Have you ever wanted to jump into an ongoing television series only to realize just how alienating it can be? Where do you start? How do you reconcile the sprawling narrative? Sometimes a hiatus can be a good thing – especially when you want to catch up with a show that’s already well underway.
Below are a couple suggestions for shows you ought to familiarize yourself with during the hiatus:
Premise: Black Mirror blurs the line between sci-fi horror and satire as a poignant anthology series on the dangers of technological proliferation. Each episode focuses on the impact too much technology can have on humanity and leaves a chilling vision of encroaching dystopia. Themes of identity, sentimentality, and individuality are explored as viewers watch the world they know trampled by progress.
Why you should be watching: For anyone unfamiliar with Charlie Brooker, his work is best personified as elaborate deconstructions of mainstream views and attitudes. Black Mirror is no different in its approach to the invasion and integration of technology into our lives. It’s a concept you’ve heard before, but it’s done in such a haunting and thought-provoking manner that somehow manages to hit home.
Premise: In a nutshell, Doctor Who is an epic science fiction series spanning across all of time and space. It follows the astounding adventures of a seemingly-immortal alien explorer known only as the Doctor and the human companions he brings along for the ride. Every episode usually features an alien menace and a catastrophe that stretches the limits of human (and the viewer’s) understanding.
Why you should be watching: Was the premise not enough? Honestly, Doctor Who is a pretty tough one to get into at first glance because of its sprawling history. It IS the longest-running science fiction television series. The beauty of the show, however, is its willingness to explore the endless possibilities and potential inherent to the show’s rich and imaginative lore. You might not understand all the terminology or references to decades past but, honestly, neither do most of the companions the Doctor travels with. You’re not meant to have it all figured out going in, making this quite an accessible show for anyone wishing to experience the thrill of discovery.
Premise: After a devastating invasion, the remnants of the once-mighty human race are scattered. Some become bandits and murderers while some take up arms in resistance…if they’re lucky. In this bleak future, Falling Skies centers on Tom Mason – former college professor turned leader – as he fights to protect his children and the refugees under his watch.
Why you should be watching: TNT has been making a name for itself, lately, as a home for explosive dramas and, despite a slow start; Falling Skies is really no different. The show manages to draw more than a couple historical parallels between the American revolution and the futuristic one inherent to the show. This creates some intense moments that resonate with viewers. Each episode usually features another piece of the puzzle to the mysterious alien agenda and lots and lots of sci-fi action, as well. Seasons are short, favoring a faster progression and leaving little to filler. With a fourth season on the way, Falling Skies won’t be difficult to catch up with.
Person of Interest
Premise: A mysterious billionaire named Finch creates a computer capable of mass surveillance of all network communications, cameras, and phone calls. He hires an ex-CIA operative named Reese and, together, they use the machine to track down people who are either going to kill or be killed in a violent crime.
Why you should be watching: Aside from the haunting parallels between Finch’s Machine and the specs illustrated in the real-life PRISM program, Person of Interest takes the “crime-a-week” format of other CBS dramas and turns it on its head. Each episode features a different person of interest and you’re never sure if the subject is the victim or perpetrator. This tension is only intensified by the dark backstories of the main characters as they contend with their own evils while battling real-life ones on the streets of New York.
The Walking Dead
Premise: Based on the ongoing comic series by the same name, The Walking Dead follows the story of Rick and the survivors under his care as they fend off the never ending swarms of the undead. Every episode features a new struggle as these post-apocalyptic stragglers try to adjust and live in a world where food is scarce and civility scarcer.
Why you should be watching: Zombies have mostly been used for shock and awe and, occasionally, as a metaphor for society and politics (Romero). What sets The Walking Dead apart from other zombie stories before it is the use of the undead to contrast and, in some cases, parallel the behavior of post-apocalyptic civilization…or lack thereof. It gets gritty and it gets bleak – you see what people are like when there is no society and no incentive to be civil and, of course, you see quite a bit of gore.
Those are a few shows you can queue up and catch up with during the hiatus. And, hopefully, by the time you’re finished, the new seasons will just be starting.
Sam Jensen is a graduate student with a passion for technology and good television shows. She spends her free time watching the classics with her 2 dogs. You can follow her on Twitter.