Apple TV+ has some great content — here’s our list of six shows to check out if you get a free three-month trial
There are too many streamers, too much great content and too little time and money to allow anyone to do more than skim the available content. With recent economic hardening (and the Netflix password crackdown), we’re all more careful what we watch. Many streamers offer 7-day trials, but that’s not enough (allowing for sleep / work / eating / living) to do more than dip into the smörgåsbord of shows on offer. Enter Apple TV+
What’s different about Apple TV+?
If you visit their site, you’ll get offered a 7-day subscription. But there’s more. If you’ve recently bought a new iPad, iPhone, Apple TV or Mac, you can claim three months free! Plenty of time to check out several shows. To help you out, we pooled the collective minds at Cultbox Towers and came up with a list of shows we recommend you try first.
WARNING — this is a long read, so get comfortable and dig in.
Six shows to check out
Of course we’ve gone for some classic science fiction, but also a couple of other suggestions. We start with a hardcore classic of the genre, and another adaptation of an Isaac Asimov classic…
Isaac Asimov may be a major name in the history of science fiction literature, but recent adaptations have not been a massive success (or particularly faithful — we’re looking at you I, Robot). Back in the 1960s, there were various adaptations of his short stories for ITV, and here we have a key point — he was a prolific short story writer. One of his great works is the Foundation series, constructed in the 1950s from various tales then followed up in the late ’70s and early ’80s with a grand unification of most of his work in the form of several more novels. We digress to show how huge (and dated?) a best Foundation is.
Apple TV+ brought Foundation season 1 to screens in 2021, with Jared Harris in the lead role of psycho-historian Hari Seldon. His mathematics of the behaviour of large populations can predict the future, not something a galactic empire wants to hear when the predictions are of a coming dark age.
This is definitely a choice for fans of classic sci-fi, and the bonus is season 2 is coming in July.
For All Mankind
Here’s a classic alternate history story: the Space Race continued and the USSR beat the USA to the Moon! The wikipedia summary of how the seasons are set up is useful:
In an alternate timeline in 1969, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov becomes the first human to land on the Moon. This outcome devastates morale at NASA, but also catalyzes a U.S. effort to catch up. With the Soviet Union emphasizing diversity by including a woman in subsequent landings, the United States is forced to match pace, training women and minorities who were largely excluded from the initial decades of U.S. space exploration. Each subsequent season takes place 10 years later, with season two taking place in the 1980s, season three taking place in the 1990s, (and as revealed in the season-three finale) season four taking place in the 2000s.
And yes, there’s going to be a season four, so the danger here is after three seasons you may well be hooked and need to budget for a more permanent subscription!
The setup reminds us more than a little of the excellent Wireless Theatre Company production Red Moon, for which writer Robert Valentine won an award.
And now to a War of the Worlds vibe. Original series Invasion, starring Sam Neill, has this premise:
Earth is visited by an alien species that threatens humanity’s existence. Events unfold in real time through the eyes of five ordinary people across the globe as they struggle to make sense of the chaos unraveling around them.
Real time aside, it’s very much familiar ground, but worth a look as it’s been renewed for a second season. Who doesn’t love a good aliens invade Earth story?
At the time of writing, Silo is very much a new series with several episodes of season 1 yet to be made available. The premise is:
In a dystopian future where a community exists in a giant silo that extends hundreds of stories underground, 10,000 people live in a society bound by regulations they believe are meant to protect them.
We get a Logan’s Run vibe from this dystopian drama, which stars Rebecca Ferguson (who is also an Executive Producer). We understand a second season is already under development — not the same as being commissioned. A lot of reviewers like the show, and Rotten Tomatoes shows a healthy 87% score for both critics and audience.
Why not try something a little left field? If (like us) you’ve memories of seeing the musical Brigadoon at some point (or pondered over the lyrics to Whole of the Moon), Schmigadoon may be the show you need. The premise is (predictably):
Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) and Melissa (Cecily Strong) are a struggling couple whose lives are transformed when they get trapped in a magical musical town—with a mission they must complete.
There have been two seasons (so far), so definitely worth looking into.
If Ryan Gosling can co-own Wrexham FC, why not have an American college football coach in charge of a Premier League team? This is the premise of multi-award winning Ted Lasso, a show regularly making appearances in the Nielsen ratings. The show stars Jason Sudeikis as Lasso, in a mostly British cast. If you’ve every wondered what a British sports sitcom would look like were it made the way American shows are, this may well be the short-episode, easy-watch show you need.