5 great TV shows you should catch up on over the holidays

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Prepare to meet -- and subsequently love -- Ron Swanson. Photo: NBC
Prepare to meet -- and subsequently love -- Ron Swanson. Photo: NBC

A lot of TV happens every day, and it’s understandable if you can’t watch all of it. Maybe you have a job or read or something. But now, the holidays have given you the gift of several days off with nothing to do but open presents, eat and watch television, so you might as well make up for lost time.

Here are five TV shows you should cram into your face like so much Christmas goose before you have to go back to work.

The Dwarf in Twin Peaks is subtitled because the actor spoke backwards, and then they reversed that so he'll sound all weird, and what the hell, David Lynch. Photo: CBS Television
The words of Twin Peaks’ The Man from Another Place are subtitled because the actor spoke backward, and then they reversed that so he’ll sound all weird. Photo: CBS Television

Twin Peaks

Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon video, Hulu, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network

If you haven’t seen David Lynch and Mark Frost’s cult-classic show about an FBI agent, a small Washington town torn asunder by a murder, and a realm of pure evil with a really good decorator, now’s the time. A full 25 years after its original airing, Twin Peaks is returning to TV in a nine-episode limited run on Showtime early in 2016.

You have plenty of time to watch the 30 original episodes and the prequel film Fire Walk With Me and then scour the Internet for clues as to what the hell was going on in both of those things.

And by the time it all makes sense to you, the new series will be here to confuse you all over again.

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Maybe he was painting or something, or ... Oooooh. Oh. Photo: NBC
Maybe he was painting or something, or … Oooooh. Oh. Photo: NBC

Hannibal

Availability: Netflix (disc), Amazon video, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu, Sony Entertainment Network

This series, based on characters from the books that inspired films like The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, has a lot going against it. It’s a surreal, hyperviolent show in which the “hero” is fairly crazy and his sorta-best friend is Hannibal Lecter. More damning, however, is the fact that Brian Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies), developed it, and his shows are usually off the air before Season 3 no matter how good they are.

But Hannibal is hanging in there, and if you haven’t checked it out, you should. And do it quickly before NBC realizes they’re working with Brian Fuller, because apparently they have no idea that his shows aren’t allowed to be on very long.

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Murders, y'all. Photo: HBO
Murders, y’all. Photo: HBO

True Detective

Availability: Netflix (disc), Amazon video, HBO.com, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network

Series creator Nic Pizzolatto wrote two episodes of the excellent AMC/Netflix series The Killing, and that’s really all I needed to make me want to see his own project. Season 1 of HBO’s True Detective features Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as two cops who are so opposite, you guys, and they spend 17 years tracking down a serial killer in Louisiana.

You don’t have to watch this season to prepare for the next one, which will feature a new location and different actors, but why would you miss out on an opportunity to watch Harrelson and McConaughey have a decade-and-a-half-long drawl-off?

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He's smoking, really? Has he not seen the commerci-- Oh, right. Well played, Don Draper. Photo: AMC
He’s smoking, really? Has he not seen the commerci– Oh, right.
Well played, Don Draper. Photo: AMC

Mad Men

Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon video, AMCtv.com, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network

AMC’s about to start showing the second half of the final season of this period drama, which takes place in a 1960s ad agency, in case you knew nothing about it.

I waited until all of Breaking Bad was on Netflix and then watched it in a week because I don’t like waiting to see how things end. So if you’re crazy like I am and interested in Mad Men, now’s the time to start watching it.

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Seriously, people. Ron Swanson is the best. Photo: NBC
Seriously, people. Ron Swanson is the best. Photo: NBC

Parks and Recreation

Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network

If you haven’t seen NBC’s brilliant comedy series that out-Offices The Office, I just don’t know what to tell you. I guess you just don’t like joy and laughter. But it’s not too late to start because, like Mad Men, Parks and Recreation is ending in 2015.

Parks and Rec is one of those series that will “one more episode” you until 4 in the morning, and you’ll only go to bed then because you’d hate to sleep through any of it. It’s a rare show that doesn’t draw its humor from how horrible its characters are to each other — except for Larry, but screw that guy — and you genuinely want good things to happen to them. Plus, you can chart Chris Pratt‘s film career based on how much weight his character gains or loses between seasons. It’s like a minigame.

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