Tuesday, April 14, 2020

15 Series to Fend off the Stir Crazy

If you’re like me and are tired of hearing all the doom and gloom on the news and scattered every 5 to 10 minutes throughout every program on regular television, turning to premium streaming services is an excellent way to pass some of the time while staying at home and social-distancing during the pandemic.

Of course, some of us have more practice at social distancing than others. Those jokes circling social media right now about the introverts claiming ‘I’ve been training for this’ aren’t that far from the mark, really. So from my introverted heart to yours, I wanted to share one of my tricks to staying sane. (Or something like it.) When I’m feeling low, I enjoy a bit of escapism as a coping method. Movies, TV shows, books, and writing have long been standbys for me.

The trick is finding the right genres to take your mind off of what’s going on and transport you elsewhere, or into someone else’s shoes for a while – just long enough for you to re-center and face the rest of the day (or night) a little less burdened by the weight of the world.

For this reason, I bring you a curated list of shows I’m currently excited about – both coming soon and already released. Series are great because you can adjust your ‘dosage’ as you see fit. Choose your own adventure… 1 or 2 episodes if you just want a quick break, or binge a whole season if you want.

Also, for the sake of taking a few moments to step back from the current state and stresses of the world right now, I’ve left off a lot of the titles that are too close to home with what’s going on in current events. While series like Containment (2016) are excellent, it seems to defeat the purpose of distancing to get a break from over-inundation on the topic.

Lest I digress further, let’s start with some coming attractions!

1 – Ghost in the Shell: SAC­_2045

Premiere Date: Thursday, 4/23/2020
Streaming Service: Netflix
Genre: Animation, Action, Sci-Fi
Length: Season 1, 12 Episodes
Rating: Unknown
Production/Distribution: Production I.G., Sola Digital Arts, Netflix
Directors: Shinji Aramaki, Kenji Kamiyama
Writer: Shirow Masamune        
Actors: Atsuko Tanaka, Osamu Saka, Akio Otsuka, Kōichi Yamadera, Yutaka Nakano, Tōru Ōkawa, Takashi Onozuka, Taro Yamaguchi, Sakiko Tamagawa, Megumi Han, Kenjiro Tsuda

IMDB Blurb: Hired as a mercenary unit, the former members of Japan's elite Section 9 are faced with the sudden appearance of "Post-Human," a being with tremendous intelligence and physical capabilities.

I am so excited that this Netflix Original is happening. I absolutely adore the Stand Alone Complex (SAC) series, as well as the movies. (You can see my thoughts on the live-action one here.) The CGI animation style on the new series might take a little getting used to, but I love the franchise enough that I’m hopeful and willing to give it a try before making a judgment. I encourage anyone that’s a fan of the original animated series to do the same. The trailer does indicate that the character designs are fairly true to the original animated series, at least. Just keep in mind that this may be available in Japanese audio with subtitles only. I haven’t seen any indication of an English-speaking cast for an alternate audio track. Just save this one for when you’re not multi-tasking and can focus on the screen for a while.

2 – Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

Premiere Date: Sunday, 4/26/2020
Streaming Service/Network: Showtime
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: Season 1, 8 Episodes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Desert Wolf Productions, Showtime Networks
Creator/Showrunner: John Logan
Directors: Paco Cabezas, Sheree Folkson, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan
Writer: John Logan
Actors: Natalie Dormer, Daniel Zovatto, Adriana Barraza, Jessica Garza, Johnathan Nieves, Rory Kinnear, Nathan Lane, Michael Gladis, Santino Barnard, Sebastian Chacon, Julian Hilliard, Adam Rodriguez, Dominic Sherwood, Hudson West, Thomas Kretschmann, Lorenza Izzo, Adan Rocha, Amy Madigan, Stephanie Arcila

IMDB Blurb: When a grisly murder shocks Los Angeles in 1938, Detective Tiago Vega and his partner Lewis Michener become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of the city.

It was a sad day when I finished the final episode of the last Penny Dreadful (2014-2016) series. It’s exciting that Showtime is revisiting the concept with a new spin. The cast looks amazing and I can’t wait to see what this new iteration of the series has in store. So far, it looks to stay true to its horror roots; and rather than giving a fresh treatment to classic monsters in Victorian England, this series apparently will be delving into Mexican-American folklore and the burgeoning city of Los Angeles in the late 30s.

3 – Upload

Premiere Date: Friday, 5/1/2020
Streaming Service/Network: Amazon Prime Video
Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy
Length: Season 1, 10 Episodes
Rating: Unknown
Production/Distribution: Amazon Studios, Baral Waley Productions, Reunion Pacific Entertainment, Amazon Prime Video
Creator/Showrunner: Greg Daniels
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Writers: Greg Daniels, Mike Lawrence, Shepard Boucher, Aasia LaShay Bullock, Owen Daniels, Mary Gulino, Alyssa Lane, Alex J. Sherman
Actors: Andy Allo, Robbie Amell, Kevin Bigley, Owen Daniels, Allegra Edwards, Zainab Johnson

IMDB Blurb: A man is able to choose his own afterlife after his untimely death.

IMDb’s synopsis of the essence of Upload seems a bit sparse, considering the wealth of information provided in the trailer. When you add crazy dysfunctional relationships, a high-tech Sci-Fi world, a digital existence as an afterlife, and intrigue, this seems to shape up to a rather well-rounded show.  The concept of copying a person’s essence to a digital medium has been explored in various ways through movies and shows (including another in this article). This version, however, seems to be the first rooted in comedy and addressing a post-mortem ‘life experience’ rather than focusing on living in the here-and-now. With one of the comedic genius minds behind The Office (2005-2013) onboard the writing team this should certainly be entertaining. I can’t wait!

4 – Solar Opposites

Premiere Date: Friday, 5/8/2020
Streaming Service/Network: Hulu
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Length: Season 1, 8 Episodes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: 20th Century Fox Television, Disney Television Studios, Fox Television Animation, Justin Roiland's Solo Vanity Card Productions, Hulu
Creators/Showrunners: Mike McMahan, Justin Roiland
Directors: Mike McMahan, Justin Roiland
Writers: Mike McMahan, Justin Roiland
Actors: Sean Giambrone, Mary Mack, Justin Roiland, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Amanda Leighton, Andrew Matarazzo, Kari Wahlgren, Thomas Barbusca

IMDB Blurb: A family of aliens move to middle America, where they debate whether life is better there or on their home planet.

The wild and wacky minds (or at least one of them) behind Rick and Morty (2013-) have created another animated brainchild for Hulu. The root of the concept has been done before, yes – aliens in middle America and shenanigans follow. This time, however, it’s taking an animated turn and is more geared for late teens and adults. It almost looks a little insane, but some of the best ideas ever tend to be a little unhinged. It should certainly be good for a lot of laughs to keep its audience entertained, and that’s the point right?

5 – Space Force

Premiere Date: Friday, 5/29/2020
Streaming Service/Network: Netflix
Genre: Comedy
Length: Season 1, 10 Episodes
Rating: Unknown
Production/Distribution: 3 Arts Entertainment, Netflix
Creators/Showrunners: Greg Daniels, Steve Carell
Directors: Paul King, Tom Marshall
Writers: Greg Daniels, Shepard Boucher, Aasia LaShay Bullock, Steve Carell,Brent Forrester, Yael Green, Connor Hines, Lauren Houseman, Maxwell Theodore Vivian
Actors: Steve Carell, Owen Daniels, Noah Emmerich, John Malkovich, Tawny Newsome, Ben Schwartz, Diana Silvers, Alex Sparrow, Jessica St. Clair, Fred Willard, Jimmy O. Yang

IMDB Blurb: The people tasked with creating a sixth branch of the armed services: The Space Force.

Putting politics completely aside, it’s a fact that the current US President has announced the creation of an off-planet branch of the military. When you take the wacky brilliance behind The Office (2005-2013) and apply that to the ‘how do we do that’ quandary which military leaders actually face, it’s a recipe for comedy gold.

You might be thinking that budget constraints might prevent you from partaking in some of these. I have good news for you!

Right now, in light of so many people isolating at home, several streaming services have offered at least 30 days of trial subscriptions. You are required to sign up with a payment method, but have the option to cancel before you get charged at the end of the trial. Some cable providers have also opened up or expanded their On-Demand titles available to those that don’t have the premium bundles. Shudder and CBS All Access are among those that have offered the 30-day trials. Xfinity, in addition to expanding their Wi-Fi services for students is one of the providers that has opened up more on-demand.

The following are 10 shows, in no particular order, which I’m looking forward to watching while at home social-distancing. Some of these shows are relatively new, and others have been around for a little bit, but are worth a watch.

1 – Star Trek: Picard

Series Name/Year: Star Trek: Picard (2019-)
Streaming Service: CBS All Access
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Drama
Length: Season 1, 10 Episodes, Run-time range of 44-57 min. per episode
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: CBS Television Studios, Roddenberry Entertainment, Secret Hideout, CBS All Access, Amazon Prime Video
Creators/Showrunners: Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman
Directors: Hanelle M. Culpepper, Jonathan Frakes, Akiva Goldsman, Maja Vrvilo, Douglas Aarniokoski
Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman, Alex Kurtzman, James Duff, Sam Humphrey, Ayelet Waldman, Nick Zayas
Actors: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Alison Pill, Isa Briones, Michelle Hurd, Santiago Cabrera, Harry Treadaway, Evan Evagora, Peyton List, Tamlyn Tomita, Brent Spiner

IMDB Blurb: Follow-up series to Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) and Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) that centers on Jean-Luc Picard (Sir Patrick Stewart) in the next chapter of his life.

Star Trek (1966-1969) has always been part of my life in one incarnation or another. I watched the original series when I was little, and was determined to find a way to have a tribble as a pet. (I seriously regret losing track of that old metal lunchbox, too.) When Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) hit the airwaves, I was instantly hooked. I can probably attribute my love of science fiction finding inspiration amongst the Starfleet’s myriad episodes.

When it was announced that some of the beloved characters from Next Generation would be returning to their roles for Star Trek: Picard, I was rather giddy. Then I was abysmally sad because I didn’t have CBS All Access at the time and didn’t see that changing in the near future since we were already working Netflix, Prime, and Disney+/Hulu into our budget.

With the 30 day trial that’s currently being offered, I hopped on that at warp speed. I’ve watched a couple episodes so far and am very pleased, not to mention excited for the rest of the season I haven’t seen yet. I might also mention that before the first season was ever released, Season 2 already received the green light. Considering delays in production around the world, it’s unclear when that will be finished and released – but we still have this first season and other Star Trek properties to tide us over until then.

2 – Star Trek: Discovery

Series Name/Year: Star Trek: Discovery (2017-)
Streaming Service: CBS All Access
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Drama
Length: Season 1: 15 Episodes, Season 2: 14 Episodes, Run-time range of 37–65 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: CBS Television Studios, Living Dead Guy Productions, Master Key Production, Roddenberry Entertainment, Secret Hideout, CBS All Access, CBS, CraveTV, Space, Paramount Home Entertainment, Super! Drama TV, Universal Pictures, Z, Netflix (Non-US markets only)
Creators/Showrunners: Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman
Directors: Olatunde Osunsanmi, Jonathan Frakes, Douglas Aarniokoski, David Barrett, Lee Rose, Akiva Goldsman, Hanelle M. Culpepper, T.J. Scott, Christopher J. Byrne, Adam Kane, John Scott, David Semel, David Solomon, Marta Cunningham, Alex Kurtzman, Maja Vrvilo
Writers: Bryan Fuller, Alex Kurtzman, Gene Roddenberry, Kirsten Beyer, Sean Cochran, Bo Yeon Kim, Erika Lippoldt, Gretchen J. Berg, Aaron Harberts, Kemp Powers, Ted Sullivan, Akiva Goldsman, Michelle Paradise, Jesse Alexander, Aron Eli Coleite, Jordon Nardino, Lisa Randolph, Andrew Colville, Jenny Lumet, Alan B. McElroy, Vaun Wilmott, Joe Menosky, Craig Sweeny, Jay Beattie, Dan Dworkin, Anthony Maranville, Brandon Schultz, Chris Silvestri
Actors: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman, Emily Coutts, Shazad Latif, Oyin Oladejo, Patrick Kwok-Choon, Julianne Grossman, Ronnie Rowe, Wilson Cruz, Sara Mitich, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Anson Mount, Mary Chieffo, Jayne Brook, Hannah Cheesman, Rachael Ancheril, James Frain, Ethan Peck

IMDB Blurb: Ten years before Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise, the USS Discovery discovers new worlds and lifeforms as one Starfleet officer learns to understand all things alien.

I think the only reason I haven’t already finished Star Trek: Picard, is because I got lost down the rabbit hole watching Discovery. I’ve almost finished the first season, and I’m hooked. The plot and characters are interesting, the cast is amazing, and the production value is top notch. I also adore that there are little references here and there – Easter eggs peppered throughout to give nods to the original series. If you love the Star Trek franchise, then you certainly won’t want to miss this series (especially when you have a chance to watch it for free).

There is a 3rd season forthcoming, though the release information only says ‘sometime in 2020’ thus far.

3 – The Twilight Zone

Series Name/Year: The Twilight Zone (2019-)
Streaming Service: CBS All Access
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi
Length: Season 1, 10 Episodes, Run-time range of 37-56 min. per episode
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: CBS Television Studios, Genre Films, Monkeypaw Productions, CBS All Access
Creator/Showrunners: Rod Serling, Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele, Marco Ramirez
Directors: Mathias Herndl, Ana Lily Amirpour, Christina Choe, Owen Harris, Simon Kinberg, Craig William Macneill, Gerard McMurray, Richard Shepard, Jakob Verbruggen, Greg Yaitanes, Alonso Alvarez, Peter Atencio
Writers: Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele, Marco Ramirez, Rod Serling, Glen Morgan, Heather Anne Campbell, Alex Rubens, John Griffin, Andrew Guest, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, Richard Matheson, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due
Actors: Jordan Peele, David Epstein, Kelly Ann Woods, Paolo Maiolo, Nagin Rezaiean, Shalyn Ferdinand, Lloyd Cunningham, Zazie Beetz, John Cho, Taissa Farmiga,
Ginnifer Goodwin, Sanaa Lathan, Kumail Nanjiani, Tracy Morgan, Seth Rogen, Greg Kinnear, John Larroquette, Jason Priestley

IMDB Blurb: An updated version of the classic anthology series featuring various tales of science fiction, mystery, and horror.

Another of my favorite shows from yester-year is the original Twilight Zone (1959-1964) series. Episodes such as William Shatner’s (Batman vs/ Two-Face, The Indian Detective, The Steam Engines of Oz) Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (1963) may very well be where I began my love for the horror/thriller genres.

I’ve watched most of the first episode, leaving it unfinished only because I was having internet issues causing the episode to freeze. I’ll get back to it, don’t worry! I was thoroughly enjoying the creepy premise until I was involuntarily interrupted.

From what I’ve gathered, there are quite a few Easter eggs in this new iteration of the series that harken back to the original. Die-hard fans should certainly have fun picking them out along the way. The showrunners have taken great care to maintain respect for the original within the new series. There will be a second season of this show, as well. Unfortunately, it is also subject to that nebulous ‘sometime in 2020’ projection, without a definitive release date. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that it’s sooner rather than later.

4 – Altered Carbon

Series Name/Year: Altered Carbon (2018-)
Streaming Service: Netflix
Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Length: Season 1: 10 Episodes, Season 2: 8 Episodes, Run-time range of 46-66 min. per episode
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Mythology Entertainment, Skydance Television, Netflix
Creator/Showrunner: Laeta Kalogridis
Directors: Uta Briesewitz, Alex Graves, Peter Hoar, Nick Hurran, M.J. Bassett, Ciaran Donnelly, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Jeremy Webb, Andy Goddard, Miguel Sapochnik
Writers: Laeta Kalogridis, Nevin Densham, Richard Morgan, Alison Schapker, Steve Blackman, Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner, Brian Nelson, Casey Fisher, Sang Kyu Kim, Michael R. Perry
Actors: Chris Conner, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Will Yun Lee, Dichen Lachman, Martha Higareda, Ato Essandoh, Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Kristin Lehman, Trieu Tran, Hayley Law, Anthony Mackie, Lela Loren, Simone Missick, Dina Shihabi, Torben Liebrecht, Hiro Kanagawa, Waleed Zuaiter, Adam Busch, Marlene Forte, Antonio Marziale, Zahf Paroo, James Saito, Tamara Taylor, Sharon Taylor, Dalias Blake, Orphée Ladouceur-Nguyen, Skyler Mowatt, Mitra Suri, Fiona Vroom, Daniel Bernhardt

IMDB Blurb: Set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored, a prisoner returns to life in a new body and must solve a mind-bending murder to win his freedom.

I’ve found this to be quite an interesting, entertaining, and intriguing Sci-Fi series. Imagine a world where everything you are can be stored in a device implanted in your neck and backed up to the Cloud. Bodies are no longer your core identity – and are even called ‘sleeves’ which are interchangeable as long as your ‘stack’ is intact and the data uncorrupted. What a way to cheat death!

There obviously would be quite the dark side to such technology – and this series explores that a bit. I love how it blends so many genres at once throughout the story. The interchangeable body factor also comes in handy as the series progresses between seasons – for instance, the lead for season 1 is different from season 2 without a break in continuity.

The back-story is nuanced and the characters have depth. I am excited as I begin to delve into the second season, wondering where they could go from the point that the first season ends, and how they plan to top it to further the story. There’s also an animated feature in the same ‘universe’ as the series – it seems to take place between the seasons of the live-action show.

Once more, I’ve found a book that I need to add to my reading list. I’m afraid I can’t speak to how true the series is to the source material aside from what bits are mentioned in IMDb’s trivia section. It doesn’t seem like the changes were earth-shattering, from what I’ve read. Honestly, I prefer the way it turned out in the show for some of the decisions!

Parents, just keep in mind that this one’s rated TV-MA due to violence (rather bloody at times) and sexual content.

5 – Supernatural

Series Name/Year: Supernatural (2005-2020)
Streaming Service: Netflix
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: 15 Seasons, 16-23 episodes per season, Run-time approx. 44 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: KEI Kripke Enterprises Scrap Metal & Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, Wonderland Sound and Vision, Supernatural Films, Warner Bros. Television, The WB Television Network, Independent Television, Premiere, RTL Klub Televízió, Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão, SubTV, TV Norge,TV3 Danmark, The CW Network, Veronica, Warner Home Video,Network Ten, Nippon Television Network, ProSieben Television, Super! Drama TV, VT4, Argentina Video Home, Kanal 2, Net5,TNT, Sky Cinema, Viasat3, Österreichischer Rundfunk, LivingTV, Sky Living, Sky Atlantic HD, Sky Deutschland, ProSieben Maxx, E4, Netflix, Sky 1, AXN, DiziMax, HBO Max
Creator/Showrunner: Eric Kripke
Directors: Robert Singer, Philip Sgriccia, John F. Showalter, Thomas J. Wright, Kim Manners, Charles Beeson, Guy Norman Bee, Richard Speight Jr., Mike Rohl, Steve Boyum, John Badham, Amyn Kaderali, Jensen Ackles, Tim Andrew, Nina Lopez-Corrado, Jeannot Szwarc, P.J. Pesce, Eduardo Sánchez, J. Miller Tobin
Writers:  Eric Kripke, Andrew Dabb, Robert Berens, Brad Buckner, Eugenie Ross-Leming, Davy Perez, Jenny Klein, Sera Gamble, Ben Edlund, Jeremy Carver, Daniel Loflin, Robbie Thompson, Meredith Glynn, Adam Glass, Steve Yockey, Jeremy Adams, John Shiban, Eric C. Charmelo, Nicole Snyder, Raelle Tucker, Cathryn Humphris, Julie Siege, Robert Singer
Actors: Jared Padalecki Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark Sheppard, Jim Beaver, Alexander Calvert, Samantha Smith, Mark Pellegrino, Ruth Connell, Rob Benedict, Osric Chau, David Haydn-Jones, Kim Rhodes, Curtis Armstrong, Lisa Berry, Genevieve Padalecki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Richard Speight Jr., Cindy Sampson, Emily Swallow, Ty Olsson, Felicia Day, Amanda Tapping, Samantha Ferris, Keith Szarabajka, Erica Carroll, Mitch Pileggi, Kurt Fuller, Katie Cassidy, Lauren Cohan, DJ Qualls, Tahmoh Penikett, Danneel Ackles, Jake Abel, Rick Springfield, Timothy Omundson

IMDB Blurb: Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as hunters, fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons and gods that roam the earth.

Supernatural is one of those shows that likely could go on forever as long as the production team and cast were willing. There’s no shortage of fuel for stories out there. After 15 seasons, however, I can’t say that I blame the cast members for wanting to wrap things up and spend more time with their families.

Before now, I’ve caught an episode here or there out of order – realizing that I was missing some of the inside jokes and references but at the same time I was able to follow right along what was happening. Between that, the many friends who watched regularly and discussed episodes with me, and the plethora of memes and other posts and videos out there, I’ve generally had a handle on what’s going on.

Now that the series is ending with the close of this 15th season, there’s no time like the present to give a watch to the whole thing in order. I’m up to season 5!

Considering the amount of time some of us have on our hands right now – what better way to spend some of it than an immersive and emotive story that sucks you in and takes you on a wild rollercoaster ride? Don’t forget your salt!

For bonus laughs, look up the blooper reels on YouTube. You won’t be disappointed.

6 – Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories

Series Name/Year: Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories (2016)
Streaming Service: Shudder
Genre: Drama, Horror
Length: Season 1, 4 Episodes, Run-time 30 min. per episode
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Sid Gentle Films, Sky Arts
Creator/Showrunner: Neil Gaiman
Directors: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
Writers: Iain Forsyth, Neil Gaiman, Kevin Lehane, Jane Pollard
Actors: Montserrat Lombard, Monica Dolan, Paul Ritter, Kirk Lake, Chloe Hayward, Simon Manyonda, Denise Gough, Johann Myers, Neil Gaiman, Dioni Tabbers, Kenneth Cranham, Tom Hughes, George MacKay, Johnny Vegas, Rita Tushingham, Steve Barnett, Destiny Clare, Charly Flyte, Mark Haldor, Alex Hardy, Charmaine Ireland, Christina Pennant, Joey Price, Sonnyboy Skelton, Richard Syms, Symara A. Templeman, Noah Yeneralski, Toby Yeneralski

IMDB Blurb: Adaptations of the fantastical short stories written by author, Neil Gaiman.

This is one of the few shows on this list that I haven’t actually seen yet. I am, however, familiar with Neil Gaiman’s (Stardust, Eternals, American Gods) work. This was one of the first series that I added to my watch list when I signed up for Shudder’s trial period.

If you’re looking for a quality show with all the punch and polish of the longer-running productions, but with less of a commitment to time spent watching, this may be the show for you. With four, thirty-minute episodes, it’s an easy binge in less time than most current theater release movies. The show is a Shudder exclusive, so it is definitely on my must-see list before my trial runs out.

7 – Creepshow

Series Name/Year: Creepshow (2019-)
Streaming Service: Shudder
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Length: Season 1, 6 Episodes, Run-time 44 min. per episode
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Cartel Pictures, Monster Agency Productions, Striker Entertainment, Taurus Entertainment Company, The Cartel, Shudder
Creator/Showrunner: Greg Nicotero
Directors: John Harrison, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Greg Nicotero, Tom Savini, Rob Schrab
Writers: Christopher Buehlman, Jason Ciaramella, Paul Dini, John Esposito, John Harrison, Joe Hill, Bruce Jones, Stephen King, Stephen Langford, Joe R. Lansdale             , Kasey Lansdale, Keith Lansdale, Josh Malerman, Dori Miller, Greg Nicotero, David J. Schow, Rob Schrab, John Skipp, Matt Venne, Byron Willinger, Philip de Blasi
Actors: Carey Jones, Logan Allen, Adrienne Barbeau, David Arquette, Connor Christie, Bruce Davison, David A MacDonald, Melissa Saint-Amand, Hannah Barefoot, Chad Michael Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, Dylan Gage, Madison Thompson, Callan Wilson, Voltaire Colin Council, Kid Cudi, Susannah Devereux, Dana Gould, Christopher Nathan, Jasun Jabbar Wardlaw Jr., Tobin Bell, Nelson Bonilla, Andrew Eakle, Hina Khan, Grace Toso, Jesse C. Boyd, Ryan Clay, Jeffrey Combs, Beth Keener, Michael May, Afemo Omilami, Julia Denton, Kate Freund, Jason Graham, Addison Hershey, Dane Rhodes, Andy Rusk, Cailey Fleming, Tricia Helfer, Scott Johnson, DJ Qualls, Karen Strassman, Darin Toonder, Rachel Hendrix, Antwan Mills, Tom Olson, Michael Scialabba, Sydney Wease, Erica Frene, Jake Garber, Connor Jones, Tommy Kane, Danielle Lyn, David Shae, Tracey Bonner, Gino Crognale, David Alexander Kaplan, Will Kindrachuk, Guy Messenger, Jordan Patrick, Madison Bailey, Dennis Bouldin, James Devoti, Kermit Rolison, Connor Hammond, Gena Shaw, Ian Gregg

IMDB Blurb: The fictional Creepshow comic books come to life in this anthology series of terrifying tales hosted by the silent Creepshow ghoul.

I have been excited and looking forward to seeing this series ever since Greg Nicotero (Predators, The Grey, Annabelle) was discussing it while a guest on Talking Dead (2011-) following a The Walking Dead (2010-) episode. I was sad, at first, because this show is only available on Shudder. With the current trial underway, I have hopes I can give this one a watch soon!

Not only is SFX genius Nicotero running this production, none other than Tom Savini (Inhuman Resources, Django Unchained, From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series) actually directs one of the episodes. For old-school horror fans, this is huge!

This series is supposed to follow the first 2 movies of the franchise and even has some returning cast members. If you want to brush up on the movies before watching this series, you can find Creepshow (1982) as a $2.99 rental on Amazon Video and Creepshow 2 (1987) is available on Prime Video or Shudder.

I love anthologies like this. The concept reminds me of Tales From the Crypt (1989–1996), which is one of my favorite shows from yesteryear. I can’t wait to watch!

8 – Locke & Key

Series Name/Year: Locke & Key (2020-)
Streaming Service: Netflix
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: Season 1, 10 Episodes, Run-time 48 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: IDW Entertainment, Circle of Confusion, Take 5 Productions, Netflix
Creator/Showrunner: Joe Hill, Meredith Averill, Carlton Cuse, Aron Eli Coleite
Directors: Michael Morris, Vincenzo Natali, Tim Southam, Mark Tonderai, Dawn Wilkinson
Writers: Meredith Averill, Carlton Cuse, Joe Hill, Aron Eli Coleite, Gabriel Rodriguez, Elizabeth Ann Phang, Mackenzie Dohr, Andres Fischer-Centeno, Michael D. Fuller, Vanessa Rojas, Brett Treacy, Dan Woodward
Actors: Darby Stanchfield, Connor Jessup, Emilia Jones, Jackson Robert Scott, Petrice Jones, Sherri Saum, Genevieve Kang, Laysla De Oliveira, Hallea Jones, Griffin Gluck, Coby Bird, Bill Heck, Thomas Mitchell Barnet, Aaron Ashmore, Steven Williams, Felix Mallard, Eric Graise

IMDB Blurb: After their father is murdered under mysterious circumstances, the three Locke siblings and their mother move into their ancestral home, Keyhouse, which they discover is full of magical keys that may be connected to their father's death.

I have eagerly awaited the release of this series on Netflix since their first teaser dropped. There’s something whimsical about the magic keys and yet the undercurrent of something darker at work in the background is a thrilling contrast. The story seems to be full of magic, wonder, danger, and mystery.

While a good number of these series are geared to older audiences, this one appears to be appealing and likely more appropriate for a slightly younger set – which makes this perfect for a family watch night or so.

9 – Channel Zero

Series Name/Year: Channel Zero (2016-2018)
Streaming Service: Shudder
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Length: 4 Seasons, 6 Episodes each, Run-time 44 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Eat the Cat, Universal Cable Productions, Syfy, 5 Star, C More, DiziMax, Film1 Drama, Hulu, TNT Serie, Universal Pictures
Creator/Showrunner: Nick Antosca
Directors: Craig William Macneill, Steven Piet, E.L. Katz, Arkasha Stevenson
Writers: Nick Antosca, Harley Peyton, Kris Straub, Brian Alan Russell, Charlotte Bywater, Kerry Hammond, Angela LaManna, Mallory Westfall, Don Mancini, Lisa Long, Angel Varak-Iglar, Justin Boyd, Katie Gruel, Erica Saleh, Isabella Gutierrez, Alexandra Pechman, Lenore Zion
Actors: Brandon Scott, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Abigail Pniowsky, Diana Bentley, Keenan Lehmann, Amy Forsyth, Rutger Hauer, Maria Sten, Aisha Dee, Holland Roden, Jeff Ward, Olivia Luccardi, Steven Robertson, Krisha Fairchild, John Carroll Lynch, Troy James, Bradley Sawatzky, Paul Schneider, Fiona Shaw, Luisa d'Oliveira, Shaun Benson, Luca Villacis, Linden Porco, Cassandra Consiglio

IMDB Blurb: An anthology series based on popular Internet Creepypastas Candle Cove, The No-End House, Butcher's Block, and The Dream Door.

This series originally aired on the SyFy channel and was streamable after-the-fact on Hulu. Since the series conclusion, however, it is no longer available on that network or service. Shudder is the place to go if you want to watch the full series.

One thing the internet is really great at is making up really creepy scary stories. These Creepypastas, as they’ve come to be called, have spawned things such as The Slenderman and The Rake. There are quite a few stories out there that are just begging to be told with a cinematic treatment. This anthology series does just that. Rottentomatoes even gave a couple of the seasons a 100% score. 

10 – The Expanse

Series Name/Year: The Expanse (2019-)
Streaming Service: Amazon Prime Video
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: 4 Seasons, 10-13 Episodes each, Run-time range of 45-60 min. per episode
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Alcon Entertainment, Sean Daniel Company, Syfy, Space, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix (Non-US Markets Only), Pandastorm Pictures, Sky TV, Universal Pictures
Creator/Showrunner: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby
Directors: Breck Eisner, Jeff Woolnough, Terry McDonough, Robert Lieberman, Kenneth Fink, David Grossman, Thor Freudenthal, Bill Johnson, Mikael Salomon, Jennifer Phang, Sarah Harding, David Petrarca, Simon Cellan Jones, Thomas Jane
Writers: Daniel Abraham, Mark Fergus, Ty Franck, Hawk Ostby, Hallie Lambert, Georgia Lee, Denise Harkavy, Matthew Rasmussen,Dan Nowak, Naren Shankar, Robin Veith, Jason Ning, Alan DiFiore, Laura Marks
Actors: Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Frankie Adams, Shawn Doyle, Cara Gee, Thomas Jane, Florence Faivre, Chad L. Coleman, Andrew Rotilio, Nick E. Tarabay, François Chau, David Strathairn, Terry Chen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Burn Gorman, Rosa Gilmore, Lyndie Greenwood,
Jess Salgueiro, Ted Atherton, Leah Madison Jung, Jonathan Whittaker, Elias Toufexis, Steven McCarthy, Paulo Costanzo, Nadine Nicole, Patti Kim, Zach Smadu, Byron Mann, Kyla Madeira, Martin Roach, Athena Karkanis, Jared Harris, Nathaniel McParland

IMDB Blurb: A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter, and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth's rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.

Unlike most of the series on this list, I have actually seen every single episode of The Expanse. I watched the new season right after it became available in December, and I am chomping at the bit for Season 5 to become a reality. The show was renewed by Amazon Prime Video, however, with the state of things in the world, it is unclear when it will actually be ready for release.

The Expanse has won accolades and awards and is also recognized as one of the few space Sci-Fi series to get the physics of space spot on. Not only is the show awesome for the story and phenomenal cast, but it also wins with science!

It’s easy to get pulled into the far-future universe where Mars has been colonized and humans mine asteroid belts for resources. There’s mystery, political intrigue, romance, action, horror…. You name it and this series has it. The story is rich and layered, driven by compelling characters. I also love that the main characters grow and develop over a well-thought-out arc.

This one’s definitely worth spending hours watching – and you may not even realize you have!
Honorable mentions:

There are so many other shows out there available for streaming that are also worth the time spent. There was just no way to include them all. I can, however, point you in the direction of three additional shows that I have already reviewed for Trust the Dice. You can find them here, with their respective links: The Witcher, Stranger Things, Castlevania

Whatever you decide to do with your time during social distancing, please be safe and try to find kindness in the world even when things look bleak.

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