Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Best Free TV Series You Can Watch On YouTube

You may not know it, but YouTube has assembled an excellent catalog of free TV series. It may not be as massive as the site's line-up of movies available for streaming, but its hit-to-miss ratio is seriously impressive. It also specializes in some TV niches we particularly like, reaching beyond what's currently airing to offer audiences classic, groundbreaking television and cult series from a wide variety of genres and eras. We're happy that YouTube's streaming library has given us such a good excuse for talking about some of our nostalgic favorites that we could watch time and time again.

Not all of these shows are available on YouTube in full: Some may only have a couple of seasons, like a kind of sampler. All of them, however, have enough available to be well worth your time, especially since the only "cost" is sitting through a couple of ads. So sit back and get ready to start assembling a watch-list of some of YouTube's best shows.

21 Jump Street

"21 Jump Street" centers on a team of cops who look young enough (by TV standards, anyway) to pass for teenagers. Their faux-youth makes them seem inconspicuous and harmless, and, most importantly, it lets them get close to teenage suspects and victims who would normally clam up around adults. The show blends all the satisfactions of undercover work — the tension, the forced improvisation, the undercover character rooting out secrets without revealing their true identity — with entertainingly melodramatic crime stories.

On a broader level, the show makes you think about the differences between adult and teen perspectives. How would all that high school drama look to you now? What's serious and what isn't? What advice would you want to give these kids to protect them? "21 Jump Street" takes a very specific premise and wrings a lot of universal questions out of it.

You'll also see a lot of familiar faces. The series helped make lead Johnny Depp a household name, and the guest star roster includes plenty of just-starting-out actors who later turned famous, like Vince Vaughn, Josh Brolin, and Brad Pitt.


ALF stands for Alien Life Form, and it's the nickname that the bewildered Tanner family slaps on Gordon Shumway, the stranded alien who moves into their laundry room. Picture a puppet that looks like an aardvark and comes with a little bit of an attitude. You'd have one too if you were one of the only survivors of your home planet and your new hosts keep refusing to let you eat their cat.

As you would guess from the above, "ALF" serves up both surreal sitcom hijinks for the whole family and a soupcon of darkness and anarchy for the adults. ALF's cynicism, acerbic wit, and inability to stay out of trouble — even when he's ostensibly trying to lie low and avoid the dreaded (but clearly not super-observant) Alien Task Force — may make him a terrible houseguest and eventual adopted family member, but they also make him undeniably entertaining ... at least if you're not the one who has to clean up after him. The fourth wall saves us a lot of hassle and gives us the chance to appreciate this unique, bizarre puppet show for all its many virtues.


We have no complaints about how much "Star Trek" content the world has given us, and we'll eagerly take more — but come on, where's our "Andromeda" reboot or sequel series? It may be darker in tone, but it has Gene Roddenberry's fingerprints on it too!

When Roddenberry died, he left behind not only a storied legacy but also a lot of material: notebooks, half-baked ideas, pilots that never got picked up, and more. His widow, Majel Barrett Roddenberry — a familiar face to "Star Trek" fans — helped piece some of that together into "Andromeda," and the results are a lot of fun.

The crew of the far-future starship "Andromeda Ascendant" know that their intergalactic commonwealth is facing threats — including an ongoing war with aliens called the Magog — but they're still part of a civilization. Then they get frozen in time ... and wake up over 300 years later, no longer part of anything. Life as they knew it no longer exists, and they're facing the space equivalent of the Dark Ages. They vow to do what they can to restore light and order — and thus begins a lively and sometimes challengingly grim sci-fi adventure series.

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction

"Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction" is a quirky and engaging show that's of its time in the best possible way: Like most cheese, this has only gotten better with age. We hereby invite you to kick back with hosts James Brolin (Season 1) and Jonathan Frakes (Seasons 2-4) and bask in some tales of mystery, coincidence, and the paranormal. The twist? Each episode provides several stories, and some of them are true — or at least have some kind of documentation behind them — and some are pure fiction. You guess which, and the answers are revealed at the end of each episode.

This is just plain fun, from the interactive angle to the frequently over-the-top acting to Jonathan Frakes' twinkling good humor, dramatic timing, and deliberately groan-worthy puns. "Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction" wants to show you a good time, and it completely succeeds. It's earned its lingering cult status. Bloody Disgusting writer Felix Vasquez Jr. nicely sums up the show's appeal as its ability to offer stories that were "a mixture of clever and scary, with segments that really hit home, whether they were based on fact or not."

The Bletchley Circle

During World War II, Susan, Millie, Lucy, and Jean were trusted codebreakers at Bletchley Park, where their brilliance, teamwork, and analytical gifts helped them crack pivotal German codes. It was all top-secret and internationally significant ... and then the war ended, and the four women were expected to disappear back into their old roles and narrow, ordinary lives. They all make various attempts to move on, building their separate lives.

Then a string of serial killings reunites them. Susan is convinced that their codebreaking skills can help them catch the killer — and if the police won't believe them and their husbands can't know, they'll simply have to handle it all themselves.

The historical milieu and the exploration of what post-war life might have been like for World War II's unsung heroines make "The Bletchley Circle" unique and riveting. The New York Times praised the series' restraint and lack of melodrama, calling it "dry-eyed and understated," and added that it "find[s] a clever, entertaining way to pay tribute to women who in their time were often overlooked and underestimated, and nevertheless found ways to never be ordinary." Even now, they still feel like an inspiration.

The Carol Burnett Show

Carol Burnett is a comedic treasure, and her variety and sketch show "The Carol Burnett Show" is one of the best the genre has to offer. When she received the coveted Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, The Washington Post called her "the first lady of variety." It also cited her numerous honors, which include 25 Emmys and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a game-changer and a huge influence on women in comedy.

So if you want proof that the game needed changing, think about this: "The Carol Burnett Show" almost didn't happen. In an interview (qtd. Playbill), Burnett explained that while CBS wanted to give her a show, they didn't want to give her this show — you know, the one with the 25 Emmys. They told her, "It's a man's game, comedy variety." Would anyone really tune into a sketch show with a woman's name in the title?

Clearly they would, and they did — and thanks to YouTube, we still can. "The Carol Burnett" show remains colorful, hilarious, and chock full of legendary sketches and characters.

The Commish

If you only know Michael Chiklis as the intimidating corrupt cop Vic Mackey from "The Shield," you're in for a surprise with "The Commish." Chiklis is still sort of a cop here — he plays Tony Scali, a small town police commissioner — but he's endearing. As Entertainment Weekly put it, he's "the authority figure of your dreams — honest, enthusiastic, strong, imaginative."

"The Commish" balances its hero's quintessential niceness by surrounding him with both genuine (and serious) dilemmas and a whole lot of humor. Crimespree Magazine also cites the show's ensemble and its balance of work-related and personal storylines as reasons for its success. The various elements here all work, but Chiklis really is the highlight — and he's so convincing in the role that ten minutes into the pilot, you won't be thinking about his iconic antihero role. Chiklis is performer enough for two iconic characters, and we're betting he'll fit in even more before the end of his career.

The Dead Zone

"The Dead Zone" retools one of Stephen King's best novels into a fun, long-running science fictional procedural, mixing episodic plots with longer arcs that have higher — and potentially world-ending — stakes. Anthony Michael Hall plays Johnny Smith, who wakes up from a post-accident coma to find that years have gone by, his fiancée has married someone else, and his occasional hunches have turned into a full-blown psychic gift that will define the rest of his life.

While Johnny tries to heal and rebuild some semblance of a life, he's also drawn into using his newfound visions to help people. Hanging over everything is the prospect of total doom: Shaking hands with the unstable, ruthlessly amoral up-and-comer Greg Stillson tips him off that Stillson gaining power could mean the end of the world.

Clever standalone stories and an irresistible overarching plot make "The Dead Zone" thoroughly engaging, but the strong ensemble cast may deserve most of the credit for the show's six seasons: In addition to hall, the series includes character actors like David Ogden Stiers of "M*A*S*H" and fan favorites like Nicole de Boer of "Deep Space Nine."

The Dick Van Dyke Show

Decider honored the 60th anniversary of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" with an essay that makes an eloquent case for the show having created modern TV in ways we may not immediately recognize: "What 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' did for television, we now take for granted. We're used to TV couples having palpable chemistry, for ensembles to be stacked, for formats to be broken and reassembled as something unexpected." A lot of that — and a lot of what we love about contemporary TV in general — started right here, with a show that proved that television could be "casual, cool, frantic, weird, sexy, grounded, and fantastic—sometimes all at once."

On the surface, it's a family sitcom: a familiar enough format. "The Dick Van Dyke Show," however, gets every element right, from the sparkling but comfortable chemistry between leads Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore — creating one of TV's most convincing good marriages in Rob and Laura Petrie — to the sheer variety of comedic approaches. An incredible amount of energy, creativity, and outright invention went into "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and it bore fruit in the best way: It created characters we remember and a sitcom that still feels effortlessly, naturally funny.

Eerie, Indiana

If you want to have a peaceful life, don't move to a town called Eerie. Marshall Teller, however, didn't get much of a choice: He's still a kid. He thinks his biggest problem with relocating to Eerie will be dealing with homesickness and adjusting to a small town life.

Instead, Marshall is confronted with ghosts, Elvis, immortality Tupperware, and a retainer that lets its wearer read dogs' minds — and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Along with his friend Simon and the mysterious, amnesiac Dash X, Marshall attempts to solve Eerie's mysteries ... or at least get the rest of the town to admit that something is going on here.

"Eerie, Indiana" is a nostalgic treat — a kind of "Stranger Things" precursor with some kid's show wackiness added in for extra flavor. With five episodes directed by horror-comedy master Joe Dante himself, it's unsurprising that the series gives you both laughs and genuine scares. Plus, if you haven't watched the show since you were a kid, you might be surprised by how well some of the horror holds up to adult viewing: As Collider's review explains, the show eschews a lot of the obvious monsters and instead "pokes fun at the cult-like aspects of multi-level marketing, unethical advertisement, and even the arbitrariness of daylight savings time," concerns that only amplify as you get older. After all, who isn't afraid of Daylight Savings Time?

Father Knows Best

This gentle family comedy embodied — and invented — some of the clichés of 1950s suburbia. Depending on your generation, cueing up an episode these days can either bring about a powerful wave of nostalgia or immediate laughter at how wholesome, hokey, and blinkered it all seems. Let the episode keep playing, however, and you'll find that there's more to this series than camp or some halcyon "good old days" appeal.

To put it simply, "Father Knows Best" is often just nice: It slots in nicely as one of the earlier examples of feel-good sitcoms like "Parks and Recreation" and "Ted Lasso," which are adept at providing comfort viewing where characters can deal with their problems through decency, compassion, and ingenuity. Yes, these shows have gotten more emotionally and psychologically complex over the years, but that doesn't mean that the simple pleasures of their predecessor no longer work. Lead actor Robert Young, who played the titular father on both the radio series and the TV show, admitted in an interview for "You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet" that he preferred the TV series because it was less acerbic, less of a comedy and more of a "warm relationship show." That warmth still shines through, which gives "Father Knows Best" a lasting power to help us relax and feel at home.

Father Ted

"Father Ted" is one of the crown jewels of Irish comedy, with a comfortable spot on best-of-all-time lists. The series concentrates on three hapless, mildly disgraced priests — Father Ted Crilly, Father Dougal McGuire, and Father Jack Hackett — whose bishop has stashed them on a remote Irish island as a kind of exile. No more trips to Vegas for poor Father Ted: He's stuck making the best of life on the gray, dilapidated, but perversely whimsical Craggy Island. Needless to say, even there, he doesn't manage to stay out of trouble. (That's good for us, because it makes for much more entertaining viewing.)

The series continues to have an especially huge cultural impact in Ireland, even though it's over 20 years old. As The Irish Times chronicles, certain "Father Ted" jokes — like a protest sign reading "DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING" — have long since become durable memes. The humor isn't the only part of the show that's lasted, either. The series has a real knack for handling serious cultural and philosophical matters with a light, deft touch that the Irish Times calls "playful and surreal." It's as smart as it is funny, and it rewards rewatching.

Fear Itself

The short-lived anthology horror show "Fear Itself," like all anthology shows, has definite ups and downs. It could serve up an agonizing, nightmarish hour like "Family Man" — where loving husband and father Dennis wakes up in a serial killer's body and discovers that the killer is off in his, dangerously relishing Dennis' family life — but it could also give you the more routine and familiar evil-suburbs episode "Community." If you can deal with the occasional disappointment, though, you'll also find some haunting gems.

Plus, even the so-so episodes of "Fear Itself" have something going for them: a genuinely creepy credits sequence and, most importantly, almost absurdly terrific casting. Look at this line-up of actors: Jesse Plemons, Colin Ferguson, Clifton Collins Jr., Maggie Lawson, James Roday, Elisabeth Moss, Brandon Routh, Doug Jones, Wendell Pierce, Anna Kendrick, and more. If you ever wanted to see Peggy Olsen face down a cannibal or Bunk Moreland turn into a werewolf, this is the show for you. It's certainly the show for us.

The Greatest American Hero

Lighthearted and endearing, the '80s superhero show "The Greatest American Hero" serves up plenty of comic book-style satisfaction alongside goofy, gentle humor.

Ralph is a goodhearted teacher who does his best by his students and his son. His normal life gets a lot less normal when aliens intervene and entrust him with a distinctive superhero suit. The mission they give him is simple: Harness the suit's gifts to help humanity, and partner up with Bill Culp, a tough but distinctly eccentric FBI agent. The suit, on the other hand, is complicated ... especially since, in a twist we can unfortunately relate to, Ralph immediately loses the instruction manual. He spends the whole series trying to figure out its myriad powers, making haphazard progress.

Ralph and Bill are joined by Ralph's girlfriend, lawyer Pam, and together, the three of them take on a wide variety of problems and mysteries — including the legacy of the suit and the purpose of the aliens behind it.


YouTube features the first six seasons of the long-running TV series "Heartland," and we recommend it for anyone who ever went through (or permanently remains in) a "horse phase."

The show tracks the family fortunes of the Fleming-Bartlett family, who own the Heartland ranch. Heartland helps get injured or traumatized horses back on their feet, treating and training them until they're ready to be returned to their owners. The series starts with sisters Amy and Lou Fleming needing some healing of their own: They take a one-two punch when their mother dies and it becomes clear that Heartland is in serious financial trouble. While Amy works alongside their grandfather, throwing herself into working directly with the horses, Lou — who is skittish around them — devotes herself to the business end of things.

It doesn't always run smoothly, so family drama and conflict are definitely on the table, but overall, "Heartland" is a warm show that focuses on good people trying their best. Like the ranch itself, it's interested in healing, growth, and restoration, and it's as lovingly focused on its characters as they are on their horses.

Hell's Kitchen

If you like your cooking shows to feature cutthroat challenges, genuine artistry, classically over-the-top reality series shenanigans, and plenty of yelling, you will be delighted to learn that "Hell's Kitchen" is free on YouTube. The show features the legendarily vitriolic chef Gordon Ramsay slowly winnowing down a field of competitors for a new head chef position, testing them on their skills, palates, speed, restaurant service, and ability to withstand explosive and profane rants about how their improperly prepared Beef Wellington could kill a diner.

It's definitely a show that enjoys delivering plenty of raucous, consciously outrageous spectacle, not all of which has anything to do with cooking. Think of it as "The Great British Bake-Off" on Opposite Day. Let's be honest, though: Sometimes we want some gratuitous drama and bleeped-out screaming served up alongside our perfectly creamy risotto. This is reality TV at its brashest and loudest, and it's compulsively watchable.


Luckily, when it comes to versions of "Highlander," it isn't true that "there can be only one." Both the movies and the TV series have their own special charms.

"Highlander: The Series" branches off from the films, with the show's lead, Duncan MacLeod, being a fellow Immortal from movie hero Connor MacLeod's own clan. At the start, Duncan doesn't want to be involved in the Game of Immortal-on-Immortal attacks in the quest for the mysterious, incredible Prize, but — in typical hero fashion — he gets drawn in anyway. Over the course of the show's six seasons, Duncan and his friends and allies face down Immortal threats, deal with the burdens and blessings of living forever, and generally provide an in-depth, thoughtful, and multifaceted exploration of the series' central premise. While Season 1 is a little clumsy as it finds its footing, the show picks up steam and inventiveness as it goes along.

It's also maintained a high reputation in fannish circles. Den of Geek wrote a retrospective article urging people to try the show, wrapping it all up with: "In many ways, 'Highlander' is so 90s it hurts. But when it comes to its memorable characters and the way it deals with the meat and potatoes of immortality, it's a more timeless show. Any show that can so skillfully mash philosophical debates with unparalleled swordplay is surely worth watching." We couldn't agree more. This is an underrated fantasy show that deserves a revival.

Kitchen Nightmares

"Kitchen Nightmares" is a kind of cooking show with a twist. Chef Gordon Ramsay — widely known for his foul mouth and explosive temper, though there's definitely more to him than that — visits failing restaurants and, over the course of an episode, attempts to guide them through the kind of major changes that could save their business. Sometimes that comes down to improving the food, but just as often it's about inspiring the owners and solving behind-the-scenes drama.

Ramsay is confident that he can handle all of that. New York Times reviewer Gina Bellafante admits, "The thrill of watching Mr. Ramsay is in witnessing someone so at peace with his own arrogance." That satisfaction is there even when you don't want it to be. The underlying message of "Kitchen Nightmares" — that struggling businesses are just missing elbow grease and some tough love speeches — is one that Bellafante profoundly dislikes, but she still has to concede that Ramsay is "undeniably hypnotic." At the end of the day, it's just hard to resist the allure of watching things get fixed and problems get solved.


"Lexx" gives us the anarchic adventures of the mostly criminal crew of a destruction-happy living spaceship: a motley assortment that includes a selfish and schlubby bodyguard, a zombie assassin, a lovesick robot head, and a part-lizard "Love Slave" with an uncontrollable libido. As a bonus, it pulled in occasional cast members like Rutger Hauer, Tim Curry, and Malcolm McDowell.

This is one of those wildly, dizzyingly weird shows that never quite settles down into a single genre and tone: It's amazing that it got on the air at all, let alone that it lasted for four seasons. It's a gleefully over-the-top and oversexed show that's equal parts camp and dark comedy. It embraces an aesthetic of sleaze. The worldbuilding and general premise may make you think of "Farscape," but in execution, this is really more like "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" ... in space. Take a moment to let that idea sink in, and then head on over to YouTube for the chance to see what that could possibly look like.

Line of Duty

The acclaimed series "Line of Duty" is an unusual police procedural that changes the usual perspective of the genre. On most cop shows, internal affairs departments — which investigate corruption and criminality within the police itself — are distrusted and derided. In "Line of Duty," they take center stage and do heroic work in ferreting out individual, systemic, and conspiratorial misconduct. The series boasts a massive and incredibly talented cast, which adds to the sense of realism and immersion. The series touches on social drama issues, but it never stints on action or suspense. It's one of the best shows around when it comes to thoughtful thrills.

The show has collected a vast library of award nominations and wins, and even years into its run, it continues to garner critical praise. Of Season 6, which premiered in 2021, Empire wrote, "['Line of Duty'] rewards you handsomely: with superbly executed wall-to-wall action; hugely compelling, constantly changing characters; and a precise script that always punches above its weight, even when it's insanely dense with mind-mangling acronyms." The acronyms aren't too big a drawback for us, and we doubt they will be for you either. When your pulse is pounding this much, it's hard to mind if the occasional bit of terminology goes over your head.

The Lost Room

Eerie, unusual, and inventive, the six-hour supernatural miniseries "The Lost Room" is an under-the-radar favorite. Peter Krause stars as Joe Miller, a detective who stumbles upon a complex otherworldly mystery that he must solve in order to save his daughter.

The titular Room was once an ordinary room in a roadside motel, but after a strange occurrence in 1961 that is known only as The Event, it disappeared from reality. It now exists in a realm of its own, and all the items that were in it have developed unique, powerful, and even dangerous properties. Over the years, the handful of people aware of The Room's existence have cataloged its mysteries without understanding them — and the schisms between these people are deep and can turn violent. How do you respond to this kind of phenomenon? Try to solve the mystery? Return them to The Room in the belief that they serve some divine purpose? Seal them away to protect humanity?

It's a lot to take in, but the show paces its revelations well, slowly building up this world and its rules, and it delivers a genuine hit of the kind of dread and wonder we want from sci-fi and fantasy shows. It's the kind of series that produces devoted, evangelistic fans: Den of Geek writer Kirsten Howard coined the term "The Lost Roomening" to describe a process where she "gently forced one friend after another to make time for the show." Watch it, and you may find yourself doing the exact same thing.

Midsomer Murders

"Midsomer Murders" has already had over 20 seasons, and it's still going strong. It can be intimidating to start such a long-running show — even when no season features more than eight episodes — but luckily, YouTube is ready to start you off gently by featuring the first six seasons for free.

In these seasons, you'll be treated to snarky, gentlemanly Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby and crass but loyal Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy, who investigate murders in the county of Midsomer — a place that would be idyllic if its citizens weren't always dropping like flies, something the show occasionally gives a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of. These are well-constructed British countryside mysteries with fun mysteries in the vein of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books and shows like "Inspector Morse," and they often have an appealingly light tone.

The early seasons are hampered by producer Brian True-May's outdated and offensive ideas of what an English country village "should" look like, but after True-May's departure, the series began assembling a more diverse cast.

The Prisoner

Even if you've never seen "The Prisoner" — a unique, groundbreaking 17-episode British science fiction show from 1967 — you've seen something influenced by it. As The Guardian explains, "Without 'The Prisoner,' we'd never have had cryptic, mindbending TV series like 'Twin Peaks' or 'Lost.' It's the 'Citizen Kane' of British TV – a programme that changed the landscape." It's a creative wellspring of smart, weird television that engages and perplexes at the same time.

Patrick McGoohan stars as a British secret service agent who, after resigning his post, is kidnapped and brought to a strange, remote village that works by its own bizarre rules — including calling everyone by a number rather than a name. He's Number Six. Number Two — actually, a constantly changing bevy of different people filling that same role — wants to wrest top-secret information out of him by any means necessary. If he tries to leave, a deadly white balloon called the Rover could kill him. All he can do is learn as much as he can, be a spanner in the Village's works, and plan for an escape that may never come.

"The Prisoner" is strange enough that it's strange even now, when we've had decades for its influence to filter out into popular culture. It's a thought-provoking cult masterpiece that, once watched, can never be forgotten.

The Rifleman

The classic Western series "The Rifleman" stars Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, a Civil War veteran who, after the loss of his wife, takes his young son and moves to a ranch near the small New Mexico town of North Fork. He's too honorable — and too devoted to the idea of making a better life for his son — to let trouble in North Fork stand, so he's often drawn into assisting Marshal Micah Torrance, defending the town, and taking moral stands where necessary. The show explores questions of father-son relationships, violence, guilt, redemption, and the legacy of the Civil War while sticking to a story-driven episodic structure that keeps everything entertaining.

The show has a lot that will draw in even casual Western fans. It was created — and sometimes directed — by Sam Peckinpah, one of the masters of the genre; Peckinpah is joined by other legendary directors like Richard Donner, and the behind-the-camera skills give the series a lot of polish and power. Its simple focus on storytelling, empathy, and well-realized characters means it's aged well. Kim Morgan at DVD Talk summed it up thusly: "A classic for a reason, 'The Rifleman' still plays fantastic after all these years. Though a series like 'Deadwood' is obviously edgier, there is something about 'The Rifleman' that gives it an extra punch."

Robin of Sherwood

Storytellers of all kinds keep coming back to Robin Hood. While some of those retellings fail to capture an audience, every now and then, a version will hit it out of the park.

That's what happened with the '80s "Robin of Sherwood," the British series which places the story in a thoroughly imagined historical context but doesn't hesitate to add in a few elements of the fantastic to heighten the overall magic of the tale. It was tremendously influential: Den of Geek explains how some of the tweaks the show introduced to the Robin Hood legend, like pagan English mythos or a Muslim character attached to the Merry Men, were so compellingly integrated that later retellings would often include them as well. Looked at from almost every angle — atmosphere, action choreography, acting, characterization, narrative risks, and more — "Robin of Sherwood" is a success that richly deserves its standing as one of the best and most definitive Robin Hood adaptations.

The Saint

Before Roger Moore followed in Sean Connery's footsteps and took up the mantle of James Bond, he played another capable problem-solver with charm to burn: Simon Templar, "The Saint." For over 100 episodes, the witty, wealthy, and sophisticated Templar steps in to solve crimes, protect international relations, and accomplish any number of ludicrously challenging feats. It's probably not going too far to say that the Saint saves the world and looks good doing it.

While "The Saint" never offered especially strong characterization and often resorted to stereotypes when building supporting characters, Moore's breezy charisma helps make up for weaknesses in the writing. Templar's debonair competence is ideal for a certain kind of laid-back comfort viewing: Just rest and let him take care of everything.

Life is hard enough, after all. As Slug Mag says, "The Saint" is a great viewing choice if you just want a chance to de-stress and escape into a '60s fantasy-land: "If you can appreciate dated themes of goodies vs baddies, 1960s style and, of course, Roger Moore's swagger, this may be a fun blast from the past for you."

That Girl

The peppy, funny "That Girl" may be vintage now, but when it premiered in 1966, it was pushing a lot of television boundaries. Its central character, Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie, is a vivacious aspiring actress who takes on a motley assortment of temp jobs to make ends meet while she works to get her career off the ground. Sweet, silly, smart, and full of cheeky and sometimes deadpan good humor, "That Girl" is a frothy delight that goes down smooth — and it was also one of the earliest shows to center on an unmarried female character who was the star in her own right.

When Marlo Thomas was presented with an array of scripts she didn't want, she told the Emmys that she proposed a new direction: "The female lead is either the wife of somebody, or the daughter of somebody, or the secretary of somebody. Have you ever thought about doing a show where the girl is the somebody — somebody with a dream?" She had to break out a copy of "The Feminine Mystique" to prove that America was ready to think about independent women.

The results were extraordinary, and they still hold up. The Emmy write-up for the show gave it incredibly high praise: "The show's ace acting, writing and directing melded seamlessly, combining its colorful sets and fabulous wardrobe to create a cheerful, intelligent and always funny half-hour, one that dependably delivered logical stories with lively dialogue with a decidedly feminist undertone." It's got a hard-to-beat combination of substance and fizzy, effervescent style.

Unsolved Mysteries

We live in a kind of Golden Age of true crime documentaries, but long before Netflix and podcasts got in on the game, there was "Unsolved Mysteries" and its eerie, instantly recognizable theme music. YouTube offers three seasons of the long-running show, and if you can resist the siren call of that kind of binge watch, you have more willpower than we do.

Of course, "Unsolved Mysteries" covers more than true crime. The show — mostly hosted by the inimitable Robert Stack, whose deep voice manages to evoke both serious news and tales told around a campfire — also explores reports of the paranormal, from UFOs to alleged miracles to unsettling ghost stories. Its crime stories arguably did the most to shape its legacy, however, since the show would solicit help from its audience ... and that help sometimes made a difference and contributed to solving the show's mysteries. Because the series occasionally updates viewers on progress made on cases in previous episodes, watching "Unsolved Mysteries" still has an engagingly collaborative feel to it.

Yes, some of the reenactments are arguably cheesy, and the show has a sensationalist streak. Once we hear that theme music kick in, though, none of that matters: After all these years (and a Netflix reboot), the original "Unsolved Mysteries" is still a giant in the world of true crime TV.


How to describe "Wilfred"? We have trouble comparing it to anything else except, well, "Wilfred," the original Australian version. You'll soon see why.

YouTube offers the top-notch American remake, which stars Elijah Wood and Jason Gonn. It's a cult sitcom classic that's the touching, raunchy, and absurdist story of a depressed man, Ryan, and his neighbor's dog, Wilfred, that to him (but not to anyone else) is clearly a grown man in a dog costume. Wilfred humps stuffed animals and dispenses crude but effective advice (sometimes accompanied by a little bullying).

Wilfred is an anarchic force who cheerfully runs the risk of getting Ryan in trouble, but he's also trying, in his own haphazard and eccentric way, to help Ryan embrace life again. Ryan needs somebody, and a dog is a man's best friend.

While the concept of "Wilfred" is as intrinsically funny as it is weird — and the show relishes selling Wilfred's dogginess via note-perfect canine behavior nonchalantly performed by a human — what really makes the show work is its acting. Gann and Wood are terrific in the central roles, and they give this bizarre situation plenty of laughs and a surprising amount of heart.


"Wiseguy" was so far ahead of its time that in 1996, when reviewing the show's reunion movie, The New York Times had to put the word "arc" in quotes when describing how the series often had stories play out over several episodes: It was still an unusual enough concept that audiences needed it defined.

"Wiseguy" didn't just help pioneer serialized TV storytelling, it also uses it for a real emotional and narrative purpose. Lead character Vinnie Terranova (Ken Wahl) is an undercover agent, repeatedly asked to infiltrate criminal organizations — often at considerable personal risk — until he gets an opportunity to take them down. The series excels at showing the kind of spiritual toll this takes on Vinnie, who has to befriend and get close to people his job requires him to betray and who often has to watch trouble and consequences simmering for a while before he can do anything about it. The show's arcs are crucial to putting the viewer in his shoes.

The different storylines are also varied and memorable, with Vinnie taking on a mob boss he can't help liking, a dangerously off-kilter billionaire arms dealer, and a corrupt record industry executive. The show also offers an incredible supporting and guest cast that includes Jonathan Banks, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Tim Curry, and Glenn Frey.

There are some shows that push the medium forward but don't last in their own right. "Wiseguy" — fun, well-characterized, and rife with complex moral dilemmas — isn't one of them.