1 season / 8 episodes
Marketed as a “modern take” on the Watergate scandal from the early ‘70s, this limited series is as entertaining as it is legitimately educational, as it takes the viewer through all the players and the consequences of their actions that led to the downfall of an American President. The more intimate focus on the life and personal turmoil of one of the Watergate players, Martha Mitchell, wife to Nixon’s disgraced Attorney General, John Mitchell, is needlessly melodramatic and over-the-top, but Julia Roberts delivers the role of Martha with grace and ferocity, and Sean Penn disappears into his role of John, and the best moments are when the two of them are going at it full-tilt. Also notable is the quiet and centered performance by Dan Stevens as John Dean.
5 seasons / 59 episodes
Long before it was cool for movie stars to be on TV, Glenn Close ruled the airwaves in this FX show that also happened to be the breakout role for future movie star Rose Byrne. Close plays an unscrupulous, high-powered lawyer and Byrne plays her protégé in this star-studded (come simply for the guest stars), meaty, soapy and altogether deliciously vicious show that has no business being this much fun.
SPARTACUS: BLOOD AND SAND (2010)
3 seasons / 33 episodes
For those who think Game of Thrones is too tame, I give you Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the ultimate sword-and-sandal series that glories in blood, violence and nudity, while telling basically the same story that Ridley Scott told in the Best Picture-winning movie Gladiator, but with much more of everything. All the actors are beautiful, all the lines are hackneyed, all the sex scenes are borderline soft-core porn, all the violence makes Tarantino look like Disney, and it’s all simply magnificent. You won’t find better pure entertainment than this, as long as you know what you’ve signed up for. Bonus points for John Hannah, Lucy Lawless and the late Andy Whitfield, who tragically died of cancer after shooting season one and was replaced by Liam McIntyre (who’s also great).