Welcome, all of you who may or may not have time to watch TV as it airs live. We’re going to start taking a weekly look at the three best TV series to hit the three most popular streaming sites, namely Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant. We realize that there are of course other streaming sites out there, and so we may allow an exception or two if need be. But for now, viewers, just sit back, relax, and let the world of television come to you.
I’m hard pressed to just list Party Down as all three of my choices this week, because it’s one of my favorite comedy series of all time, for almost every reason imaginable. Created by Veronica Mars mastermind Rob Thomas, Party Down follows a surly catering company comprised of actors, writers and those with Soup ‘R Crackers restaurant franchise dreams. As far as witty cynicism goes, this show is impossible to beat, and every episode features one quotable line after the next, with situations that beg for extended episodes. Thomas Lennon hosting an orgy? Yes please.
Though things change between seasons, Party Down mostly centers on Henry (Adam Scott), who returns to the Party Down squad after a failed acting career, initially working beneath team leader Ron (Ken Marino), who remains perpetually optimistic despite employing people who don’t respect him. Those people include Casey (Liz Caplan), a stand-up comic with a romantic eye for Henry; Kyle (Ryan Hansen), a model/actor/musician who gets by on looks and charm; Roman (Martin Starr), an extremely judgmental sci-fi writer; and Constance (Jane Lynch), a former actress who uses her show biz stories as social currency. Megan Mullally joins the cast in Season 2 as the naïve but constantly smiling Lydia. This show is an instant classic, and fuck Starz for cancelling it too soon.
All 20 episodes are available for Hulu Plus subscribers, while only 5 are currently available for non-subscribers.
So, technically BoJack Horseman came out last Friday, but we hadn’t started this column yet, so we’re taking liberties. Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg (The Exquisite Corpse Project), BoJack Horseman is an often scathingly hilarious look at a former TV star who has been washed up by wave after wave of liquor and beer, who also happens to be a horse voiced by Will Arnett. (He’s essentially playing “the Will Arnett role” here, but that never gets old for me.) BoJack's life is filled with a neverending line of comedian guest stars that sprinkle this animal pun-filled universe with consistently ridiculous performances.
BoJack, who is still quite wealthy from his stint as the father of three human children in the cornball 1980s sitcom Horsin’ Around, is intent on reclaiming his spot in pop culture with an autobiography, helped along by ghostwriter Diane (Allison Brie). There are weird romantic feelings, but she’s in a relationship with BoJack’s friendly nemesis, Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), a blissfully optimistic dog whose former sitcom was a Horsin’ Around ripoff. Amy Sedaris plays Princess Carolyn, BoJack's hard-working agent and occasional sex partner, while Aaron Paul plays his not-all-there roommate Todd. Come for the cheeky jokes about fame and Hollywood, and stay for one of the most bizarre and introspective drug sequences in all of fiction. It’s a-neigh-zing.
All 12 episodes of BoJack Horseman are currently available on Netflix Instant.
Originally aired as a BBC One series in 2013, the legal thriller The Escape Artist made its way to the States earlier this year via PBS as an installment of Masterpiece Theater. Created by MI-5’s David Wolstencroft, The Escape Artist is not a miniseries that runs strictly on plausibility, as one must make mental leaps in order to sit through the story without groaning at the shoddy British legal system. But procedural dramas and mysteries constantly skate by reality to get their cases closed in one episode, so it’s not completely out of place here. Plus, it’s David freakin’ Tennant.
Tennant plays Will Burton, a barrister with a reputation for winning every case he takes on. His woes begin when he defends murder suspect Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbel), soon realizing Foyle’s innocence isn’t a sure thing. Burton discovers a technicality that gets Foyle off, but instead of being happily indebted to his law counsel, Foyle takes a simple slight and decides to ruin Burton’s life, which leads to more plot contrivances both in and out of the courtroom. But with disbelief suspended, what you have here are several fine performances – including Sophie Okonedo as an opposing lawyer – and a twisting story that remains intriguing all the way to the end.
All three episodes of The Escape Artist are available on Amazon Instant.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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