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FlixWorthy Lights Up With Mad Men

Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your guide to Netflix streaming! Yet again we're bringing you a handful of new or notable selections from Netflix's Instant Watch catalogue. Some will be classics, some will be little-seen gems, some will be shows you might have missed, and some...some will be crap so awful they simply has to be seen to be believed. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.

Mad Men

(2007-2010, TV-14, Four Seasons available, HD)

Despite Netflix's spotty movie selection and all the recent controversy, there's one area the service has always excelled in: providing tons of TV shows to watch. They've proven their commitment on that front twice over in past weeks: first with the addition of a full catalogue of streaming Star Trek (except, for some reason, Deep Space Nine) and now with the much-anticipated arrival of Mad Men. Say what you will about Netflix's problems, but nabbing Mad Men is a notable coup, making the critically praised show available to an even wider audience without having to dive in blind with a DVD purchase. And for those of you who will just now be checking out the show, you're in for a treat. Mad Men is an insanely detailed look at a bygone era, peopled by fascinating, complex characters. It is, quite simply, one of the best shows on television. And lucky you: with the show not returning until 2012, you've got plenty of time to catch up on the goings on at the infamous Sterling Cooper ad agency. Pour up a tumbler of whiskey, light up a cigar, and settle in for the ride.

Double-Feature It With:

Sports Night

(1998, TV-PG, Two Seasons)

A brilliant, funny behind-the-scenes look at a sports network, Sports Night was Aaron Sorkin's pre-West Wing show that, like Rodney Dangerfield, got not respect. Well, it got plenty of critical respect, but that didn't help since nobody actually watched it. With Sorkin preparing to tackle another behind-the-scenes style show for HBO, there's never been a better time to watch (or rewatch) Sports Night.

Pitch Black

(2000, Not Rated, 108 min., HD)

Every six months or so we hear that Vin Diesel is really, honestly going to make another Riddick sequel, he swears, and that it won't suck like Chronicles of Riddick did, he promises. If he finally gets around to it, and makes it R-rated, and he actually sticks to the elements that made the original movie (and the equally awesome spin-off videogame) work, then more power to him. In the mean time, however, we'll always have Paris. And by "Paris," I mean "that unnamed planetoid where Riddick crashed and then had to fight off like ten thousand night-dwelling carnivorous critters." Yes, the original Pitch Black is available on Netflix, and you should watch it. Before Diesel and Twohy decided Riddick should be some sort of space god, he was just a cold-blooded killer with heat-vision eyes who reluctantly realized a tiny sliver of humanity still lurked beneath the blood of many, many dead people. The role is still Diesel's best and most badass, and the flick is a tight little foray through the time-honored "monsters kill folks in the dark" genre that earns extra mileage thanks to a solid cast and interesting visuals. It also, incidentally, looks outstanding in high-def.

Double-Feature It With:

John Carpenter's The Thing

(1982, Rated R, 108 min.)

This one's still the champion of the genre, and rightly so. Watch them back to back and see what Twohy learned from Carpenter. Plus, there's a prequel coming out soon, so why not refresh your memory. (On a related note, my friends and I have been having many a laugh at the folks complaining online and without a trace of irony about the audacity of people "remaking The Thing."

The Final Countdown

(1980, Rated PG, 102, HD)

No, not the Europe song. This one demands a shout-out to my dad. Aside from his closet full of classic SF paperbacks and many hours watching him and his friends play roleplaying games while I toddled around the table, I owe much of my love of genre storytelling to the VHS tapes with which he filled my youth. Somewhere amongst the million viewings of Forbidden Planet and The Day the Earth Stood Still, dad introduced me to this little gem about an American aircraft carrier that's tossed back in time into Pacific waters early on December 7th, 1941. When the crew realizes when and where they are, they are suddenly faced with the decision of whether or not to intervene on a day that shall live in infamy...unless they stop it. It's a great premise buoyed by an insanely manly cast (both Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen) and an unforgettable ending. Watch it.

Double-Feature It With:

Field of Dreams

(1989, Rated PG, 105 min., Expires 8/06)

Well, after all the above assembled manliness, how could I not throw baseball into the mix? Plus, it's one of the movies where we guys are legally permitted to cry without being mocked.

Lethal Weapon

(1987, Not Rated, 109 min., HD)

Screenwriter Shane Black's star may be on the rise lately, what with the gig writing Iron Man 3, but anybody paying attention has known the guy was a genius for years. That all started here, with perhaps the most iconic buddy-cop action/comedy ever. Black was the golden boy of action movies for a while there, infamously earning $1.75 mil for The Last Boyscout before somewhat vanishing during the mid '90s. Part of the problem was that the movies they made from his scripts were never as brilliant as the scripts least until he returned with the still-underrated Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. I can't wait to see what Black brings to Stark, but it all started here, back when Mel Gibson's craziness was being put to good use on screen, and Danny Glover was only just beginning to be "too old for this shit." This is before they became the Lethal Weapon name became a parody of itself. Rewatch the scene where Riggs and Murtaugh face off over how Riggs should shoot himself, then weep at the knowledge that Joe Pesci's Leo Getz was looming on the horizon, ready to turn the franchise into a joke. Then cry harder at the knowledge that Hollywood will probably remake it any day now.

Double-Feature It With:

Lethal Weapon 2

(1989, Rated R, 114 min., HD)

The Dread Pesci had already arrived, but Lethal Weapon 2 still retained a lot of the magic that made the first film a classic, even if the hints as to the franchise's eventual decay were already becoming evident. Still, you gotta love Murtaugh's response to diplomatic immunity.

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