The Man in the High Castle (S1-4)
What if the Allies had lost the Second World War, and America was currently ruled by Germany in its eastern half and Japan in its western half, with a lawless neutral zone keeping the two new superpowers apart? Well, you can find out in this megabucks Amazon Prime original series, a sci-fi thriller thats zips around an alternative 1960s North America that’s more “Ja wohl!” than “Aw shucks!”.
Dealing with underground resistance groups, various shadowy plots and a new Cold War waged between Imperial Japan and the German Reich, it’s the kind of series that’ll appeal to history buffs, sci-fi fans and anyone who’s into high concept television. It’s also one of the best-looking shows we’ve laid eyes on, with 4K and HDR showing off every cent of that production budget.
The New Yorker Presents (S1)
The New Yorker Presents is the show for people who’d like to think they’re cultured enough to read an edition of the iconic magazine cover-to-cover, but know deep down their knowledge of the latest word-of-mouth Broadway sensation just isn’t up to scratch.
Within the highly bingeable 30 minute episodes you get investigative reports, interviews, poems, surreal comedy routines and fiendishly clever cartoons, all presented as digestible vignettes. Sure, not everything will land, but it’s the unpredictable topic-jumping that will have you hooked. There’s nothing else like it on TV.
Ripper Street (S1-5)
Originally a BBC series but now premiering on and produced in conjunction with Amazon, Ripper Street is a police drama set in East London in the wake of the Jack the Ripper murders. Despite the show’s name, the Ripper is only one of a host of criminal subjects touched on throughout the series, which manages to weave in plenty of real-life period characters and events without becoming too much of a “greatest hits” compilation of Victorian malfeasance.
Amazon has the entirety of the series available to stream, so you can settle down to every episode in a massive binge of murder and mayhem, should you wish.
Red Oaks (S1-3)
A hidden gem in Amazon’s catalogue, Red Oaks’ unremarkable premise belies a nuanced show that blends humour and pathos with surprising aplomb.
Set in '80s New York suburbia, Red Oaks follows the bumbling but tumultuous life of David Myers. From the enigmatically aloof love interest to parental turmoil at home, all the classic teen drama tropes are ticked off here with just enough of a twist to sustain your intrigue. What really elevates this show above the many others that riff off a similar tune is its riotous roster of characters. Sleazy yet feckless tennis coach Nash is worth watching this Red Oaks for alone.
The brooding loose cannon cop who gets the job done while rubbing pen-pushing top brass the wrong way might be a huge cliche, but this three-season series about LA detective Harry Bosch is so enjoyable that you’ll overlook it. In fact, you’ll probably end up embracing it as warmly as we do, chuckling to yourself every time Lance Reddick’s Deputy Commissioner ruefully intones something along the lines of, “Who beat up the witness? Bosch? Why am I not surprised?”
Based on Michael Connelly’s novels, the show weaves together various season-spanning cases while also delving periodically into Bosch’s own troubled backstory and his ongoing search for the man who murdered his mother. Its plot alone is gripping enough to keep you coming back episode after episode, but we also love Bosch’s mood, which brings modern-day LA noir to the screen like nothing else on TV.
Want proof that life moves more quickly these days? Betas, despite being less than four years old, might as well date from another century. Set (and first aired) in those long-ago, pre-Tinder days of 2013, it follows four geeks trying to develop a social dating app - while simultaneously proving right all those cliches about their own social skills.
As well as being remarkably prescient, it's packed with humour both dark and slapstick, with the lovable Mitchell and chaotic Hobbes providing most of the laughs as they attempt to sort out their own love lives. It's also genuinely, unexpectedly moving in places, and the only disappointment here is that for some reason it never got renewed for a second series.
Just Add Magic (S1-3)
It may be billed as one for the kids, but this excellent adaptation of the book by Cindy Callaghan makes great viewing for the whole family.
The story centres around a trio of pre-teen girls who stumble upon an ancient cookbook. They quickly realise the recipes are all magical, and affect anyone who eats the end results; queue lots of funny episodes where characters can’t stop talking or act like babies and so on.
As the show develops the girls realise the whole town is in the grip of a strange power, with this wider storyline playing out across the two series so far. Smart, superior family viewing.