- - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nothing can be more uncomfortable than sitting around with family and friends, with whom you really have little to talk about. Instead of yapping, I say, why not put on a really good, yet really long TV series that you can all get into.

So, in my quest to give your family a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a Joyful Kwanzaa, here is my list of great shows that are currently streaming and you may have missed.

(1) House of Cards (Netflix)
If you’re a political junkie and you haven’t seen House of Cards, stop reading this column and go right to Netflix. This may be the best inside-the-Beltway show ever created. Intrigue, humor, mystery and politics rolled up into a show that could have been heavily anti-Republican but brilliantly plays both sides of the aisle better than Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner ever could. As a guy who’s not a big Kevin Spacey fan, I delight in the way he portrays Francis Underwood, a politician who will stop at absolutely nothing to get what he believes, he deserves. One of the best show’s ever created.. Go. Now. Watch.

(2) House Of Cards (UK Version) (Netflix)
If you’ve seen the Netflix version of House of Cards and want to see the original, this show is great, too. However, I must warn you, there are a lot of spoilers on this show, tipping you off to what may be coming in the U.S. version. If you want to see how the British system works and love House Of Cards, I think you’ll like this one.

(3) How I Met Your Mother (Netflix/Hulu +)
I fell in love with this show from the first episode and have watched each episode a number of times. If you don’t know Barney, Robin, Ted, Lilly and Marshall, this might be the binge watch of the year for you.

(4) 24 (Netflix)
I hope you have a lot of free time on your hands. If you haven’t seen 24 yet, start watching this and your family won’t see you again for at least 24 hours.

(5) The Larry Sanders Show (Amazon/iTunes)
This six-season show was on during the Seinfeld era and in many ways I think it’s funnier. Don’t get me wrong, I love Seinfeld but Larry Sanders is a deeper, darker and cleverer show. It was the first comedy on cable to receive an Emmy nomination, (although it lost out to Seinfeld). If you liked The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, this show pays homage to that kind of program and what its like behind the scenes. I’ll probably binge watch this one myself.

(6) South Park (Netflix/Hulu+)
If this isn’t a show you watch because it’s a cartoon or because its language is foul, or because of things you’ve heard, put aside those judgments and watch it for what it really is: the best, hard hitting, deep thinking political commentary on TV. Yes, it’s offensive to many, but a lot of today’s political issues are offensive as well. South Park takes on everybody and everything from Al Gore to Mohammad, aliens to current events, and religion to the singer Lorde. Yes, you’ll find things offensive. Good. We all need to stop taking ourselves so darn seriously.

(7) Mad Men (Netflix)
To me, this is the quintessential binge watch show. As a matter of fact, I’ll wait months after the new season has started before watching again. I would much rather wait longer to restart my journey with Don Draper than wait another week to find out what happens. If you haven’t seen Mad Men and have any interest in 1950s and 1960s Americana, this is a must binge. The final season is scheduled for 2015. Catch up and be a part of the finale night.

(8) Veronica Mars (Amazon Prime)
This is a show I saw promos for when it was in production, and for some reason it had no appeal to me at all. I’ll admit it; I can be one of those guys who if others are pushing a show on me, I don’t want to see it, (e.g. Breaking Bad). But, I was wrong with this series. It has a very interesting way of showing mystery wrapped within a mystery, and the cast does an excellent job of keeping the interest going. Kristen Bell is cute and spunky in this series that takes her from high school to college and concluding with her professional life.
This show was canceled too soon, so after you finish binging on all three seasons, you can rent the movie, which continues the story and wraps it all up.

(9) Undercover Boss (Netflix)
I really like this concept: The guys at the top of the corporate ladder go back down in the trenches and see what it’s like. For some bosses, they created the business from the ground up. Others started at the top. What’s it like dealing with the employees and directly with the public? It may be my favorite of the reality shows.

(10) 30 Rock (Netflix)
Politically, I can’t stand Alec Baldwin. But I can’t help it, I love him in this show.

(11) Lilyhammer (Netflix)
It’s kind of like a funny continuation of The Soprano’s. Steven Van Zandt, who played Silvio Dante in Tony Soprano’s family, turns government informant and hides in Lillehammer, Norway.

(12) Freaks And Geeks (Netflix)
The show where two of the biggest international outlaws got their big break. Yes, Kim Jong-un’s least favorite actors, Seth Rogan and James Franco, are two of the stars in this high school comedy set in the 1980s. This series is funny, interesting and was canceled after only one season. Creator/Director Judd Apatow, known for movies like; Knocked Up, Superbad and The 40 Year Old Virgin, is the creative force behind this show. The show introduced America not not only to Rogan and Franco but a young Jason Segal from How I Met Your Mother and Linda Cardinelli, the female lead of one of my favorite goofy comedic movies, “Grandma’s Boy.” If you’re like me and heard about it but didn’t want to fall for the hype, the truth is, it really is that good.

(13) God, Guns and Automobiles (Amazon/iTunes/History)
In full disclosure, the show stars two of my oldest and dearest friends, Mark and Erich “Mancow” Muller. The reality show follows these two brothers as they work together building a car dealership in Butler, Missouri. Mark appreciates the small town life, while little brother Erich is a big city radio personality, who loves living in Chicago. With competing lifestyles and differing ways of doing things, this family show is a winner in my book. On a side note … as a personal friend to both, I can attest, this is who these guys really are, not much acting from the Muller Brothers. As for the cast outside of the Muller family, I could have done with far less of them. VOD is available on iTunes, Amazon and history.com.

(14) Once Upon A Time (Netflix)
If you’re a Disney fan, like I am, this show does a very clever job of updating the classic stories we all know, but does so in a way that kinda seems plausible.

(15) Breaking Bad (Netflix)
Everybody loves this show, I’ve only seen two episodes and I can’t get in to it. But since it’s on every other list of great TV, I include it here, too.

Honorable Mentions
These were shows suggested to me, repeatedly, but either I haven’t seen them or didn’t get into the show.

Marco Polo, Sons of Anarchy, Scandal, Arrested Development, Dexter, Californication, Jericho, Dr. Who, Orange is the New Black, Criminal Minds, Peaky Blinders and The Vikings, (a show I walked out of when I was part of its test audience). Finally, it’s not yet streaming but you can now buy the complete 1960s Batman TV show on DVD. I saw it at Costco, it was over $100 (and that’s what I want for Christmas).

Honorable mentions were recommended by my Facebook and Twitter followers; @Talk2Rusty and Facebook.com/Talk2Rusty.

What other shows need a good binge watching? I would love to see your suggestions.

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