Sometimes you want to binge on a show, as opposed to just watch a movie or two. We know that feeling. Get your watch on tonight and check out one of these unusual series. This installment’s theme is reality television – sort of.
If you like: “Mindfreak,” awful costumes, optical illusions, seeing how things work
Then watch: “Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magicians’ Greatest Secrets Finally Revealed.” It starts at the title and just keeps coming: this ’90s-tastic series is ludicrously silly. The premise behind this is there’s a magician who decided the illusion business was getting a little too complacent for his tastes, and so he decided to expose some of the biggest tricks in the biz. Of course, other magicians wouldn’t be super happy about that, so this guy has to wear a full-face mask and never speak. Doubly obviously, they have to film the series in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, a fact repeatedly mentioned throughout the series. (Of course, if you Google “the masked magician,” you’ll easily find his professional identity… but hey, who doesn’t love a little melodrama?) If you can stand the lecherous announcer and the fact that the assistants were clearly costumed by someone who thought the leftovers from a Madonna photo shoot were appropriate for people who spend most of their work hours crammed in tight spaces, carrying dangerous weapons, or near fire – then you’re golden. It really is interesting to see how magicians manage to fake levitation, teleportation, and sawing folks in half. In one of the earliest episodes, you even get to find out where the phrase “smoke and mirrors” originally came from. No Netflix? No problem – most of the episodes are available on YouTube.
If you like: Animal Planet, medical mysteries, feel-good TV
Then watch: “Bionic Vet.” This documentary-style miniseries follows English veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick at his Surrey-based practice. He uses innovative techniques to aid animals who would otherwise have to be put to sleep. Fitzpatrick and his staff of more than a hundred other vets and nurses strive to help their patients recover from devastating injuries. In one episode, they attach prosthetic back feet to a cat named Oscar who had them severed due to an accident with a combine harvester – check out the results of Oscar’s first-ever fitting of prosthetic feet above. In another, they reconstruct the entire pelvis of a cat named Lottie. Watching Fitzpatrick and his team save the lives of fuzzy friends is undeniably heartwarming, and it’s also really cool to watch how folks (including Dr. Fitzpatrick himself!) react to these animals getting a completely new – and very biotech – lease on life. Go on – try and watch that clip without happy tears.
If you like: “Cutthroat Kitchen,” snacking while watching, suddenly feeling as though you are being gently judged for your choices of waffles
Then watch: “Good Eats.” Pre-“Cutthroat Kitchen” Alton Brown, before the man became cynical and twisted due to other people’s incompetence, is at full strength here. Did you know there was an Indisputably Right, Foodie Approved™ way to make popcorn? Well, now you do. How about a correct and proper way to make, oh, fried pickles? Obviously (you sinner). Do you, at this moment, have a strong opinion about the components of a perfect waffle maker? You will after you watch this show. It’s the kind of low-commitment, high-interest, easily-consumable 90s-aesthetic fare that’s absolutely ideal for binging. It also strikes the perfect level of funny/absurd – you get the sense that Brown, or whoever came up with the sketches that feature in most episodes, actually thought these sketches would be funny, rather than precious and quaint. Like, original dad joke, versus dad joke redux. And, hey, if you don’t have a Netflix subscription, a little birdie told us you can access a treasure trove of full episodes on YouTube… but you didn’t hear it from us.