It might lack the overall cachet of Netflix and Amazon Prime, but Now TV is a streaming service worth shouting about.
Not only does Now TV feature a best-in-class Movies package (see our recommendations from that line-up here), it also offers a separate, nicely affordable "Entertainment Pass" that grants you access to hundreds of TV shows and documentaries, both in BBC iPlayer-style catch-up form (based on Sky's broadcast channels) and box-sets featuring individual seasons or entire runs of a single show.
There's a lot of stuff to sift through on Now TV Entertainment but as always, we're here to help. How? By picking out 19 shows we think you should watch, that's how.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
If you’re a documentary fan and you’re currently unfamiliar with the story of Robert Durst, you’re in for a treat: The Jinx is an utterly compelling exploration into the eccentric New York property heir’s past, in which he may or may not have murdered one, two or three people – and got away with it each time.
Durst’s story would be intriguing enough on its own, but in this six-part series the man himself volunteers to be interviewed by filmmaker Andrew Jarecki – a seemingly unnecessary risk when you consider the crimes of which he’s suspected. As Durst’s participation starts to shine fresh light on the old cases, you’ll find yourself superglued to your screen right up until the startling, unforgettable end.
This slow burn of a series charts the growing mutual attraction between two married people and the passionate, destructive affair that unfolds. As with any affair, people end up hurt – but in this case it’s worse: somebody ends up dead.
What elevates this beyond your typical steamy thriller is its structure: The Affair is told through multiple characters’ points of view, which differ in slight but significant ways. The effect is to make you question what you think you know.
Throw in stellar performances by Dominic West and Ruth Wilson and this becomes an utterly riveting watch. But don’t worry, you have four seasons to plough through before withdrawal sets in.
The Night Of
It’s been a great few years for Brit actor Riz Ahmed, and despite his turn in Rogue One, it’s arguably his performance in HBO's miniseries The Night Of that’s cemented him as an internationally-lauded talent.
He certainly makes an impression here, playing a shy and sheltered second-generation immigrant to America who just wants to make his parents proud, succeed at his studies and make something of his life. That life is snatched away when a horrific crime is committed – and all fingers are pointed at him.
Off to brutal prison Riker’s Island he goes, with his future looking as colourless as the concrete walls. John Turturro provides excellent support at the eccentric lawyer who takes up Ahmed’s case, but it’s the burning sense of injustice – and the desire to find out what really happened that fateful night – that’ll keep you coming back episode after episode.
The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood’s bestselling novel gets the big budget telly treatment here, with Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss excellent in her leading role as Offred, one of thousands of “handmaids” who serve as breeding stock to the ruling class in a brutal theocratic near-future United States. The producers expand the scope of Atwood’s book while retaining its necessary feminist premise, making this a grimly fascinating look at patriarchy taken to the terrifying conclusions of its twisted internal logic.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones probably doesn’t need much of an introduction from us. It’s the biggest TV phenomenon of the past few years, an impeccably-produced fantasy epic with a cast of dozens (including a good handful of non-humans) and an utterly gripping, twist-riddled plot spanning continents and years, and taking in several bloody wars along the way.
All seven seasons – 67 episodes in all – are available to stream on Now TV, so if you’re dying to discover what all the fuss is about (or you just fancy revisiting Westeros for a recap before next year’s eighth and final season), now’s the time to dive back in. Well, you’d be Stark-raving mad not to…
You’re reading Stuff, so it’s a given you’re a tech fan. Which means you’re the target market for this sizzling satirical sitcom from the mind of Mike “Beavis and Butthead” Judge, which brilliantly skewers the vices, caprices and hypocrisies of California start-up culture as it follows the peaks and troughs of file compression service Pied Piper and its crew of socially dysfunctional creators.
As crude and raucous as it is insightful about the nature of the tech biz, Silicon Valley is one of the few sitcoms that doesn’t make you feel stupider the more you watch.
An intelligent big budget drama from HBO, Westworld is set in a future where the rich can live out their fantasies of heroism or villainy in a vast high-tech theme park populated by robotic “hosts”.
The beautifully realised setting gives the show’s creators plenty of room to ponder big philosophical chin-scratchers: the ethics of robotics, the nature of entertainment, the dangers of AI, and the whole concept of free will.
All interesting stuff, but at the end of the day this is a sci-fi drama that’s made to entertain, and on that level it doesn’t disappoint – even if some of the most compelling thematic threads have a tendency to unravel amidst the dramatic twists and turns.
Nowadays we take intelligently written, thematically deep, beautifully shot big budget television series for granted – but a couple of decades ago such programmes (bar the odd miniseries) were a rarity.
Then along came HBO and David Chase’s The Sopranos, a long-running drama about the New Jersey mob, family and millennial America. Gripping, funny, moving and often hard to watch, this show made a bone-fide star of the late James Gandolfini, who excels, attracts and repels in equal measure as mafia boss Tony Soprano.
Every single episode of what might be the greatest TV show ever is currently available on Now TV, so if you haven’t watched it already – or it’s been a few years and you’re missing Paulie Walnuts, Silvio, Big Pussy and Christopher – grab yourself a bin bag full of snacks, several gallons of your preferred bevvie and get settled in for a mobster marathon.
Sky’s flashy new in-house series for 2018, set during AD 43’s Roman invasion of Britain, is a weird, wonderful and over the top trip into ancient history.
The moment its psychedelic credit sequence, to the accompaniment of Donovan’s flower power anthem “Hurdy Gurdy Man”, starts rolling, you’re left in no doubt that creator Jez Butterworth (screenwriter for Spectre, Edge of Tomorrow and Black Mass) is more concerned with creating a certain atmosphere and tone than cleaving to historical fidelity.
Butterworth's approach – as well as the unapologetically modern dialogue, oversaturated colour palette and trippy camera work – might put off viewers looking for a convincing portrayal of the tribes, religions and customs of the ancient inhabitants of what’s now Kent, but if you’re instead seeking the kind of bloody violence, political scheming and visual splendour as seen in Game of Thrones or Vikings, you’ll be right at home here.
Based on journalist Roberto Saviano’s non-fiction book of the same name, Gomorrah takes a deep dive into the dark, bloody Naples underworld and the Camorra – the Mafia-like crime syndicate that runs it.
While Gomorrah isn’t quite as all-round impressive as The Sopranos (and it’s an Italian show, so sorry – you’ll have to read subtitles unless you speak the language) it provides a similarly enticing look into both the “professional” and personal lives of the crime family’s members, as well as a glimpse of a seldom seen side of Italy.
As for the show's accuracy to the real-life machinations of the Neapolitan mob? Well, given that Saviano has been living under 24-hour police protection since his book was published, it’s safe to assume that he unearthed some truths during his investigations - so this show is probably as accurate as any drama series is going to get.
Twin Peaks: The Return
There are two ways to look at the new series of Twin Peaks. One is that it is without question the most utterly brilliant TV show of the year, the other that it’s a massive pile of pretentious poo-poo.
Now we’re firmly in the former camp here at Stuff, but if you a) didn’t like the original two series or b) generally don’t like David Lynch’s creative ouput then this is emphatically not going to change your mind. Indeed, The Return is a kind of meta-Lynch show, distilling themes, elements, tropes and filmmaking techniques he’s employed elsewhere into one bewilderingly incredible experience.
Set 25 years after the events of the groundbreaking first two series, The Return revisits many of the characters from the originals, and there’s enormous amounts of fun and interest to be gained merely in seeing how they’ve aged and how their lives have worked out.
We don’t want to spoil things by going into detail about the plot, but suffice to say that it’s about as far from a straightforward linear journey as you could ever imagine. Absolutely essential viewing.
Think of Billions as the high-finance counterpart to House of Cards and you won’t be far off the mark.
Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti are superb as, respectively, the win-at-all-costs head of a massive hedge fund and the win-at-all-costs district attorney determined to put him behind bars, although both are thoroughly upstaged by the even better Maggie Siff as the woman who keeps both at the top of their game.
It can get a bit bogged down in financial jargon - unless you’re a hedge-fund manager yourself, you’ll likely not understand a word of what’s being discussed at times - but that’s never really a problem, because this isn’t really a show about global financial markets. Well, no more so than Game of Thrones is really a show about dragons.
Instead, it’s a show about power and whether the kind you can buy is more important than the kind you earn. Well worth a watch.
If a comedy drama about the struggles of an aspiring rap star and his manager sounds too similar to something like Entourage, don’t worry: Atlanta is a decidedly different, far more interesting kettle of fish.
Produced by and starring Donald Glover, it’s a disarming, slick, offbeat, observant and endlessly charming sitcom about, to paraphrase Glover, “what it’s like to be black in America”. Funny as Atlanta is, it shies away from very little in its quest for veracity. Still, it would be a crime to reveal too much about this wonderful show – best you just watch it for yourself.