Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations.
Toast Of London
As a law-abiding dweeb allergic to YouTube uploads and at a complete loss with regard to Torrents, I’ve been itching for Toast Of London to legally make its way to the States since I first caught a glimpse of Matt Berry with a walrus mustache and a white forelock. It’s finally done so, thanks to Netflix, where you can stream all three series of Berry and Arthur Mathew’s comedy about a pompous actor, Steven Toast, bouncing between beds, detested stage plays, and humiliating voice-over jobs. Following short-lived cult favorites like Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and Snuff Box and the rock-opera parody ADBC, it’s great to see Berry at the front of a show that ran longer than six episodes, inhabiting a character tailored to his knack for playing louche buffoons with infinite reserves of self-regard. It’s by far his most conventional TV work to date—hence the multiple series and the BAFTA Award—but “conventional” here still means colorful character names (obvious favorite: recording engineer Clem Fandango), a lived-in showbiz universe populated by loonies in tacky clothing, and a sharp ear for catchy tunes and sound-effect gags. If you miss Flight Of The Conchords, if you’re looking for something to watch between new Crazy Ex-Girlfriend episodes, or you’ve just enjoyed Berry in the past, Toast Of London is a must-stream. Just keep an internet-enabled device handy: The nonstop references to faded or fading U.K. TV, film, and theater personalities largely flew over my head, but I was in good company, since the show makes a running gag out of Toast’s inability to recognize contemporary names like Benedict Cumberbatch. [Erik Adams]
Season four of BoJack Horseman
If you’re not already all over this, you should be: Season four of BoJack Horseman is now on Netflix. This season the show veered away from focusing on BoJack so much (he doesn’t even appear in the first episode), instead exploring issues like fertility via Princess Caroline and senile dementia through BoJack’s mother. Episode two is a devastating portrait of BoJack’s dysfunctional family history, with stellar guest voice-work by Matthew Broderick, Jane Krakowski, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. There are a few episodes this season so upsetting that I won’t be able to watch them again—so somebody tell me how I still find this show so unbelievably fucking funny? Mr. Peanutbutter may be my favorite character this season, offering a positive yet clueless alternative to so many of the characters’ darkness. Even then, his status as a Trump stand-in, entering an election with no expectation of ever winning, is spot-on. There’s a bottle episode that takes place entirely underground, a Felicity Huffman reality show with Sir Mix-A-Lot, and Jessica Biel playing herself. If you’ve fallen off, this season is an ideal way to get back into it; if you’ve never watched it, it’s a great place to start. And Les Chappell’s expert reviews can help you process it all afterward. [Gwen Ihnat]
American Gods Blu-ray
I first praised American Gods ahead of the series premiere back in April, after which I had to wait over a month before watching the second half of the first season. The back half didn’t disappoint, as showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green managed to bring Neil Gaiman’s sprawling fantasy novel to Starz. Fuller, Green, and Gaiman slowly built the opposite sides of this impending war among gods, and showed what a great team they make along the way. They share a sense of the macabre, the fantastical, and at times, the bombastic (it’s to be expected for a story of such magnitude). Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, and Gillian Anderson are pitch-perfect in their roles as an ancient con man, an ex con having an awakening, and the mercurial Media, respectively. When I got the recently released first season on Blu-ray, I was able to not only revisit the show but also access featurettes and commentary that gave me the inside scoop on the famously unadaptable story. [Danette Chavez]