The top 10 shows on Amazon Prime Video
- The Grand Tour
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- The Man in the High Castle
- American Gods
- The Tick
- Sneaky Pete
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Essentially, The Grand Tour represents the presenters from Top Gear giving the BBC a great big middle finger. Unwilling to have their unique (often politically incorrect) creativity stifled by a dour public service broadcaster, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May hooked up with Amazon and took their automobile-based shenanigans out on the road.
The end result is a familiar format, a mix of pre-recorded television films and live-audience segments presented in a large tent to an audience of about 300 people. And, as always, this is a pretty hilarious concoction of weird challenges taken on the members of our triumvirate, along with (slightly) more serious critiques of the hottest cars available to super-rich racing enthusiasts. Trust me, even if you have only a passing interest in four-wheeled conveyances, the A1 banter will keep you hooked.
Now here’s a no-brainer watch for fans of The Gilmore Girls. This period comedy-drama series, also created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, has been showered with Golden Globes and other awards since airing late last year. As you’ve probably already surmised, it centres on Miriam “Midge” Maisel. She’s a housewife living the 1950’s dream, thanks to a schmick apartment in New York’s Upper West Side, two kids and a (hackish) comedian hubby. However, that safe reality soon gets thrown into disarray, and Midge discovers a hidden talent for stand-up comedy.
A fish-out-of-water quest to make a name for herself ensues and Midge is whisked from comfortable Upper West Side living down into the edgy nightclubs and cafes of Greenwich Village. She definitely has the raw talent to earn herself a spot on the Tonight Show couch but standing in her way are disapproving Jewish parents, a colourful cast of industry frenemies and the sexism of the era. Nevertheless, Midge is effortlessly charming and watching her make jaws drop is indeed marvellous TV.
A truly terrifying vision of an alternate timeline, The Man in the High Castle imagines what the world would be like under the boot heel of a thousand year Reich. In this Philip K. Dick inspired dystopia, 1960’s America is nowhere near united. Hitler’s goosestepping hordes control everything east of Oklahoma, all land west of Idaho belongs to Japan and a vertical stripe of neutral zone runs through the Rockies.
You’re about to sign up for a thriller filled with double agents, a desperate fight to rekindle the fires of resistance and some salient (and sadly topical) reminders of the horrors of fascism. Season one starts us off with the Colorado collision course of Julianna, a San Franciscan in search for her sister’s killer, and a fledgling New York resistance recruit named Joe. The twists and binge-watch addiction start early, folks. There’s stuff I guarantee you’ll Nazi coming.
What if every deity ever thought up by mankind manifested via sheer faith and attention alone? And what if they immigrated with their believers to every new continent that was discovered? That’s the central conceit of American Gods, a cracking TV adaptation of a Neil Gaiman novel that weaves Americana and fantasy with ancient and modern mythology.
In the centre of this madness is Shadow Moon, an ex-con who’s been freed early due to his wife’s tragic and rather suspect death. While journeying home to handle the burial arrangements, our indigent jailbird falls into the employ of a crafty, charismatic conman named Mr. Wednesday (which is Ian McShane in his element). When he’s offered a look behind the veil into what really makes reality tick, Shadow slowly realises that he’s somehow a key piece in a chess game played by the OG gods and the newer, whiz-bang deities who have been worshipped into being by a world obsessed with technology.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever predicted that The Tick, an incredibly niche cult-hit cartoon from 1994, would be given the live-action TV treatment. I just never dared to hope that an exec would understand the brilliance of this Saturday morning staple that makes fun of other superheroes.
Because that’s very much what you’re getting in this modern reboot. In a world where superheroes and villains are blasé, Arthur, a shy and powerless bean counter, gets thrust into the middle of an apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Certain that a global supervillain is running the city from a protected position of assumed death, Arthur is widely derided as a kook. The one anthropomorphic ectoparasite on his side is The Tick, a lantern-jawed, near-indestructible hero who screws up about as much as he saves.
If you said Billy McBride is going through a rough patch, it’d be quite the understatement. Once a powerful and much-feared lawyer, he’s since been divorced and told to hit the bricks by the firm he helped build. The mighty have fallen very low indeed. Billy is basically a down-on-his-luck, alcoholic ambulance chaser.
Fortunately, a chance at redemption, or at least the opportunity to get some sweet revenge on the former colleagues that ditched him, arrives in the form of a wrongful death case. The path back from disgrace isn’t going to be an easy one, however. A minefield of trumped-up arrests, harassment and death threats surround the truth of this case. Make no mistake, this Amazon original about the little guy taking on a conspiracy woven by billionaires is gripping as hell. Goliath boasts an excellent cast, led by Billy Bob Thornton’s standout performance which earned him a Golden Globe.
No, this isn’t a TV serialising of that movie Mel Gibson made in 2000 – you know, the one where he shamelessly cut and pasted Braveheart into the American Revolutionary War? What we have instead is a pitch black comedy about John Tavner, a sketchy intelligence officer who’s just not into it anymore. His brother and old man are deep into politics and the spy game respectively, and it’s this pressure, along with a need to fund a wife who’s out of his league, which keeps John punching that clock.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Patriot is just an out and out spy thriller, however. There’s some Cohen brothers quirk and weird plot divergence going on here. What starts as a mission to undercut Iranian nuclear ambitions (via some undercover derring-do) delightfully derails into random comedy and a series of unfortunate events. Ultimately, Patriot is an odd duck that’s centred less on Mission Impossible and more on home-grown deceptions, familial obligations, awful amateur folk music and wonderfully weird supporting characters.
Marius (Giovanni Ribisi) is a jailbird grifter who desperately wants to turn over a new leaf. His counterproductive means to achieve this clean slate is to steal the identity of his cellie, Pete. It has been 20-odd years since real-Pete last visited his elderly family members, and so the switch goes off without a hitch. Yes, sir, it’s all smooth sailing until Marius realises he’s willingly integrated himself into a family with eccentricities extreme enough to get him killed.
Fortunately for us in the audience, when a professional liar gets caught in a lie, they just build a bigger lie – watching Marius try to dig himself upwards out of a number of different holes makes for damn good viewing. Better yet, Pete’s family are a fascinating bunch of crooks who may know more than they’re letting on. And who isn’t excited about watching Brian Cranston play a recurring gangster antagonist?
Absolutely not a documentary about home appliances, Bosch is in fact a good old fashioned police procedural that draws inspiration from the detective novels written by best-selling author Michael Connelly. Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch is a hard-boiled detective who’s been with the LAPD for 20 years (and he’s seen his fair share of military action, too). If that sounds like a cliché from the get go, that’s because it is – Bosch is an unapologetic love letter to pure procedurals like Dragnet.
There are thin subplots on offer, but the heart of Bosch is its in-the-trenches crime-solving. Grilling perps, sniffing through financial records, combing scenes, tailing suspects and getting upset whenever the case goes cold. Go in expecting a frenetic, Jack Bauer pace and you’re going to be disappointed. Commit to a long-term investment and you’ll be wooed by solid acting, gritty atmosphere and some rousing, suspenseful turns.
When writer Aaron Mahnke launched his podcast Lore in 2015 it became the most listened to thing on all of iTunes. Now, that audio program has made the leap to TV series as an anthology that, like the original article, focuses on deciphering a person’s darkest fears by identifying the real-life events that triggered them. The format here is pretty unique – a blending of animations that complement some truly addictive storytelling and narration.
Be warned, however, as this isn’t for the squeamish. The executive producers of this have strong roots in the horror genre, thanks to their prior involvements in The X-Files and The Walking Dead. Lore is unsettling at best.
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