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There is a lot of crap shows on Netflix. These are my favorites.

1) Life

Life is about good cop, Charlie Crews, framed for multiple homicide, sentenced for life in prison (hey, that’s the name). He gets a good lawyer, proves his innocence and then sues the city to get his job back. But not just as a cop, as a detective. Now he’s solving murders with his new partner with her own interesting past. Crews is forced to promise to not investigate the murders he was accused of, and who framed him. He agrees...but of course he’s still going to work on it.

You might recognize the actor, Damian Lewis who plays Charlie Crews as Brody in Homeland. He was also in Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher, fun part that was.

I like Life for several reasons, but mainly because of the balance of tone. It is of course serious as Crews is a homicide detective...so every episode there’s a dead guy. However, there are humorous moments. Crews spent nine years in a federal prison and wasn’t doing well, but after a few years, he turned to Buddhism to help with his stress, anger, and thoughts of revenge. Now he’s zen and questions everything and thinks very existentially, which drives his partner crazy.

He has also missed nine years of technology, so the first few episodes he’s somewhat surprised when people are pointing phones at him to take a picture and when cars send voices to him through the phone.

Another thing I like about the show is that most episodes have contained little stories, the homicide is solved, while at the same time, Crews gets more evidence on who framed him. The series lasted two seasons and although I would have liked to see more, it did have enough time to wrap up Crews’ story. If you like a good crime drama and enjoy good characters, don’t miss this one.

 

2) Eureka 

eurekaEureka is basically a combination of X-Files and Star Trek. Super smarty pants, uptight people working crazy technology that inevitably messes up space, time, and other crazy stuff. Far less serious than the rest on this list, mostly quirky and funny stuff.

The main story is that the main character, Jack Carter, through random happenstance, becomes the new town Sheriff. Though his IQ is no where near the scientists working on the secret, government experiments and technology, his cleverness is able to solve a lot of the mysteries and problems.

A big part of the show is Sheriff Carter’s relationship with his daughter who is a bit of a handful. He also falls in love with the director of the research facility, but that proves difficult (of course), because her ex husband, Nathan, is still a decent guy and of course he gets in the way (those Nathan’s, always messing things up).

The show does a good job in rounding it out with other, very good supporting characters like Lupo, the super tough tomboy deputy, Greyson, the super nerdy and great guy who falls head over heals in love with another researcher played by Felicia Day (might know her from The Guild).  Will Wheaton makes an appearance on several episodes as a dickish scientist (ironic because he invented Don’t Be A Dick Day) and one of Carter’s best friends, Deacon, is one of the scientists that helps him fix things and is played by Joe Morton who is always good.

With five full seasons of crazy, sciency fun, and a series finally that wraps it up perfectly, I fully recommend it.

 

3) Burn Notice 

burnnoticeWhile it basically uses the same formula as Life (trying to figure out who framed the main character while fixing small problems each episode) it’s still a very fun show.

Michael Weston, played by Jeffrey Donovan, is a CIA spy but is burned (hence the name). This means that all his old government contacts, financial resources, safe houses, etc... are off limits. He ends up in Miami, Florida...and he hates it. Not only is he not doing what he loves (serving his country doing what he’s good at, spy stuff), but his mother happens to live there and wants to rekindle their mother/son relationship. This proves difficult for Michael as he’s used to dealing with spies and power hungry dictators, but has no idea how to have a healthy relationship.

But that’s not all.  His C4, bomb proned ex-girlfriend, Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar) , hears about his being burned by the intelligence services and shows up to say hi...and collectively wreak havoc on the city. Also, his old FBI buddy, Sam (played by Bruce Campbell) is retired and loves the ladies and Mojitos..and is hilarious.

Then, more family shows up as Michael’s brother Nate (again, with the Nate’s getting in the way) of course needs help.

The thing I love about Burn Notice is that it’s as much about Michael being a total badass and kicking ass, but also needing his friends and family to solve his problems and lean on them for help.  And because of his spy training, when the locals can’t go to the cops, they come to Michael, and he shows the local criminals who’s in charge...sometimes with a simple snap of the fingers...literally. it’s awesome.  

With all seven full seasons on Netflix, give it a watch. Admittedly, the best seasons are the first four, but the rest are still fun.

 

4) Numb3rs

numb3rsThis show is all about the relationship between father and sons, and brothers. Rob Morrow (from Northern Exposure) plays Don Epps, an FBI agent, doing FBI things. His brother is a mathematician, Charlie Epps, is played by David Krumholtz (10 Things I Hate About You, This is the End, Serenity)

Charlie uses his math and equation skills to predict behavior in criminals to help his brother, Don, catch the criminals his FBI team is trying to find.

Less serious than most crime dramas and more about family and friends, this one’s a fun one to watch. If you pay attention to the credits, you’ll notice that it’s produced by both Ridley and Tony Scott, who are brothers. So I have to wonder if this TV series wasn’t only about two fictional brothers working together to solve crimes, but also two real life brothers working together to produce a good television show.

With six full seasons and a decent series finally, I fully recommend this fun, light hearted crime drama.

 

5) The Killing

thekillingThis is a crime drama like no other I’ve ever seen. Where other tv shows spend one hour solving one murder or crime, this series spends three full seasons to solve ONE murder.

With extremely well acted characters all with complicated personal lives, including, but not limited to the investigating detectives and the victims family and those in political charge, I fully recommend this show. This is not for the faint of heart, however, there is very little humor in this show, it’s very heavy, very serious, and never stops until the mystery of one murder is solved.

Mireille Enos plays the lead detective, Sarah Linden, and Joel Kinnaman plays her partner, Stephen Holder.  Enos does a fantastic job playing a lead detective struggling to be a good mother while trying to solve a murder case. And Kinnaman does an incredible job with playing a detective with past issues and struggles. Kinnaman played Robocop in the remake, and although the movie sucked, I thought his performance was quite good.

If you're done with the the same old, episodic crime drama series but want to see a crime solved, holy crap, see this one.

 

6) Firefly & Serenity

fireflyWhen attempting to describe this show to those who haven’t seen it, I try not to say “cowboys in space”, because that just sounds stupid. And let’s be honest, that’s not what it is. 

This is a show developed by Joss Whedon, who is obviously a Star Wars fan. The reason I say this is because Firefly, the type of smuggling space ship they fly around in the show, is basically the Millennium Falcon. And Mal, the captain, Wash the pilot, Zoe Mal’s 2nd in command, Inara their “ambassador” (watch the show, they’ll explain), Jayne their muscle, and Kaylee their engineer are the crew. Then, in the first episode, they pick a few passengers...just like the Millennium Falcon does in the first Star Wars movie to get to Alderaan.

Firefly, in my mind, is basically a what if show. What if someone made a show with all the best elements of Star Wars (space, sci-fi, action, adventure, fun characters with good writing) and kept going with those adventures.

If you still haven’t seen it, you need to. The dumb part is that Fox cancelled this wonderful show after only 14 episodes. However, because of the ridiculous fan base and their amazing efforts in raising money and awareness of the show, Fox agreed to not only release the show on DVD, but eventually make a feature film called Serenity. The movie answered a lot of questions, but left others unanswered. 

serenityNathan Fillon, who played Mal, captain of Serenity and later played Castle...in Castle, famously said “If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.”  But that was back in 2011, so, that’s old news and nothings happened.

However, what’s also interesting is that one of my favorite authors, Patrick Rothfus (author of The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear) wrote a post on his blog offering his money he might make with his 2nd book to help buy the rights for Firefly.

I don’t know if anyone will ever make another movie or series based on Joss Whedon's Firefly verse (short for universe, fans will get it), but many good things have come from this show. One of them being the creativity and understanding of good characters by Joss Whedon was not missed by Hollywood, which I believe lead to him directing The Avengers, which was fantastic.

 

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