On Tap Recommendations – TV Edition

By the time July comes around, the heat becomes a touch unbearable and the desire to stay inside rises. But what do you do when you’re in-between the return of your favorite seasonal program? In a continuation of the “On Tap” series, here are a few recommendations of TV shows available on Netflix with a season or more of content available right now.

If these don’t tickle your fancy or you just prefer film over television, then there are four cinematic recommendations at the bottom.


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Inspired by, and loosely connected to, the 2011 movie of the same name, this CBS program aired only one season before being cancelled. Though there is little hope it will be saved on another platform, all 22-episodes are available to watch. Using a mixture of drama and comedy, Limitless focuses on Brian Finch, a struggling musician who finds his life upended when he takes NZT, a drug that opens up the brain to enhance recall and information processing, and in the crosshairs of the F.B.I. By the end of the pilot, Brian is working with the F.B.I., but also under the boot heel of Eddie Morra, Bradley Cooper’s character from the film. Limitless is easily a show that can be binged without leaving you feeling bloated.


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Another show connected to films, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tangentially interweaves their story around Marvel Studios’ cinematic offerings. This sci-fi/action/drama focuses on Agent Phil Coulson and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as they seek to stop threats big and small. What begins in Season One as an episodic villain-of-the-week series, quickly turns into a long-form narrative that carries through until the end of Season Three, which just concluded in May. No viewer needs to be familiar with comic book lore or to have watched any of the thirteen films Marvel Studios has released in order to enjoy this series. The moments in which S.H.I.E.L.D. dips into the films is minimal and without much impact on the story. With Season Four slated to return on September 20th, this is a perfect time to jump in and catch up.


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If you prefer your television to have more blood and bumps-in-the-night, then you must be terrified that Game of Thrones won’t be returning until late 2017. To help you take comfort, we recommend turning to the recently concluded Showtime series Penny Dreadful. Featuring a cast of literary characters like Dorian Gray, Victor Frankenstein, Mina Harker, and Dr. Jekyll, this gothic series takes the stories we know and alters them to fit into a singular narrative focused on the struggles temptation, both real and supernatural, can create. Though the series did conclude with the third season finale in June, the first two seasons are readily available to dive into now.


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Another show cut short in its prime, this action-comedy created by Matt Nix (see also: Burn Notice), is the story of straight-and-narrow detective Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks) who is forced to partner with chaos-enthusiast detective Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford). This odd couple comedy didn’t last long, but it made an impression on everyone who watched it. From the outlandish circumstances to the ridiculous ways Bailey and Stark get themselves in, and out, of trouble, each episode is consistently entertaining. Unfortunately, it just didn’t maintain the numbers to stay on Fox.


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Adapted from an Israeli program, Traffic Light is a 2011 comedy that focuses on three friends in different stages of their lives: the married couple, the just-moved-in-together couple, and the single friend. Only running for thirteen episodes, Traffic Light is full of heart, and, more importantly, grounded storylines. By harnessing the regular weirdness of interpersonal relationships, the stories often have more heart than would typically be expected.


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Inspired by a scientist who can read the human body to separate truth from lies, this crime drama ran for 48-episodes between 2009 and 2011 on Fox. Lead by charismatic Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction, The Hateful Eight) as Dr. Cal Lightman, Kelli Williams (The Practice) as Dr. Gillian Foster, Monica Raymund (Chicago Fire/Chicago P.D.) as newbie Ria Torres, and Mekhi Phifer (8 Mile, E.R., The Divergent Series) as their F.B.I. handler, what could have been a standard procedural crime drama foundation was elevated by its perfectly casted characters. The science of microexpressions doesn’t seem like an intriguing baseline for any show, but its use never ceases to be impressive throughout the increasingly complex series. Though many episodes feature stories beyond the walls of the fictional Lightman Institute, many of the more interesting stories focus on the characters within. For those that have seen, and enjoyed, the Tim Roth classic Four Rooms, skip ahead to Season 2, Episode 13 “The Whole Truth” when Roth is once again pitted against actress Jennifer Beals.


Non-TV Recommendations: Pandemic, IP Man. Spy Game, and The Big Short.



Categories: On Tap, recommendation

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