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edge staff writer


Binge alert: Your neighbors might be spies

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Although we’re on the cusp of the fall TV season, where many networks will kick off their new September offerings in the next few weeks, video streaming continues to be the broadcast industry’s disruptor. With a constant shift in their programming, services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu continue to grow by giving past and current shows another life in a commercial-free format that continues to attract millions of subscribers.

More often than not, many of these shows have already lived out their broadcast lives. Yet in some cases these shows are still on the air or will be soon completing their final seasons, and these hidden gems are available when you want.

What may be more of a long-term concern for the broadcast industry is the likes of Netflix and Amazon are offering their own original programming, and some of it is damn good. In fact, some of these shows are on par with some of the best productions ABC or CBS has to offer. And for second-tier networks like TBS, TNT or SyFy, it’s a chance for viewers who typically don’t tune in to see great programming that may otherwise have been ignored or forgotten.

“The Americans” – Streaming via Amazon

There aren’t many FX Network shows I can recall that have really piqued my curiosity, but I’ve been waiting for the period drama “The Americans” to finally hit one of the streaming services. Having just concluded in May of this year, the critically-acclaimed series ran for six seasons and was nominated twice for Emmys for outstanding drama series. Starring Matthew Rhys (“The Post”) and Keri Russell (“Free State of Jones”), the series also earned both of them nominations for best actor and actress respectively.

Set in the 1980s, the series follows Rhys and Russell as KGB agents who are placed in the U.S. and live under deep cover as an everyday couple in a nice suburban neighborhood. They conduct their lives as normal Americans – both are travel agents and even have a couple of kids along the way – and you relive real events of the ‘80s through their eyes like the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan war among others.

With a supporting cast including Frank Langella, Richard Thomas and Noah Emmerich, it is one of the most provocative series to air on a regular cable network – it’s definitely not for younger viewers. And I’m not sure how long Amazon will offer it since FX waited until the series ended before making it available for streaming.

Either way, get ready for a wild and crazy trip down memory lane.

“House of Cards” – Streaming via Netflix

The critically-acclaimed show that chronicles the surreptitious world of dirty politics has garnered a lot of attention this past year due to the controversy surrounding lead actor Kevin Spacey. After over a dozen men and teen boys accused him of sexual misconduct – including an alleged attempted rape – Netflix immediately fired him from the show in which he’s starred as Frank Underwood alongside Robin Wright as his wife, Claire, for five seasons.

The final season begins Nov. 2 and while I won’t spoil it here, the trailers for season six show how his character has left the show. Still, we’ve seen over the course of five seasons how Frank (in a unique “aside” narrative style) and Claire ruthlessly disregard every ethic and break just about every law to gain and wield power in their ultimate pursuit of the U.S. presidency.

Last we saw, Claire became president after Frank resigned in disgrace and took his chief of staff (played by Michael Kelly) down with him. It’ll be interesting to see if her unchecked ambition becomes a plot point, and word is Diane Lane (“Justice League”) and Greg Kinnear (“Same Kind of Different as Me”) will be joining what should be a spectacular end to this award-winning series.

If you haven’t seen any of it, catch up now – democracy is so overrated.

“The Last Ship” – TNT (airs Sundays, 9 p.m.); Streaming via Hulu

It’s hard to find a decent military-themed series on TV. There’s so much attention to detail and military hardware required that many networks don’t find it really cost-effective to make the effort.

You can’t say that about “The Last Ship,” which returned to the TNT Network for its fifth and final season this past Sunday.

Based somewhat on the 1988 novel of the same name by William Brinkley, the show is set against the backdrop of the guided missile destroyer USS Nathan James and follows the ship’s crew amid a global pandemic that wipes out about 80 percent of the world’s population. Starring Eric Dane (“Grey Lady”) as the ship’s commander and Adam Baldwin (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) as his XO, we witness the crew’s struggles as they wrestle with the fact that most of their families were wiped out while they were at sea and they themselves must maintain military discipline to fight well-armed, still-intact hostile nations in a post-apocalyptic world.

Produced by “Transformers” alum Michael Bay, “The Last Ship” has had full support of the U.S. Navy and has garnered praise for being true to its roots – from tactical naval combat strategy and radar/fire control to on-board protocols (the chiming of the ship’s watch bell is actually a thing), realism is part of the show’s allure. But while some of the plot lines may not be, it’s the struggle of humanity against all odds that makes the show worthy.

May the wind always be at your back.

“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” – Streaming via Amazon

It turns out Michael Bay has been busy on TV. In addition to “The Last Ship,” he’s also produced a new series for Amazon with the help of creators Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Graham Roland (“Prison Break”) based on Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst-turned-occasional operative character Jack Ryan. Amazon launched the first season on their streaming service Aug. 31.

Joining the ranks of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine who have played the iconic character is John Krasinski. Wait, isn’t that the guy Jim from “The Office”?

Yeah, it sure is.

Krasinski proved his dramatic acting chops in the films “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” and “A Quiet Place.” Yet it’s his convincing portrayal as Jack Ryan where he shakes any typecasting and shines the most – a former Marine and deskbound CIA analyst who is totally out of his league in covert field work and yet still manages to muddle through it.

Joined by a supporting cast of Abbie Cornish (“Geostorm”), Wendell Pierce (TV’s “Suits”) and Timothy Hutton (“All the Money in the World”), Krasinski’s Ryan must navigate a world of money-laundering terrorists hell bent on destroying America in a reboot where our enemies are well outside the traditional boundaries of cold-war adversaries envisioned by Clancy. And Amazon has already given the green light for a second season, so we’ll be seeing more of our cubicle-loving, non-heroic hero Jack Ryan.

Jack, just follow the money.


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