A combination of longer nights and lockdowns is a good opportunity to watch some of the best TV dramas of the past three decades – but do you find locating them a challenge?
As the nights draw in, I think it’s the perfect time to get stuck into a boxset or three. And now that we have all this technology, finding something you want to watch is easier than ever, isn’t it?
Or is it? I can’t be the only one who scrolls endlessly through Netflix, Amazon, Britbox etc paralysed by the sheer variety of content that’s there for me to consume.
And then there’s the problem of what technology you need. Plugged in to my ageing Panasonic Viera TV I have an Amazon Fire TV Cube, a new Google Chromecast, a Humax Aura Freeview box, a small-form PC and a Blu-ray player. Yes, that’s a lot of remote controls.
Having devoured The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix recently, and with time on my hands before the new series of The Crown dropped, I decided it was high time I finally watched The West Wing. I’m 20 years late to this party, but better late than never.
With all those services and with all my tech, surely I could find it easily?
My first stop was All4, Channel 4’s catch-up app. But on which device? It’s not available on the Google Chromecast, the new version of which comes with a full build of Google TV (and a fiddly remote – another one to lose).
It is on both the Fire Cube and the Humax Aura, and yes, all seven series of The West Wing are available on All4.
But after watching two episodes on All4, which seemed more intent on showing me adverts than showing me the actual drama, I abandoned that. I have subscriptions to Amazon Prime, Netflix and Britbox, as well as access to the Google Play store: perhaps it’s on one of those?
Well, yes – but for a price. Amazon Prime charges £17.99 a season, and Google Play charges £18.99 a season. Ouch. Perhaps I should go old-school and buy the DVDs – but some digging around Amazon reveals that I’d be scrabbling around to assemble a full set of all seven seasons.
Biting the bullet
I decided to bite the bullet and pay the Amazon Prime video price, reckoning that in lockdown I’m not spending money on other forms of entertainment – I’m not eating out, I’m not going to the cinema or the theatre.
But it does grate somewhat that on top of my annual fee of £79 a year I’m going to shell out £125 to watch it all.
And that’s on top of having coughed up £75 to Amazon Prime so that I could rewatch all five seasons of Six Feet Under in the first lockdown, which, like The West Wing, isn’t available as part of a subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix (it’s on Sky/NowTV if you have either of those, though).
But actually, despite grumbling about the cost and the hassle of juggling multiple remote controls as I chase down favourite boxsets, it does all make me realise that we’re living in a golden age of TV.
As well as brilliant new series such as The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown, we can also access wonderful dramas from the past 30-plus years at the touch of a button. Here are my eight favourites of the past few decades:
Do you find navigating all the different streaming platforms easy? How are you watching your favourite shows this year?
And what are your top TV dramas of all time? What should I line up to watch over the winter? Let me know your recommendations!