Okay, so you’ve watched every episode of “Doctor Who,” “Gossip Girl” and “Sons of Anarchy” that Netflix has to offer. But there’s a whole world out there of old and off-beat television that you haven’t even touched. If you’re looking for a way to kill the last week before classes start but remain in your Snuggie all the while, check out these digital offerings to satiate your Netflix needs.
Remember when this show was still on the air and you only ever caught the last five minutes in anticipation of a new episode of “The Simpsons”? Of course you don’t. But that’s all the more reason you should give the show that inspired the Cigarette Smoking Man line in the Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week” a chance. Not only is the writing excellent, but the performances by a Gillian Anderson and a pre-”Californication” David Duchovny are great. And then there’s the sexual tension — it’s like watching Ross and Rachel against a sci-fi, crime procedural backdrop.
The Magic School Bus
In mid-August, Netflix began streaming the first season of “The Magic School Bus.” Everyone was bummed. Sure, we got to see Ms. Frizzle and the gang go into outer space and inside of Ralphie, but where are the dinosaurs? The soundwaves? The journeys into the center of the Earth? Well, now there are four seasons available for your viewing pleasure, complete with all of the antics you could possibly expect from the learningest show there ever was. Remember how stoked you would get in elementary school when your teacher announced it was “Magic School Bus” time? Now you can relive it in glorious 480p.
Rob Corddry had a pretty unremarkable career following his departure from “The Daily Show.” But “Childrens Hospital” is probably one of the best things you can find on Netflix or YouTube right now. Every episode is split into two five-minute segments — this is probably the least intense binge-watching commitment you can possibly make. At 11 minutes per episode, going through both seasons will take a little more than three hours. And the zany antics and awesome guest stars, from Jason Sudekis to Nick Offerman, really make the show shine. Oh, and that title isn’t a typo. The hospital featured on the show is named after Dr. Arthur Childrens. Expect a lot more of that.
Malcolm in the Middle
As one of the most under-appreciated shows by the suits at FOX (yes, even moreso than “Arrested Development,”) “Malcolm in the Middle” was unceremoniously removed from the network’s Sunday night lineup and shuffled around until it just couldn’t take it anymore. Fortunately, all seven seasons of the comedy are available for streaming on Netflix. Because of copyright issues some of the music has been changed, but Malcolm and his family still provide plenty of family dysfunction to keep you interested for the show’s seven-season run. This show was also the first to prominently feature Bryan Cranston, which brings us to:
Of course, the holy grail of Netflix binges these days is one of the most acclaimed series currently on television. The story of a mild-mannered chemistry teacher turned drug lord finishes this weekend, but all 54 episodes of the first four seasons and the first half of the second season are available for streaming on Netflix. It’s also one of the few shows I’d advocate buying a season pass for on iTunes. “Breaking Bad” is probably the most meticulously produced show in television history — nearly every minute detail is either integral to the episode you watch or comes back later. Creator Vince Gilligan has a knack for visual storytelling and creating robust characters. If there’s any reason you should lock yourself up for 51 hours in the week before school starts, this is probably it.