TOP PICKS: 17 shows to binge watch this summer holidays
Wondering which series to dive into this summer holidays?
The Daily Mercury and Whitsunday Times teams are always on the hunt for a new show to escape the real world.
Here's our picks for you this summer - some oldies, some newbies, but all goodies for different reasons.
Designated Survivor (Political Drama / Action) 3 Seasons
For fans of the hit 2000s action series '24', Kiefer Sutherland reprises his badass persona in the Netflix original Designated Survivor.
Sutherland's character is thrown in the deep end without a paddle when he Steven Bradbury's his way into the US presidency - you'll know what we mean in the first 10 minutes of Episode 1.
Designated Survivor combines the best of both political drama and action blockbuster worlds and unlike many modern made-for-TV series, doesn't fall off after the first season or two.
The only gripe you'll have with this one is being left wanting more when it's all said and done. So binge, but slowly . - Callum Dick 4.5 stars, Rae Wilson 4.5 stars
The Great - Stan
You know how Shakespeare has been modernised and translated for young audiences? The same could be said for The Great.
Starring Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult, it is a hilarious and thrilling take on real life historical events surrounding the Empress and Emperor of Russia.
With modern dialogue applied to historical events, it's hard not to ROFL.
We really need the second season to come out already. - Heidi Petith 5 stars, Rae Wilson 4.5 stars
Nashville - Stan
The show follows the lives of musicians living in Nashville trying to make it big in the country scene.
I'm not in any shape or form the biggest fan of country music but this show had me hooked with the compelling plots. I finished all six seasons in a matter of weeks. - Heidi Petith, 4.5 stars
Lucifer - Netflix
This reminded me of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in View Askew's Dogma.
Witty, clever dialogue questioning religion and divine beliefs through a quasi urban fantasy masquerading as a crime drama.
If someone had described this show to me before I took the plunge to watch it, I would never have dived in.
But it became a binge watch right from the get-go. Plus who can resist Tom Ellis? - Rae Wilson 4 stars
Atypical (Comedy) 3 Seasons
For 18 year old Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), navigating love, life and school while living with Autism Spectrum Disorder is tough. But with his sex-crazed best friend Zahid showing him the ropes, track star younger sister Casey steering him - mostly - down the right path and pet turtle Edison to lend a comforting ear, Sam gets by.
Atypical does an incredible job of shining a light on the many challenges families can face living with a child with ASD. It balances drama and comedy perfectly, and the character development is top tier.
With Season 4 set for an early 2021 release, now is the perfect time to settle into this easy watch. Easily one of the best shows I've watched on Netflix. - Callum Dick 5 stars
The Undoing - Foxtel/Binge
With Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman playing the leads in this psychological drama, The Undoing was always going to be gripping television.
A seemingly happy family unit is thrown into chaos when a young mother dies.
Exploring her connection to each member of the family and their possible connection to her death unfolds in a tantalisingly compelling way. - Rae Wilson 5 stars
Suits - Netflix
Legal eagles Harvey Spector and Mike Ross are guns in the New York legal world but it's their blokey relationship, charm and good looks that make this series binge-worthy.
Together with their goofy side character Louise Litt, who allows Rick Hoffman to show his depth as an actor, and quick-witted office manager Donna Paulsen, they are high-flyers taking on the world.
The entire series is underpinned by a sexual tension that makes binge watching all too easy.
But, honestly, the final season that dropped this year left a bad taste in my mouth.
Trying to tie up loose ends after Meghan Markle left the show to marry Prince Harry meant the writers did not stay true to the characters that made the show a success in the first place. - Rae Wilson 3 stars (final season) 4 stars (whole series)
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel - Prime Video
This period comedy-drama was a surprise delight.
Set in New York City in the 1950s and 60s, a housewife discovers she has a knack for comedy and pursues a career in it.
It explores family, religion, class, relationships and unlikely friendships in a witty, clever and wholesome way. - Rae Wilson 4 stars
Perry Mason - Foxtel/Binge
Don't let the slow burn start fool you - this one is worth getting to the third episode. Fans of The Americans will know that Matthew Rhys is definitely worth the wait.
In Perry Mason, Rhys plays the titular character in a sort of "origins" story for the famed lawyer. Without giving too much away, Mason worked for John Lithgow's EB Jonathan (a stirring and powerful role worth watching the show alone) as a private investigator on a sensational kidnapping case.
Through trauma, tragedy and a desire for truth and justice, Mason eventually takes the bar and continues that fight.
It's a gritty, epic drama that will hit you with the 'wow' moments when least expected.
- Tara Miko 4.5 stars
Friends - Stan
When the chips were down this year, what better to make you feel better than the garish fashion and questionable haircuts of the '90s?
Friends was first aired two years before I was born, but this blast from the past was the perfect mix of hilarity and lightheartedness.
Plus, it gave the term 'pivot', which was being thrown around in the news, a new and perhaps less abrasive meaning. - Laura Thomas. 4.5 stars
New Girl - Netflix
Looking for that replacement show to finally end the mourning period that has followed since Friends ended? New Girl is your answer.
This isn't a re-make but there is the friends-for-life vibe that carries this show through, complete with awkward romances, hilarious "real life" situations and scenarios and friendship bonds that don't necessarily make sense, but work.
Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) is the new resident of a loft where Nick (Jake Johnson), Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Winston (Lamorne Morris) live, and she makes her mark.
Coach (Damon Wayans Jr) is also in there for a period, adding another level of hilarity.
With shades of Seinfeld's signature outlandish moments at times, New Girl is an easily binge-worthy show with short episodes and multiple seasons. Tara Miko 5 stars, Laura Thomas 5 stars
The Flight Attendant - Foxtel/Binge
A quirky modern-day whodunit mystery with a lead character us girls can all relate to at some moment in our lives.
But this flight attendant is next level and takes it upon herself to chase down the answers after she wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man - and no idea what happened.
When questioned by FBI agents and still unable to piece the night together, she begins to wonder if she could be the killer.
Fun characters and a fun storyline make this a great holiday binge - Rae Wilson 3.5 stars
The Queen's Gambit - Netflix
From sneaking games in an orphanage basement to the pinnacle of the chess world, The Queen's Gambit is a thrilling tale from start to finish.
Based on a book of the same name, the Netflix series stars Anya Tayor-Joy who captivates as prodigy Beth Harmon in a rags to riches-type story intertwined with emotional awkwardness and substance abuse.
It begins in the 1950s when Harmon was sent to an orphanage following the death of her mother and it was here she was drawn to the 64-square board. It was also when her dependency on tranquilliser pills began.
Each episode keeps viewers in engaged as Harmon powers her way through the ranks in the chess world, improving with each game and overcoming her own demons. It is a truly binge-worthy series. - Janessa Ekert 5 stars, Laura Thomas 4 stars
The Crown - Netflix (4 seasons)
This is the kind of show where you find yourself googling throughout to check what is real and what is creative licence.
Learning how the Queen came to find herself in the hot seat at such a young age is compelling TV in itself but watching her navigate her regal role while being a mother and dealing with family scandals is gripping.
The latest season follows Prince Charles' journey with Diana - both actors seeming to depict their real life categories with surprising accuracy.
- Rae Wilson 4.5 stars, Laura Thomas 5 stars
Virgin River - Netflix
This slow-paced romance drama shows off the incredible scenery in northern California while revealing the complex relationships that develop in small towns.
Each character evolves as their story is teased out through well-scripted scenes but it's a classic Hallmark series - warm and cosy with few plot twists to keep you engaged.
But love interest Jack (played by Kiwi Martin Henderson) certainly makes this worth watching for the ladies. - Rae Wilson 3.5 stars
Tiny Pretty Things - Netflix
This newbie to Netflix has a Pretty Little Liars feel to it but with flavours of dancing films Centre Stage and Save the Last Dance.
The show follows the world of an elite ballet academy, and charts the rise and fall of young adults who live far from their homes, each standing on the verge of greatness or ruin.
They band together to avoid blame for a dancer falling from the roof but gradually their plan unravels as a persistent cop tries to solve the mystery.
Gorgeous dancing scenes evolve around all the teenage drama. It's a great show to escape the outside world but it's not an incredible plot to follow. - Rae Wilson 3 stars
Emily in Paris - Netflix
A delightfully cute show about a young woman exploring a new city while navigating a new culture in both business and life.
Complete with gorgeous Paris cityscapes for us all to dream of travelling again, Emily in Paris follows a hapless millennial through her peaks and troughs.
It's not groundbreaking but it's a great way to chill out and wish you could trades places with her. - Rae Wilson 3.5 stars