Today, HBO debuts an entire channel on Amazon Prime Instant Video dedicated to their older series. And that’s great, but a lot of attention is going to the bigger shows without focusing on the smaller ones. So, in the interest of directing you to the best series you missed, here are six to watch.
A weepy miniseries about stiff upper British lips in the time of World War I. There will be cheating, and proper bitching out, and lots of costumes. Trust us, guys, it’s worth it because Benedict Cumberbatch is in it. He’s like the garlic of television, he makes anything better just by putting him in it.
An odd, experimental series from HBO with Gabriel Byrne as a therapist trying to console, confront, and otherwise slap some sense into a series of patients. It’s a slow, talky drama, which means it’s something of an acquired taste, but it’s also got 43 episodes just in its first season, with a few different plot lines touching on everything from abortion to PTSD to psychiatric ethics. It’s not for everybody, but the people it’s for will love it.
Angels In America
HBO’s lush production of one of the most important plays in recent years has a superb cast and a lot going for it. Al Pacino got the lion’s share of attention playing Roy Cohn, the closeted gay hypocrite dying of AIDS, and who also happens to be a real historical figure. But the rest of the series is incredible as well, and was an Emmy-winner for a reason.
Well before The Wire and The Sopranos, HBO was known for this gritty drama. The infamous opening branded the show as being “about prison rape,” but in truth it’s a complicated look at the politics and the difficulty in running a facility designed to bring out the worst inside people. It’s also one with a lot of twists and turns, since anyone can die, get transferred, or even get paroled.
Little Britain USA
There’s only one season of this manic sketch show, based on the British series of the same name. But oh boy, it’s not something you’ll forget any time soon. Just like the British version was notorious for pushing the envelope even by the standards of British comedy (Google the “Bubbles” sketch if you don’t believe us), the American version isn’t noted for pulling any punches. Also, considering the surprising lack of sitcoms as part of the deal, it’s a rare comedic spot.
A slice of life about the city of New Orleans slowly recovering from the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, this engaging, rich series never quite got the love it deserved. It’s a very optimistic series in many ways, albeit it’s also a detailed character drama that you’ll have to spend some time following. Still, well worth the rewards of watching.
There’s plenty more as well; expect HBO to start adding series as time goes on. And, yes, they do in fact have The Wire.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.