Box set hidden gems

Done with the Wire, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad? We get into the vaults to keep you box-set-satisfied...

So, you've done The Wire and binged on Game of Thrones; you've just cleaned your pants after American Horror Story and are lamentably saying goodbye to Breaking Bad for another year. Which leaves you with just about zero TV to watch over the summer break. Fear not, dear couch potato, we've got you sorted for DVD box-set gems you might not know about, but we know you'll like.

If you like: American Horror Story
Try: American Gothic

This menacing piece of '90s TV followed the efforts of a sheriff/killer/serial rapist played by Gary Cole to get his bastard son to follow in his evil footsteps. The series proved too bold for its time and only lasted one harrowing season.

If you like: True Blood
Try: Dark Shadows

If True Blood moved to daytime television, it would look something like this. More or less a soap opera with a bunch of supernatural characters dropping in – not unlike Passions... remember Passions! – Shadows was uncompromisingly weird and relentlessly entertaining. Just stay away form the Tim Burton remake…

If you like: Breaking Bad
Try: Mad Dogs

Mad Dogs is very different in content from BB, but has similar themes of ageing and impending death. This (consistently depressing) serial kicked off in 2011 and follows four British friends (including Marc Warren and John Simm) whose lives are turned upside down while on vacation in Spain. Set some time aside – when you start this one, you won’t stop.

If you like: The Newsroom
Try: State of Play (Brit series)

Newsroom is great, but let’s face it, the impassioned speeches every five minutes get a bit old. David Yates’ State of Play offers a less cheesy, expertly coiled investigative journalism narrative, as an intrepid reporter unravels the scandal surrounding a fallen MP. Its six episodes lack a single dragging moment.

If you like: Game of Thrones
Try: Rome

It really is a shame that Rome missed the sword-and-sandals boat. With its complex plot and great set pieces, it could have been an HBO staple in the post-300 world. On the bright side, we got two great seasons filled with enough gore and naked people to make Tyrion Lannister grimace.

If you like: Extras
Try: The Comeback

Lisa Kudrow plays a former sitcom star looking to make a big career comeback (no, its not a documentary). Comeback was shaky and was a ratings dud, but its incredibly meta humour and brutal satire make it a good watch for people who appreciate the television industry. If you like your comedy awkward, look no further.

If you like: Arrested Development
Try: Better Off Ted

Never really getting its due, this workplace comedy had great characters, fantastic dialogue and a sense of humor so off the wall it made Scrubs look deadpan. Arrested alum Portia de Rossi anchored the cast as the lovably nasty boss of an ethically questionable R&D company.

If you like: Parks and Recreation
Try: Party Down

Easily one of the most biting American comedies of its time, Party Down told the story of an LA catering company, with each ep detailing one catering gig. Parks’ Adam Scott leads the cast as they navigate the Hollywood landscape, but it's an ensemble piece featuring Jane Lynch and Lizzy Caplan.

If you like: The Wire
Try: The Corner

As creator David Simon’s first foray into television, this miniseries was more or less the proto-Wire. Following a family living in a drug-addled Baltimore neighborhood, it explored stark social realities through strong characters. You know, kind of like The Wire.

If you like: Battlestar Galactica
Try: Firefly

Created by Joss Whedon, who recently directed a small independent film called The Avengers, Firefly gave us a Western-tinged vision of sci-fi. Unfortunately, it turns out that freakin’ space cowboys don’t pull in the ratings, so it was shot down after 13 masterful episodes. Fans of Battlestar’s thoughtful science fiction shouldn’t miss it. For fans of Buffy, it's a must.

If you like: Dexter
Try: Luther

Looking for another cop with a murderous mentality? Luther’s your guy. Played by The Wire’s always-excellent Idris Elba, Luther tracks down London’s nastiest criminals while controlling his killer instincts. The show falters a bit in the second season, but it’s still far better than Dexter’s fifth.

First published on 6 Nov 2012. Updated on 6 Nov 2012.

By George Greenstreet   |  
 

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