A Foolproof System For Selecting Your Next Boxset

The under-the-radar shows worth devoting your weekend to (because it’s not all about Game Of Thrones)

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Every now and then, you find yourself in a TV No Man’s Land. You’ve finished the new House Of Cards, Mad Men and Game Of Thrones aren’t back for months, and the wait for True Detective season two is agonisingly slow.

You may be struggling for something to watch, but have you really got time to waste trialing a few episodes of that show a friend of a friend was raving about in the pub? 

To help separate the TV gold from the forgettable, we’ve dipped our toes into the murky depths of television’s underrated dramas and listed our recommendations of great new shows, based on your current viewing habits.

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From bloody costume dramas to brooding detectives and the supernatural, there’s something for any man of discerning TV taste.

 

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1 | You love: Breaking Bad
Esquire recommends: Sons Of Anarchy

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Yes, it’s been over for a long time, but some people just can’t get move on from Breaking Bad. Better Call Saul goes some way towards filling the hole, but really it’s the equivalent of a veggie burger to Walter White’s double bacon and cheese spectacular.

Sons Of Anarchy is the tasty roadside hotdog in this equation that fits perfectly alongside Vince Gilligan’s best creation. There’s biker gangs tearing about the desert. There’s drug dealing. There’s a whole roster of supporting players lining up to endure gruesome deaths. Best of all, it’s already finished so you’re able to binge it all, starting today. Seasons 1-6 are currently on Netflix with the final season due to be added soon.

Bonus show: Vince Gilligan’s pre-Breaking Bad detective drama Battle Creek has finally been developed after a decade in limbo. It’s currently airing on CBS but like all good things, it’s only a matter of time before it makes its way to Netflix. 
 

2 | You Love: Mad Men
Esquire Recommends: The Affair

If you miss the heightened masculinity, hard drinking and easy promiscuity of Mad Men, The Affair should be your next watch. The Wire alumni Dominic West stars as a happily married New York City schoolteacher/novelist who strikes up a relationship with a waitress as a way of combatting writer’s block. Like Mad Men it’s a smart, adult depiction of men doing things their experience should have advised against. Its two Golden Globe wins – one for Best TV Series and Best Actress for Ruth Wilson – should convince you of its pedigree.

Season two is set to premiere in October, but for now you can order season one via sho.com

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3 | You Love: Game Of Thrones
Esquire Recommends: Penny Dreadful

There are no giants, White Walkers or belligerent dragons in Showtime’s Victorian monster mash-up but you do get Frankenstein’s Monster, Dorian Gray, Van Helsing and enough vampires and werewolves to shake a penny-farthing at. It also stars a former Bond (Timothy Dalton) a former Bond girl (Eva Green) and erm, Josh Hartnett.  Best of all, the show is written and created by Skyfall scribe John Logan, with Sam Mendes on production duties, meaning it’s as complex and well-thought-out as anything going on North of The Wall.

Purchase season one at amazon.co.uk


4 | You Love: The Walking Dead
Esquire recommends: The Leftovers

It’s the end of the world. A grizzled, jaded sheriff is trying to keep things together. And it’s based on an acclaimed piece of literature. No, not The Walking Dead, we’re talking about HBO’s adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers, a rapture-style show dealing with the unexplained disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. There are as many twists and turns as you’d expect from Lost creator Damon Lindelof, but like The Walking Dead, the show aims to stay grounded in its exploration of the human cost of the end of the world. There aren’t any zombies yet, but we have high hopes for season two, set to air this autumn on Sky Atlantic.

Until then, you can pre-order the season one DVD at amazon.co.uk


5 | You Love: True Detective
Esquire Recommends: Bloodline

While we’re waiting for True Detective to re-locate to California, there’s a new crime drama creeping up on us in the form of Todd A. Kessler’s Bloodline. The Sopranos writer has recruited Kyle Chandler to serve as the sheriff at the head of a brooding and hostile family in the Florida Keys whose life is changed for the worse when his brother –Starred Up’s Ben Mendelsohn – returns. There’s no Rust Cohle or Marty Hart, but if you’re looking for two accomplished and macho actors squaring up against each other in the wet heat of the southern states, Bloodline will fill a hole.

Bloodline season 1 will be available from 20 March on netflix.com


6 | You Love: Boardwalk Empire
Esquire Recommends: The Knick

Steve Buscemi and Clive Owen have never been the greatest stars when it comes to the big screen, but stick them in a big-budget cable television show helmed by Hollywood heavyweights (Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg on Boardwalk, Stephen Soderbergh on The Knick) and you’re looking at classic binge-watching. In The Knick, Owen plays a top surgeon struggling to stay afloat above drugs, gangsters and the odd nurse. Bloody turn-of-the-century drama with a great script and even better suits.

Season two airs later this year, but in the meantime you can order season one at amazon.co.uk


7 | You Love: The Wire
Esquire Recommends: Wolf Hall

We needed a detective wall of our own to keep track of the ambition, double crossings and killings in The Wire, and the Beeb’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker winning historical tome of ambition, double crossings and killings requires the same treatment. Also like The Wire, Wolf Hall doesn’t shy away from showing things in the grimmest possible light. This isn’t The Tudors – no ‘sexing-up’ has gone on here. All we’re left with is a tightly-wound complex plot and great performances from both Mark Rylance and Damian Lewis.

Watch it now at bbc.co.uk/iplayer


8 | You Love: Homeland
Esquire Recommends: The Man In The High Castle

Both shows deal with rebel factions plotting acts of defiance against seemingly oppressive regimes, but while Homeland’s evil empire is the U.S government and its rebels are actually ruthless terrorists, The Man In The High Castle pitches freedom fighters against the Nazi and Japanese forces occupying America. That’s right, in this adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, things didn’t go well for the Allies in WW2 and the Axis powers triumphed, dividing the U.S among themselves so that Japan has the west coast and Germany the east coast and the majority of the mid-western states. A retro dystopia full of the double-dealing, death-defying exploits we’ve come to expect from Carrie, Saul and the rest of the Homeland regulars.

Watch the pilot episode here. Seaon one is currently in development to be released late 2015. 

Anything we've missed?


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