Life in the digital age means it’s never too late to catch up on all those shows you’ve been hearing so much about, and there’s no better time than summer.
To aid in this endeavor, I have compiled a shortlist, which is (a) completely, and even randomly, subjective, and (b) specific to the notion of the beach-binge, i.e., at least two seasons are, or soon will be, available. and, As often as possible, I have chosen series that transport American viewers to another place and/or time.
So in no particular order, a list that is limited, subjective, specific and not to be confused with a list of the best TV shows of all time. Just the ones you might want to consider hanging out with this summer.
“Game of Thrones” Even die-hard fans can benefit from a refresher in the rich and complicated history of Westeros and all its deeply moving insanity while planning their multi-nation “GoT” tour. (HBOGo)
“Outlander” The adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s novel series offers dramatic plotting, a little bit of history and a lot of time-travelling romance all wrapped up in a visit to the glorious Scottish Highlands. (Starz.com)
“Doctor Who” It is never too late to choose your favorite Doctor or become a fan of the longest-running, and most consistently delightful, time-travelling drama in history. (Netflix)
“Orphan Black” Tatiana Maslany’s incredible ability to play dozens of very different clones is just one draw of this complicated sci-fi tale that includes a number of fine performances and moral dilemmas. It is a thing not to be missed. (Amazon Prime.)
“Happy Valley” Sarah Lancashire stars as a no-nonsense detective facing down all manner of troubles, including a personal relationship with a psychopath in West Yorkshire. (Netflix)
“black-ish” A thoroughly modern family comedy that deftly balances the serious and the silly. (Amazon Prime)
“The Fall” In Northern Ireland, an alpha female police superintendent (Gillian Anderson) tracks a serial killer (Jamie Dornan) and takes exactly no crap from anyone. (Netflix)
“Parks and Recreation” Gone too soon but still with us, the citizen-leaders of Pawnee, Ind., take us to the heartland and tell us how to cope with any given situation, including two ex-wives named Tammy. (Netflix)
“Moone Boy” In rural Ireland, a 12-year old boy has an imaginary friend played by Chris Dowd, and it is just as charming, touching and funny as you might imagine. (Hulu)
“Jane the Virgin” With its Miami setting, telenovella top-notes and wacky plot twists, the story of a truly accidental pregnancy defines beach-binge but the cast, headed by Gina Rodriguez keeps it very human. (Season 1, Netflix; Season 2 Hulu) (where can you see?)
“Foyle’s War” You can jump in at any point of Anthony Horowitz’s masterful drama about a British detective holding down the home front during World War II; Michael Kitchen’s Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle will always hold you spellbound. (Acorntv/Netflix)
“Catastrophe” There are two seasons but they have only six episodes each which means the binge will be brief. But the hilariously caustic love story between an American guy and a British gal (played by Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan who also write the series) living in London is terrific. (Amazon Prime)
“New Girl” Liz Meriweather’s unfailingly funny ensemble comedy about a lovable set of L.A. roommates doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. (Netflix)
“Cadfael” Derek Jacobi stars as Ellis Peters’ 12th century soldier turned monk turned sleuth in Shrewsbury, England. History! Amazing locations! Derek Jacobi! (Acorntv)
“Grey’s Anatomy” Someday, it will end. Meanwhile, go back to where the reign of Shonda Rhimes started, at Seattle Grace 11 years ago. (Netflix)
“House” Before there was “Sherlock” took London or “Elementary” took New York, Hugh Laurie’s Dr. House was practicing the art of deduction at Princeton-Plainsboro, and he was, is, sooo good.
As long as we’ve mentioned him, add “Sherlock” and as long as we’ve mentioned “Sherlock,” add “Luther.” did you mention Luther? Both are set in a deeply immersive London, both revolve around a wildly attractive and fascinating detective and both remind Americans just how transformative a good coat can be. (Netflix)
“Big Love” The show that brought “sister-wives” and Salt Lake City into the cultural conversation is one of the best examinations of marriage ever on television. (HBOGo)
“Call the Midwife” As adapted from Jennifer Worth’s memoir of life as a young midwife in East London during the early days of the National Health Service this PBS series is as good-hearted as it is historically provocative. (Netflix)
“Bones” With a solid and likable ensemble solving 11 seasons of twisty and cheekily grisly murders throughout the D.C. area, it’s tough to beat the still-addictive “Bones.” (Netflix)