Since our Monday feature was a review of Amazon’s current pilot season, I thought an Amazon themed list would be a nice way to handle this week’s edition of Top 10 Tuesday. At first I considered Amazon Originals, but I honestly do not feel there are enough strong originals to merit a list yet. Then I considered Amazon pilots, since it seemed the most relevant to yesterday’s article. Unfortunately, I have not seen enough of the pilots to make a firm judgement, and in the end I feel it might even be hard to make 10 picks that I truly appreciate. As such, I decided to focus on exclusives. Considering the deals Amazon has with major partners like HBO, however, I decided I needed some caveats (so that the entire list wasn’t all HBO series). I also wanted to avoid using the actual Amazon originals as well, so that I could position those for a later Top 10 Tuesday feature. So here is my top 10 list of Amazon exclusives, which excludes shows available on other premium streaming services (which HBO and Starz have, for example), as well as the Amazon Studios Originals.
One of the most important network series of the modern age, 24 helped usher in strongly serialized stories. In addition, 24 landing Kiefer Sutherland for its lead, went a long ways towards de-stigmatizing television as a good home for known Actors. 24 notably used a real-time gimmick to tell a 24 hour story over the course of 24 actual hours of television, a gimmick that defined the series and leant itself to great suspense storytelling.
Suits was, perhaps, the first USA series to push away from USA’s fun, though often forgettable, image as a home for quirky detective stories. When Suits started, USA was mostly populated with shows like Monk, about a brilliant detective with loads of phobias, Psych, about a brilliant police consultant pretending to be a psychic, and White Collar, about a brilliant thief working with the FBI. Suits went a bit darker, as a series about high powered lawyers who often break the law in order to achieve results.
08. Orphan Black
BBC America put a strong foot forward into their own original content when they began airing Orphan Black, a science fiction series about human cloning. Orphan Black quickly went on to become BBC America’s second biggest hit after legendary British import Doctor Who. BBC America has continued to explore original content, but has yet to match what they achieved with Orphan Black.
Currently airing on CBS, Braindead is an amazing limited series that couldn’t have found a better time in which to exist. In fact, the current political circus of the upcoming United States elections served to influence this series about alien bugs invading the minds of politicians and pushing them towards extremist view points. Why is Donald Trump the actual nominee for the Republican party? Why is somebody like Hillary, who has an abysmal approval rating, leading the way for the Democrats? Maybe alien bugs have invaded the minds of American Politicians and driven them all crazy.
06. Doctor Who
Over 50 years since it originally debuted on the BBC in 1963, Doctor Who continues to be a television and science fiction icon comparable to Star Trek and Star Wars in fanbase dedication. The decidedly British series brought in a much larger American audience when it had a soft reboot in 2003. Now the beloved series is bigger than ever, and continues to push its stories without the limitations of stagnant settings. Doctor Who can take place anywhere in time and space, which makes the possibilities of the series, endless.
05. The Americans
FX’s 1980s set Russian spies hiding as an American family drama has been one of the best shows on television since it debuted in 2013. With great performances, astounding attention to detail, and loads of intrigue and espionage, The Americans finds its mostly American audience rooting for protagonists who want to destabilize and sabotage America. Hey, if Dexter can have us root for a Serial Killer, and Breaking Bad can have us sympathizing with a Drug Kingpin, why not let The Americans have us cheer on Russian Spies?
Based on Elmore Leonard’s Ryalan Givens character, and starring Timmothy Olyphant (Deadwood) in the lead role, Justified is a modern western with superb characters, an iconic setting, and a biting sense of humor that holds it all together. Characters are evertyhing in Justified. From Olyphants rebellious US Marshall Raylan Givens, to Walton Goggins’ flowery worded criminal character Boyd Crowder, every character in Justified has a reason to be where they are, and a reason to be a thorn in the side of another character.
03. Veronica Mars
Seen by many as a, non-supernatural, spiritual successor to Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rob Thomas’ (iZombie) Veronica Mars was a clever neo-noir tale about a kickass teenager who keeps proving she is smarter then the privileged rich and angry poor of the class divided fictitious setting of Neptune, California. With legitimate stakes, and amazing character chemistry, the series even managed to break records on Kickstarter with the proposal of a fan-funded movie, which actually came to fruition.
02. Mr. Robot
Suits may have paved the way for USA to move away from a predictable lineup, but it is Mr. Robot that showed that they could play in the same league as HBO, AMC, and FX, when they really wanted to. With the most realistic portrayal of hacking ever put to screen (any screen), Mr. Robot continually stuns audiences with its sharp writing, brilliant directing, iconic cinematography, and excellent cast. The series wears its Fight Club influence on its sleave, but it never feels like a crutch for the series. Rather, it feels like a really great pair of shoes that Mr. Robot uses to run towards its own destiny.
If you have spent any time at all on this site, then you should be well aware of our undying love of Bryan Fuller, and his take on the world of Hannibal Lecter. Usually when a TV series is based on a property which has already been adapted as a series of critically lauded films, you can write off the series as a pale imitation at best. Not so with Hannibal. Showrunner Bryan Fuller used a surrealist visual presentation, poetically worded dialog, and a disturbing fixation on food, to bring Hannibal Lecter to life. Not as a lizardy Serial Killer, but as a downright Luciferian monster who will forever haunt our dreams.
What is your favorite Amazon exclusive streaming series? Tell us in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of Amazon, its exclusives, and all of your other favorite shows.