Ever find yourself sitting in front of your television surfing the same channels over and over… and over? What many people don’t realize is that the world of entertainment has and continues to be changing drastically. Premium channels, like Showtime and HBO, are no longer the only alternatives to cable and network entertainment. All of the other platforms and media have gotten into the act, and in full force.
There are now off-beat, online series that include some pretty major stars, directors and writers. Who would have thought that Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen would accept roles that would stream online rather than be broadcast via satellite? Not too many years ago, film stars would never have even considered moving their careers to the small screen. But now, there are so many up and coming options, that we’re suggesting you open your mind to the future of home entertainment.
Network channels are, after all, fraught with commercials that are positioned so inconveniently during the programs that they have become a huge deterrent for those who have little interest in viewing the same sales messages over and over. Many network watchers use their recording devices so the television spots can be glossed over quickly, while others are content to pay for and watch premium channels that originally started with movies and branched into creating their own successful, original series.
For your viewing pleasure, we have dipped our toes into the new entertainment waters and came up with a list of 12 shows we think you will enjoy. The extra good news is that some of the options are completely free, like Crackle.
Check out our picks and let us know what you think.
12. Alpha House – Amazon
Political cartoonist Garry Trudeau is the brains behind this political spoof of four U.S. Republican senators. It’s not surprising that the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip would come up with a comedy featuring his favorite targets – politicians.
In this Amazon series, these four goofy politicians share a rented house in Washington, D.C. and live offbeat lives. Funny man John Goodman is one of the leads along with Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos. Check out Alpha House’s two seasons on Amazon.com.
11. Park Bench – AOL
Park Bench is an original show starring Steve Buscemi, who casually interviews both celebrities and non-celebrities while sitting on a park bench or roaming around New York City.
The interviews are actually interesting conversations, as Buscemi has a knack for putting his guests at ease and entertaining with great topics. After one season, Park Bench was already nominated for a Primetime Emmy, which says a great deal about the show’s quality content. Season 1 is available for viewing on AOL.
10. Chosen – Crackle
Chosen is an original, action-packed thriller that premiered in 2014 which currently streams on Crackle. The premise is about a man named Ian who finds a mysterious box on his doorstep which contains a stranger’s photo and a loaded gun. He is instructed to murder the stranger within the next three days or he and his daughter will both be killed.
His daughter is held hostage so Ian is put in a position of having no choice. Seasons 1 and 2 are both available for free on Crackle. It is not clear if a third season is in the works at this time.
9. Cleaners – Crackle
If you don’t know what a cleaner is, think assassin. In this series, the assassins are women who have been left out in the cold by the Big Boss. David Arquette and Gina Gershon are the stars, with Gershon playing the mob boss’s mother while Arquette plays a typical bumbling FBI agent.
The show is cleverly written but very violent. It has been likened to USA’s network former show Burn Notice, which was must softer. Seasons 1 and 2 are both available on Crackle for free.
8. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Crackle
Jerry Seinfeld has done it again. He takes every day nonsense and turns it into a hit show. The premise is simple: He has coffee and rides in classic cars with famous comedians.
Some of the shows guests have been Jimmy Fallon, Larry David, Jon Stewart, Julia Louis-Dryfus, Tina Fey and Sarah Jessica Parker. It’s a free viewing on Crackle, which is an online distributor of original web shows, movies and TV shows, and is backed by the powerful Sony Pictures Entertainment.
7. Blue – Hulu
This show starring Julie Stiles premiered on the WIGS channel on YouTube in 2012, but moved over to Hulu just in time for its third season. The drama is about a young mother who has a secret life as a prostitute – or, shall we say, call girl.
Part of her plight is that she must keep her career away from her young son. Julia Stiles shines in this role. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on YouTube and Season 3 can be viewed on Hulu.
6. Deadbeat – Hulu
If you haven’t seen this Hulu original, you might want to catch it. Character Kevin Pacalioglu is a psychic medium who is also a pothead and capable of seeing ghosts, much like the Ghost Whisperer, except completely different.
Kevin’s friend, Rufus, is a drug dealer and makes a great sidekick. Kevin uses his abilities to make a living and each episode includes hilarious interactions with the dead- after all, the show is a comedy. Check it out if you like stoners who can see ghosts, as the third season was just picked up.
5. Arrested Development – Netflix
This is actually a show from 2003 that aired for three seasons on Fox until early 2006, when it was canceled for having a low viewership. The show had such a following that the fourth season was picked up by Netflix seven years later – in May 2013.
Ron Howard is the executive producer and the show’s narrator. The critical acclaim has come from the entertainment industry as well as its cult followers. Even when it was off the air, Time magazine put it on their list of All-Time 100 TV Shows in 2007. Entertainment Weekly called it one of the New TV Classics.
4. Sound Advice – YouTube
Sound Advice runs on YouTube’s Above Average channel and stars Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer. The premise is simple and funny: Bayer plays the roll of Janessa Slater, who is a media adviser known for giving awful advice on her show.
3. Grace and Frankie – Netflix
Netflix seems to have come up with yet another winner with Grace and Frankie. What could be better than putting Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen together in a hilarious new series?
The premise is fresh, particularly for the more mature set, as it starts with the two couples having dinner together so an announcement can be made by the husbands. What the ladies learn fairly quickly is that both men want a divorce because they have been in love with one another for 20 years and now want to get married. The comedy was picked up for a second season.
2. Orange Is The New Black – Netflix
This series was a hit from the moment it streamed on Netflix. Never before has there been such an irreverent story about a women’s prison that includes some of the zaniest characters and story-lines online or on television.
Taylor Schilling has become a star as she plays main character, Piper, who gets into a situation that causes her to go to jail for 15 months. She starts out a prim and proper inmate and as the series moves on, she becomes a force to be reckoned with. It runs viewers through all of the emotions as it cuts away to the back stories of each inmate’s reason for being in prison. The show has been picked up for a fourth season.
1. House of Cards – Netflix
House of Cards is an adaptation of a BBC mini-series with the same name. Netflix premiered this widely-viewed series in 2013 and it has been going strong ever since. The third season was released earlier this year and fans can look forward to a fourth season in 2016.
It is a political drama about a Democrat from South Carolina who is power hungry. After being overlooked for the Secretary of State position, character Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) and his wife scheme and plot to get him more power, twisting and turning through the political scene.
The show is highly acclaimed and has been nominated for several Primetime Emmy awards and Golden Globes, making it the first online-only show to ever receive nominations.