Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back from its mid-season break to resolve some cliffhangers — and introduce new ones, because absolute closure has no place in TV shows based on comic books.
If you don’t like waiting a week between episodes and want to fill that time with more stories about secret agencies, government-sanctioned or otherwise, that are charged with sorting out the crazy junk your civilian brain just couldn’t even handle, we have a few suggestions for you. Kick your TV into super-secret-spy mode with these shows and movies that are guaranteed to give you your daily allowance of secrets, acronyms and people in suits with guns.
Torchwood (2006 – 2011)
We included Torchwood in our list of BBC shows that survived the ax on Netflix, but if you didn’t take our advice that time, let’s try it again.
This Doctor Who spinoff is more graphic, more sexual and generally more “adult” than the show that spawned it. It’s about a secret organization with the unenviable job of cleaning up all the transdimensional crap that falls out of a rift in Wales. Sometimes, it’s cool and terrifying technology, but it’s usually just these big monsters that run around eating people.
Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Director Guillermo del Toro’s second Hellboy film continues the adventures of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, a secret government agency of superpowered beings that — you guessed it — investigates the weird, arcane stuff the gubment doesn’t want you to know about. This time around, a rogue elf declares war on humanity, and the B.P.R.D. has to sort that mess out.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a fun story featuring del Toro’s usual beautiful visuals. And the villain turns out to be way more interesting than if he were just a crazy, “kill all humans” type. He has a point, and he tries to prove it with a huge forest spirit and an indestructible army of giant murderbots. Isn’t that better in every way?
Availability: Netflix (disc), Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network
Alphas (2011 – 2012)
Alphas, a short-lived show from Syfy, isn’t so much about a secret agency as a program that recruits “gifted” people and tries to use their abilities for good. So it’s basically X-Men with the main difference being that the Alphas drive around in their own cars instead of a badass jet, and they don’t have cool costumes.
Other than that, though? Exactly the same.
The team crosses paths with an immortal supervillain with his own secret group and plans for world domination. That’s nothing too new, but the show is done pretty well. I should warn you, however, that if you are a fan of closure and hate unresolved cliffhangers, this one may leave you disappointed.
Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon Video, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network
Mission: Impossible (1966 – 1973)
Here’s a classic for you. The original Mission: Impossible TV series features an elite group of professionals who carry out the sneaky, plausible-deniability operations that the government can’t (officially) execute.
If you want to skip to the really good part, pick up the show with its second season, when Peter Graves took over leadership duties from the capable but largely absent Steven Hill (the original district attorney from Law & Order). The show features a rotating cast of character actors, most of whom also appeared on Star Trek, which aired on the same network. And when that show ended, co-star Leonard Nimoy joined the Mission: Impossible cast to further build on the straight-up awesome that Graves and team engineer Barney Collier (Greg Morris) already had going.
Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon Video, iTunes, Vudu
Warehouse 13 (2009 – 2014)
Here’s another SyFy show, but this one’s about a top-secret storage facility for paranormal stuff. Imagine that secret location from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only when the guy puts the Ark of the Covenant away, it’s right between a crate full of guns that use ghosts for ammo and a spoon that can read minds.
I don’t remember if those are actually things in the show, but if not, they probably saved those amazing ideas for the extended universe or fanfic.
Regardless, Warehouse 13 doesn’t sound super-exciting on its face — it’s about a couple of Secret Service agents assigned to a large building. But stuff disappears, and evil people show up, and excitement ensues. The series recently finished its five-season run, so now’s a good time to plow through the whole thing if you can.
Availability: Netflix (streaming and disc), Amazon Video, Hulu Plus (Season 5 only), iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Sony Entertainment Network