When I start a new TV series it's hard to tell if a promising but rocky show will improve or get disappointingly worse. The great thing about Netflix instant– and other streaming sites — is that I get a second chance to watch the entertaining late-bloomers. Streaming shows online lets me plow through the first couple awkward episodes so I can get to the good stuff. Here are three shows now streaming on Netflix Instant that I think are worth a second chance:
Why You Didn't Watch It The First Time: Joss Whedon's story about mind control and high tech prostitution started out as a 21st century Charlie's Angels with the appealing Eliza Dusku (Faith from Buffy) going on mildly interesting weekly engagements. The first couple episodes were watchable but they lacked Whedon's heart and quippy dialog.
Why You Should Give it Another Chance: Starting with episode 6, the series takes off. The characters begin to grow, new information is revealed that changes your understanding of what is going on, and the show gets increasingly funnier, tenser, and more emotionally engaging. It's satisfying watching this 26-episode show go from a superficial gig-of-the-week story to a tense dystopian action-adventure with a few romances and lots of character development.
Why You Didn't Watch It The First Time: Fox messed around with the order of the episodes for this Joss Whedon show. They shelved the engaging 2-part pilot and started out with a lesser single plot episode so the show got disappointing reviews.
Why You Should Give It Another Chance: The fantastic cast has gone on to star in more successful shows but Firefly was series where they got to play their favorite roles. Check out a younger, thinner Nathan Fillion (Richard Castle on Castle) as Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a rebel trying to eek out a life on his own terms as a captain of a one of the few freelance ships in an authoritarian empire. The rest of the cast of space cowboys is equally good and stars Adam Baldwin, Gina Torres, Ron Glass, Alan Tudyk,Summer Glau, etc. Also, Christina Hendricks (Joan from Mad Men) is a recurring character in several episodes. This fun, action-packed series is only 13 episodes long and has an accompanying movie that wraps up the plot in a satisfying way.
Friday Night Lights
Why You Didn't Watch It The First Time: The first few episodes use a handheld camera technique that might make some viewers queasy, but the show quickly drops it. Also, the second season has some over the top soap opera type plots that the show wisely abandons too.
Why You Should Give it Another Chance: This wonderful show about small town life in a football obsessed Texan town is worth watching even if you don't like football. It's one of the best shows I've seen on families, teens, marriage, and small town life. The five season series also excels at letting its high school characters graduate and move on while introducing equally interesting new characters.
(Next week I'll review three more shows.)