PART 3: TV SHOWS
A James Bond-esque secret agent with the womanising, drinking and love of casual violence turned right up to 11, Archer is one of the greatest anti-heroes we’ve seen in an animated show. He's in good company at private spy agency ISIS (in hindsight, an unfortunate choice of name) staffed as it is with a collection of selfish, bungling agents and perverts.
Perfect for Netflix binge-watching, thanks to its 20-minute episodes, it's generously packed with snappy one-liners and Arrested Development-esque in-jokes. It’s just as good as it sounds.
Not since The Sopranos has there been a mainstream television show where so much goes on behind the surface, and so much is left for the viewer to interpret.
Mad Men is, on the face of it, a drama series about people who work in advertising in 1960s New York, and it succeeds on that level thanks to a fantastic cast of characters, an intriguing plot and an almost absurd amount of attention to period detail.
But just as The Sopranos used the mob to examine wider themes, Mad Men uses advertising to explore capitalist America, hopes, fears, family and identity in the modern world. You could probably call it existentialist if you were feeling fancy, and you’d be well within your rights – but it’s devilishly witty, moving and entertaining with it.
It may be the most painstakingly crafted television show of all time; it’s certainly among the best.
FARGO (TV SERIES)
Not to be confused with the Coen brothers’ movie that inspired it – and from which it draws its winning blend of dark deeds, intricate plotting, looming dread and comic “Minnesota nice” dialogue – this is yet another TV series that begs to be binge-watched over a weekend. And at a relatively modest eight episodes, that’s entirely doable.
Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman all deliver fine performances as residents of the snowbound titular town, but it’s Billy Bob Thornton, oozing malevolence and menace as drifter Lorne Malvo, who lingers longest in the memory.
The second series (a totally different, separate story, set in a different decade) has also been added, with Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson and Patrick Wilson providing great work. Many would argue it's even better than the first - us included.
It gets more preposterous as it goes on and makes the council estates of London look more dangerous than trying to put lipstick on a crocodile but Idris Elba’s gritty cop show is one of the better things he’s done post Stringer Bell.
Elba’s he-doesn’t-play-by-the-rules-but-god-damn-he-gets-results schtick is a little clichéd but with an excellent parade of nutters to apprehend over the course of three series (the fourth is showing on the BBC now, so look out for it to arrive on Netflix in the future) it’s that little bit cleverer and creepier than most British police procedurals churned out these days. Just don’t watch it when you’re home alone.
BEVERLY HILLS COP
The 80s were rife with comedy action films, and Beverly Hills Cop was the funniest, most action-packed of the lot. And it still stands up now.
A huge part of it is Eddie Murphy's cheeky charm as Axel Foley, a reckless Detroit detective who goes off the books to investigate the death of his friend. His enquiries take him to Beverley Hills, where he's very much a fish out of water, butting heads with the local police and aristocratic criminals.
If you haven't already seen it (seriously?!) you must rectify that immediately. If you have, Beverly Hills Cop really is every bit a brilliant as you remember. The two sequels aren't much, er, cop, but they're also on Netflix if you want to complete the trilogy.
If you’re not already an Andy Samberg fan (shame on you), Brooklyn Nine-Nine will make you one. That’s not to say he’s the only draw in this comedy cop show, though - the super-childish detective he plays is always at the centre of things, but each of the nutjobs he shares a precinct with have their own hilarious idiosyncrasies, not least of all the seemingly dry and dull Captain Holt.
It’s all as silly and immature as things get, and that’s just fine by us.
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss bring Sherlock Holmes into the present day in slick, stylish fashion. Benedict Cumberbatch shot to fame on the strength of the title role, but Martin Freeman's performance as the down-to-earth John Watson is just as important to the show's success, with a thousand Tumblrs now dedicated to capturing their interplay in GIF form.
Netflix now has the first three series available - which isn't a terrible thing, as the recent fourth series was a bit patchy - and while they may be short at just three episodes each, those episodes are just as long (and packed with twisty-turny plotting) as any movie. Pace yourself and space them out for maximum enjoyment.