When the Tony Awards are over and the blockbuster summer movies start to show up you know it’s time to put your summer binging list together. Olivia Pope and Madame Secretary are on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, RuPaul has hung up her heels for the season, and the SNL team is on the road promoting Ghostbusters. Summer is here and regular TV is for crap.
Summer binging is when you indulge in episodic excess. When you say ‘just-one-more” at 1 am, watching with one eye open, a marathon, an addiction. A 2014 Netflix study found that 73% of subscribers watch 2 to 6 episodes at one sitting. The debate is lively about whether binge-watching is bad for your health. Anything worth doing in excess is usually not a smart idea. Holed up for hours on end devouring a series is not what we are suggesting. The healthy binge is the planned replacement of cheap summer network TV with a spellbinding drama, quirky sitcom, or foreign reality show.
This summer binge column is a healthy enabler, it will offer up series reviews, streaming hardware, recommended subscription services and hidden gems you’ll never find in the “recommended for you” listing.
Orange Is The New Black Season 4: Netflix
On the day after Stonewall, my work pal Kevin Hopper wished me “an Orange Sunday with a hint of black.” The ladies of Lichfield Women’s prison are back. Season 4 has the penitentiary on corporate lockdown with new rules, a big bear head of the guards, courses in how to be on a chain gang and new inmates including one that is cross between Martha Stewart and Paula Deen. This dark comedy is best when it gives us the back story on how the ladies got there. The cast becomes more diverse this year and for sure you can find someone whose story you can relate to. As Kate Mulgrew (Red) said on The View, “It’s a serious show about a serious subject with a sardonic undertone.”
Masterpiece Theater Mr. Selfridge: Amazon Prime/PBS
Selfridges is the landmark London Oxford Street department store opened in 1909 by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The series takes us back to the early 1900s and the brilliance of changes in lifestyle from the introduction of read-to-wear to home appliances to make up. Jeremy Piven is such a pleasure to watch as the big idea American founder in a world of British business etiquette. His family relationships unfold in a predictable way but if you like period pieces this will envelop you. The costumes are stunning and the set design of the store makes you want to spend hours riding the elevator and browsing. Outrageous women’s hats with plumes and elaborate embroidery. Men’s suits so sharp you can hear the collars snap. Words like haberdashery and proper fitting and delightful are in every episode. Even the dowdy are stunning. You’ll be astounded by the importance of print media for advertising and be inspired by Harry’s visionary leadership.
You don’t have to have cable to get HBO. The HBO Now services offers all the series from Bill Maher to Game of Thrones on one $14.99 subscription service. The HBO Now App is available on Smart TVs and though many streaming hardware devices. HBO Now, also includes the library of old series including the Emmy award winning Curb Your Enthusiasm and Sex In The City. The difference between HBO Now and HBO Go is that HBO Now is not a part of your cable packaging. HBO Now is an independent streaming service. As you are evaluating your choices and you are cutting the cord on cable packaging. HBO Now might be something for you consider.
A Roku streaming stick is about the size of a jump drive. This device, when inserted into your HDMI connection on your TV allows you stream a multitude of subscription services. Because Roku doesn’t have allegiance to Apple or Google you can pull most of the services through one device. Movie services like Fandango are also available and get many first run movies for inexpensive rental fees. You can also use Roku for HBO Now and Showtime services that you don’t run through your cable subscription. An easy menu screen and wireless remote move you from service to service on a super simple home screen. What you will need is wireless connection and your login for your subscription services. If you have those on hand and your smart phone, you’ll find Roku one of the easiest set ups on the market. The Roku stick is $49.00.