, and, like, NCIS spin-offs? We did some digging for you.
Editor’s Note: CBS All Access is not currently available in Australia, but you can still access the service through the use of a VPN.
1) Evil (season 1)
There’s another season of Evil coming one of these days, so now’s a great time to catch up on season one. It’s an entertaining take on X-Files-style supernatural investigating, except every “case” is assigned by the Catholic Church, with a team consisting of a priest-in-training (Mike Colter), a sceptical techie (Aasif Mandvi), and an on-the-fence psychologist (Katja Herbers). In addition to fleshing out its unique characters and making its procedural format feel consistently fresh, the show also developed a wider mythology around its malevolent antagonist, with a shocking finale that sets up a hell of a season two…pun intended.
2) The Twilight Zone (2019 reboot, season 1; classic series, seasons 1-5)
Jordan Peele’s recent Twilight Zone update was a bit hit or miss, but the cast is consistently excellent throughout, and the good episodes were so good we’re excited for the eventual second season. Since there’s no need to watch the installments in chronological order, we recommend season finale “Blurryman” (directed by Simon Kinberg), as well as “A Traveller” (from Ana Lily Amirpour) and “Six Degrees of Freedom” (from Jakob Verbruggen) to start.
For fans of the Rod Serling classic”seriously…who isn’t a fan?”CBS All Access also has the first five seasons of the original series, which aired between 1959 and 1964 and contain such influential, enduring installments as “Time Enough at Last” (touché), “The Hitchhiker,” “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” “Eye of the Beholder,” “Two,” “It’s a Good Life,” “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville,” “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” and dozens more.
3) Beauty and the Beast (seasons 1-3)
No Disney here; this late-1980s take on the familiar fairy tale stars Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman as guess which characters. Hamilton (who’s actually only in one episode of the short third season) plays a New York City attorney who discovers a community of (mostly) benevolent people dwelling in the whimsical, underground “World Below””including the Beast, who comes to her aid after she’s attacked in the pilot, which is naturally titled “Once Upon a Time.” Beauty and the Beast aired on CBS from 1987-1990, with some guy named George R.R. Martin, who was one of the producers, writing or co-writing several episodes.
4) The Exorcism of Emily Rose
Over a decade before he made Doctor Strange, Scott Derrickson directed and co-wrote this blend of demonic possession narrative and courtroom drama, following the (loosely) “based on a true story“ tale of a college student’s death after a brutal exorcism. The unusually good cast (including Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, plus a pre-Dexter Jennifer Carpenter as the title character) is the best part about this one”though the exorcism sequence is memorably agonizing and does a lot to excuse the so-so jump scares deployed at other moments.
5) The Ring
Gore Verbinski’s remake of the 1998 Japanese film came out in 2002, which means that beyond its lasting impact as an atmospheric, supernatural murder mystery propelled by a tense, ticking-clock plot device, it’s also a time capsule of turn-of-the-century technology. Naomi Watts plays the main character, Rachel, a newspaper reporter who pulls clues from a proto-Google search engine but is equally beholden to rummaging through piles of old newsprint.
Most famously, The Ring revolves around a cursed VHS tape (the movie will give you “adjusting the tracking” flashbacks) and land-line telephones, which trill each time a death countdown begins. Just a year after her big Mulholland Dr. breakthrough, Watts brings the kind of intensity that’s become her trademark, but the two kids in the movie”David Dorfman as Rachel’s precocious son and Daveigh Chase as the haunted Samara”are also very good, which further helps nudge The Ring toward modern classic status.
6) The Craft
Yeah, this is one we usually save as part of a Halloween-themed rewatch binge (along with Hocus Pocus, Practical Magic, Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and the like). And yeah, there is a remake coming…one of these days. But in these troubled times, putting on a favourite movie (filled with “˜90s fashions, high-school drama, and magic that quickly shifts from quirky teenage hobby to something that has life-or-death stakes) can be the equivalent of eating comfort food.
Yeah, the sequel just came out, and it’s fun, but the original Zombieland“a fast-paced splatter comedy about a quartet of misfits battling zombies and each other in the post-apocalypse”still has the edge, if only because it contains one of the funniest, most unexpected cameos in horror history. Your corner store might not have any toilet paper, but you can surely dig up some Twinkies next time you make a socially-distanced supply run.
Andrew Niccol’s 1997 sci-fi tale is notable for several reasons: its striking production design, a mix of 1940s chic and space-age sleek; its eerie depiction of a world where people are judged solely on their engineered (or not) genetics; and some wonderfully layered performances, especially Ethan Hawke as Vincent, an “invalid” who goes to extraordinary lengths to realise his dream of becoming an astronaut, and Jude Law as Jerome, the troubled “elite” who helps him. While Vincent’s determined subterfuge propels Gattaca‘s plot”and he’s the one imperiled when his DNA is found at a gruesome crime scene”Jerome’s story is the more agonizing one, offering proof that human perfection really is just an illusion.
9) Starship Troopers
Robert Heinlein’s 1960 novel provided inspiration for Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 gleefully gory sci-fi satire about earnest military recruits sent to battle the vicious, insect-like aliens who’ve targeted Earth. If you’re an Gizmodo reader, chances are very good that you’ve watched Starship Troopers so many times you can quote back at the screen (“I say kill “˜em all!”), but if you get the urge to dissect which actor gives the most extra performance (your choices are Neil Patrick Harris and Denise Richards), or are having yourself a Michael Ironside film festival, or just really want to remind yourself of that weird, football-like sport that propels some of the movie’s biggest moments, it’s waiting for you on CBS All Access.
These days, it feels like there’s always another Spider-Man movie (or two, or 10) in the works at any given moment. But there was a time when seeing Spidey on the big screen was kind of a novelty”specifically, circa 2002, when Sam Raimi released the first of his three Spider-Man movies starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Willem Dafoe (whose performance is still inspiring memes in 2020). How does this first wave of 21st century Marvel heroism (and its corresponding swooping-through-Manhattan special effects) hold up? There’s no better time than right now to remind yourself.