1. “House of Cards” Season 4 (available March 4)
Why Should I Watch It? Well, there are quite a few reasons — from Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright to the killer opening credits and general top-notch production — let’s assume you already know all of that. It’s come to my attention that a number of former fans are already jumping ship from Netflix’s flagship original series after what was, admittedly, a disappointing third season. But it wasn’t a terrible third season. In fact, it was far from a bad season at all, and I fear the combined effect of binge-watching an intricate political thriller as well as the echo chamber that is the internet has resulted in a bit of an overreaction re: “House of Cards.” It may not have deserved to be on anyone’s Top 10 list, but hey — it’s not like it was “True Detective” Season 2. There was still plenty to love, and there’s still plenty to get excited about in Season 4. So do that. Get excited. It won’t be as bad as you remember (and it very well could be great again).
Best Episode: Even if we had sat down and watched our Season 4 screeners already, we still couldn’t tell you which episode marks the season’s best. (Netflix only sent out six episodes.) But I dare to dream the series’ creator and showrunner Beau Willimon has something special cooked up for his final episode, even if it won’t be the last of the series. My money’s on Chapter 52 to be a doozy we won’t soon forget.
2. “Marvel’s Daredevil” Season 2 (available March 18)
Why Should I Watch It? Well, you kind of have to, don’t you? I mean, even I’m considering watching this, and I didn’t even finish the first season. Don’t get me wrong. It was a well-made show that certainly served its purpose in whetting the insatiable appetites of all you Marvel maniacs. It’s just…well…there were better shows on television in need of my full attention, and my partner in crime had already watched (and reviewed) all 13 episodes. Still, considering the talent the show has attracted and how it continues to push the action envelope on TV, I might very well tune in for a few of these. Who knows? Maybe Season 2 will be “The Dark Knight” to Season 1’s “Batman Begins.” (#DC4life)
Best Episode: Again, Marvel and Netflix have these screeners on lockdown, so we haven’t seen them yet. So all I’ll say is that Season 2 needs an action scene to make up for the much-hyped hallway brawl from Season 1. While I can admire the lighting, cinematography and overall ambition of the endeavor, that thing had so many phantom punches I’m pretty sure Sonny Corleone was under Murdoch’s mask. When it comes to fight scenes, you’ve got to do make us — or, at least, me — believe people are actually getting hurt, especially when your focus is on the bloody aftermath of street fighting. So if Season 2 can actually follow-through on its haymaker, that will be the best episode of the season (probably).
3. “Flaked” Season 1 (available March 11)
Why Should I Watch It? Whether you loved or hated “Arrested Development” Season 4 (or reasonably landed somewhere in between), you must also remember Will Arnett is the voice of “BoJack Horseman.” “BoJack Horseman” is also on Netflix. “BoJack Horseman” is indisputably great. So, in terms of a batting average for Netflix originals, Arnett is batting at least .501 (“BoJack Horseman” is upwards of 1.000). So you should watch “Flaked” because, at the very least, you owe Will Arnett. Plus it looks good!
Best Episode: We haven’t seen this either! I’m sorry! It’s a busy TV schedule, and…and… God, you guys are just going to kill me in the comments section, aren’t you?
4. “Louie” Season 5 (available March 4)
Why Should I Watch It? For the saddest reason of them all: There’s no new “Louie” coming in 2016. We don’t know when new episodes will be coming, and we could be in for a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” situation where we’re waiting on pins and needles after every season to find out if Louis C.K. wants to keep on going. So rewatching what’s already aired is as close as we’ll get to this man’s unique, insightful and hilarious world. Must watch.
Best Episode: Okay! I’ve seen all of these! I’ve got this one! “Bobby’s House,” the fourth episode of an eight-episode fifth season, tracks a few different journeys that are all fascinating for different reasons. The briefest but perhaps most memorable is when Louie gets beat up on the street… by a woman. It’s loaded with commentary, even without explicitly bringing gender into the conversation; which is exactly what C.K. does later when he and Pamela meet up and share a makeover. Yet the first topic is what makes the episode complete, as Louie’s conversation with his brother after a wake is as direct, telling and confusing as anything else on TV. “Louie” has never been about providing easy answers — or even answers in general — but he’s the best at giving your mind a makeover in 25 minutes or less.
5. “Netflix Presents ‘The Characters'” Season 1 (available March 11)
Why Should I Watch It? Embracing the expansive assortment of options available on the streaming service, Netflix has crafted a new original series that features variety within itself. “Netflix Presents ‘The Characters'” is set up to give a different comic voice 30 minutes all to themselves, by providing each chosen writer, actor and comedian the chance to create their own episode — doing all the work themselves. Those episodes then make up the entire first season. The upside is discovering lots of new talent. The downside is likely sitting through some less-than-stellar installments. We’ll see which way the series leans when it premieres mid-month.
Best Episode: The beautiful set up of “The Characters” is how it pits comedian against comedian in episode form. So, whoever makes the best episode of the season is likely to also be the best (and maybe only) breakout star of this simple experiment. Do we know who that person might be? Nope. No screeners. No clue.
6. “The Returned” Season 1 (available March 9)
Why Should I Watch It? Well, you shouldn’t. This is another one of our cheap tricks, teasing you with one offering only to steer you in a new direction. But don’t be mad! I’m actually pushing you toward the same show, just the original version of it — and with good reasons. Rather than sitting through one season of A&E’s muddled remake, why not dig into the version of “The Returned” that’s still airing new episodes? And, oh, the version that is just about a million times better than the remake. Given the fact they’re both on Netflix right now, really you’ve got no reason to miss out.
Best Episode: The best episode is whatever episode convinces you to stop watching the American version and switch over to the original. So…it’s probably the first one. And if you want to know the best episode of the good version of “The Returned,” we’ve got you covered there, too.
7. “Cuckoo” Seasons 1 & 2 (available March 7)
Why Should I Watch It? The backstory of “Cuckoo” is, well, a bit strange. What began as a British sitcom starring Andy Samberg and airing on BBC Three in 2012 was delayed and put off due to the actor’s increasingly busy schedule until he was replaced two years later in Season 2 by…Taylor Lautner. Yes, that Taylor Lautner. It’s actually airing its third season on BBC Three now, marking a pattern of two years between each season. But now it’s coming to Netflix almost in its entirety, all at once. Seasons 1 & 2 will be bingeable very soon, allowing Americans to finally answer the question: “Who’s the better sitcom star? Andy Samberg or the werewolf from ‘Twilight’?”
Best Episode: As you write your hate-filled comments questioning my judgment in even putting “(And the Best Episodes of Each)” in the above headline, please remember that this is as much a monthly column as it is a list. I have no say over what Netflix releases each month, and I only wish to serve you, my dear readers, in making an entertaining and informative article that might justifiably fill a minute or two of your day. So with that in mind…”Funeral” is the best episode of “Cuckoo” to date. Ha! I tricked you! I’ve seen everything! (But really — thanks for reading.)
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Comedy Bang! Bang!” Season 4, Part 3 (available March 10)
“Happy Valley” Season 2 (available March 16)
“Trailer Park Boys” Season 10 (available March 28)