The best of Netflix

Signing up for Netflix is a fun and daunting experience.

I’ve often joked that I was going to watch something, but I was too busy browsing to get to the show. I figured I would give out some recommendations for those of you who are like me and can’t make up your mind. I can’t recommend “Veronica Mars” enough.

The show ran on UPN for three seasons in the middle of the last decade and revolved around Kristen Bell’s title character as a high school aged private detective. The premise sounds contrived, and kind of like a seventies cartoon, but the witty writing and good acting make these 64 episodes a good find. Each season revolves around a mystery. The first season is a heartbreaking mystery as to how her best friend is murdered, and the second season follows her investigation of a bus crash.  On Netflix, they aren’t delivered in HD but they’re in  beautiful widescreen format, which really makes this neo-noir look great.  If you’re missing high school, this show could be a good balance of sappy memories and bite. If you like “Veronica Mars,” you will certainly like other shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Medium,” both featuring a female lead and running for significantly longer then Ms. Mars’ show. If you’re like me and like nighttime soap operas, Netflix is really a good place for you. With “Melrose Place,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Nip/Tuck,” and “Brothers and Sisters” you will have enough drama to keep you entertained for a long time.

“Brothers and Sisters” is a nighttime soap opera that is currently running. It’s about a family that is in each other’s lives constantly. It kind of reminds me of a crazy version of my family. You know, the best kind of family, where everyone is in everyone’s business and has opinions to give. With a phenomenal cast lead by Sally Field and Calista Flockhart as mother and daughter; the show picks up at the family’s patriarch’s death and shows how a family as close as this deals with loss, and the subsequent discovery of infidelity on their father’s part. Each season powers through with equal parts wit and emotion.

My final suggestion has a lot fewer episodes than the previous two. “Out of Practice” aired on CBS many years ago for only one season. The show starred Henry Winkler, Stockard Channing, and Jennifer Tilly as members of a dysfunctional family of doctors. This thirty minute multi-camera sitcom was created in part by half of the creators of current sitcom hit “Modern Family.” I watched this show when it was on with my dad. Both of us found it hilarious and we were extremely disappointed when it was cancelled after only 22 episodes. I recently found this on Netflix and watched the whole inaugural season in a couple nights.

It really is funnier than I remember it. The family dynamics always play for laughs rather than tears. I can see, however, how this didn’t survive in CBS’ lineup. My opinions on the intelligence of shows like “Two and a Half Men” have already been stated, so this show leading into the Charlie Sheen vehicle isn’t exactly good placement.  Also if you are in a sitcom mood, “Scrubs” is always a good choice, and is available in its entirety on Netflix. So the next time you have night sweats over the immense decisions it has available, turn to this column, or just browse for hours at a time.


Stuart Ross can be contacted at

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