In the last few years, binge-watching has become a mainstay of television. Truthfully, there’s always been a push for it since the advent of DVD made it possible for fans to get an entire TV season (or two) at once and go through it. But Netflix introduced a new method, giving folks the chance to rip through shows online and soon introducing binging as a major concept. For a long time, Netflix was pretty much the one game in town in terms of this. However, the last year has seen changes as Hulu has been stepping up their game to get fans on board. Recently, Fox/Warner Bros made a big deal with Hulu to move slews of their TV library over to that channel rather than Netflix. There’s also Amazon and some other places to give fans even more options. That includes places to find shows that may have slipped under the radar.
It can happen, mostly with one-season series. The CW is infamous for refusing to put one-season shows on DVD so it’s harder to find those for fans. Meanwhile, some shows may have lasted a few years but still mostly overlooked amid more famous fare. Thankfully, with the plethora of online choices, fans can enjoy these shows and be able to catch up on some gems that were missed before. Some were short-lived, others just not catching fire as they could have but all are online now to enjoy at various places. Here are 15 shows worth tracking down at these places to fill out your time and enjoy a fun romp to show how binging a forgotten series is even better than catching up on a favorite.
15 Galavant, Netflix
Boasting songs from Alan Menken, this ABC series was adored by critics for its wonderful send-up of the fantasy genre. The title character was a fantastic hero racing to save his beloved Madalena from the evil King Richard…only to have her say she was perfectly happy marrying the guy and becoming queen. After a year of self-pity, Galavant is approached by a princess (Karen David) to gain his help rescuing her parents. They’re on a quest packed with hysterical situations and terrific musical numbers. Backing them are guest stars from Weird Al Yankovic as a singing monk to Kylie Minogue as a wicked witch. The numbers were a delight as well as clever shots at fantasy shows and such. Best of all was Mallory Jensen as Madalena, the love of both men who doesn’t care for either and in fact, is the most wicked and ruthless power player around. The second season was fun with Galavant and Richard forced to become allies on the run and amping up the nutty songs. It was short-lived but deserves attention for being just pure musical fun with some surprisingly sexy edges.
14 Limitless, Netflix
CBS isn’t known for axing shows after just one season as much as other networks so this was a surprise cut. It’s too bad as this was actually a really fun series. A direct continuation of the 2011 movie, Bradley Cooper reprises his role as Eddie Morra, a man who takes a special pill that enhances his brain power. Now a senator, Eddie arranges for the pills to be used by Brian (Jake McDorman), a loser in a bad job. Now elevated to a genius, Brian works with the FBI to solve crimes with Jennifer Carpenter as his main agent. At the same time, he finds himself pulled into a plan Eddie has to change the world via the pills.
The joy of the show was how wonderfully it skewered the very procedurals CBS airs constantly. FBI investigations are shown to be long and dull; Brian openly notes how “in real life, hacking is boring” and Brian finds out that “perfect recall” of kung fu movies does nothing without actual fight training. The show was fun in voice-overs with Brian’s mind shown working via diagrams and homages from a full-on comic book origin story to an episode involving Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The twists were fun from “cases of the week” to a grander conspiracy and the show really building up to its finale. Too bad it didn’t last long but a fun ride to enjoy.
13 Penny Dreadful, Netflix
Only Showtime could have provided such an amazingly wild series. Mixing up characters from various Victorian-era stories, it shows a gritty and dark take on such myths. Timothy Dalton is a hunter on a quest to stop some harsh creatures about London. There’s Dr. Frankenstein and his horrible Creature who’s fighting for his humanity. There’s Dorian Grey, an immortal whose painting ages for him. Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) is a gunman whose secret is a massive shocker in the first season finale. And there’s the always hot as hell Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, a woman hunted by a very dark force. The show didn’t hold back on cursing, nudity and wild situations that make The Walking Dead look like a Disney production.
A crazy subplot involved Billie Piper as Frankenstein’s wife who is killed and resurrected before going on a wild relationship with Dorian. On that, it’s remarkable watching him go from a charming guy to the sociopathic monster he truly is (the scene where you finally see his portrait is terrifying). Green is fantastic, showing her hot body off but also drive as her character is brought down low but fighting back against the evil hunting her. Fans were thrown the show was axed at the end of its third season but it’s on Netflix to enjoy one of the more wicked supernatural shows of recent times.
12 Happy Endings, Crackle and Hulu
It only lasted three seasons, none of which was highly rated. But this ABC sitcom was hailed by critics and its passionate fanbase as one of the wildest and funniest shows on TV. It all kicks off with Dave (Zachery Knighton) getting married to ditzy Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) but she dumps him at the altar. She does return and so the rest of their group have to handle it. There’s Alex’s tightly wound sister Jane (Eliza Coupe), her husband Brad (Damon Wayans Jr), daydreamer Penny (Casey Wilson) and Max (Adam Pally) who is hands down the least gay-looking gay man in TV history. They’re basically a pack of total nutjobs who bounce off each other in crazy ways and the show just has a ball with their fun dynamic. Cuthbert is hot as the dimball Alex while Dave contends that because he is one-sixteenth Navajo, he can embrace Native American culture fully. The intensity of Penny is matched by her husband a goofball. Penny is delightfully wild with her bad luck with guys while Max is as straight as a guy who sleeps with guys can be. There’s no “sane person” here, they’re all nuts and their antics are a total delight to watch. Worth tracking down on either Hulu or Crackle, this is a show that lives up to its title as a happy time.
11 The Grinder, Hulu
Many were surprised this Fox comedy was axed after its first season. That’s because it was hailed as one of the best comedies the network had put on in years, with a fun pair of leads. Even better was how the series beautifully skewered the legal TV genre. Rob Lowe played Dean Sanderson, who has spent eight years starring in a hit legal TV show. Returning to his hometown, Dean hits on the idea that he can be a real lawyer for the family’s firm, convinced it’s just as easy as on TV. Amazingly, his father (William Devane) lets him on, ignoring the tiny fact Dean has never even stepped foot in law school. Dean’s younger brother Stewart (Fred Savage) is the only person who seems to think this is a bad idea. A good lawyer himself, Stewart is undermined by his nervousness in court and thus Dean helps him put up more “showmanship” in his work.
Lowe is clearly having a blast as Dean, a man so used to stardom that everything he does is in an overly dramatic way from entering and exiting rooms to saying “I can’t sleep” when it’s only seven o’clock at night. He’s so into the past role, he truly thinks he can do this lawyer thing for real and folks are so star-struck, they let him. Savage matches him, driven nuts by Dean’s antics and can’t believe how everyone fawns over his “brilliance” when he has no idea what he’s doing. The running gag is Dean promoting something based off his TV show and Stewart telling him that won’t work in real life…and then it does. The show was a great showcase for Lowe’s comic timing and a shame it didn’t last long but at least Hulu viewers get to enjoy a terrific send-up of legal TV.
10 Dark Matter, Netflix
It’s a fantastic opening: Six people (and a female android) wake up on a spaceship with no memory of who they are or what they’re doing there. They figure out they’re soldiers and believe they’re trying to defend a colony from attackers. However, they soon find that (except for a teenage runaway), they’re all deadly mercenaries and wanted killers. They soon wrestle with whether to be defined by their pasts or create new lives. The cast was very good, led by Melissa O’Neil as Two (they name themselves in the order they woke up) who takes up the leadership role. The series was excellent with its plotting, flashbacks slowly unraveling the mysteries of the characters and not afraid to take chances (one major cast member is killed off in the season two premiere). The show was fun with episodes involving time travel, time loops and a trip to an alternate reality where the crew never lost their memories and still deadly enemies. The show upped its ante in the third season with hints of a dark future coming from another realm and some truly top notch action stuff. Sadly axed on a cliffhanger, it’s worth binging on in hopes of a revival for one of the better sci-fi shows of recent years.
9 The Good Guys, Amazon
Every now and then, the TV cop show needs a good kick in the pants. This Fox series did that in lovely spades. Jack Bailey (Colin Hanks) is a cop so by the book, he publicly corrected the chief of the LAPD on proper procedure. That gets him kicked to minor crimes, teamed up with Dan Stark (Bradley Whitford), a former “supercop” who still dresses and acts like it’s 1985. The two work minor crimes only to have them stumble onto massive criminal plots they take down in wild action movie style. The show is fun with flashbacks constantly showing how things are and the fun of how the crooks are usually bumblers totally out of their league. Whitford is hysterical as Stark, a guy who treats every case as a huge deal, who considers CSI work “black magic” and sees nothing wrong with shooting a suspect or sleeping with a witness (or vice versa). Hanks is just as fun as the straight-laced guy who gets into these antics as well.
The show nicely skewers action clichés such as when Jack fires off a gun in each hand…and not one round so much as grazes the target. From Dan’s talk of “not believing in blood cells” to the bizarre crooks they met, the show was a delight and should be enjoyed to show how funny the crime genre can be.
8 Selfie, Hulu
TV is filled with shows that had great pilots only to suffer in later episodes. However, Selfie is the flip side, a pilot that was badly received but nicely improved with later episodes. It basically plays like a modern-day version of My Fair Lady. Eliza (Karen Gillan) is a self-absorbed woman obsessed with using social media to boost her fame and convinced it’s the only way to communicate with the world. After a humiliating incident, she realizes how bad off she is handling real people. So she turns to Henry Higgs (John Cho), a marketing guru. Soon, Henry is trying to get Eliza to not rely totally on social media and actually talk and react to people. This includes makeovers and other moments but Eliza’s rather selfish tendencies can undo his work. The banter between the two is wonderful as Henry has to handle Eliza’s antics while Gillian sells this sexy woman trying to be more down to earth. Obviously, there’s a hint of romance as it’s clear Henry feels for his creation. Many were upset ABC axed it as the show was just finding its groove but at least Hulu gives you the chance to enjoy a series that deserved a longer look.
7 Don’t Trust The B--- In Apartment 23, Hulu
Krysten Ritter has gotten much acclaim for her turn as the rough and tumble private eye of Jessica Jones and The Defenders. But she showed serious comic chops in this too short-lived ABC comedy. June (Dreama Walker) has just lost her job and apartment in a single day. She finds herself rooming with Chloe (Ritter) who presents herself as a free spirit. It soon becomes clear Chloe is a con artist, compulsive liar and quite possible a sociopath. Despite that, the duo form an odd friendship handling a variety of nutty adventures. Ritter is hysterical in the lead, a woman who doesn’t seem to grasp how bad she comes off and doing wild antics.
The best part of the show was James Van Der Beek as…James Van Der Beek, the girls’ next door neighbor. Van Der Beek clearly is having a blast sending himself up as a cocky, self-absorbed actor obsessed with his past. A great episode has June talking him into doing a Dawson’s Creek reunion only for Van Der Beek to discover the rest of the cast hates him. There’s also Chloe going to massive lengths to make James People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” The show sadly got messed up by ABC airing episodes out of order but it can be enjoyed on Hulu to trust in its charm.
6 Constantine, CW Seed
Many feel NBC was the wrong network for this show. The long-running DC Comics character is a dark one, a true anti-hero mage, often quite selfish and willing to sacrifice others to save his own skin. NBC cut that down for this series, not even allowing the character to smoke as he always does. But they did do a great job casting as Matt Ryan is not only the spitting image of the character but has him down cold. He sold Constantine as cool and conniving, a mage able to pull off great scams as he faced down everything from demons to renegade angels to even human crooks.
The overall arc of a greater evil haunted Constantine as he walked America to solve cases and the show didn’t shy from how some of his actions caused as much pain as they solved things. It was axed after one year but thankfully, Stephen Amell was such a huge fan that he managed to get Ryan to reprise his role for an episode of Arrow. The character is set to return in Legends of Tomorrow and the CW Seed gives fans a chance to see how it started with a character who was far more faithful to the comics than others.
5 Lost Girl, Netflix
You don’t think of Canadian television in terms of hot genre shows. But they provided one of the best of the 2010s in this beloved show that found a major cult audience in the U.S. Bo (Anna Silk) is a woman who’s long been on the run due to some unique powers. She discovers she’s a succubus, absorbing chi from others and able to control people with a touch. Bo soon bonds with quirky thief Kenzi (Ksenia Solo) to form a makeshift agency to help out both humans and the supernatural Fae with problems. The show has a wild edge as Bo happens to play for both teams and finds herself through the series wrestling with attractions to both werewolf Dyson and human doctor Laurel along with the arrival of hot valkyrie Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten). All three end up in bed with Bo in some very steamy scenes as Canada has looser restrictions than the U.S.
Meanwhile, Solo steals every scene as the hysterical Kenzi with her great style and one-liners. The show uses its low budget well for some of the threats with imaginative monsters and scares the gals handle with style. It doesn’t forget its heart, Bo helping her friends out and handling tough questions about her past. For five seasons, it was one of the wilder shows on TV and deserves far more of an audience to hook into a delightful cult series.
4 Continuum, Netflix
The best science fiction is what holds up a mirror to our society and makes you think. This Canadian series accomplished that feat nicely. In 2077, the world is ruled by corporations who maintain a totalitarian system of the one percent riding high while the rest are forced into lives of hard work and debt. A rebellion occurs and when a pack of terrorists are captured, they use a device to escape to 2012. With them is Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols), a “Protector” with a special suit. Kiera finds an ally in Alec Sandler, a young genius destined to be one of the architects of her future. She thus tries to stop the group, called Liber8, from causing chaos in the past. The cast was top notch with Keira wanting to get back to her family in 2077 and bonding with cop Carlos as she hunts Liber8 down.
But the show wasn’t black and white as you realize the “bad guys” actually have a good point fighting for freedom while our “heroine” is trying to keep a dictatorship intact. Kiera herself realizes how bad her world truly was and how much better the present is. But she also sees how modern times lay the seeds for that future, giving power to corporations and surrendering rights for security. Alec was also pulled to darker edges with wild time travel twists (at one point two Alecs are around) as well as other turns. The ending brought it all together well and this show is worth a good binge to make you wonder how close to this future we might be.
3 Hellcats, CW Seed
This show looked to be pure cheesecake yet found a surprising heart. It begins with Marti (Aly Michalka), a law student with a rather flighty mom (Gail O’Grady). When her funding falls through, Marti realizes the only way to get a scholarship is to join the college cheerleading team. A great bit has captain Savannah (Ashley Tisdale) snap on how much cheerleaders go through and “we are athletes!” The show had a good backbone of the friendship of Marti and Savannah with both actresses doing great in outfits and the various cheerleading spots. There was drama like Savannah and her pregnant sister facing their ultra-religious mother and a subplot of the team facing issues involving a possible scandal. The latter half of the season did move to melodrama with Marti trying to get an innocent man out of jail but still retained a fun view (exemplified by Savannah’s catchphrase of “positive outcomes only!”) Sadly only lasting one season, the show deserved a longer run but at least CW Seed allows you to enjoy a series so much more fun than it looked.
2 Pushing Daisies, CW Seed
This is as close to television perfection as you can get. Producer Bryan Fuller created this 2007 series which plays like a bizarre fairy tale. Ned (Lee Pace) is a piemaker with the gift to bring the dead back to life with a touch. But if they stay alive for one minute, someone else has to die to take their place and a second touch kills them again. Ned finds a partnership with private eye Emerson Cod (Chi McBride) who uses the gift to bring back murder victims to solve their deaths. When Ned discovers his childhood love Chuck (Anna Friel) has been killed, he brings her back and is unable to kill her again. So now they work together although Ned can’t touch her (even for a kiss) or kill her again.
The show is just delightful with its witty lines, fantastic storytelling and the amazing presentation. Jim Dale’s narration (“the facts were these…”) sets the tone well and the actors are genius matching it. The visuals are eye-popping with outlandish sets and sparkling settings. There’s also Kristen Chenoweth, who won an Emmy for her turn as quirky waitress Olive Snook. The show’s first season was cut short by the writer’s strike and its second marred as well. But for 22 episodes, it was as perfect as a TV show can be and much beloved and the Seed lets you enjoy it in full.
1 The Secret Circle, CW Seed
With The Vampire Diaries a hit, the CW decided in 2011 to adapt another L.J. Smith YA series to television. Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson) moves to the town of Chance Harbor following the death of her mother. She soon discovers that she is a witch and joins a “circle” of other teens. Some want to just use their powers to get by while others do so out of greedy purposes. Along the way, they face deadly threats, including a former witch (the always deliciously wicked Natasha Henstridge) who wants her power back.
The cast is packed with some very hot ladies who have gone on to fame on other shows such as Shelley Hennig (Teen Wolf), Jessica Parker Kennedy (Black Sails) and Robertson herself. The best is easily Phoebe Tonkin as Faye, a truly hot lady who enjoys the power her magic brings her which pushes her to some dark spots. The show really does pick up in its later half and a good finale. Indeed, the producers were doing interviews on what to expect for season 2 when the show was suddenly canceled. Thankfully, the CW Seed has the entire series to enjoy and see some truly nice TV magic.