There was disappointment for British fans who get their fix of the Doctor via Netflix recently when it was revealed that, mirroring the series’ withdrawal from the streaming service in the US, subscribers won’t be able to watch Doctor Who for much longer on this side of the pond either. Netflix UK’s current deal with the BBC expires on May 1st meaning that, unless there’s a late reprieve, Series 1-7 will no longer be available. Whether this is part of a BBC plan to launch its own streaming facility on the back of its new digital archive BBC Store is unclear, although the corporation had previously denied that the new service would affect which shows would be sold to Netflix and its competitors.
All very frustrating for fans, particularly with no new series to look forward to until 2016. But maybe (a sacrilegious thought, I know…) having a Who-free year will free up some time to get into something new? Or discover an older classic you’d somehow never managed to catch first time round? There’s no shortage of genre content available so let’s take a look at what else is worth watching when Doctor Who leaves Netflix UK…
The superhero series for people who normally wouldn’t watch that kind of thing, this Netflix original is set in the same universe as Marvel’s Avengers but is a million miles away from Saturday night popcorn movie fare. A dark drama revolving around flawed, damaged characters who can’t escape the past, its success is in no small measure down to the performances of leads Krysten Ritter as the rough-around-the-edges private detective Jessica and David Tennant as the terrifying Kilgrave, able to control people’s behaviour to horrific effect. It’s recently been renewed for a second series, though it looks unlikely that Tennant will appear. It’ll be no small task to find a replacement to match him.
Life on Mars
Hard to believe it’s ten years old now, Life on Mars was set in the 1970’s but this time travelling police drama felt wonderfully fresh at the time. John Simm’s Sam Tyler (apparently named after Doctor Who’s Rose) is injured in an accident and wakes up in 1973, part of CID serving under Philip Glenister’s Gene Hunt, a man firmly of his time who isn’t afraid of roughing up a few suspects if it gets the job done. Soon-to-be Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall penned a couple of the scripts and there are some hard-hitting storylines in the show’s all-too-short two series run featuring IRA bombings, football violence and the heart-breaking tale of what happens when Sam meets his father…
Although it lasted for five seasons this US sci-fi drama, co-created by JJ Abrams, somehow passed by largely unnoticed and unheralded. Perhaps that was because its premise (an FBI unit dedicated to unexplained phenomena) seemed so similar to earlier mega-hit The X Files that it was dismissed as a rip-off. That’s a shame and it deserves to reach a wider audience now because, after a slow start, it managed to forge its own identity thanks to its often quirky tone (lead scientist Walter Bishop still displayed the effects of overdoing it with mind-bending drugs in the 1960s…) and the ongoing parallel universe story arc. Plenty of sci-fi shows have had a go at this latter trope, of course, but Fringe really went for it, devoting entire seasons to its boundary hopping alternative timeline.
So much better than anyone could possibly have expected when it was announced that there was to be a remake of the 1970s camp classic, BSG was proper hard-as-nails sci-fi, unafraid to punch viewers in the gut in its depiction of the last survivors of humanity following a sudden attack from forces they themselves had unleashed. Unafraid to place its topical real-world influences front-and-centre (9/11, the ‘war on terror’, Guantanamo Bay) the series put its characters under pressure each episode and ramped it up to see how much they (and the audience) could take as they struggled to survive. A fracking classic.
Danger Mouse (Original Series)
Okay, I know it’s a stretch to class this as genre telly in the same way as the other selections but anyone who, like me, rushed home from school in the 1980s to catch this animated classic will understand. Brilliantly witty with great voice performances by David Jason and Terry Scott as DM and his cowardly assistant Penfold, this was the kids’ programme that adults happily owned up to watching for its silly humour, knowing references and madcap James Bond spoofery. The recent revival had its moments but somehow couldn’t quite live up to the original. You can catch all ten seasons on Netflix.
Also worth a look: Daredevil, another Marvel show – this one about the blind lawyer who fights crime by night; Sense8, a world-spanning sci-fi series from the Wachowski brothers featuring Doctor Who’s Freema Agyeman with an alarming haircut; Merlin, the best of the BBC’s attempts to fill the Doctor Who slot when the Time Lord was off the screen; Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Russell T Davies acknowledged the debt he owed to Joss Whedon’s hugely influential cult hit.
So what have we missed? Which series will you be watching in the long interval before the next series of Doctor Who? Let us know!