Film

Catch Up on This Season’s Most Binge-Watchable Shows

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Mid-season premieres are the perfect excuse to catch up on the TV you haven’t found time for.

Here are ten returning series ripe for binge-watching.

Sleepy Hollow

Ichabod Crane, suspended in limbo for his own safety by his Manic Wicca Dream Girl’s coven, returns to life in the twenty-first century to fight crime — plus large abstractions like War and Death! If that sounds insane, get this: Jeremy Owen’s bitchily terrifying Headless Horseman manages to roll his eyes despite not having any. Sleepy Hollow loses its way at times (yes, it is possible to misuse John Noble), but the bestie chemistry between partners Abbie Mills and Crane never fizzles, and the show expertly balances twisted history (nudist Ben Franklin) and fish-out-of-water humor (Crane’s ire at “levies” on donuts). The departure of Nicole Beharie as Mills may bode ill for the fourth season, but what a (Paul Revere’s midnight) ride you’re in for with the first three. Sleepy Hollow is anything but either.

Returned January 6 on Fox, seasons 1 to 3 streaming on Hulu

Homeland

Showtime’s CIA thriller should come with a whiplash warning: It’s a sad tale of doomed soul mates! Wait, it’s a biting comment on U.S. foreign policy! Hold on, now it’s a parody of its own award- winning strengths (Claire Danes’s melty cry-faces as analyst-savant Carrie Mathison)! But the show’s a classic Pringle-watch — you’ll just keep poppin’ eps — and powering straight through Homeland gets its crappier elements (i.e., the Brody kids, TV’s all-time most worthless teens) in the rearview faster, the better to enjoy Tracy Letts’s spluttery WTF faces as the CIA director, or Miranda Otto as a jumpy double agent. Like its protagonist, it’s frequently maddening but, thanks to the expert casting of its villains, never dull.

Returned January 15 on Showtime, seasons 1 to 5 streaming on Showtime and Hulu

How to Get Away With Murder

As with other territories in the great state of Shondaland, marathoning ABC’s legal thriller/mystery/whatever isn’t about “catching up” so much as getting swept away by its baroque flashbacks, soapy showdowns, and emotional stakes that go to eleven in every episode. It’s over-the-top narrative candy, best enjoyed with a couchful of like-minded skeptics, but national treasure Viola Davis gives Murder a core of emotional truth.

Returns January 26 on ABC, seasons 1 to 2 streaming on Netflix, season 1 streaming on Hulu and Yahoo

The Missing

“If Broadchurch and the original European The Vanishing had a kid” is not the cheeriest sell for a show, but that’s solid cold-case-story DNA. The Missing is dark, but not for its own sake, and it’s skillful, too. The disappearance of an English five-year-old on holiday in France takes his (now estranged) parents to some dark places in search of answers, but The Missing doesn’t fall into traps common to the child-in-peril genre; its characters aren’t one-note, and its flashbacks are flawlessly paced and don’t cheat their own clues. And because it’s a European production, the cops (particularly Tchéky Karyo, very good as the retired but easily re-obsessed Julien Baptiste) look like cops, not models with gun holsters.

Returns February 12 on Starz, season 1 streaming on Starz and Amazon

Humans

Set in a chilly near future in which “synths” — realistic artificial intelligences designed to do everything from factory work to sex work to nannying — have begun to challenge the society they were designed to help. Mostly, it isn’t on purpose, but because their very existence raises tangly existential questions: Is it still cheating if it’s with a synth acquired to tidy up the house? What becomes of human workers when synths can do their jobs for free? How much of parenting is rote drudgery, driving or folding or cutting off crusts…and could a well-programmed synth do the other parts, too? But a handful of synths have become sentient, and their radical-cell approach to throwing off their oppressors is hard not to admire. Thoroughly thought-out, Humans and its relatable characters — human and synth — stay with you.

Returns February 13 on AMC, season 1 streaming on Amazon

The Mindy Project

If you were put off by the near-crushing hype Mindy Kaling’s sit-rom-com arrived under, give her eponymous show another look — literally, if you like fashion, as even subpar episodes can be enjoyed on mute thanks to the production’s impeccable styling. But Mindy‘s strength is the just-wacky-enough supporting characters, played with perfect timing by the likes of Ike Barinholtz, Adam Pally, and Fortune Feimster. If the Mindy-Danny “love” story’s a bust in any given episode, hit “next”; you won’t miss much.

Returns February 14 on Hulu, seasons 1 to 5 streaming on Hulu

The Good Wife

Spin-off The Good Fight is set to drop mid-February on CBS’s video-on-demand “All Access” channel — and since carryover leads Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo are among the best things the parent program had to offer, it’s worth powering through the original legal drama’s seven seasons. That, and The Good Wife was the rare network drama that could hold its own against prestige cable fare. Well-built and entertaining but not bleak, it offered chewy ripped-from-the-headlines cases, guest stars having a ball, and myriad drinking-game possibilities involving Julianna Margulies’s hairpieces and collarless-jacket collection.

The Good Fight premieres February 19 on CBS All Access; seasons 1 to 7 of The Good Wife streaming on Amazon and Hulu

Fargo

Been avoiding FX’s anthology series out of worry it won’t live up to the 1996 film? Fear not, for the series is 1) only loosely based on the movie and 2) a credit to its name. Because each season is self-contained (though related), you can start with the outstanding Season 2 and the ineptly handled hit-and-run that introduces you to Jean Smart’s frumpily fearsome crime boss. Double back later to Season 1’s alliance between Billy Bob Thornton’s snarky hitman and Martin Freeman’s beleaguered insurance agent. Either way, don’t start a season at 10 p.m.; Fargo is hard to pause.

Returns in spring on FX, season 1 streaming on Hulu, season 2 available for purchase on multiple sites

Prison Break

Legends of Tomorrow is, technically, a better showcase for Prison Break leads Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, because there’s more wit with the glowering — but Prison Break is a solid watch in its own right. The premise is fun: To get his brother out of prison, Miller’s character sends himself in, with a rococo escape plan tattooed on himself from neck to knees, and when other inmates (including…D.B. Cooper?) want in on the breakout, hijinks ensue. Its initial run from 2005 through 2009 didn’t quite reach its potential, and for every acting performance that’s good (Robert Knepper as the gleefully villainous T-Bag) there’s one that’s just loud (William Fichtner’s twitchy FBI agent), but scenery-chewing and soapy twists are fun too. And you have to admire a show that has its (file baked in a) cake and eats it too by bringing back a simpy love interest from the dead…when she’d been beheaded.

Returns in spring on Fox, seasons 1 to 4 streaming on Netflix

The Leftovers

What happens when 2 percent of the world’s population disappears, with no warning and no explanation? One of the charms of The Leftovers is that the show itself doesn’t seem entirely sure. Some characters join cults, others un-quit smoking, and most of the world suffers from a semi-apocalyptic variant of PTSD; The Leftovers explores the aftermath for both individuals (Justin Theroux’s small-town police chief; Christopher Eccleston’s estranged pastor) and the world at large (some of the show’s best work is in the process-y details of the Sudden Departure, like the ancillary businesses and cabinet posts that spring up in its wake, and which celebrities vanished…or didn’t). Liv Tyler’s startling heel turn in Season 2 is worth the price of admission.

Returns in April on HBO, seasons 1 and 2 streaming on HBO NOW

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