Tot up the time you’ve wasted scrolling through streaming apps in search of the perfect viewing choice for that particular Tuesday night, and it’ll scare you. Hours of your life, accumulatively spent clicking the right-hand arrow and muting autoplay trailers. Instead of giving your thumb a work-out, you could have been composing symphonies! Writing the next great American novel! Gazing into the eyes of your loved ones! Or even better, actually watching TV.
No more. Every month, Den of Geek picks our TV recommendations to save your time. Here’s what February has to offer…
Best of the Best: Stolen Youth
Stream On: Hulu (U.S.), Disney+ (U.K.)
With so many true crime options available in the streaming world, you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re mostly interchangeable. That line of thinking would be a mistake with Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence. This three-episode docuseries is a gripping, harrowing watch that both unnerves and enlightens viewers in ways they won’t soon forget.
In 2020, news broke that a man named Larry Ray had been arrested for running a “sex cult” on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College, a private liberal arts institution in Yonkers, New York, just north of The Bronx. Stolen Youth, directed by Zachary Heinzerling (McCartney 3,2,1) picks up the story from the very beginning when Sarah Lawrence student Talia Ray first asks if her father can crash on her roommates’ couch, and stays with it all the way to the brutal end when a handful of young people’s psyches have been utterly destroyed. All in all, Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence presents one of the clearest depictions of cult indoctrination ever captured in documentary filmmaking.
Everybody’s Talking About: Physical: 100
Stream On: Netflix
In recent years, Netflix has experienced success with both Korean-language scripted offerings and reality TV competition programming. It was only natural then that the premier streamer would one day combine the two. That’s where Physical: 100 comes in. Produced by South Korean broadcaster MBC and distributed by Netflix, this weekly reality competition brought 100 buff individuals together to engage in challenges to test and find the “ideal human physique.”
Physical: 100 quickly established itself as a hit, with Netflix reporting it had become the most popular non-English language show on its servers by its fourth week. Much of its success can be attributed to its colorful cast of real life characters all striving to become the Physical: 100 champ. From zombie choreographer Jeon Young to MMA fighter Sexyama to American-born baseball player Dustin Nippert, there were no shortage of intriguing contenders. Don’t you kind of want to find out who won?
The Best of British: The Gold
Stream on: BBC iPlayer, ITVX (UK only)
From the writer of excellent Scottish dark comedy thriller Guilt, Neil Forsyth’s The Gold tells the story of the 1983 Brink’s-Mat robbery over six episodes. Not simply a retelling of the true events, Forsyth’s drama also has plenty to say about the British class system, and the villains on both sides of the social divide. It’s a slow-build drama that reaches deep into the network of criminals and police touched by the heist.
See Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville as DCI Brian Boyce, the real-life investigator who tracked the proceeds of the £26 million in gold bullion stolen from a Heathrow warehouse. He’s joined by Slow Horses’ Jack Lowden as criminal Kenneth Noye, Dominic Cooper as a money laundering London solicitor, and a solid ensemble cast including Sean Harris, Charlotte Spencer, Emun Elliott and more.
If You Like The Last of Us, Try… Station Eleven
Stream On: HBO Max (U.S.), Starz (U.K.), Lionsgate+ (U.K.)
The post-apocalypse? So hot right now. The Last of Us has proven that a show doesn’t need the undead to provide emotionally resonant thrills (and no: TLOU’s “Infected” are canonically not zombies). If the Pedro Pascal-starring drama has you jonesing for some more “elevated” apocalypse fare, look no further than the damn near perfect Station Eleven. Based on Emily St. John Mandel’s book of the same name, this HBO Max series begins with a flu pandemic that wipes out most of the planet’s human population. 20 years later, a group of survivors make their living by traveling around the Great Lakes performing Shakespeare…and trying to avoid a mysterious cult leader.
Despite opening on a very grim note, Station Eleven is a visually beautiful and ultimately hopeful exploration of the human condition. The cast is uniformly superb with both Mackenzie Davis and Matilda Lawler shining as the older and younger versions of Kirsten Raymonde. Premiering on HBO Max rather than HBO proper and in the scheduling “no man’s land” of late December didn’t give Station Eleven much of a chance to find an audience. But it’s never too late to rectify Warner Bros. Discovery’s mistakes by watching the show…before they unceremoniously boot it from their stream.
Family TV Night: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Stream On: Disney+
There’s so much fun to be had in this strikingly animated Marvel Comics adaptation about a super-smart teenager who accidentally brings a T-Rex to modern-day NYC. Essentially a gigantic puppy, Lunella Lafayette’s red dino becomes the physics genius’ pal and sidekick as she embarks on her superhero journey as Moon Girl – protector of the Lower East Side.
Colourful, fast-moving, with very cool musical interludes, it’s an energetic watch. The first season only has six episodes but each one is a wild adventure. The voice cast is strong, with great regulars and some impressive guest cameos we won’t spoil here. Moon girl magic!
One From the Vaults: Party Down
Stream On: Starz in the US; Lionsgate+ (Prime Video add-on) in the UK
Without streaming services, today, 2009-2010 Starz comedy Party Down would be a whisper on the wind. The show about failed actors working at a Hollywood catering company was criminally unwatched on release. It had a very funny cast, sharp writing, a built-in format that really worked, a host of fun cameos and… zero viewers.
Then, thanks to streaming over the last decade, the show gradually amassed cult status among comedy fans – including the new head of Starz, who ordered a third season 12 years after cancellation. Now it’s back, picking up years later with the pink bow-tied characters of the Party Down catering comedy whose dreams of stardom clearly haven’t worked out. Watch the original two seasons starring Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Martin Starr, Megan Mullally, Jennifer Coolidge and Kristen Bell, before coming back for the excellent new instalments. And if we don’t want to lose it all over again, tell your friends.