The 20 best TV box-sets on Netflix

(Updated May 2015) From glossy US space operas to gritty British dramas, Netflix is stuffed with great shows. We've rounded up our 20 favourites

The 20 best TV box-sets on Netflix

The scheduling straightjacket has been thrown off, replaced by a loose, comfortable gown we call Netflix.

These days, we can pick and choose what we want to watch, and when we want to watch it. And nowhere is that more revolutionary than with the good old-fashioned TV series. Netflix is packed with them: hundreds upon hundreds of hours of glorious televisual treats across pretty much every genre there is. 

In fact, it's what made the streaming service the must-have TV power-up it is today: would it really be so popular were it not for original commissions such as House Of Cards or see-it-here-first super-shows such as Breaking Bad? Nope: while you may come to Netflix for the movies, you stay for the box-sets.

But as is always the case with Netflix, it's a tricky business filtering the visual plankton in search of the oysters of excellence. So we've done it for you: below you'll find 20 fantastic TV shows that should keep you occupied well into 2016. 

READ MORE: The 35 best things on Netflix right now

Better Call Saul

Spin-off TV series rarely replicate the magic of their parent shows but, like the Cheers-spawned Frasier before it, Better Call Saul manages to succeed by creating its own magic. Set six years before the events of Breaking Bad, it follows the early legal career of Saul Goodman – then known as Jimmy McGill – a former conman trying to make it work on the right side of the law.

While the stakes never get as butt-clenchingly high as they are for Walter White and friends in Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul manages to emerge from its shadow to deliver a series that is funny, engrossing and almost as binge-worthy as its predecessor. Netflix, make more seasons of this, please.

Utopia

A visually stunning, graphically violent and darkly comic conspiracy thriller, Utopia will stay with you long after the final credits roll.

Writer Dennis Kelly's script is a thing of wonder, bringing a disparate gaggle of characters to life in a world which they don't really understand and we're not much wiser about, all while pulling the rug out from under you with bewildering regularity.

And if the story - which takes in a legendary comic book, shadowy intelligence figures and Tic-Tac-munching hitmen - is original, the style is nothing less than unique: director Marc Munden deliberately ramped up the yellows and greens to give it an acidic, otherworldly feel. It really is like nothing you've seen before.

The only negative is that you'll only find the first season on Netflix; fortunately, the equally superb second can be seen on 4oD.

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Peaky Blinders

This series, named after the 19th century Birmingham gang, is as good as anything else you'll find on Netflix. Led by the strangely likeable and very dangerous Tommy Shelby, it tells the tale of a razor-wielding crime family trying their very best to keep control of their city while avoiding the watchful Chief Inspector Chester Campbell.

CIllian Murphy grabs the spotlight and will absolutely not let go of it in one of the finest drama series produced by the BBC in recent years. Get ready to binge-watch all six episodes of this historical gangster drama.

Orphan Black

When petty crook Sarah witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks identical to her, she isn't troubled by existential questions; she just sets about stealing her doppelganger's identity and clearing out her bank accounts as quickly as possible. Naturally, that brings its own set of complications, and before long she's winging it as a detective, hiding bodies and uncovering a conspiracy of human cloning.

Tatiana Maslany anchors the show with a superb performance, slipping between her different roles with aplomb - though some of the supporting cast let the side down, playing to the cheap seats a bit. Unlike other high-concept shows, this one's clearly been thought through beyond its initial premise; it's skilfully written, with Sarah's decisions leading to one complication after another in a logical, coherent manner, even as the sci-fi weirdness mounts.

Daredevil

Marvel's second venture into series TV after the benighted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil is a gritty, street-level take on superheroics that has more in common with The Wire than the antics of Iron Man and the Guardians Of The Galaxy. Boardwalk Empire's Charlie Cox stars as the titular superhero; by day, blind lawyer Matt Murdock pursues justice in the courtroom, by night he dons a mask, fires up his super-senses and beats up petty criminals in New York's Hell's Kitchen.

With a hero straddling both sides of the law - and ten hours of screentime to play with - Daredevil offers up a more nuanced take on vigilantism than comic-book movies generally manage. It also plays with the consequences of big-screen superheroics; Hell's Kitchen has regressed to its slum-like state following the events of The Avengers, when Thor, the Hulk and Iron Man inflicted billions in property damage on the Big Apple while fending off an alien invasion.

Carefully scripted and with action sequences that are the equal of any film, Daredevil may just be the best thing that Marvel Studios has put on screens this year.

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