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24

2001-2014, 9 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 3, ep 13

High-octane action ride which, over the course of each season, sees one-man-army Kiefer Sutherland choke-hold people into submission in order to save Western civilisation from a range of bad guys. Each season sees the action take place over 24 'real time' hours, with convenient ad-break sized gaps taking care of details like commutes and toilet breaks. 

The real-time gimmick can feel like a constraint, but the knowingly over-amplified action and drama will soon blow you away. How many of Jack's bad days you make it through will depend on your tolerance for bona-fide thrill rides with little time for nuance, subtlety or *GETS PUT IN CHOKEHOLD*

*Doesn't fight it*

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30 Rock

2006-2013, 7 Seasons

Written by and starring Tina Fey, this TV studio satire is loosely inspired by life working on Saturday Night Live. Features a career-changing appearance from Alec Baldwin as studio boss Jack Donaghy. At its best it was everything that can be great about US comedy; bold, inventive clever but centred around a sympathetic character. The occasional dip below its own high standards in the last season or two shouldn't be held against it.


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Arrested Development

2003-present, 4 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 2, Episode 8

Cult comedy about a wealthy family thrown into chaos after their father (and head of the family business) is thrown into jail. A stellar comic cast, enhanced by regular cameos by everyone from Liza Minelli to Henry Winkler, create absurd situations played with deadpan seriousness.

The distinctive style of humour may not be everyone's taste but it keeps bludgeoning out the laughs and, after 3 popular seasons its cast reassembled from Hollywood to do a fourth for Netflix, a decade after first coming together. Season 5 is in development now.

 Jamie's a massive fan, Hywel's not watched it (which will be the story for many shows listed in this a-z).

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Bates Motel

2013-present, 4 Seasons

Mentioned in Season 1, Episode 3
Available on Netflix UK

Prequel to the iconic Hitchcock thriller Psycho. A fourth and fifth season have been commissioned, to really get to the bottom of all those 'mother issues'.

Hywel is a big fan while Jamie's not yet given it a watch.

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Better Call Saul

2015-present, 1 Season

Comic crime drama spin-off from Breaking Bad which follows the trials and tribulations of 'criminal lawyer' Saul Goodman.

Season 1 handles the 'creation story' of Saul (SPOILER: "...s'all good, man." Who else didn't pick up on that?), before he comes into the lives of BB's Walt and Jesse. Although it could also be called 'Better Like Mike' for adding just as much substance and story to one of Breaking Bad's most engaging characters.  

Vince Gilligan and team (and particularly Bob Odenkirk in the title role) have done about as good a job as could be dreamed of in creating a spin-off of a massive hit like BB, which is both quickly engaging and deeply layered.

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Bloodline

2015-present, 1 Season
Mentioned in Season 2, Episode 7

A tense drama about the return of a black-sheep brother to a family full of secrets and scars. Jamie almost gave up after four episodes but kept going and was gripped by the end.

Season 2 of this Netflix original is due early in 2016


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Breaking Bad

2008-2013, 5 Seasons
Mentioned loads

Chemistry teacher Walter White, is diagnosed with cancer and, with the help of a former student, becomes a Meth dealer to secure his family's future.  It's just great!

If you need Breaking Bad explaining further, you've come to the wrong podcast. Go and watch it all, and come back to us when you're done. Expect us to put up a spoiler-filled article sometime soon...

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Broadchurch

2013-present, 2 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 1, Episode 3/11/13; Season 3, Episode 2

British whodunit drama starring reformed Doctor Who David Tennant and the almost always brilliant Olivia Coleman as a pair of police officers investigating the murder of a young boy in a picturesque coastal town, which threatens to tear the community apart.

Jamie loved the first season but agrees with many others that they ballsed up season 2. The whole thing was made weirder by Tennant also appearing, in the same role, in the US remake, Gracepoint, which was made almost immediately after the original, and was cancelled about a minute after that. 

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Chuck

2007-2012, 5 Seasons
On Netflix UK
Mentioned in almost every episode of the pod.

Comic sci-fi series with surprisingly vociferous fan-club, which Hywel will not shut the hell up about. Jamie hasn't made it past 2 episodes yet. Most people haven't got that far.

Seriously, we're considering introducing some kind of swear box to penalise Hywel for shoehorning a mention of Chuck into almost every episode. Still, he really does love it. Check out series 1 of the Box Set Pod for interviews with Chuck's composer and the manager of the show's biggest fansite. If you're really interested take a listen to the Chuck special here.

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Community

2009-2015, 6 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 2, Episode 4

Cult US comedy (available on Netflix in the UK) about a group of misfits attending a community college. Great cast and plenty of meta in-jokes ("Six series and a movie" is an in=show catchphrase: the sixth series has just been finished and the movie is now in production) mean comedy fans tend to fall hard for this show once they discover it.

Jamie's one of those converts; Hywel probably will be when he watches it.

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Deadwood

2004-2006, 3 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 2, Episode 4

Period drama set in the late 1800's in the corrupt town of Deadwood.  Perhaps best known in the UK for seeing Ian McShane suddenly show up, 20 years after Lovejoy (Google it, young people),  in a big budget US Western TV series and start swearing his tits off, it boasts great ensemble performances, fantastic period detail, and creates an utterly believable, compelling world from the off.

Jamie loves it and is gutted it got cancelled after 3 great seasons. Hywel keeps meaning to watch it having been on the receiving end of numerous recommendations. Feel free to email studio@theboxsetpod.com if you agree.

UPDATE: Deadwood went up against the Box Set Pod jury in March 2016: listen to what they made of it here: http://www.theboxsetpod.com/listen/2016/3/8/3j9gmd7ha4hlxyp3zmcuhofl6g5qpq 

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Dexter

2006-2013, 8 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 1 Episode 7/9/13; Season 2 Episode 4

Miami police forensics expert Dexter is also a part-time serial killer of criminals.  Bloody, sometimes silly, but usually suspenseful and ultimately watchable, both Hywel (who even tracked down Dexter's flat when in Miami) and Jamie are fans, although Jamie thinks it went downhill after season 4.

Anyway, here's the opening titles, which give away that Dexter is a psychopath by the fact that he shaves, then fries and eats bacon, then separately fries and eats an egg, then makes coffee, then squeezes a blood orange, then flosses, then puts on his shoes, followed by his t-shirt, THEN looks pissed off because he's spent so long farting about with his breakfast that his beard has grown back. It's a wonder he has time to kill all those people AND hold down the day job.


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Dr Who

1963-present, loads of flipping series, spin-offs, books, lunchboxes, toys, etc
Mentioned in Season 1, Episode 9; Season 3, Episode 2

Time Travelling, scarf-loving alien in a telephone box.  Neither Hywel nor Jamie have a particular passion for the Doctor no matter how huge it is worldwide.

We realise this isn't particularly insightful, but we're just leaving it here in case you want to send us a lengthy email about the good Dr. 

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Downton Abbey

2010-2015, 6 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 1, Episode 10/17

Period drama chronicling the life of the Crawley Family from before World War 1 to the late 1920's.  Hugely popular show enjoyed by Jamie although he thinks it's got a bit laboured over the past few seasons while Hywel thinks it looks boring. Still one of the biggest British TV exports of all time and certainly ITV's biggest contribution to the box set world. We bet your Mum loves it.

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Entourage

2004-2011, 8 Seasons
Mentioned a lot because they gave away the boxset.

Comedy about a film star and his entourage.  Jamie enjoyed it when he watched it as a student* but he's not sure he'd still like it now. Hywel's not seen it. Notable perhaps for the number of people who didn't want to win the DVD box set we had to give away. And for inspiring some healthy debate with regular guest Helen O'Hara about how women are represented in the show (Entourage, not the Box Set Pod).

*note from the internet department: Jamie left university in 2002, before Entourage was ever screened. However Jamie wrote the above so it must be true...

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The Fall

2013-present, 2 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 1, Episode 1

Psychological thriller centred on the hunt for a serial killer in Belfast.  Jamie thinks it's superb and can't wait for season 3 while Hywel probably wasn't listening when Jamie was banging on about it. Either way, Gillian Anderson's great in the lead role.

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Frasier

1993-2004, 11 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 2, Episode 7

Who says sequels never improve on the original? This Cheers spin-off arguably does, as it follows the return of Dr Frasier Crane to Seattle to live with his father.  We know you all know it, but seriously, have you watched it much recently? Like a fine wine, or the career of Ian McShane, it's just getting better with age.

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Game Of Thrones

2011-present, 5 Seasons
Mentioned a hell of lot. One of the first shows that we dedicated  a special to.

<*The Internet Department of The Box Set Pod would like to interrupt here to present, in its entirety, everything that Jamie could bring himself to write about Game Of Thrones.*>:

Fantasy drama following the battle for a power in the fictional land of Westoros.  All agree it's gripping stuff with some of the best/most horrible twists in TV history.  Plenty of dragons and boob.

<Seriously, that's all he wrote about GAME OF THRONES. He's either the laziest man on Earth or one of the most succinct, clear communicators of his generation. Still, the internet is currently made of 38% GoT content, so, without wanting to send you elsewhere, there's plenty more you can find out about it. It is ace though. Seriously. Even if you're not into Dragons. Or Boob.>

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Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

2004, 1 Season
Mentioned in Season 1, Episode 14/16

80's horror parody set in a hospital.  A stone-cold classic enjoyed by both Hywel and Jamie. Only 6 episodes exist, all (last time we checked) available on Channel 4's 'All 4' On Demand service.

If you weren't in the right stage of life to be watching this for those 6 weeks of late-night Channel 4 in 2004 you've probably never heard of it. But it's a solid BSP recommendation for anyone who likes The Mighty Boosh, Green Wing, Flight Of The Conchords, The IT Crowd or anything set in a hospital. 

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Glee

2009-2015, 6 Seasons
Mentioned in Season 3, Episode 3

It's pretty likely you've already heard of Glee, but just in case you were marooned on a wi-fi-less, TV-less desert island / medical facility in 2010, it's a musical comedy about a bunch of dweeby high-school singers.  Hywel loves it while Jamie hates everything about it other than the performance of Jane Lynch (which almost makes each musical number worth it).

However we were quite nice about it when one of the stars, Kevin McHale, joined us on Series 3 Episode 3.

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