it.
Another computer game spinoff, this one from Riot's League of Legends. You don't need to know anything about the game (I don't).
The animation for this is really strong, as is the story and the acting. Even if you don't generally like animated series I think you should try this one.
The Silent Sea
Korean science-fiction. Unusual and interesting.
Another Korean series, this is original, shocking, quite weird and highly recommended.
Lovecraftian horror, based on a podcast of the same name. I really loved this a lot, as did loads of other people, but the bastards at Netflix cancelled it after one season - something I am still really cross about.
Norwegian comedy series about a group of Vikings. The cast is norwegian but it is filmed in English. Incredibly dry humour this is brutal and hilarious.
There are three seasons of this Canadian sci-fi drama, which I really liked.
It's a golden age of television, except there is so much junk it is impossible to find anything. I rely pretty much entirely on recommendations for discovery. To make my life easier, here's everything I think is worth watching.