The Goldbergs (ABC)
68 episodes (34 hours), via ABC On Demand, for purchase via Hulu, iTunes, VUDU, Amazon, and Cinema Now
There’s no better family sitcom on the air right now. And don't flinch at the episode count: if you skip a couple or multitask during a few here or there, you won’t lose the plot (plus, they're really a mere 22 minutes a piece sans ads). And even if you commit to all 68, it’s no bigger haul than binging on the total runtime of a premium-cable drama’s first couple seasons. Whatever your approach, Adam F. Goldberg’s paean to his own 1980s childhood is kitschy, earnest, and spastic in all the right ways, and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911!, Bridesmaids) is the TV mother of the decade as her clan’s well-meaning, shoulder pad-advocating, oddly foul-mouthed “smother,” Beverly. The Goldbergs is primetime comfort food you won’t gag on.
The Knick (Cinemax) 16 episodes (approx. 15 hours), via Cinemax On Demand, for purchase via MAX GO, Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play
This baby of Ocean’s 11, Traffic, and Contagion director Steven Soderbergh is television’s most cinematic series -- and one with far too little attention paid. Without the soapy Shondaland breeze of network medical dramas, The Knick's turn-of-the-century exploits surrounding surgeon John W. Thackery (Clive Owen) are a tough sell for HBO’s struggling kid brother, Cinemax. So are racial tension, historical analysis, and gory streaks of life-or-death operations. That doesn’t seem to stop The Knick from relishing in it, leaving serialized hooks to Thackery’s burgeoning heroin habit. Drugs and brain surgery: terrible mix, great television. And there’s still time to pick up The Knick at what feels like just the second chapter of a potential 1,000-page tome.
The Leftovers (HBO)
18 episodes (18 hours), via HBO On Demand, for purchase via HBO Now/HBO Go, Google Play, and Amazon
Co-creator Damon Lindelof’s first post-Lost original series takes place in the wake of a Rapture-like event called the Sudden Departure, which caused 2% of the population to vanish with no explanation. As you might imagine, it’s pretty darn bleak, but it’s also easily one of the smartest and most unique shows on television. In this traumatized post-Departure world, survivors cling to religion, look for answers in mysticism or cults, or simply turn inward with nihilism and rage, making the show a fascinating staging ground to explore big themes like fate, religion, mortality, and grief. We suggest you start this one on Friday, so you can enjoy some leftovers with your Leftovers. Nothing simulates the taste of planet-wide mourning like microwaved mashed potatoes.