1) “Friends” – The Complete Series (available January 1)
Why Should I Watch It? “Friends” is the single greatest sitcom in the history of the world. There. I said it. I’ve been hinting at as much for the past few months, sneaking the sitcom onto lists and writing stories on the decade-gone saga of friendship in the city. Yet my dear readers haven’t come to my aid, instead choosing to ride their high horse to Cynical City and decry the joyous celebration of love, life, and perfect ensemble casting. So I’m going to say it one more time, if only because it’s indisputably true: “Friends” is the best sitcom ever made, and no show will begin to compare to its impeccable characters, ideal dynamics and communal bonding experience. Haters to the Hulu.
Best Episode: After a lifelong debate with friends, family and fans, I remain firm with my choice of “The One With the Embryos” as the best episode of the series. No argument as small and improvable as “who knows who best” has ever been escalated to such joyously high stakes without crumbling under the pressure of picking a winner. “Friends” actually provides us a clear champion, making not just a brave choice for a medium based on preserving the fan base, but also one ripe with developmental possibilities down the road. (In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, first, what have you been doing with your life? Second, this is the one where Joey and Chandler face off against Monica and Rachel in a trivia game about their lives, while Phoebe visits the doctor to get impregnated with her brother’s babies.)
2) “The Fall” Season 2 (available January 16)
Why Should I Watch It? Women: Jamie Dornan. Men: Gillian Anderson. But also, women: Gillian Anderson. While the BBC Two original series has been getting most of its publicity thanks to its co-star’s upcoming
pornography, er, inaccurate representation of S&M culture, gah, feature film “50 Shades of Gray,” the true star of the vehicle is ex-“X-Files” star Anderson. As the Robocop of independent feminist police officers, Anderson owns every inch of the screen in the dynamite first season. There’s no way she’ll let us down in Season 2.
Best Episode: I can’t yet say, but if any episode features both Dornan and Anderson in the same room, there’s your answer, though I still have no idea if they’ll kill each other, sleep together or kill each other while having sex. I expect it will look something like this, but, you know, naked-er.
3) “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” Season 1 (available January 16)
Why Should I Watch It? “The world’s greatest feline fighter, lover and milk connoisseur is back in this original series filled with daring adventures, great boots, and laugh-out-loud fun! The entire family will be entranced by Puss’ fantastical CG world filled with new characters, exotic locations and mystical tales that make up the stuff of legends. There’s nothing that can get in this celebrated swashbuckling kitty’s way…except maybe a hairball.”
That is the official synopsis provided by Netflix. Try as I might, I could not provide a better, more succinct reason to sit down and watch this new animated original. Perhaps it’s because my love for Puss in Boots is grounded deep within my DNA, as my mother loves Antonio Banderas and cats more than her own son (Mom, a note: Banderas does not return as the voice of the titular Zorro-like feline). Perhaps it’s because I can only sit here and imagine myself watching the big-eyed orange tabby staring at me through my HDTV, as my own baby kitten claws up the couch I’m sitting on. Either way, count me the f*** in.
Best Episode: Five-way tie for first between all of the new episodes premiering in January (assuming they all feature Puss). These are automatically the best because they are the first, and thus can be watched the most times as I replay them over and over for the rest of my days. Damn it. I hope it’s not too late to rename my own cat Puss. Better call the vet.
4) “Beauty and the Beast” Season 2 (available January 28)
Why Should I Watch It? We now go to Indiewire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller, reporting live from the scene. Liz, our team’s resident expert on all things CW, what can you tell us about “Beauty and the Beast” Season 2 after bingeing Season 1 just minutes ago?
“Ben! That cliffhanger! He’s been frozen forever inside that net dangling from the bottom of a helicopter! What happened to him? Will he ever escape the net?????” *transmission ends*
Liz? Liz? Who’s “he”? Do you mean “beast”? Are you still there? Liz! Liiiiiiiizzzzzzz!
Best Episode: I assume the first one, if he escapes from the net, but I guess “Beauty and the Beast” could dive deep into the unfolding Hollywood beauty work scandal to teach us about the importance of loving yourself as you are…nah, probably still whatever episode where he escapes the net.
5) “Being Human” Season 4 (available January 13)
Why Should I Watch It? Yes, I know this isn’t the same show as the smash BBC hit of the same name. But guys, that show is over. It’s not coming back. As much as I’d like to see more of Lenora Crichlow in Toby Whithouse’s original series, it’s time we all embrace what Syfy has to offer in terms of a remake. It may not be the same, but it’s the best we can reasonably hope to see.
Best Episode: Though Season 4 wasn’t the series’ strongest snippet, it did brings things to a solid resolution in “There Goes the Neighborhood: Part 3.” It’s always nice to see a trilogy completed, even if it’s merely a titular homage to the title of the series’ first two episodes, and the sage of this werewolf, vampire and ghost deserved the loving handling it received for its final hour. Even die hard fans of the UK show should enjoy the payoff for Syfy’s remake.
6) “Z Nation” Season 1 (available January 9)
Why Should I Watch It? After watching the pilot episode of Syfy’s wannabe “Walking Dead” spoof, I decided it best to not continue watching this lazy parody series. Time is short, as is life (unless you’re bitten by a zombie), so why not find something better to spend your remaining days dozing off to at 1am on a work night? Then again, if you’re that desperate for zombies, I’m sure you could do worse than “Z Nation.” At least it’s got Tom Everett Scott. Remember Tom Everett Scott? Remember “That Thing You Do”? Sure you do. Those were the days, at least for ol’ TES.
Best Episode: I mean, not the pilot.
7) “White Collar” Season 5 (available January 3)
Why Should I Watch It? I have a friend, let’s call him “Beremy,” who cannot get out of his own way for the life of him when it comes to watching TV. As a prospective artist and husband to a respected museum curator, his tastes in all other art forms tend to skew highbrow. He prefers modern art because he can interpret it any way he deems fit, and more so for the discussions the unidentifiable pieces can generate. Yet when it comes to television, he only watches the most uniformly plain TV shows available on his Netflix account. Countless times I’ve asked him to branch out and try other series, but he’s always preferred “Law & Order,” “Chopped” and, yes, “White Collar.” So I cannot express to you how happy I was to see that Season 5 of USA’s harmless light comedy would be its last, thus forcing Beremy to find a new show to watch on his nights off.
Best Episode: The last one, obviously. Not only does it mark the end of the series and the freedom of my friend, but also star Matt Bomer, who’s capable of far greater things than this.
“Dallas” Season 3 (available January 1)
“Psych” Season 8 (available January 8)
“Wolfblood” Season 3 (available January 15)