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- Watch: 8 episodes (2014) on Starz, Amazon Instant Video
- Stars: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Graham McTavish
- Come for: Panoramic Scottish Highlands, men in kilts
- Stay for: Our time-traveling heroine has two lovers: one in 1945, a second in 1743.
- Don’t miss: Witches dancing at dawn inside a charmed circle of stones -- mystical!
- Binge-breaker: The overwritten Outlander novels yield overlong episodes.
Courtesy Amazon Studios
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- Watch: 10 episodes (2014-2015) on Amazon Prime
- Stars: Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector, Jason Gedrick, Veronica Cartwright, Amy Aquino
- Come for: Gritty and romantic shots of L.A., tense precinct dynamics
- Stay for: Longtime character actor Welliver, 53, breaks out as Detective Harry Bosch.
- Don’t miss: Harry explaining jazz to his teen daughter, Maddie, in episode 10: "I'll get you some vinyl and a turntable — best way to listen!"
- Binge-breaker: Your adrenal glands may tolerate only one or two episodes at a time.
Courtesy BBC America
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- Watch: 12 episodes (2011-2012) on iTunes, Amazon or BBCAmerica.com
- Stars: Dominic West, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw
- Come for: Heady, sexy drama about the birth of TV news in 1950s Britain
- Stay for: Period-faithful set design, Broadcast News-style tension
- Don’t miss: Surprising subplot entwining Anna Chancellor and Peter Capaldi (Dr. Who)
- Binge-breaker: You may smash your TV in anger because this U.K. answer to Mad Men only aired for two seasons.
Courtesy of Showtime
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- Watch: 38 episodes (2007-2010) on Showtime
- Stars: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Natalie Dormer, Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Henry Cavill
- Come for: Jousting, pageantry, rutting and scheming in the court of Henry VIII
- Stay for: The ripping of bodices, the chewing of scenery
- Don’t miss: Sam Neill’s nuanced performance as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
- Binge-breaker: Rhys Meyers can’t decide whether to channel Sir Laurence Olivier or Tony Soprano.
'Getting On' (American version)
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- Watch: 18 episodes (2013-2015) on HBO, Amazon Instant Video
- Stars: Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash, Mel Rodriguez
- Come for: Absurdly real but funny look at life in a hospital’s extended-care unit
- Stay for: The magnificent cast; haven’t we met them all somewhere?
- Don’t miss: Metcalf as puffed-up Dr. Jenna James: “My job is infinitely more important than yours.”
- Binge-breaker: Caregivers, binge in small doses only!
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'Parks and Recreation'
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- Watch: 125 episodes (2009-2015) on NBC, Amazon, Netflix
- Stars: Retta, Adam Scott, Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Rob Lowe
- Come for: “Treat yo’self,” as Retta would say, to TV’s top comedy writing.
- Stay for: Seeing the ensemble cast bloom as individuals
- Don’t miss: Leslie Knope (Poehler) and Ron Swanson (Offerman) get locked in the office overnight to settle their differences.
- Binge-breaker: Season 1 clumsily portrayed Knope as a dope, but stick with it.
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- Watch: 14 episodes on Netflix (2012-2014)
- Stars: Ricky Gervais, Kerry Godliman, Brett Goldstein
- Come for: Acting mastery of Gervais as a mentally challenged nursing-home staffer
- Stay for: Touching, tender moments hidden in a mockumentary
- Don’t miss: While clipping a resident’s toenails, Derek proclaims: “I like old people; they’re kind.”
- Binge-breaker: Must every actor break the fourth wall? (We blame The Office.)
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- Watch: 36 episodes (2013-2015) on FX
- Stars: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Richard Thomas, Noah Emmerich
- Come for: Russian spies living next door in Reagan-era suburbia
- Stay for: To decide which is twistier: family dynamics or international espionage?
- Don’t miss: Period props (slide carousel projectors, metal ice-cube trays) and multiple costume changes per show
- Binge-breaker: It’s easy to OD on noir!
Courtesy Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECE
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- Watch: 51 episodes (2010-2015) on PBS, Amazon, Netflix
- Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith
- Come for: To learn what life’s like in an English castle. (Answer: cold.)
- Stay for: The conniving and striving, both upstairs and down
- Don’t miss: Lord Grantham’s emergence as a human being. Took him only five seasons!
- Binge-breaker: Once the cast feels like family, you may long to ditch them!
Courtesy Australian Broadcasting Corporation
'Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries'
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- Watch: 34 episodes (2012-2015) on Acorn.tv, PBS, Netflix
- Stars: Essie Davis, Nathan Page, Miriam Margolyes
- Come for: Glam, sexually liberated P.I. solving murders in 1920s Melbourne, Australia
- Stay for: Miss Fisher’s slowly building romance with Detective Inspector Jack Robinson
- Don’t miss: Flapper fashion-palooza! (Chokers, tiaras, pearl-handled pistol)
- Binge-breaker: Sorry, can’t think of one. But like Phryne (pronounced FRY-knee) Fisher, we’ll keep noodling it!
Courtesy of Starz
'Dancing on the Edge'
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- Watch: 6 episodes (2013) on Starz or DVD
- Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jacqueline Bisset, John Goodman, Matthew Goode, Anthony Head, Angel Coulby
- Come for: Swinging jazz in 1930s London (original numbers), spiffy period dress and sets
- Stay for: A murder whodunit that deals with overnight stardom, media scrutiny, class and race relations
- Don’t miss: The Prince of Wales, a Louis Lester Band groupie, getting jiggy with it
- Binge-breaker: Less talking, more music and singing!
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