Let’s face it: it’s been a traumatic and troubling summer, with the news focused on white supremacist uprisings, North Korean saber-rattling, the latest net neutrality war, and a catastrophic hurricane. Labor Day weekend is a good time to take a step back from the news, grill some food, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy the three-day weekend. It’s all part of the process of resetting from summer and getting ready for fall.
The holidays are also traditionally an intense time for streaming services, as people use their downtime and their friends-and-family get-togethers to catch up on shows they’ve been trying to find time to watch, or start up something new. If you’re looking for something to binge this Labor Day weekend, The Verge has some staff recommendations to keep you covered.
Life on Mars: One of my absolute favorite shows comes from the BBC: Life on Mars. It originally aired in 2006, and you can stream it on Amazon, provided you also have a subscription to BritBox (you can get a free trial). The show is about a British police officer named Sam Tyler who responds to a call and is struck by a car. When he wakes up, he discovers that he’s somehow been transported to the year 1973. Over the course of the show’s two seasons, Sam has to reconcile modern-day policing with practices from three decades ago, and figure out how to get back home. There’s also a follow-up show, Ashes to Ashes, which follows a similar premise with another officer, who is transported to the 1980s. —Andrew Liptak, Weekend Editor
Where to watch it: Amazon, with a subscription to BritBox.
Dark Matter: The last series that pulled me in hard enough to demand the binge approach was Dark Matter, a Canadian science fiction series that hits the sweet spot between the space opera swagger of Firefly and the dramatic space opera sprawl of The Expanse. Six people wake up on a spaceship with amnesia and no clue about their identities, and they all react with different levels of fear and violence. The first season (13 episodes, 43 minutes each) thankfully avoids a Lost-esque approach of stringing out the mysteries forever. The protagonists quickly learn who they are, and find out their past identities have left them in some serious hot water. What fascinates me about Dark Matter is the way it dives into exploring how much of these characters’ identities come from their memories and experiences, and what obligations their new tabula rasa selves have to the past lives they only know about from computer records, old allies, and old enemies. Going forward, it asks what kind of choices they get to make — whether anyone will let them live their lives as the new people they’ve become. That sounds pretty heady, but it plays out via action and deep intrigue. — Tasha Robinson, TV / Movie Editor
Where to watch it: The third season just wrapped up on Syfy, and won’t be available through Netflix until the week of September 21st. But Netflix has the first two seasons, and they’re an ambitious enough project for a long weekend. Sadly, as we were assembling this list, the news came in that the series has been canceled, and the third season will be the last. At least limiting the series in scope makes it more bingeable, I guess?
Wakakozake is about a 20-something Japanese office lady who after work wants nothing more than to unwind by going to eat and drink something good. So that’s what she does, and it's super chill. There isn’t an overarching narrative at all, each episode has her visiting a different restaurant, sometimes for a narrative reason, sometimes ‘cause she just wants a specific type of food. And then she just hangs out at the restaurant sampling various food and drink, and talking about how good they are. It’s a lot like a lot of Food Network shows that visit restaurants, but they base it around a charming fictional character and narrative. Part of the charm is that all of the restaurants in the show are actual restaurants in Japan, and the people playing the staff there are often the actual staff. They even give you the details on the locations at the end of the episode. It’s a show that makes me wish I was a bit more willing to try random restaurants around NYC, and also hungry. — Michael Moore, Reviews Coordinator
Where to watch it: The first two season are available on CrunchyRoll. There is also a completely fictional anime version also on CrunchyRoll. That’s only one season and the episodes are only about two minutes long, but it’s a nice appetizer.
One Punch Man, the popular 2015 anime adaptation of an ongoing webcomic, is the story of bored superhero Saitama, whose tremendous strength can end (virtually) any fight with a single punch. Wandering through deadly showdowns and apocalyptic battles without a scratch, he becomes a bemused mentor, rival, or enemy to a cast of much flashier super-beings, none of whom stand a chance against his trademark "consecutive normal punches."
One Punch Man specifically riffs on shonen manga like Dragonball Z, but it also fits easily into the broad genre of superhero parodies like The Venture Bros. and The Tick. Where these shows often focus on cutting superheroics down to size, though, part of One Punch Man's appeal is how straight it can play its characters and conflicts — at least, until Saitama shows up and derails them. —Adi Robertson, Senior Reporter
Where to watch it: One Punch Man’s first (and so far, only) 12-episode season can be found on Netflix and Hulu. At 24 minutes per episode, it’s a pretty quick binge.
Westworld: When I first watched this series set in near-future theme park — where the privileged one percent play cowboy and abuse the robot hosts in all manner of sadistic ways until the machines realize the horror of their existence and fight back — it was rather like going on a great night out but having a little too much to drink. When I looked back on it, I know I enjoyed it, but some parts were a little fuzzy and didn’t quite make sense.
Re-watching the series for second time, I found that it not only moved at a much faster pace than I remembered, but I was struck by the just how good the cast was, and was blown away by the overall production design and attention to detail. Most of all, I found I could follow the disparate timelines and pick up the little clues that completely passed me by the first time around. —James Bareham, Creative Director
Where to watch it: Westworld’s 10-episode first season is available on HBO Go.
Twin Peaks: David Lynch’s 27-year-old world of Twin Peaks is wrapping up its third season on Sunday with a doubleheader finale. I would love to rewatch all 46 episodes of the series and the prequel film, Fire Walk With Me, just so I can prepare myself for the madness that’s about to happen. But I know I won’t, because I would dive too deep into Lynch’s crazy world, melt into a puddle on the floor of the Red Room and wake up caught in the Log Lady’s log.
But if you can do this, you will get that much closer to Lynch’s warped mind, and probably understand the finale more than everyone else who chose to be outside enjoying the end of summer. —Alix Diaconis, Video Director
Where to watch it: Season 1 and 2 are on Netflix and Twin Peaks: The Return is on Hulu Plus, it’s a Showtime Show.