We’ve discussed hobbies before but haven’t mentioned perhaps the best of all … oh you thought I meant watching tv? Well, that’s not to be sneezed at but the best hobby is arguing about which is the best programme. CSI something or other or Corrie perhaps? (Neither of which I watch but don’t hold it against me ok?)
No, I’d like to suggest some show you may not have come across on a couple of the streaming services. I discovered the joy of streaming late in life but have embraced it fully.
You’ll probably have seen adverts everywhere for NOW TV and perhaps wondered what all the fuss is about. Well, for me, it’s the chance to watch a great many SKY tv programmes without being tied into a long contract and, in fact, at less cost.
When you sign up to the service you have a rolling contract. You can cancel at a month’s notice and it’s quite inexpensive. You can also buy vouchers from Amazon or Ebay at a reduced cost. A NOW tv box is quite inexpensive but make sure you have a newer model for the best picture quality. The boxes usually come with vouchers – either for Entertainment, Cinema or Kids tv. Pick whichever one you fancy, plug in the box, register online with your bank details and add your voucher code. The rolling contract for the Entertainment service is currently £7.99 a month. You can easily buy a 1, 2, 3 or 6 month voucher at a reduced rate and load this onto the site. While you’ve an active voucher in place you don’t get charged the £7.99. I’ve found deals offering 3 months for £6 – a great reduction. The price varies and you have to be careful that the vouchers don’t have a short date on them as you can only put one at a time on the system.
But here’s the clever bit. Remember the box which came with a voucher included? The deals on these are amazing and sometimes people buy extra boxes when they find them at a good price. They then sell the box and vouchers separately. Sometimes they sell the whole thing as it’s been an unwanted gift. I’ve had three boxes which I’ve bought for the voucher code alone and then donated the actual box and cable as I don’t need another one. And in each case it’s been less than the cost of subscription.
So – there’s a live feed of about 10 SKY channels. I tend to ignore this as I much prefer to watch at times that suit me. And this is where NOW TV comes into it’s own. It has killer boxsets. All the usual suspects including Game of Thrones, but I thought I’d mention a couple of my favourites.
My favourite boxsets
The Blacklist. Currently running at season 5, this is a lovely oddity. A mix of FBI procedural, thriller and dark comedy. The main character, Raymond Reddington, is played by James Spader – a real favourite of mine since his comedy turns in the 80s and 90s. He plays a “most wanted” FBI criminal who turns up one day, giving himself up but refusing to speak to anyone except a new profiler, Liz. It’s a great vehicle for Spader – showcasing his serious acting skills as well as the comedic.
More recently NOW TV has signed up with Scify and is showing a couple of little gems. The first being The Librarians
This is much more lighthearted. You may recognise a few of the actors. Noah Wylie better known for ER , John Larroquette and Christian Kane who was in Angel and – one of my all time favourites – Leverage
The Librarians is a spin off from a 3 film series started about ten years ago as a vehicle for Noah Wylie – playing a “super nerd” who end up working in a mysterious Library where he ends up having all sorts of supernatural adventures. The series starts off with Wylie but ends up with a mixed cast of characters who again have a different adventure every week. It’s lighthearted, silly stuff and I love it.
Killjoys is much edgier. MUCH edgier. Sex, violence, betrayal, more sex. Mostly Certificate 15 so – worth noting that’s it definitely not suitable for younger viewers. The actors are all new to me except Hannah John-Kamen who I’d previously seen playing a murderer in Death in Paradise. She plays the captain of a crew of Killjoys – space agents who track down criminals. Don’t take the plot too seriously – it’s typical silly sci fi stuff but with lots of eye candy for viewers of all persuasions!
Amazon Prime has many benefits above and beyond their tv service which I hope to discuss later, but for now I’d just like to recommend my favourite box sets. Prime has, like Netflix, a back catalogue of films too. Nothing vary recent but a good many are downloadable – great when you’re stuck on a plane or train and want to kill an hour or two. The current price is £79 for a year – less if you’re a student.
None of these are suitable for younger viewers, for various reasons, so please take that as read!
Into the Badlands isn’t your usual post-apocalyptic nonsense. It’s an entirely new kind of nonsense. Starring Daniel Wu http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3865236/in fine form as a trained assassin working for a local “Baron”. His job is to enforce the Baron’s orders using only his martial arts skills. It’s dark and dramatic from the opening sequences right on through. Death, destruction, betrayal, intrigue, sex and more betrayal. Season 2 is even better with input from our own Nick Frost in season 2 giving something for everyone – as long as they like death, destruction, sex and martial arts!
Sneaky Pete (starring Giovanni Ribisi, better known as Phoebe’s brother in Friends) is lighter fare, although still having it’s fair share of violence. It’s the story of a conman who is released from prison and, for his own reasons, takes on the persona of his cellmate – the eponymous “Pete”, whose family haven’t seen him for 20 years. It’s a slick and fast paced story that’s well written and well acted and with touches of comedy, drama and pathos. I loved it and Season 2 is coming soon.
Saving the best for last – Lucifer. Currently midway through it’s third season, it’s (apparently) based on a comic book, but please don’t hold that against it. It stars Tom Ellis as Lucifer himself – taking a holiday from hell in Los Angeles. Tom plays it mostly for laughs but does manage a fair bit of brooding too. The supporting cast is full of familiar faces – especially for sci fi fans including Lucifer’s brother, Amenadiel – formerly of Buffy and in season 2, Charlotte, who has been in just about everything but especially in Battlestar Gallactica as “Six”
Both NOW tv and Prime have free introductory periods to give you an idea whether or not you’d want to commit to the service.
I’d love to know what your favourites are?