10 great boxset series to indulge in this half-term

Half-term is finally here...so here are some of the best boxset TV shows to catch up on and give your brain some much needed time off

Tes Reporter

Great boxsets to indulge in this half-term

Half-term has finally arrived.

Sadly, though, it is unlikely you are rushing off for a week in the late autumnal sun or gathering the family together for a week of outdoor activities at some leisure park.

Instead, it’s probably going to mostly be spent at home, save for the occasional socially distant visit to the shops.

However, this will at least provide some time to catch up on some of the newest boxset shows that have hit the streaming services in the last 12 months and that may have, for understandable reasons, have passed you by.

Here are some recommendations from the Tes team.

1. The Boys

Even if you’re ambivalent about superheroes, The Boys on Amazon Prime is well worth a look, offering a remarkably insightful take on what a world with corporate-run superheroes would be like – and how on earth you could stop them if they were actually terrible people with no morals (which they almost all are in the show).

It’s also fast-paced so that lots actually happens in each episode – as opposed to some shows that draw out five minutes of plot development over 45 minutes. Plus there are usually at least two shock-laughter moments per episode that are perfect "have you seen this" conversation starters.

Oh and Homelander is one of the greatest, and creepiest, new TV villains…you have been warned.

2. I May Destroy You

Already hailed by many as a strong contender for best drama of the year, Michaela Cole’s 12-part series begins with a young writer realising she has been sexually assaulted after having her drink spiked on a night out.

As the story unfolds, in 30-minute episodes, it explores the complexities of consent, woven with issues of race, friendship, class, sexuality, social media, creativity, and much more besides.

Highly recommended.

3. One Punch Man

When it comes to superheroes, we’re all agreed that it must be pretty boring to be Superman, right? He’s SO super that, unless his foes have access to a hefty store of kryptonite, it’s a one-sided slam dunk for the Man of Steel.

It’s that inevitability and resulting inertia that the anime series One Punch Man on Netflix taps into. Our titular hero can dispatch any adversary with (you guessed it) one punch.

He’s desperate to find a worthy opponent after getting bored with being so incredibly powerful. Perfect for those who want a witty sideways look at herodom but might be put off by the gore and profanity of The Boys.

Plus you’ll be shrieking the theme tune for weeks.

4. Upload

What happens when we die? It’s a question that the recently departed The Good Place explored to surprisingly emotional and funny depths.

If you’re missing it and looking for a show to fill the void, Upload (Amazon Prime) should do nicely. Created by Greg Daniels (the former writing partner of The Good Place’s Michael Schur), Upload is set in a not-too-distant future where humans are able to upload their consciousness into an afterlife of their choice – as long as they have the money to pay for it.

We follow newly departed computer programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell) as he navigates the digital beyond, with the help of his customer service rep (or “Angel”) Nora (Andy Allo), and finds that all is not as it first appears in paradise.

5. Ghosts

Do you like your histories horrible and your sitcoms silly? Then you’ll enjoy Ghosts (BBC iPlayer) – a comedy-horror sitcom created by the original cast of the BBC’s Horrible Histories series.

Alison Cooper (Charlotte Ritchie) unexpectedly inherits the dilapidated Button House after a distant elderly relative dies. She and her husband, Mike (Kiell Smith Bynoe), move into the mansion with grand plans to renovate.

However, after a near-death experience, she finds she can see and hear ghosts…and there are more than a few haunting her new home – including an Edwardian prude, an overly theatrical Romantic poet and a disgraced MP who died (and therefore is forever) without his trousers on.

6. Somebody Feed Phil

The pandemic may have restricted our ability to travel, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get our fix by living vicariously through documentaries. And one of the best escapes from all the unpleasantness of life at the moment is Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix.

Phil Rosenthal, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, goes around the world meeting friendly people, eating delicious food and being generally delighted at everything and everyone he encounters.

It’s a warm cuddle of an escape to a world where the best meal you ever ate could be just around the next corner and a stranger’s just a friend you haven’t met yet.

7. Criminal

Like your crime dramas? Then Criminal on Netlfix is for you. Set almost entirely in an interview room, the show focuses each week on a different criminal being interrogated by our hardy band of police detectives.

Each episode is self-contained, so there's no "Who is he again?" or "So is she a double agent or not?", while the wider plot between the various detectives is almost non-existent, but with enough twists and turns to also prove engaging.

What's more, each episode enables a powerhouse of acting, from David Tennant to Sharon Horgan, to show off their skills, which makes each episode a gripping piece of TV.

8. Fauda

Fauda is, quite simply, extraordinary TV. There is a moment, early in the first season of this Israeli TV series, where you find yourself almost – almost – hoping that a Palestinian terrorist succeeds in her mission to blow up a packed Tel Aviv nightclub. Or do you?

This is what Fauda - available on Netflix - does, brilliantly: it makes you care about both sides, equally. This is a drama about real, likable, flawed people, on both sides of the divide: politics is almost an irrelevance.

Later seasons descend somewhat into cops and robbers. But that first season? It will thrill, move and – importantly – challenge you.

9. Hostages

Four masked men break into a family home, and take the parents and two children hostage.

Yael, the children’s mother, is a brilliant surgeon: she is scheduled to perform routine surgery on the prime minister the next day. The masked men demand that she kill the prime minister while he is on the operating table – or they will kill her family.

It’s a hell of a premise, but it’s only the beginning.

As the series unfolds, you come to care about the characters, and to become invested in their lives – and it’s this investment that carries you seamlessly through two twisty, turn-filled seasons. 

10. Schitt’s Creek

OK, this is not a new suggestion but if you haven’t got around to this yet then now is the time. Funny, feel-good, very daft and always moving, it’s the perfect show for these strange times.

Even better, it’s just come to E4 as well as being a Netflix staple so you’ve more than one location to watch it.

Got a better suggestion? Let us know in the comment section below.

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