1) “House of Cards” Season 3 (available February 27)
Why Should I Watch It? Um, because you’re a living, breathing human being? Because Kevin Spacey won a Golden Globe for his riveting, seductive performance as Frank Underwood, when he couldn’t for his roles in “The Usual Suspects,” “Beyond the City” or “American Beauty”? Because the series’ real star is Robin Wright and her ruthless yet humane portrayal of Claire Underwood? Because last season we saw murder, at least one threesome and a rapid rise to power? Maybe you should watch because if you’re reading this, you already want to — succumb. Enjoy. Watch.
Best Episode: Maybe it’s because Netflix releases episodes all at once, but so far “House of Cards” has treated its season premieres with equal importance as its finales — in terms of twists, at least. [Spoilers ahead] Season 1 established the Underwood’s mission to destroy President Walker, introduced us to the alcoholic Peter Russo and created a scandal the day after inauguration. Season 2…well, we all remember what happened in Chapter 14. So I’m betting the first episode of Season 3 won’t disappoint, and may even be the best of the new year.
2) “M.A.S.H.” Seasons 1-5 (available February 1)
Why Should I Watch It? Odds are you already have. “M.A.S.H.” still holds the record for the most watched season finale in television history — and it likely will for the rest of time, given the decline in overall live viewing ratings — and its status on syndicated TV is still top tier. Whether your parents made you watch it or you’re making your kids tune in, everyone has caught an episode or 12 of “M.A.S.H.” Now is your chance to start from the beginning.
Best Episode: As fun as it might be to argue whether “The Army-Navy Game” or “Hawkeye” is the best of the early years, instead I offer you the “episode” that started it all: The film version of “M.A.S.H.” Robert Altman’s Oscar-winning 1970 film set the standard for the following series, and it’s about to leave Netflix. Make sure you watch before the end of January, or you’ll have to seek out a different service to see this delightfully irreverent satire.
3) “Magic City” Seasons 1-2 (available February 1)
Why Should I Watch It? They’re turning it into a movie. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, we’re talking about the quickly canceled Starz series starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Because series creator Mitch Glazer is a major Hollywood player with friends in all the right places, he’s gotten a green light to turn his failed TV show into a feature film starring one of his best friends, Bill Murray. It’s also got Bruce Willis on board, with Glazer attached to direct his second film (which we all hope is better than his first).
Best Episode: Honestly, I never got past the pilot of “Magic City.” It didn’t hold much appeal to me, outside of the cast, but now I’m re-motivated to see what happens because my love for Bill Murray and Bruce Willis far outweighs my interest in Morgan, Danny Huston and Olga Kurylenko (who was last seen in the addictive sci-fi flick “Oblivion”). The somewhat trustworthy A.V. Club seems to believe “Magic City” gets better as it goes along, though the best episode of the bunch arrives at the end of Season 1 with “Time And Tide.” I’ll look forward to it.
READ MORE: Bill Murray to Star in ‘Magic City’ Movie Based on Starz Series…Why?
4) “Hawaii Five-O” Seasons 1-4 (available February 24)
Why Should I Watch It? The only good reason to watch this episodic action remake is if you’ve watched every other better show already on Netflix, and there are many. Three are listed above. (Yes, I’m including “Magic City,” since it’s so short.) Even more are listed in previous entires of this monthly series. Yet “Hawaii Five-O” still has its values. Like the other acceptable shows on CBS (the network’s highest current achievement), the hour-long “drama” offers a likable cast, pleasant problems and engaging action sequences. It’s an easy show to keep on in the background, waiting for Scott Caan to make you smirk (much like Tom Selleck on “Blue Bloods”). So enjoy — if you’ve finished your to-do list.
Best Episode: “I Ka Wa Mamua” — Season 3, Episode 6 — has it all. Danny (Caan) triggers a motion-sensitive bomb that will explode if he moves, so his partner Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) distracts him with a story of his days at the New Jersey Police Department. One may think this simple, “Lethal Weapon 2”-esque premise is enough, but no — the episode also features guest appearances from T.I. and Terrence Howard and a 9/11 subplot that might bring a real tear to your eye.
5) “Richie Rich” Season 1 (available February 20)
Why Should I Watch It? It’s a Netflix original series, and they haven’t done much wrong on the live-action side of things. Granted, this TV version of the 1994 film starring Macaulay Culkin looks like absolute garbage based solely on the above key art — I mean, look at that kid. With his slicked back hair, confused smile, kicked back in a bed of money like some one-percent-er who doesn’t know if he should be proud of his accomplishments or embarrassed by his obscene wealth… But we have to trust the originals department at Netflix knows what they’re doing. We have to…right?
Best Episode: It’s either the one where he explains how he earned all that money by curing cancer, solving global warming and traveling back in time to keep Nickelback from ever becoming a “band,” or the one where he’s robbed at arrow-point by Kevin Costner in green spandex pants.
READ MORE: Watch: Netflix Series ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ from Tina Fey Debuts ’30 Rock’-esque First Trailer
The Rest Coming In:
“Departures” Seasons 1-2
“Mako Mermaids” Season 2
And What’s Going Out:
“Blackladder” Seasons 1-4
“Fawlty Towers” Seasons 1-2
“Hotel Babylon” Seasons 1-4
“MI-5” Seasons 1-10
“Red Dwarf” Seasons 1-9
“Jem and the Holograms” Seasons 1-3 (leaves February 2)
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” Seasons 1-4 (leaves February 2)
“Pound Puppies” Seasons 1-3 (leaves February 2)
“Transformers Prime” Seasons 1-3 (leaves February 2)