B-List: Fantasy shows to binge this holiday weekend

If you’re not a retail worker (like yours truly), chances are good you’ve got an extra-long weekend ahead of you full of food, friends and family. With the pandemic still in full swing, going to the movie theater or out on the town for some fun may not be feasible.

Not a problem! There’s plenty of quality entertainment you can stream from the comfort and safety of your own home. And if your family/friend bubble is as passionate about magic, monsters and mayhem as mine, then I’ve got suggestions for some quality shows you can binge all weekend, covering the gamut from traditional fantasy to sci-fi and even paranormal horror.

And because I know how frustrating it is to get a recommendation but not know a) where to watch it and b) what the content’s like, I’ll be sure to include the service to stream from and any warnings so you know just want to expect/what NOT to watch with a seven-year-old in the room.


Season one is available via the free Peacock app or on SyFy.com; TV-14 for some sexual situations, mild language and mild violence.

A crash-landed alien (the always delightful Alan Tudyk) takes on the identity of Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle in a remote Colorado town in order to buy himself time to repair his ship and carry out his mission to destroy the Earth. But things get complicated when he’s befriended by nurse Asta Twelvetrees (Sara Tomko), gets involved in the murder investigation of the previous doctor, and a small boy (Judah Prehn) sees through his human disguise.

This show is a RIOT. Tudyk turns the fish-out-of-water dial up to 11 in a zany performance. The supporting cast is full of equally entertaining weirdoes. Harry’s primary arch-nemesis being a 10-year-old boy is hysterical. And it’s a great twist, having our alien protagonist be set on global destruction rather than looking for friends or a way home.


Season one is on Netflix; TV-MA for sexual and frightening situations, language and violence. (Note: There is also self-harm and attempted suicide.)

Titular hero Geralt (Henry Cavill) takes on monsters, prophecies, madmen and dark magic in search of coin and to protect the innocent. Along the way, he finds himself somewhat unwillingly partnered with bard Jaskier (Joey Batey), bound by the Law of Surprise to Princess Ciri (Freya Allan), and falling in love with passionate sorceress Yennefer (Anya Chalotra).

Based on the popular books by Andrzej Sapkowski, which were also adapted as a successful video game franchise, “The Witcher” is very dark fantasy inspired by Eastern European fairy tales. The violence is bloody. There’s a lot of sex and nudity. And war with a country of religious fanatics powered by death magic is imminent. “Lord of the Rings” this is NOT.

It’s also a story that can be confusing to follow, as each episode follows a different timeline and each character’s thread weaves in and out in unexpected ways. Still, don’t let that deter you: stay strong, keep watching, and I promise it all pays off by season’s end when the timelines converge. And this weekend is a perfect time to binge the available episodes, as season two begins Dec. 17.


Seasons one and two are on Disney+; TV-14 for sci-fi violence.

One of the last of his people, the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is hunting down bounties across the galaxy to earn beskar (a steel holy to the Mandalorians) when he finds himself in possession of a peculiar green-skinned Child. Unable to abandon the baby to an unknown but probably dark fate, Mando is abruptly thrust into fatherhood.

Set between the original “Star Wars” trilogy and the newest sequels, “The Mandalorian” is the first live-action “Star Wars” series — and one of my favorite shows of the last 10 years. Pascal’s physical choices and voice-acting are incredible, making Mando a three-dimensional character even though we (almost never) see his face, and the decision to make Baby Yoda/The Child a puppet rather than use CGI was brilliant.

Die-hard “Star Wars” fans will love picking out all of the Easter eggs, and there have been some superb guest stars, like Ming-Na Wen, Temeura Morrison, Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Sedaris, Clancy Brown, Katee Sackhoff, Taika Waititi and Werner Herzog. Even if you’ve already watched the series, I recommend doing a full re-watch before the spin-off “The Book of Boba Fett” premieres on Dec. 29.


All five seasons are on Netflix; TV-Y7 for mild cartoon violence and frightening situations.

On the magical planet of Etheria, teen Adora (Aimee Carrerro) is a loyal soldier of the Horde — until she realizes they’re bad guys, the “evil” princesses are just defending their people and, oh yeah, she’s actually the legendary She-Ra, a warrior princess with a really cool sword. With the help of best friends Glimmer (Karen Fukuhara) and Bow (Marcus Scribner), Adora builds a Princess Alliance to take down the Horde. And, unfortunately, her former best friend-now-arch-enemy Catra (AJ Michalka).

For over a year I’ve been screaming at everyone I know to watch this show. Yeah, it’s a cartoon aimed at pre-teens. But “She-Ra” is incredible. The diversity — both in terms of POC and the LGBTQ community — is wonderful. The stories, themes and character arcs are on par with “Avatar: The Last Airbender”.

This is a pastel-colored magical princess cartoon about child soldiers fighting colonizers and religious extremists. There are canonical gay couples and nonbinary characters; in “She-Ra”, queer is the default. And it’s also extremely funny, very touching and has a killer of a finale. The show had five seasons, and ended perfectly. And yet I still want more. Such is the power of “She-Ra”.


Season one of the live-action adapt is on Netflix, while the anime is available on Netflix, Hulu and Tubi; TV-MA for language, drug use, sexual situations and violence.

Bounty hunters (aka “cowboys”) Spike Spiegel (John Cho) and Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) may have the worst luck in the galaxy. Their jobs always go sideways, and they’re constantly scraping for enough cash to buy instant noodles, let alone fix their spaceship, the Bebop. It doesn’t help Spike is also trying to outrun his past as a Syndicate assassin, especially now former partner Vicious (Alex Hassell) knows he faked his death. Then they cross paths with con artist/cowboy Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) and things get even more dangerous…

Look: I’m not saying the new adapt is perfect. It’s campy, and it made some changes to the characters/original story that don’t always land well. But it’s still an entertaining slice of action-packed space opera, especially if you’re not already a fan of the anime. Cho does a great job as Spike — he really hit the look — and Pineda’s Faye may be my favorite thing about the show. It’s possible to enjoy both the anime and the live-action.


Full mini-series is on Disney+; TV-PG for mild violence and frightening situations.

Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame”, reality-altering witch Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), still grieving the losses of her twin brother and her beloved Vision (Paul Bettany), finds solace in the sitcoms of her youth.

If you haven’t already watched “WandaVision”, you absolutely must, and I won’t spoil any of the great twists of the show, which manages to swing from cute to unsettling without missing a beat. Olsen and Bettany both deliver amazing performances, perfectly hitting the tones of the television eras each episode pays homage to, from “I Love Lucy” to “Modern Family.” And co-star Kathryn Hahn very nearly steals the whole dang show; but then she always does, that woman is FAR too underrated as an actress.


Season one is on Netflix; TV-14 for violence, mild sexual and frightening situations.

Cartographer Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) is shocked to discover she’s a Grisha, someone capable of magic. And not just a Grisha, but a Sun Summoner, something that was once thought to be only myth. Separated from childhood friend Mal (Archie Renaux), she’s whisked away to court where General Kirigan himself (Ben Barnes) takes her under his wing. Because if Alina can master her magic, she may be able to destroy the Fold of darkness that has divided the land for generations.

Meanwhile, a group of con artists and thieves known as the Crows — mastermind Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), acrobat and knife-thrower Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman) and cheeky sharpshooter Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) — set out to kidnap Alina and sell her to the highest bidder, unaware of how all of their lives will be changed in the process.

Based on a YA series by Leigh Bardugo and inspired by Russian fairy tales, “Shadow and Bone” is a gorgeous series with compelling characters — though I confess I’ve always been more invested in the Crows than in Alina’s story. The various kinds of Grisha, from Squallers to Heartrenders, makes for an interesting magical system. I’m very excited for season two.


Full mini-series is on Netflix; TV-MA for language, sexual and intense situations and violence. (Note: There is also animal death.)

An isolated island community finds itself experiencing strange, and very bloody, occurrences with the arrival of a mysterious priest (Hamish Linklater), who begins to revive the town’s flagging faith. At the same time, a young man (Zach Gilford) returns home after serving a prison sentence for accidentally killing a woman in a drunken driving incident.

If you’ve seen writer/director Mike Flanagan’s previous works — especially “The Haunting of Hill House” and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” — you already know what to expect. Several of Flanagan’s regulars are here, such as Kate Siegel, Rahul Kohli and Henry Thomas, and “Mass” is rife with his favorite horror motifs and visuals. It’s also positively soaked in Catholicism, making this a more rewarding and layered watch for anyone of that faith.


First three episodes available now on Amazon Prime, with new episodes every Friday; TV-14 for violence and frightening situations.

In a world of reincarnation, prophecy says the Dragon — a powerful being who once nearly destroyed everything — has been reborn. This time, the Dragon will either save the world, or end it completely. Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), one of the sorceresses known as the Aes Sedai, along with her Warder Lan (Daniel Henney), set out to find the Dragon and prevent them from falling into the hands of the Dark One, who will undoubtedly corrupt them.

Problem is, no one’s sure just WHO the Dragon is. But Moiraine believes it’s one of the five she’s discovered: Rand (Josha Stradowski), Egwene (Madeleine Madden), Perrin (Marcus Rutherford), Mat (Barney Harris), or Nynaeve (Zoe Robins).

As of this writing, only three episodes are available on Amazon Prime (the fourth airs this Friday). But boy howdy, are those episodes exciting, a very solid introduction for what promises to be a stunning series. There’s been impressive creature design with the trollocs. Moiraine has proven herself a total boss with her magic. And the characters are starting to be fleshed out in interesting ways (Nynaeve in particular is my Forever Girl). Fingers crossed the remaining five episodes of the first season — season two has already been greenlit and production is underway — are just as satisfying.

• ANGIE BARRY is a contributing columnist for Shaw Media. To suggest future topics for The B-List, which covers topics in pop culture, history and literature, contact her at newsroom@mywebtimes.com.