By David Byrnes
Netflix is a seemingly never-ending treasure trove of content. However, if you’re like me, you’ll find that the vast majority of their movie content is very hit and miss (I mean does anyone really want to watch Hudson Hawk!?) and their documentary section is woeful, featuring mainly content from PBS. However, it’s their collection of award winning TV series that make the subscription worth every penny. So if you’re sick of trudging through another night of X-Factor, Corrie and fancy more than a quick two hour fling with a movie, we here at Elite Gamer have took it upon ourselves to find the very best series for you to get addicted to. But be warned, with the weekend fast approaching, it’s probably best for you to cancel your plans, say goodbye to your loved ones and lock yourself in a darkened room as we count down the Top 10 Netflix TV series…
10. Peaky Blinders
Set on the tumultuous streets of Birmingham in the early 1920’s, Peaky Blinders follows notorious gang boss Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) whose gang got their infamous name for their unique talent of hiding razor blades within the peaks of their caps. To be honest, I wasn’t overly keen on Peaky Blinders when it first aired but decided to give it another shot a few days ago and I haven’t been able to take my eyes off it since. Incredible production, storytelling and cast…it’s just a shame that, for now at least, only one season can be found on Netflix.
When it was first announced that the antics of Gotham’s most notorious crooks were to play out on the small screen, I was pessimistic to say the very least. However, it has turned into one of the most enjoyable series currently available on Netflix. Rookie cop James Gordan (Ben McKenzie) is paired with disillusioned veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), in an attempt to solve the high profile grisly murders of Thomas (Grayson McCouch) and Martha Wayne (Brette Taylor). During the course of his investigation, Gordon finds himself face to face with some of Gotham’s most notorious criminals including Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and Salvatore Maroni (David Zayas).
When you look at Lilyhammer on paper, it has disaster written all over it – a mobster leaves New York behind to settle in Lillehammer, Norway. Now, ok that doesn’t sound like it makes for good viewing at all, however Lilyhammer was one of the first Netflix series I ever fell in love with. Mainly down to the fantastic as always performance by Steven Van Zandt as Frank Tagliano, who just about manages to avoid playing the character in the same light as Silvio Dante from The Sopranos. Having testified against a mob boss in a New York trial, Frank lands in the witness protection program and having been intrigued by Lillehammer during the 1994 Winter Olympics decides to pick there to start his life anew. However, it isn’t long until Frank resorts to his old ways in order to make things succeed.
Not to be confused with Neil Jordan’s ridiculously over the top The Borgias starring Jeremy Irons, Borgia is the incredible true story of the rise of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (John Doman) to the all powerful position of Pope and his family’s domination of the Papal States during the Renaissance. Whereas Neil Jordan’s production is lavish and has huge financial backing, Borgia has a much smaller budget meaning that yes at times the effects are rather naff. However, its focus on recounting historical fact instead of fiction makes it a far more enjoyable series. The only niggle I have with the show is that it has such a huge international cast, meaning the accents are very much all over the place. Not quite as bad as Colin Farrell and the cast of Glenroe in Alexander, but it is distracting at times.
6. The Thick of It
Multi-time BAFTA award winning series set in the fictitious surroundings of Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship , in which hapless department head High Abbot (Chris Langham) struggles to keep order under the watchful eye of motor-mouthed, borderline psychotic government “enforcer” Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). To be honest, it’s a series that doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves and tends to go under the radar whenever Top 10’s are mentioned. However, it is by far the best thing the BBC has produced in a long time and is thankfully still available on Netflix.
5. Breaking Bad
Unless you have been living under a rock with no wifi, chances are you’ve seen or at least heard of Breaking Bad. The sixteen time Emmy Award winning series follows high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), who has recently been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. In an attempt to secure his family’s financial future before he finally kicks the bucket, White uses his chemistry background to cook and deal high grade crystal meth, along with his partner and former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Believe me when I tell you, Breaking Bad is even more addictive than the meth Jesse and Walter pump out.
4. Better Call Saul
Speaking of Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is set six years prior to the events of the above mentioned and follows the many struggles of small time lawyer James Morgan McGill (Bob Odenkirk) before he would later become known as Saul Goodman. The incredible thing about this is that it manages to stand on its on two feet, without being overshadowed by the immense success of its predecessor. Not only that, it may just be that damn good enough to surpass it.
3. House of Cards
The Netflix produced adaptation of the BBC mini-series of the same name and based on the critically acclaimed novel by Michael Dobbs, House of Cards is quite possibly the greatest political dramas of all time. Revolving around U.S. Senate Majority Whip Frank Underwood (Kevin Bacon), who uses all of his political clout to ruin his enemies on his journey to the top…sound familiar!?
Spin off series to the acclaimed 1996 movie (with several nods to the events of that film), Fargo is possibly the darkest of dark comedies. A seeminly chance encounter between mild mannered, down and out insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) forever changes the small town of Bemidji, Minnesota. It’s one of those series in which I can’t give too much away without ruining the entire series for you so just trust me when I tell you, YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS! Incredible from start to finish, it will have you hooked!
Topping our list is the fantastic Narcos, which is brand new to Netflix. It tells the seedy tale of notorious Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) and the Medellin Cartel who rose to power in the 70’s through to the early 90’s. I vaguely remember hearing of Escobar as a kid, but didn’t really know much about the man bar being involved in a number of kidnappings and seedy dealings, and you know if you had no idea of who the man is, you would think this was pure fantasy. The very fact that a known drug baron managed to gain a seat in the Colombian congress, albeit it through shady dealings, and be worth a staggering $30 billion dollars….it’s mind boggling. The series is very much carried on the shoulders of Wagner Moura, who plays Escobar perfectly. Unlike Legend, starring Tom Hardy, in which you kind of take a shining to the Kray twins, Moura is genuinely unsettling as Escobar. Currently there is only one series available but it has been renewed so expect the follow up series sometime next year.