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BEST TV 2023
Photograph: Time Out

The best TV shows of 2023 you need to stream

The essential streaming series of the year: from ‘Top Boy’ to ‘The Bear’ season 2

Phil de Semlyen
Matthew Singer
Edited by
Phil de Semlyen
Contributor
Matthew Singer
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If nothing else, 2023 further confirmed that we’re living in the era of peak TV. You can argue if it’s the best era for television, but it’s almost certainly the era with the most television. Keeping up with even a fraction of it can be overwhelming: as soon as you finish one must-see show, another three pop up, possibly on platforms you don’t even subscribe to. Then you never find time for the new stuff, because there’s simply too much, and just give up, throw in the remote and rewatch Seinfeld for the 75th time. 

Well, consider this your priority list. We’ve ranked the most elite television series of 2023, from heavy-hitters like Succession, The Last of Us and The Bear to under-the-radar gems such as Amazon’s surreal I’m a Virgo, Fox’s hilarious Colin From Accounts or FreeVee’s leftfield hit Jury Duty. There’s 41 of them, and each one is totally binge-worthy. So clear your schedule and get to watching, because the TV deluge isn’t going to slow any time soon.

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Best TV shows of 2023

1. The Bear season 2, FX

The chaotic first season of The Bear plunged us headfirst into the extremely stressful world of Chicago cheffing, with barely a moment to stop and smell the beef shin ragu. Season two takes things marginally slower (the relentless Christmas dinner flashback episode aside), with Jeremy Allen White’s intense Carmen Berzatto leading his kitchen brigade as they attempt to open up a Michelin star-worthy restaurant on the site of his late brother’s sandwich shop. This time around there’s a soppy love story in the mix, with Carmy navigating a romantic relationship with his childhood crush Claire (Molly Gordon), but more thrillingly, a seriously high octane host of guest stars. Jamie Lee Curtis, Sarah Paulson, Will Poulter, Gillian Jacobs and Bob Odenkirk all deliver powerhouse turns, with a frenetic Curtis – as Carmy’s unstable mother – pulling in a career-best small-screen turn. Yes, and we can’t stress this enough, chef.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 5 hours 59 mins

2. Succession season 4, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Succession creator Jesse Armstrong and co could easily have eeked out another season or two of their Emmy-garlanded satire – this was not a writers’ room running short on inspiration or crushing putdowns – and a less audacious show would have kept that big early-season twist for much later in the final run. But Succession nailed the landing perfectly, delivering its ‘winner’ (though surely the most pyrrhic, short-term victory) and a multitude of losers at precisely the right moment, tying up its biggest question – what would happen to the kids without dad’s unique brand of sneering coercive control to rein them in? – in a brilliantly conceived and immaculately acted run of episodes. Succession makes capitalism’s most unpalatable truths into unmissable entertainment.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 9 hours 49 mins

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3. Top Boy season 3, Netflix

After five seasons, a body count nearing three figures and some of the most gripping TV in recent years, Top Boy wrapped up with a blistering six-episode final season that stuck the landing – and then some. It offered conclusive proof that the moody charisma that Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson have always brought to the roles of Dushane and Sully, friends-turned-rivals for control of east London’s drugs trade, shouldn’t obscure the quality of their acting, as the pressure cranks up and the pair start to lose control. It was also the season when the terrific Jasmine Jobson got her moment as the conflicted Jaq, and as if it was needed, Barry Keoghan pitched up with a bucketload of queasy menace as an Irish druglord. All in all, the kind of electrifying, smartly-plotted sign-off that should see Top Boy takes its place alongside The Wire, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad in the pantheon of great crime TV shows.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 6 mins

4. The Last of Us, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Adding ‘clickers’ and ‘shamblers’ to our daily vernacular, and leaving us eyeing up those moldy mushrooms in the veggie drawer with added suspicion, HBO’s adaptation of the monster-selling video game is the grand spectacle we’d all hoped it would be. And Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey bring more than enough humanity, humour and warmth to stop us weeping through ever gripping moment of Joel and Ellie’s desolate, zombie-riddled trek through a desolate America. We still wept, though – especially during that heartbreaking standalone third episode. Linda Ronstadt is going to a tough listen from here on in.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 8 hours 45 mins

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5. Slow Horses season 3, Apple TV+

The third run of this brilliant espionage thriller embroiled brilliant but unsavoury spook Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman) and his MI5 exiles at Slough House in another conspiracy at the top of British intelligence. Spy writer Mick Herron’s third Lamb novel, ‘Real Tigers’, is the foundation for a six-episode run that delights in the chaotic logic of intelligence work. Mordant humour and sudden violence go hand in hand and nothing goes according to plan. With the stakes higher than ever and Lamb’s flatulence hardly improving, Slow Horses – Aka ‘Stinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ – is TV to watch on the edge of your sofa and probably with a window open.

Length of binge: 4 hours 18 mins

6. Poker Face, Peacock

From the yellow titles to the sorta-’70s aesthetic, Rian Johnson’s latest murder mystery is a straight-up Columbo tribute: a howdunit, if you will, as we see a new crime play out in each episode’s opening. The joy and thrill then comes when Natasha Lyonne’s human lie detector Charlie wanders into the story to piece together the evidence and mutter ‘bullshit!’ in the face of a parade of weekly guest stars (Benjamin Bratt, Chloë Sevigny and Lil Rel Howery), plus Johnson-verse regulars (Adrien Brody, Joseph Gordon-Levitt).—Michael Juliano

Length of binge: 9 hours 10 mins

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7. Barry season 4, HBO/Sky Atlantic

As Bill Hader’s dark comedy went along, the darkness threatened to fully subsume the comedy part of the equation. Indeed, by its fourth and final season, the uneasy balance that gave the show its singular tone had tipped almost completely into despair. Everyone is down bad: Hader’s titular hitman-turned-actor is in prison for murdering a cop; his on-off girlfriend’s dreams of stardom are as dead as the man she killed in self-defense; and his mentor (Henry Winkler) is wracked with paranoia and narcissism. Amazingly, though, when Barry wants to be funny, it’s still funnier than just about anything else on TV – see Fred Armisen’s hilariously gory botched assassination attempt in episode 3. It doesn’t quite stick the landing, relying on a few convenient plot contrivances and a disorienting time-jump to get where it wants to go. But even as it got increasingly hard to watch, Barry was equally difficult to turn away from, right up to its bitter, bleak, painfully ironic end. – Matthew Singer

Length of binge: 4 hours 11 mins

8. The Fall of the House of Usher, Netflix

If you twist modern-day capitalism a notch or two, you get a deadpan satire like Succession; if you keep cranking that dial, a gloriously extravagant kind of horror ensues. Props to Netflix’s master of the macabre Mike Flanagan for spotting the potential for Grand Guignol in fusing Edgar Allan Poe’s gothic classic with a, yes, Succession-y story of a cursed, Richard Sackler-alike billionaire (Bruce Greenwood, brilliantly odious) who, in an effective framing device, relays the dark fate of his offspring to the lawyer (Carl Lumbly) who’s fought tooth and nail to bring him down. Sometimes operatic, sometimes locating moments of pathos amid the bloodshed, it’s nicely played by a cast that even throws in Mark Hamill as the family’s sinister, husky-voice fixer. Depressingly, it’s probably the closest we’ll get to witnessing the people behind America’s OxyContin epidemic get their comeuppance – but it’ll do for now.

Length of binge: 8 hours 16 mins

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9. I’m a Virgo, Prime Video

With the edge of Spike Lee and the imagination of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, Boots Riley’s brilliantly offbeat Amazon show is an almost undefinable collage of touching coming-of-age drama, gonzo superhero adventure and fiery political manifesto. There’s loads squeezed into its seven episodes, as 13-foot-tall Cootie (Jharrel Jerome) gets to grips with his own giant stature, his sexual awakening and a revolutionary cause. Walton Goggins’s The Hero, a sinister super with more than a touch of The Boys’ Homelander, embodies Riley’s major preoccupation: a capitalist system that’s underpinned by legitimised violence. This small-screen follow-up to Sorry To Bother You is sharp enough to make communists of us all.

Length of binge: 3 hours 31 mins

10. The Gallows Pole, BBC

Not every great TV show needs to rumble on for ten sofa-bothering hours. Shane Meadows’s riproaring period piece comes in three pacy instalments – more a quick hit than a binge – and leaves you wanting more. Its loveable characters, a tight-knit rural community scratching a living in late 18th century Yorkshire, are led by David Hartley (This is England ’86’s Michael Socha), a real-life Robin Hood whose coin-clipping skills offer them all a way out of poverty. It’s like an Ealing comedy with a Meadows sensibility – affectionate pisstaking, blues rock music cues, trippy interludes, split screen shots of chickens and all. Socha is a roguishly charming heart for the story, adapted from Benjamin Myers’s award-winning novel, but everyone in the often improvising cast keeps it fuelled with warmth and laughs too. 

Length of binge: 3 hours 4 mins

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11. Blue Lights, BBC 

Trying to make a new cop show without clichés is a bit like attempting to jump into the ocean without getting wet. Massive props, then, to a gripping and cliché-free police drama that started impressively and ended up feeling like it just might grow into Belfast’s answer to The Wire. Its tight-knit police unit is beautifully sketched and impeccably played, with Game of Thrones’ Richard Dormer and Siân Brooke standouts as a salty old-timer with a past and an ex-social worker finding radically different ways to get the job done. John Lynch, once Gwyneth Paltrow’s smarmy boyfriend in Sliding Doors, is a revelation as the brooding crime boss they’re gunning for.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 48 mins

12. Colin From Accounts, Foxtel/Paramount+

Everyone loves a show featuring a dog, but it’s the two adorably flawed and relatable humans – brought together by said dog – who draw you in to this Aussie comedy. The series plays on Gen X vs Millennial clashes while exploring the challenges of modern-day dating, and strikes the right balance of deep and compelling yet easy and breezy to watch. Will-they-or-won’t-they comedy series have been done thousands of times over, but this one is fresh. It’s gross, it’s irreverent, it’s awkward and cringey – and really very charming.—Alice Ellis

Length of binge: 3 hrs 38 min.

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13. Fleishman is in Trouble, Hulu/Disney+

Like ’90s HBO horndog comedy Dream On set in the well-heeled Manhattan of The Undoing, sprinkled with a dose of Woody Allen-esque Jewish male neuroses, this barbed and tonally surefooted take on Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel is both a guilty-pleasure comedy and a startling insight into an unravelling marriage. Jesse Eisenberg is perfect as Toby Fleishman, a divorced doctor whose Tinder-fuelled sexual awakening is put on hold when his ex-wife, Rachel Fleishman (Claire Danes), disappears, leaving him with the kids and an unravelling sense of self. Danes is scary good, too, while Adam Brody plays against his own impish likeability as Toby’s sleazy gateway to the full joys/horrors of single life.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 6 hours 53 mins

14. Blue Eye Samurai, Netflix

A bloody and emotionally fraught tale of revenge, Blue Eye Samurai dazzles through its painterly 3D animation. Even with its intentionally silly contemporary touches (like a Metallica cover, for example) it uses its historical backdrop as a sincere exploration of social conformity, while having its main character cross ethically dicey lines, ones that visibly weigh on her. The best part of Blue Eye Samurai is that sense of accumulation: its characters straining under prejudice, plus the the physical and emotional toll of revenge, animated with real weight and experimental verve.—Kambole Campbell

Length of binge
: 6 hours 22 mins

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15. Gen V, Prime Video

The Boys, showrunner Eric Kripke’s gore-spurting satire of supes gone bad, leans heavily on gross-out comedy. So there was a real risk that this spin-off, set in a very X-Men academy for horny teens who want to make it into that show’s elite superhero posse the Seven, would be too juvenile. But Kripke and co-creators Evan and Craig Rosenberg kick it sky high. There’s something creepy going on in the school’s basement, but social media-addicted students – including Jaz Sinclair’s blood sword-wielding Marie and Lizze Broadway’s shrinking Emma – are here to save the day. The (very) good kind of gonzo.—Stephen A Russell

Length of binge
: 6 hours 15 mins

16. Star Wars: Visions Volume 2, Disney+

This lightsaber-filled anthology leaves the Skywalker-centric universe behind for a series of non-canonical shorts animated by external studios but blessed by Lucasfilm. After a debut season entirely of anime, the second takes a more global and visually varied approach: Aardman’s cheeky stop-motion family race, Studio La Cachette’s rebellious riff on the Folies Bergère and El Guiri’s abstract, painterly approach to a Sith apprentice tale. But it’s Cartoon Saloon that truly upends the galaxy. With the Irish studio’s unmistakably sublime hand-drawn mix of Celtic design and myth, ‘Screecher’s Reach’ follows young factory workers as they chase down a ghost story and destiny – with a wallop of an ending that places this among Star Wars’ finest.—Michael Juliano

Length of binge: 2 hrs 30 mins

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17. A Small Light, Disney+

It’s not easy to PG-ify the Holocaust without softballing its epochal horrors or choosing a problematic perspective, as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas amply demonstrates. Massive credit, then, to National Geographic’s tough but still family-friendly drama for finding a fresh angle on the Anne Frank story that pays tribute to the Jewish community in hiding in wartime Amsterdam and to the Dutch people who hid them. Front and centre is Bel Powley, who is surely Emmy-bound for her towering turn as Miep Gies, the woman who hid the Franks at huge personal risk. It’s a gripping, deeply emotional story about occupation, resistance, collaboration, and, most of all, moral courage.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge6 hours 40 mins

18. Beef, Netflix

Korean director Lee Sung Jin‘s ​spiky ​black comedy – a kind of Falling Down with belly laughs – is a watch-through-your-fingers burst of fury and existential despair that will chime even with people who’d never dream of pursuing a road rage incident to the point of catastrophic self-sabotage. That’s the spiralling scenario Steven Yeun’s struggling handyman, Danny, and Ali Wong’s unhappy entrepreneur, Amy, fall into over ten propulsive episodes. The two Angelinos collide and re-collide in a show that gives OTT expression to the stresses of modern life. The supporting cast – especially Joseph Lee as Danny’s puppy-dog brother Paul – is a knockout too.Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 22 mins

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19. The Curse, Showtime/Paramount+

Nathan Fielder’s first fully scripted project takes his flair for couch-pillow-over-your-face cringe into a send-up of feelgood house-flipping reality shows. It’s technically a dark comedy – an initially languid but sharp one – that prods at appropriation and privilege through its newly married show-within-a-show hosts, played by Fielder and a stellar Emma Stone. But it’s the narrative and cinematic uneasiness that makes The Curse strangely engrossing at its best. The voyeuristic camerawork from Fielder and co-creator Benny Safdie feels oddly unsettling for a series that’s not really a horror show – at least until its delirious finale.

Length of binge: 8 hours 57 mins

20. Happy Valley season 3, BBC

After being a fixture in British viewers’ lives for the best part of a decade, it was time to bid the fondest of farewells to the wild west of Yorkshire and Sarah Lancashire’s brilliant and vengeful Catherine Cawood – the only cop it’s alright to have a crush on. The third and final season of Happy Valley is as tense and tender as the two seasons that came before, proof of creator Sally Wainwright’s impeccable way with not just a show-stopping action extravaganza, but also of the intimate exchanges between friends and family. It was pretty damn funny, too.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 5 hours 59 mins

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21. Only Murders in the Building season 3, Hulu

A whodunit wrapped inside another whodunit? There’s an eccentric genius at work in the third season of Steve Martin’s inspired collaboration with John Hoffman. This is the run where the show leaves the Upper West Side, half-shelves its podcast device and fully indulges its inner luvvie, uniting Martin Short’s theatre director Oliver Putnam and Steve Martin’s coasting actor Charles-Haden Savage for a murder-mystery musical in which Paul Rudd’s narcissistic A-lister is actually murdered. The ensuing episodes offer a richly entertaining showcase of sleuthing, suspects and the ego-driven mayhem involved in putting on an off-Broadway production. Martin and Short always play to the gallery, dropping in callbacks to everything from Three Amigos! to Father of the Bride, Meryl Streep appears as an overthinking thesp and Matthew Broderick cameos. In short? It’s a delight. One word of warning: you will never get that ‘Pickwick Triplets’ song out of your head.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 6 hours 6 mins

22. Boiling Point, BBC

With Stephen Graham’s Andy Jones recovering from his personal nadir in Boiling Point (the movie), sous chef Carly (Vinette Robinson) takes charge of her own hip Dalston joint, Point North, in a four-part telly spinoff that ditches the one-take device but still takes another one of those kitchen blowtorches to our collective nervous system. The conveyor belt of high-stress kitchen crises – is there enough hogget for the night? Can anyone get the tossers on table 7 to turn it down a bit? And are any of Point North’s sparky, loyal team making it through this with sanity intact? – is offset by lots of lovely lingering shots of delish-looking grub being prepped. If Episode 2’s foray into Top Boy crime thriller terrain is a jarring departure from the stove, the acting – especially from Robinson and the simply magnificent Graham – keeps it all grounded. We’re ordering seconds. 

Length of binge: 3 hours 51 mins

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23. Dead Ringers, Prime Video

Just when you thought we’d been spoilt enough with one Rachel Weisz on screen, Dead Ringers slaps two together and it’s a riveting feat of flair and fuckery. Rather than just copying, pasting and expanding David Cronenberg’s 1988 psychology thriller into six episodes, Alice Birch and her female writing staff have crafted an exquisitely witty, provocative and horrifying exploration of womanhood, the reproductive experience and medical malfeasance through the eyes of twin obstetricians Dr Elliot and Beverly Mantle – Weisz’s dynamic and diabolical duo. One of the sharpest and smartest film to TV adaptations. Period.—Hanna Flint

Length of binge: 5 hours and 54 mins

24. Perry Mason season 2, HBO/Sky Atlantic

Matthew Rhys continues to impress as maverick lawyer Perry Mason in a thrillingly rendered 1930s Los Angeles. The second season of this HBO crime drama is not only stacked with twists and intrigue, but boasts compelling insights into the rampant racism and homophobia of the era. Despite having a man’s name over the banner, it’s the women that make the show, with Severance’s Jen Tullock as sassy screenwriter Anita St. Pierre, and Hope Davis as fancy rich lady Camilla Nygaard, as well as the return of the brilliant Juliet Rylance as Perry’s more-than-capable sidekick Della Street.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 6 hrs 51 mins

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25. Guilt season 3, BBC

Like Shallow Grave with creaky knees, this ace Edinburgh (and Leith)-set crime thriller spent two seasons taking us on our tour of Scotland’s criminal underworld when bickering fiftysomething brothers Max and Jake (Mark Bonnar and Jamie Sives) accidentally run over an elderly man and decide to cover it up. The concluding run gives us more dark laughs, edgy thrills and tangled schemes, as the siblings try to dig their way out of the very deep hole that gangland supremo Maggie Lynch has them in. Phyllis Logan – Downton Abbey’s Mrs Hughes, no less – is a revelation as the icily in-control crime boss, but it’s Bonnar, once Catastrophe’s resident scene-stealer, who makes off with the show as the Machiavellian but kinda good-hearted Max.—Phil de Semlyen 

Length of binge: 3 hours 50 mins

26. Party Down season 3, Starz/Hulu Plus

Not every TV show that gets cancelled prematurely needs a revival, and the idea of bringing back the cult-favourite workplace sitcom Party Down a decade-plus later seemed like too big of a bummer to actually work. You mean to tell us this group of wannabe actors are still working their dead-end LA catering job 13 years down the line? And Lizzy Caplan isn’t around this time? Turns out, the stasis is the whole point. It makes the six-episode reboot sadder, sure, but also somehow funnier, in particular Ken Marino as the always-on-edge, perpetually sweating Ron Donald, whose deluded, ongoing belief in the success of his company seems to be the only thing keeping him alive. Watching him attempt to power through a bout of food poisoning in order to impress a PR agent is one the best bits of physical comedy to hit the screen this year. Matthew Singer

Length of binge: 3 hours 9 mins

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27. Picard season 3, Paramount+

When Star Trek spin-off Picard began three seasons ago, it was a scrappy, patchy addition to the franchise, taking Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard back into action long after retirement. But the show only really hit its stride in this third and, theoretically, final season, with the decision to reunite all Picard’s original crew, older but not necessarily wiser. Showrunner Terry Matalas doesn’t rely on simple nostalgia however, weaving a dense mystery plot. It’s a potent combination for fans and newcomers alike: as with The Wrath of Khan, the mere sense of shared history between the cast give everything extra resonance.—Helen O’Hara

Length of binge: 8 hours 51 mins

28. Yellowjackets season 2, Paramount+

Yellowjackets continued to be a television force majeure with a second run that delivered on its first season’S promise in beguiling and batshit ways. Props to the casting team for adding Simone Kessell (as the older Lottie), Lauren Ambrose (older Van) and the excellent Elijah Wood to the line-up. Some Stephen King horror nods bolster the drama, but the ensemble cast is still its biggest strength. The ’90s-era girlies stuck in the wilderness showcase some truly feral performances, while their modern-day counterparts bring acerbic comic relief as their lives chaotically unravel towards the meaty finale.—Hanna Flint

Length of binge: 8 hours 41 mins

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29. Jury Duty, Amazon Freevee

A prank reality show… in 2023? And it’s nominated-for-an-Emmy great? How is that even possible? Well, a few reasons. For one, the show – in which an unsuspecting goober who thinks he’s participating in a doc about America’s dullest civic duty ends up stuck in a hotel with a bunch of weirdos, all played by actors – is the brainchild of The Office’s Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, who keep the joke from getting cruel. But most importantly, the man – Ronald Gladden – is just about the most likeable person to ever appear on TV. His willingness to accept the insanity unfolding around him makes every gag even funnier. Trust me, it’s TV magic.—Matt Singer

Length of binge: 3 hours 49 mins

30. Ahsoka, Disney+

After a ponderous start, this Rosario Dawson-starring Star Wars miniseries coalesced as a proper delight. Set 20 years before The Force Awakens, it follows the eponymous ex-Jedi to a distant galaxy where she squares off against some tremendous villains, notably Lars Mikkelsen’s icy genius Grand Admiral Thrawn and weary Jedi-turned-mercenary Baylan Skoll (a career-best turn from the late Ray Stevenson). Although a second season remains unconfirmed at the moment, it ended with the biggest cliffhanger in the franchise since The Empire Strikes Back. Ahsoka isn’t perfect, but for the first time in decades it feels like the Star War story isn’t already written in stone.—Andrzej Lukowski

Length of binge: 6 hours 7 mins

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31. The Gold, BBC

The gaping hole left by Happy Valley in the BBC’s crime drama scheduling was quickly filled by this pacy six-part race through the Brink’s-Mat gold robbery of 1983, one of the UK’s biggest heists of all time. Its graciously grey rendering of ’80s London; full of grimy pubs, battered motors and suburban gangsters is spot-on, but some artistic licence has been taken too, as the show’s most engaging character, Charlotte Spencer’s no-bullshit detective Nicki Jennings, sadly never existed.—Leonie Cooper

Length of binge: 5 hours 45 mins

32. Culprits, Disney+

Back in 2009, J Blakeson and Gemma Arterton teamed-up on The Disappearance of Alice Creed, a British abduction flick with a satisfyingly nasty streak. That same urge to push genre beats into unexpectedly dark places, not to mention a mazy, Tarantino-ish structure, loads Blakeson’s new crime thriller with surprising flexes. Nathan Stewart-Jarrett brings likeability to ‘Muscle’, the veteran of a heist that gets the attention of some very unpleasant people, while Arterton is mean AF as the gang’s ringleader ‘Brains’ and Censor’s Niamh Algar steals the show as stone-cold killer ‘Specialist’. The touchstones, Reservoir Dogs and The Killing, are both adrenalined by their punch storytelling, and Culprits struggles to deliver that kind of voltage over eight meaty episodes. But sit back and let Brains do the work, and it’s a ride.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 7 hours 13 mins

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33. World on Fire season 2, BBC

Game of Thrones isn’t the only show to kill off a Sean Bean character in season one only to go from strength to strength. This big scale BBC miniseries continued to bring insight and humanity to World War 2 via a handful of well-drawn civilians and combatants. On the home front Lesley Manville still rules as a reluctant upper class matriarch, while in North Africa Ahad Raza Mir’s angrily conflicted British Indian Army officer shows the conflict of Commonwealth soldiers fighting for their imperial overlords. Most hard-hitting of all is a plotline about a teenage German girl indoctrinated into Lebensborn, the Nazis’ Aryan breeding programme. It’s a hellish vision of what they’re fighting against and brings real moral depth to this second run.

Length of binge: 5 hours 46 mins

34. The Wheel of Time season 2, Prime Video

After an underwhelming and world-building-heavy first series, Prime Video’s epic adaptation Robert Jordan’s high-fantasy novels steps up vastly in terms of writing and depth. Season two sees the sprawling story divided into a gripping series of morally fraught, emotionally charged arcs that weave the dazzling threads of Jordan’s world into something much more adult and sophisticated than the books. It’s brought out the best in its cast, with Rosamund Pike as sorceress Moiraine Damodred, and Natasha O’Keeffe and Fares Fares really upping the bad-guy game as a pair of scheming, ancient spellcasters. Where once it looked like a placeholder for the streamer’s big bet, The Rings of PowerThe Wheel of Time now looks like the best fantasy show in circulation.—Andrzej Lukowski

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35. The Mandalorian season 3, Disney+

The third run of the Star Wars spin-off saw Pedro Pascal’s bounty hunter taking a back seat as Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan Kryze led a homecoming quest. The busy and bumpy eight-ep run also threw in space pirates (farewell Gorian Shard, you seaweed-faced chancer), giant raptors, the return of the Vader-like Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), the Blade Runner-y city planet of Coruscant, and an undercurrent of po-faced Mandalore spirituality. But as usual, there was also loads to enjoy in its big-hearted adventure and the dad-son dynamics between Mando and Grogu. The winky final shot was a delight, too.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 54 mins

36. Extraordinary, Disney+

In this hilarious and frequently heartwarming comedy from writer Emma Moran and Killing Eve producer Sid Gentle, everyone has a super-power after the age of 18 – except for 25-year-old Jen (Máiréad Tyers, brilliantly chaotic). Surrounded by people gifted with powers ranging between completely amazing to utterly useless (one man has a backside that doubles as a 3D printer), Jen is adrift in a world where her romantic, work and financial woes are tripled by her failure to do the basics and just learn to fly already. If the superhero theme doesn't tempt you, perhaps a stray cat named Jizzlord will.—Henrietta Taylor

Length of binge: 4 hours 2 mins

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37. Platonic, Apple TV+

As the two Bad Neighbors films prove, Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen have the kind of gonzo comic chemistry few on-screen double acts can match. It’s the not-so-secret sauce of a TV comedy about what happens when you hit middle age without a metaphorical seatbelt on. She’s a stay-at-home mom who reconnects with her old college friend (Rogen), now the owner of an LA microbrewery, to the chagrin of her straight-laced husband (Bros’s Luke Macfarlane). The When Harry Met Sally… comparisons are misleading, because it’s a quest for purpose rather than romance that drives the pair’s connection. The R-rated laughs come steadily, with one ketamine scene right up there with The Wolf of Wall Street’s quaalude overdose.

Length of binge: 5 hours 4 mins

38. Silo, Apple TV+

Character-led and full of the nervy energy of a band of fugitives learning to live with an apocalypse, this smart, taut Apple TV+ sci-fi is reminscent of Ronald D Moore’s great Battlestar Galactica. The critical difference, of course, is that here the 10,000 people housed together in an underground silo aren’t going anywhere. Instead, they linger and fulminate, wondering about the hellscape outside and being fed a diet of strictly controlled information by Tim Robbins’ sinister IT head. As Rebecca Ferguson’s newly appointed sheriff soon learns, it’s misinformation. The world-building by creator Graham Yost – the one time Speed screenwriter with a major change of pace here – is meticulous too. Season two could be a belter.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 8 hours 10 mins

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39. You season 4, Netflix

After three seasons of murdering his way around New York and California, the unfeasibly charming Joe Goldberg decamps to a geographically-challenged London for a quieter life as a uni professor. Fat chance, of course, as a bunch of poshos draw him into a post-Bullingdon clique stalked by a murderer of its own. The role may have become something of a millstone for Penn Badgley, but his easy charisma, heady aura of danger and ability to effortless rock a grandpa cardie make You the easiest of binges. And cardboard cutout toffs in mortal danger is a subgenre we’ll never tire of.—Jess Phillips

40. Ted Lasso season 3, Apple TV+

The (likely) end of Ted Lasso got a little lost in all the Succession mania, but Jason Sudeikis’s cheery American soccer coach will still be much missed. Season 3 saw Ted going full divorced dad in a surprisingly plangent story thread, while reinventing Richmond’s playing style after a shroom-fuelled night out in Amsterdam. It encapsulates the broad span of what Apple’s breakout comedy was trying – not always successfully – to achieve. That broadness gave it a bitty ‘topic of the week’ feel, with Juno Temple’s Keeley unwisely sidelined. But if it was exactly ‘total telly’, it still scored some screamers – including that Amsterdam episode – and made a cockle-warning antidote to all those skeevy Roys siblings.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 11 hours 8 mins

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41. Shrinking, Apple TV+

Though Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein’s latest has some Ted Lasso fibers to it, more than anything it fills the sitcom landscape’s Scrubs-sized sweatpants. Comedy and grief collide over melancholy indie music as co-creator Jason Segel’s self-destructive widower tries to patch up his personal life and therapy practice. But this is a feelgood show, honest, and it’s buoyed by its sunny Pasadena setting, Segel’s sad dad-meets-goofball vibes and a pair of his scene-stealing co-workers: a warm, quick-witted Jessica Williams and a quietly crotchety Harrison Ford, who turns in his funniest performance in decades.—Michael Juliano

Length of binge: 5 hours 14 mins

42. Hijack, Apple TV+

Reanimating that long dormant genre, the airplane hijacking thriller, almost on the back of Idris Elba’s charisma alone, this Apple TV+ seven-parter is best embraced as high-altitude hokum rather than a gleaming slice of prestige telly – more 24 than United 93. It starts strongly, introducing Elba’s sharp-witted business negotiator on a Dubai to London flight as he subtly disrupts the power dynamics of the hijackers and their captives, and keeps the cortisol levels high as Neil Maskell’s band of mysterious skyjackers slowly lose control of the situation. The overcrowded, underwritten ensemble of characters on the ground feel like offcuts from an old episode of Spooks, but the almost-in-real-time device works a treat, with fatigue-impaired judgments lending unpredictability to the on-board scenes.—Phil de Semlyen

Length of binge: 5 hours 37 mins

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