Now Streaming TV: Catching up for fall TV

[Streaming movies and TV shows—on services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Instant Videos—are ephemeral: Here one day, gone the next. The purpose of the Now Streaming series is to alert you to what movies and shows are new to streaming, what you might want to watch before it disappears, and other treasures that are worth checking out.]

Doctor Who

★★★★½

Netflix, season 6 just added

It’s effectively impossible to review Doctor Who (BBC, 1963-1989 and 2005-Present) as a whole. If you count the show’s original run, it’s had 32 seasons with numernous specials and TV movies. The newest Doctor, Matt Smith (above), is the 11th to play the role. Four and a half stars seems like a fair rating for the show’s newest incarnation, however, with Matt Smith as the time traveling Doctor and Stephen Moffat (who wrote some of the best episodes of the 9th and 10th doctor eras) as the creative mastermind. With the addtion of the sixth season of the modern series, Netflix now has everything you need to catch up for the newest round of the Doctor’s adventures that just began airing on BBC America this month.

Terra Nova

★★½

Netflix, season 1 just added

There’s something interesting in watching a high-profile TV flop. There’s often something fundamentally off about it that you can recognize in other soon-to-be flops. Terra Nova (Fox, 2011) was supposed to be the big genre hit of the season with a great premise. In the future we’ve so wrecked the planet that we have to send colonizers millions of years in the past to restart society. For a show about time traveling and fighting dinosaurs, however, the show didn’t feature much time traveling or dinosaur fighting. Instead, Terra Nova quickly became an odd domestic drama centering on fairly boring characters, ignoring its own appeal to get bogged down in a complex and boring mythology. It’s a strangely common problem since Lost became a huge hit, and it gives the whole affair a “can’t look away” car crash quality that’s sadly the only level on which you can truly enjoy it.

Revenge

Revenge

★★★½

Netflix, season 1 just added

Revenge (ABC, 2011-Present) is a gender reversed modern day Count of Monte Cristo. Emily Thorne has returned to the Hamptons to plot her incredibly elaborate revenge on the Grayson family, who framed her father and ruined her life. If that all sounds ridiculous to you, well, the show’s pretty ridiculous in practice too. It’s a good kind of ridiculous, though, if you’re looking for a fun nighttime soap with over-the-top plotting. It’s not hard to see why Revenge became a bit of a sleeper hit for ABC last season.

The Booth at the End

★★★★

Hulu

When you think quality TV, you don’t often think about Hulu’s exlusive programing. But there are two shows on its Internet programming block worth checking out before the fall season begins in earnest. The first is The Booth at the End (CityTV, 2010; Hulu, 2012), an amazing little Canadian genre show about a mysterious man who can give you whatever your heart desires—but always asks for something in return. The heart of the show isn’t the man himself, however, but the people who come to him and how they react to his offers.

Rev.

Rev.

★★★½

Hulu

A dark british comedy, Rev. (BBC, 2010-Present) follows a self-involved reverend named Adam Smallbone as he moves to a rural parish in a dangerous part of East London. The show’s premise isn’t exactly a laugh a minute, but it manages to squeeze out a surprising amount of comedy and heart to create a show that feels a little bit like the clergy’s answer to the original British version of The Office.

Downton Abbey

★★★★

Netflix; Amazon Prime Instant Videos, season 2 just added

Finally, now that the show’s third season has begun airing in England, you can stream the second season of Downton Abbey (BBC, 2010-Present) on Amazon Prime Instant Videos (only season 1 is available on Netflix). A period soap opera set in 1910s England, Downton follows the airistocracy and servants of the titular estate. While the second season isn’t quite as inolving as the first, it resolves the lingering questions from the first season finale, and the Christmas special at the end of the second season sets up an amazing twist for the show’s newest episodes. Netflix users can expect season 2 to get added before too long, but for now they’ll need to turn to Amazon to catch up past the first season.

What’s new

  • Ringer (CW) season 1: Netflix
  • Rules of Engagement (CBS) seasons 1–5: Netflix
  • Vampire Diaries (CW) season 3: Netflix

Expiring soon

  • National Geographic (Nature, Discovery) numerous series and specials: Netflix (9/22)

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