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 the series and shows we think you should watch, that's how.
True Detective (S3)
More than any other relatively recent TV show, True Detective epitomised the “difficult second season” conundrum, with the taut, mysterious, terrifying and truly outstanding Matthew McConaughey- and Woody Harrelson-led first series followed up by a flabby, silly and barely comprehensible corrupt cop yarn in which Vince Vaughan and Colin Farrell failed to raise pulses. But True Detective’s third season wisely steers matters back to the original season’s weird and wonderful basics. Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali shines in a story of murder, satanic panic and good ol’ small town America creepiness unfolding over 35 years, told with the aid of copious flashbacks and convincing make up. Gripping stuff.
Brave New World (S1)
In a future where privacy, money, monogamy, family and the study of history have been abolished, peace and harmony apparently reign – but scratch the surface of this utopia and things start to look a lot less rosy and a lot more sinister. Legendary British comics writer Grant Morrison is among the creators of this nine-part adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s ground-breaking sci-fi novel, while Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich stars as an outsider whose presence in this idealised society threatens its very existence.
Brave New World may have taken a few liberties with the 1932 book, but it draws plenty of sharp parallels with our current connected world.
Olive Kitteridge (S1)
A four-hour miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth Strout’s novel of the same name, this slow-burning examination of marriage, parenthood, depression and suicide isn’t always a fun ride. It is, however, an intensely involving and well-crafted one, with memorably perfect performances from Richard Jenkins, Zoe Kazan, Bill Murray, Peter Mullan and particularly Frances McDormand in the title role.
Set in small-town Maine, it portrays a couple of decades in the life of a misanthropic teacher, wife and mother who struggles in the latter two roles, and uses all of its running time to craft a depiction of people as flawed, complicated and conflicted creatures that lingers long after the end credits roll.
Watchmen is perhaps the greatest graphic novel of all time, so any attempt to adapt it for the screen is apt to fail miserably – or at least fail to adequately capture the complex themes and paranoiac atmosphere of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ comics. While Zack Snyder’s 2009 movie adaptation wasn’t the all-out disaster most were expecting, it hardly set the world on fire – so a decade on, HBO made the wise decision of setting its Watchmen TV series in Moore’s universe, but 30 years after the events of the original book.
Moore wasn’t at all keen to get involved himself (his name is not in the credits at all, at his own request) but showrunner Damon Lindelof has managed to create something special – this may not be the Watchmen we know, but it seems to have captured the comic’s spirit. It certainly feels appropriate for our times, exploring themes of race and identity in modern America through a series of events in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And fans of the comics will be able to catch up with a few familiar faces.
The Undoing (S1)
From Big Little Lies writer David E Kelley and Bird Box director Susanne Bier, this miniseries stars Nicole Kidman as a hotshot New York therapist whose seemingly perfect life is shattered by a terrifying, tragic event.
Originally scheduled for the spring but delayed due to the pandemic, The Undoing’s dark psychological thriller vibes actually make it better suited to the dark autumn nights. Hugh Grant also stars.
Lovecraft Country (S1)
Produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams and based on Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, Lovecraft Country feels like a particularly apt horror series for the present moment.
Set in the segregated USA of the 1950s, it stars Jonathan Majors as a young black man in search of his secretive father, who has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. Setting out on the road with his uncle and a childhood friend, he must face not only with the all too recognisable horrors of racist white America but also dangers much less familiar.
Little Birds (S1)
Juno Temple (who oddly enough previously starred in a 2012 movie also called Little Birds) plays an unworldly young American transplanted to 1950s Tangiers. It’s a city in the midst of political and social turmoil as it wriggles free of European colonialism’s grip: peril and temptation lies around every corner, and our heroine swiftly succumbs to its spell.
Based on Anais Nin’s famously erotic short stories, Little Birds is a lavish look at a decadent and dangerous time. It’s far from outrageous by today’s standards, but if you want something a bit spicier than comedy, thrillers and action, it might just float your boat.
Silicon Valley (S1-6)
You’re reading Stuff, so we know you’re a tech fan. Which means you’re the target market for this satirical sitcom from Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill creator Mike Judge. It skewers California start-up culture as it follows the peaks and troughs of revolutionary 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. Every episode of its six-season run is available on Now TV.
Eastbound & Down (S1-4)
Danny McBride peddles a great line in loveable offensiveness. It’s never more evident than in this superb sitcom, in which he plays washed-up baseball star Kenny Powers, forced to slum it as a substitute teacher when his pitching arm loses its… er, power.
For all his bluster and bravado, Powers cuts a tragic and even sympathetic figure – and it's testament to McBride’s skill as a writer and actor that he can wring the pathos out of such an arrogant and selfish character. Oh, and in case you’re wondering: it’s really, really funny too.
The Night Of (S1)
Riz Ahmed excels in this role as a shy and sheltered New York lad - a second-generation immigrant to America who just wants to do 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 point to him.
Off to brutal Riker’s Island prison he goes, with his future looking as bleak as bleak can be. 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 evening – that’ll keep you coming back episode after episode.
Written by Peep Show co-creator Jesse Armstrong and executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, Succession is a blackly comic drama series about a vast multinational media company run by the demonic mogul Logan Roy (Brian Cox) and his brood of dysfunctional children (sound like anyone we know?).
When it becomes clear that Roy will soon step down as the company’s head, various members of his family begin to vie for the company’s levers of power – and it’s in this struggle that the satire begins to bite. More of a drama than Armstrong’s usual fare (and certainly not as knockabout as the likes of Veep), Succession has scooped armfuls of awards and looks set for a triumphant (and riveting) third season. Time to get on board, we reckon.