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What to binge watch on Netflix (and Amazon) on Christmas

Colleen Hayes, NBC

Ah, Christmas. That wonderful time when the whole family gathers together, only to run out of things to say to each other. Or perhaps you're not the Christmas type, and instead have a full day ahead of you where everything fun is closed. Either way, we've got you covered! There is plenty of TV saved up on Netflix/Amazon Prime for you to gorge on. You know those shows you're always meaning to watch? Now's your moment! So put on those comfy sweatpants, make a mug of hot chocolate and settle in for the long haul.

1. Double feature: "Parks and Recreation" and "30 Rock"

If you've watched the Golden Globes, you've seen the majesty that is the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey dual hosting. Why not catch up on their respective TV shows? Both reward rewatching, and both are available on Netflix in their entirety (the final season of "Parks" premieres Jan. 13, so this is a good time to get cracking.) If you're not a total completist, we recommend starting with the second season premiere of "Parks" (called "Pawnee Zoo") and "Tracy Does Conan" on "30 Rock," which for both series are when things really start cooking.

2. Broad City"

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Speaking of Poehler, why not check out her proteges' TV show? "Broad City" follows the misadventures of Abbi and Ilana, two New York City gals whose goals may not always be crystal clear, but whose boundless affection for each other and tendency to make the best of it help them overcome all obstacles. Oh, and it's really, really funny. The girls are often selfish, occasionally gross and all the other things young people can be. The whole first season is streaming on Amazon Instant Video right now.

3. "Call the Midwife"

If British costume drama is more your thing, try out this one, which is a dignified if occasionally cheesy look at the lives of a group of young midwives servicing impoverished neighborhoods of London in the years after World War II. If you're used to that era being represented by "Leave it to Beaver," the situation is a bit different across the pond. There are unexploded bombs discovered, and almost everyone gives birth at home, in their own beds. We realize home birth is becoming a trend again, but it's still a bit surprising to watch it happen onscreen. The midwives are almost impossibly brave and competent, and their patients rarely unsympathetic. Catch up on Netflix.

4. "Misfits"​​

This British series is available (for free!) on Hulu. It tells the story of a group of teens, all sentenced to community service, who get caught outside during a strange storm. If you've ever seen a superhero movie, you might be able to guess what happens: They get struck by lightning, and develop super powers. Except instead of being nerdy Peter Parker or upright reporter Clark Kent, they're a group of foul-mouthed, troubled teens, whose lives don't noticeably improve after they get their powers. It's one comic disaster after another for the group.

5. "Better Off Ted"

A quirky name might have doomed this canceled-too-soon comedy, which takes place at a company with the perfectly corporate name Veridian. What, exactly, does Veridian do? It's not totally clear, but it seems likely that it's sinister. The titular Ted is an exec within the company, who strives to keep his kooky researchers in line and succeed at work while maintaining some sense of honor and respectability about what the company does. But the real standout is Portia de Rossi, who plays Ted's boss, and has none of his hand-wringing guilt about her job, which she does with the verve and rigor of slightly more bloodthirsty but slightly nicer Tracy Flick. Find it on Netflix.

6. "Hannibal"

A warning: This is a show for the strong-of-stomach. You might have figured that out anyway from the famed killer the show is named after, but the series has some pretty involved and disturbingly pretty gore going on. Set in the years before the events of "Silence of the Lambs," it follows Will Graham, who might be too emotionally disturbed to do his work as a profiler of killers. Not to worry: His superiors find him a nice therapist to help him work out his issues. You might have heard of him? A Dr. Hannibal Lecter? The show's creeping dread and gorgeous visual palette might not be for everyone, but the show is mesmerizing, and the performances from Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen in the leads are endlessly watchable. Catch up on the first season on Amazon Instant.

7. "The Returned"

Speaking of creeping dread, we've got another horror-tinged show for you. Set in a small French town, "The Returned" follows a group of presumed dead people who return, sometimes years later, as though nothing has changed. But something is clearly off, and none of the townspeople are sure whether to rejoice or recoil. Oh, and one of the returned people is a serial killer, so that's a bit of a problem. The show traffics in the slow burn rather than the jump scare, but that doesn't make it any less unnerving. Don't confuse it with the current ABC show, "Resurrection." They're based on different concepts, and if you can handle the subtitles, the French show is the perfect way to creep yourself out on Christmas. But if you don't like subtitles, just tune in to A&E in a few months. They're prepping their own version of the French show.

8. "Spaced"

Fans of "Hot Fuzz" and "Sean of the Dead" should watch this one, if they haven't already, as should anyone who's got a bit of a nerdy side. It's Simon Pegg's pre-fame TV show, and it's your basic hang out sitcom, with a few girls and a few guys (including future "Sean" star Nick Frost) hanging out together and cracking jokes at each other's expense. What sets the show apart are the nonstop sci-fi references that you know and love from Simon Pegg, whose Tim Bisleyworks in a comic book store. Pegg co-wrote the show with Jessica Hynes, who really should have gone on to just as much comic success as he did. Alas! Watch the whole thing on Hulu.

9. "The Honorable Woman"

This twisty British drama originally aired on Sundance, but the full series is now available on Netflix. It's about a British politician named Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal doing her best upper crust British accent), who heads an Israeli company that may or may not be making strides towards reconciliation with the Palestinians. There's an abducted child, and a great deal of veeerrrry understated British intelligence conversations. No one does minimal dialogue quite like the Brits. Who's lying? Who's a good guy? It's awfully hard to tell.

10. "Orphan Black"

We basically will recommend this show to strangers on the train, we love it so. If you're not already obsessed with the show, that may be because you're only aware of it as a fringey scifi show whose fans throw fits every time the lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, is snubbed in acting awards competitions. Maslanyplays a series of clones slowly trying to piece together why they're clones, who cloned them and what it means for their lives. The show's seamless effects and Maslany'smasterful acting make it virtually impossible to remember that many scenes take place with just one woman acting with herself. It's several shows combined into one: a satirical look at life in the suburbs, a paranoid thriller, a science procedural, and probably a few more. The first season is on Amazon Instant.

 
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