It’s a familiar refrain these days to hear we’re living in the “golden age of television.” The rise of new types of entertainment providers like HBO combined with the migration of talent to the small screen and innovations in TV storytelling has resulting in shows that are increasingly rich, complex and novelistic – “Dickensian,” even, as the Huffington Post said of “The Wire.”
What that means for anyone applying for travel visas is that you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding which shows to binge watch in your downtime on a cruise. To narrow down your choices, here are five you might want to bring aboard.
1. ‘Arrested Development’
Originally premiering in 2003, this influential comedy had the life of a dragonfly – short, but memorable. With its intricately woven web of characters, jokes and allusions (or should that be “illusions“?) that double back, overlap with and comment on each other, “Arrested Development” was practically made for binge watching. Best of all, with a runtime of only 22 minutes the episodes are perfect bite-sized pieces of entertainment to wind down with between cruise activities.
2. ‘True Detective’
Another show with a relatively short run, “True Detective” had a stellar and almost universally acclaimed first season followed by a somewhat less acclaimed second season. For the purposes of a cruise, this is perfect. There’s likely going to be a lot on your itinerary, so you don’t necessarily want to get bogged down in a five-season long sprawling epic. The first season of “True Detective,” comprised of a mere eight episodes of Southern gothic near-perfection, is just enough to pass the time – and it will give you plenty to talk about with fellow passengers.
At this point, you might be starting to pick up a theme in these choices. This short-lived and beloved science fiction TV show got the ax after only 14 episodes. If you’ve always wanted to know what the fuss was about but never got around to seeing it yourself, sneaking in a 44-minute long episode at the end of the day might be the perfect way to unwind. The subject matter isn’t heavy either, so you’re not likely to lose any sleep over it.
Whether your cruise is headed to the world’s second largest continent (by area) or not, what better way to awaken your thirst for adventure than with David Attenborough’s 2013 mini-series “Africa”? Though only six episodes, each runs for nearly a full hour, so it will still fill plenty of time. More importantly, it’s a great conversation starter, and may even help inspire you when it comes to your own adventures when the cruise ship reaches shore. Hopefully, you’ve taken our cruise packing tips on board and packed some insect repellant, or this show might have the potential to make you a little nervous.
While there are any number of classic sitcoms that could’ve gone in this final spot – “Cheers” or “Seinfeld” come to mind – “Friends” wins it for its near-universal appeal. Big or small, old or young, just about everyone has at least a passing familiarity with this show, which ran for a whopping 10 seasons and 236 episodes. This makes it a great split-the-difference choice – something everyone can agree on. This is particularly important if you’re on vacation with the family and you’re all sharing a single media device. Best of all, because everyone’s likely seen it all before, you can choose just about any season or episode to start watching from – just fire up your favorite episode and off you go.