The spring 2014 TV season is over. The networks announced what shows have been canceled and are already teasing us about what will be debuting this fall. So what now? A long, hot summer of reruns and second-tier talent competitions? A retreat to the sweet relief of cable TV? Fresh air and healthy exercise? Screw all that. We need a new selection of TV shows to fill up the lonely hours and distract us from the existential dread that gnaws at our souls. But where can we score such rarities over the summer months? Well, it’s all about downloading and streaming these days. So break out your Smart TVs, set-top boxes, game consoles and tablets, and get watching.
Amazon Prime Instant Video—On May 23 Amazon.com released its first original kids’ series on Prime Instant Video. “Tumble Leaf” is a stop-motion animated series designed to help preschoolers “learn science through play.” Amazon also begins airing five original adult shows sometime later this year: three comedies and two dramas. Season two of Garry Trudeau’s sharp political satire “Alpha House” will start shooting this summer. “Mozart in the Jungle” is a sex-and-drug-fueled sitcom about classical musicians starring Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mamá Tambíén). “Transparent” is another comedy, this one about a group of affluent Southern California siblings dealing with gender issues and their father (Jeffrey Tambor from “Arrested Development”). Producer Chris Carter (“The X-Files”) is the man behind the post-apocalyptic series “The After.” Based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling books, “Bosch” is a detective series starring Titus Welliver (“Lost”). All of those shows are expected to premiere their full seasons sometime later this year. So if you wanna binge-watch, you’re gonna have to wait. But you can check out the pilots for them right now. To watch it, of course, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. The service gives you free two-day shipping on all Amazon purchases and access to a library of streaming movies and TV shows—including exclusive rights to “Game of Thrones,” “Orphan Black” and “Veronica Mars.” (Cost: $99 a year)
Hulu Plus—Hulu Plus is like Hulu.com—only you have to pay for it, and you get to watch the good stuff. The internet network just started airing episodes of the classic Japanese anime series “Sailor Moon.” All 200 episodes will eventually be available, with two remastered, subtitled episodes released each Monday beginning on May 26. In addition to all its current network fare (“Hell’s Kitchen,” “Modern Family,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”), Hulu does offer several original series, headed by the supernatural sitcom “Deadbeat” with Tyler Labine (“Reaper”) as a slacker who can talk to ghosts. “Moone Boy” (starring Chris O’Dowd as a 12-year-old boy’s sarcastic invisible friend), “Misfits” (about a group of delinquent teenagers who end up with accidental superpowers) and “The Only Way is Essex” (a “scripted reality” series concerning rich young assholes in Essex) are all British imports rather than true “originals.” (Cost: $7.99 per month)
Netflix—This streaming service has got a leg up on the competition, boasting more subscribers than HBO and a wider selection of old and new stuff. Among the original series are gangster comedy “Lilyhammer,” werewolf soap “Hemlock Grove” and resurrected family sitcom “Arrested Development.” Shakespearean political hit “House of Cards” debuted its second season earlier this year. Prison dramedy “Orange Is the New Black” will post its second season on June 6. Still the one to beat on quantity and quality. (Cost: $8.99 per month)