The TV shows we want to stream next
Social media was abuzz with excitement when the whole SVOD phenomenon finally took off in Australia earlier this year, but now that we've had time to trawl through the libraries of Netflix, Stan, and Presto, picking out the best shows as we go, that initial excitement has ebbed and we're craving more.
So here are the TV shows we now want to see streaming as soon as possible (in no particular order). With so many terrific shows from the past completely ignored by free-to-air TV, we'd love to see the SVOD contenders snatch up as many of these as possible in an attempt to beat one another senseless with them.
1. The Simpsons
Like the iconic footage of Homer tumbling painfully down a Springfield cliff face, The Simpsons has suffered an agonising decline over the last decade or so. And while it's been overshadowed in that time by a new breed of animation – Archer, Bojack Horseman, and Bob's Burgers all spring to mind – classic episodes of The Simpsons would show people just how brilliant this iconic aureate family used to be.
There was a time when The Simpsons boasted the sharpest writing on TV; seamlessly moving from jokes so obscure that only the smallest slice of the audience would catch them to crowd pleasing displays of Homer's sublime stupidity without pausing for breath. Homer may have said, "The key is not to think too much," but The Simpsons set a new standard for smart TV.
2. The Wonder Years
"Whaaaaaat would you doooo if I sang outta tune…" If there's a more iconic TV theme than Joe Cocker's ragged opening to The Wonder Years, we haven't heard it. Sadly, Netflix US couldn't get the rights to the music, leaving room for a poor cover substitute to take ol' Joe's place.
But even without those whisky-soaked vocals, watching Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) and Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) fall in and out and in love again while growing up in the late '60s and early '70s is a supremely satisfying nostalgic exercise. Disappointingly, the rumour that Kevin's best mate, Paul (Josh Saviano), grew up to become Marilyn Manson turned out to be untrue.
The "show about nothing" is an essential addition in any respectable TV library, so the sooner Jerry and Co. pop up on an Australian SVOD the better. Arguably coming in second only to the very best of The Simpsons, Seinfeld's particular brand of comedy bears constant repeats. Even the racist onstage ranting of Michael Richards (Kramer) can't tarnish the show's appeal.
While Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer all share a certain selfishness that was later taken to extremes by the likes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the characters remain surprisingly likeable. You probably wouldn't want to befriend them in the real world, though, with their total absorption in the minutiae of their own lives making for agonising viewing.
With six seasons under its belt, and a seventh planned for 2016, Archer has maintained a freshness its initial "What if James Bond was an American man-child?" probably didn't deserve. Despite mixing things up in the fifth season by trading in some of its Bond-isms for the pastel pastures of Miami Vice, the core appeal of the show – badly behaved characters – remains unchanged.
Populated with the kind of ratbags that are frequently found in modern comedies, Archer and the team at ISIS (that's an international spy agency, not the fundamentalist terrorist group) rarely let the mission at hand get in the way of their petty rivalries or opportunities for self-gratification.
5. Game of Thrones
Imagine a world where access to Westeros isn't used as a bargaining chip to make you pay for 39 TV channels you don't want or need. That's what the appearance of Game of Thrones on an SVOD service would mean. Better yet, if each season was made available for binge watching on the day of release there'd be none of that excruciating wait from one agonising week to the next, pondering who'll be next to meet a horrible end.
Some might suggest that the waiting is part of show's appeal, but to them we say stop being a corporate shill. Besides, if you want to watch one episode per week then you'd still have that option, you masochist.
6. Batman '66
Holy half century, Batman! It's been almost 50 years since Adam West and Burt Ward first donned their tights as the dynamic duo, thwarting the villains that threatened their uniquely groovy version of Gotham. The series was finally released on DVD and Blu-ray just before Christmas, but with a total of 120 episodes, that's a lot of getting up from the couch to change discs.
Mind you, if the campy Caped Crusader can't come to the party we'd happily settle for the entirety of Batman: The Animated Series instead. A triumph of '90s animation, it's perhaps the most complete depiction of the Dark Knight outside of the comics. For a taste, check out the spin-off film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It's on Netflix now.
7. Eastbound & Down
Despite appearances in films like This is the End, Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, Danny McBride remains one of Hollywood's most underrated comedic talents. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in his portrayal of washed up former baseballer Kenny Powers. Despite being a bloated blowhard who screws over everyone on his long, selfish scramble back to the top, McBride's performance makes it impossible not to cheer for him.
Additionally, hilarious appearances from Will Ferrell as a slimy and superbly coiffed car dealer, and Steve Little as Powers' pathetic sidekick – perfectly framing McBride's mulleted grandstander as the schoolyard bully who never grew up – prevent Eastbound from becoming a one man show. If you've never encountered the comedic powerhouse that is Kenny P, check YouTube for his starring role in a series of K-Swiss commercials. Never before has so much arrogance been so gloriously misplaced.
8. The Ren & Stimpy Show
The adventures of Ren Höek, a chihuahua with rage issues, and his lovably dopey feline sidekick, Stimpson J. Cat (aka Stimpy), are not for the squeamish. When Ren & Stimpy first screened in the early '90s, it had us cringing as we peeked out from behind our fingers, but it's even better as an adult. Incredibly, despite first appearing over two decades ago, Ren & Stimpy hasn't aged. The show was that far ahead of its time.
Crammed with innuendo and violence (and the strange being that is Powdered Toast Man), Ren & Stimpy was never really a show for kids in the first place. Disagree? We have three words for you: Nerve Ending Fairy. Google what Ren endures in that episode and we promise you'll have sleepless nights.
9. Russell Coight's All Aussie Adventures
Mercilessly taking the piss out of the likes of the Bush Tucker Man and Steve Irwin, this series follows a hapless outdoorsman as he journeys through the Australian outback. Just one of many Aussie comedies we'd love to see streaming in the near future (The Late Show, Frontline, Kath & Kim, The D Generation, etc.), All Aussie Adventures sees Glen Robbins in the title role, stumbling from one painful outback scenario to the next.
Each encounter ramps up Coight's incompetence to new levels, whether he's sending a fellow traveller's broken-down car tumbling into a ravine, or backing over an unfortunate echidna taking shelter in the shade of his parked truck. It may not be the cleverest thing on TV, but it's hard to notice when you're laughing this much.
10. Bob's Burgers
For anyone used to hearing H. Jon Benjamin's soothing tones articulating the deplorable thoughts of Archer's title character, Bob's Burgers can be jarring at first. Here Benjamin trades international espionage for small town America, playing the considerably-more-likeable Bob Belcher.
The show feels like a spiritual successor to King of the Hill, but like any animated family from the last 20 years, comparisons to The Simpsons are unavoidable. And while Bob and his brood can't compete with the impossible highs of Homer and Co.'s best antics, we'd rather pay a visit to this modest burger vendor than re-watch any of the goings-on from Springfield's last decade.
There are some who'd argue that this space comedy is Matt Groening's greatest achievement. While it never reached the same level of success enjoyed by a certain yellow-toned family (the number of times this article has now referenced this familial quintet shows just how significant their impact has been over the years), in our humble opinion Futurama has a higher hit to miss ratio over the course of its entire run.
Cancelled after four seasons, only to be resurrected and then cancelled more permanently after its seventh, the 31st century adventures of Philip J. Fry, a 20th century pizza delivery boy, are filled with a wackiness and imagination that The Simpsons' more realistic premise (Treehouse of Horror episodes aside) can't accommodate.
12. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
While there are Marvel movies aplenty across Australia's SVOD services, the more modest heroics of Phil Coulson (spoilers: just like everyone else in the Marvel Universe, he seems incapable of really dying) and his team of agents are conspicuously absent.
Filling in the gaps between the likes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. starts slow, but soon picks up momentum. It's the perfect way to satisfy your Marvel craving without setting aside the long hours required for a movie, as the crew briskly deal with the endless parade of threats that come calling when Iron Man and his super-powered pals are having a day off.
13. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Before he turned up as Deadshot in Suicide Squad, made us all cringe in Wild Wild West, or got jiggy with something that was never made entirely clear, Will Smith had a run-in with a couple of guys who were up to no good and started making trouble in his neighbourhood.
This forced poor Will to move in with his uncle (James Avery – the voice of the Shredder from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon), and much hilarity ensued, creating a show so iconic that no matter how successful Smith's subsequent film career, for many he will always be Bel-Air's fresh prince first and foremost.
14. Voltron: Defender of the Universe
While Netflix boasts more Power Rangers than any sane person could possibly need (literally hundreds of hours of crappy special effects and even crappier acting), its far superior relative, Voltron, is conspicuously absent.
Like its mighty morphin' progeny, Voltron follows a team of five youngsters, who battle evil monsters, each piloting a robotic animal (lions in this case) that join together to form a giant humanoid robot warrior. Adapted from the far more adult Japanese anime Beast King GoLion, Voltron is a fun watch, if only to keep an eye out for the places where the darker source material has been edited to make a family-friendly adventure.
15. Saturday Night Live
While SNL is notoriously hit and miss, those hits really connect. Featuring some of the most iconic comedians of the last 40 years, the US skit show would make a welcome addition to any SVOD service.
We'd love to have the option of cherry picking the very best skits from the likes of Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Tina Fey, Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, James Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and a good deal more. And if the show's punchlines aren't hitting the mark, its impeccable list of guest hosts (Jim Carrey, Bill Murray, Louis C.K., etc.) helps keep the whole affair breezily entertaining.
16. Snuff Box
One of the most underappreciated comedies from the last decade, Snuff Box has so much more to give than the single mean-spirited (and very funny) series we received. Starring Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh's Dixon Bainbridge and Bob Fossil), the Snuff Box format intercuts a bizarre overarching narrative with sketches in which Berry and Fulcher have perfected their respectively pompous and snivelling personas.
Sadly, a second series never materialised, but appearing on a video streaming service might just help Snuff Box find the audience it deserves. Then we can only hope it's resurrected like Family Guy and Futurama before it.
17. Full House
Yes, we've all heard that Full House will soon be returning to our screens via Netflix. But while we wait for Fuller House (how long did it take them to come up with that title?) to reveal what the Tanner clan is up to in the 21st century, it only seems right that we revisit those halcyon days of San Francisco circa 1987; a time when Bob Saget could pass for a squeaky-clean, respectable father, and John Stamos rocked a mullet even MacGyver would envy. Yes, strange as it seems, for a few magical years we could pretend there was only a single Olsen twin, and saxophone solos were the epitome of cool. Glorious.
They promised via song that they'd be there for us, but despite the pouring rain, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, and Joey are all absent from our SVOD-connected screens. The show's certainly dated since it first aired in '94, but provided you can get past the group's complete lack of diversity, and the fact that there's no way these financially-insecure types could possibly afford any of their spacious New York apartments, you should find plenty to laugh at.