The Best Shows on Presto
Update: While Netflix continues to steal headlines with its global expansion and Marvel TV shows, local upstart Presto keeps signing up amazing shows for your viewing pleasure. With the arrival of True Detective and Scandal, this list just keeps on getting better.
Presto‘s been pushing hard in recent months to catch up to its streaming rivals. Not only can you now access the service directly on your television via the Telstra TV box, but you can also watch movies and TV shows in glorious high definition.
It’s also catching up on the content front, with some key partnerships delivering essential first run shows, plus exclusive access to some of the most binge-worthy programs ever produced.
This is a regularly updated list of some the best titles currently available on the streaming service. Whether it helps you keep track of all the content you may want to watch or uncover some fantastic shows that haven’t crossed your path yet is completely up to you.
Aaron Sorkin may have thrown his pen at topics like life in the White House, Facebook and Steve Jobs with varying degrees of success, but he will forever be remembered for turning Dumb and Dumber’s Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) into a straight talking, non-nonsense TV anchor in this HBO classic. While the show definitely has its ups and downs, the ability to reflect on how the media reacted to recent events through a well-scripted TV show makes it worth watching.
Presto made a fair amount of noise when it acquired the exclusive Aussie streaming rights to this show earlier this year, and with good reason. The thrilling story about digital vigilantes using hacktivism to try and cancel the world’s debt gets better with every passing episode. With incredible characters reflecting both hacker culture and the general dissatisfaction of movements like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, it’s essential viewing.
Set in the 1st century BC this television series explores the transformation of an ancient republic into an empire. Beginning with Julius Caesar’s civil war, this drama follows the narratives of the historically significant in the manifestation of the Roman empire. Despite receiving solid critical reviews, the show only spanned two seasons between 2005 and 2007 due to its ‘notoriously expensive’ production costs.
The Borgias narrates the rise and fall of a powerful 15th century Italian family with ambitions of becoming influential members of the Catholic Church. Based on the scandalous tyranny of Rodrigo Borgias who became Pope Alexander the 6th – the same figure that inspired Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel The Godfather – The Borgias explores the depravity exhumed by the world’s most powerful figure in a critical period of Renaissance Italy.
Set in a 1870’s South Dakota gold mining camp that eventually grows into the town known as Deadwood, this quasi-historical fiction charts a microcosm of the Wild West as unions are formed and the brushstrokes of western capitalism emerge. Newcomer to the town and ex-Sheriff, Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), is pitted against dodgy publican Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) in a classic good against evil battle for an isolated corner of the American frontier.
The dark art of “media relations” often revolves around managing crisis, and turning negative situations into positive ones (or at least making the bad things go away). But when former advisor to the President Olivia Pope starts her own crisis management firm, she learns that while making other people’s problems go away, doing it for yourself can be slightly more challenging.
Loosely based on the personal experiences of film star Mark Wahlberg, the Entourage series explores the day to day life of A-list celebrity Vincent Chase in his rise through the ranks of Hollywood. Girls, fast cars and all the luxurious complications of the lucrative-but-fickle movie industry, Vincent and his three accomplices plan to take Hollywood by storm.
The X Files
The X Files is a classic 90’s horror sci-fi thriller that tracks two FBI agents assigned to explore supernatural and paranormal cases. The pair have differing perspectives on the existence of alien life, but as the evidence of a secret Area-51-type government cover-up begins to mount, the pair set out to uncover the truth. Because as we all know, the truth is out there.
The Sopranos is a highly regarded American-Italian mob show based in New Jersey in the early 2000s. Tapping into the psychologically introspective culture of New York and the classic family/crime dynamic found in many mobster films, The Sopranos explores the difficulties of juggling both a functioning crime syndicate and a nurturing family environment, through the prism of a psychologists chair.
Palpating the inner workings of different law enforcement institutions of Baltimore, Maryland each season of this American crime drama takes the perspective of a particular institution, which through osmosis eventually delivers an overview of the broader system. Though it received few accolades at the time, The Wire is now regarded as one of the most realistic portrayals of America’s correctional system in the 2000s.
Successful novelist Hank Moody has hit a rut. His wife and daughter are shacked up with another man, he hasn’t written a word in years and the carefree lifestyle choices he made at the pinnacle of his career have finally caught up with him. Left to suffer in the sweltering heat of LA’s pretentious Hollywood-underbelly, Californication chronicles a man’s long road to redemption – which is paved with the same vices that tripped him up in the first place.
Playing on the concept of evil-for-the-sake-of-good, Dexter follows a coroner’s extra-occupational dabblings in the violent execution of abhorrent unprosecuted villains. Adapted from a 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter, this American Television drama received numerous accolades and ran for 7 years following its launch in 2006. Set against the warm palm-lined beaches of Miami this bloodthirsty killer has grown up under the guidance of his adoptive parent and Miami Metro Police Department officer Harry Morgan who trained him to only unleash his demons on the most deserving of villains.
This political spy thriller follows young, female CIA agent Carrie and recently returned serviceman, Sgt. Brodie, who since 2003 has been held prisoner by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq. The Government is quick to flaunt the returned soldier as a war hero though Carrie believes Sgt. Brodie to fit the description of a turned American soldier that she was tipped off about by an inside source from Iraq.
This sitcom makes light of the complications found in a contemporary American family. Exploring the comical elements of relationships within a family of diverse backgrounds, this TV series weaves a humorous narrative through the mundane neighbourhoods of suburban Los Angeles. Shot in a mockumentary style that involves regular soliloquies, this highly successful comedy was renewed again for a seventh season.
This recently released ’60s detective series follows Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) and undercover agent Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) in their search to find a missing girl. Though not just any missing persons case, the girl has stumbled into the middle of a now infamous 1960s hippy offshoot cult headed up by none other than the psychotic Charles Manson.
The Walking Dead
Based on a comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead is an american horror drama set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. Sheriff deputy Rick Grimes heads up the survival party attempting to find his wife, daughter and shelter from the impending danger of this new world.
Sons of Anarchy
Set in the fictional town of Charming California, Sons of Anarchy extrapolates two central plot lines which intertwine and overlap in a story that focuses on the criminal gun running activities of a motorcycle club. The series has had seven seasons since it’s launch and became widely popular with over 4.9 million weekly viewers, at its peak.
American Horror Story
The pair of writers behind Nip/Tuck and Glee turn their focus to a collection of self contained horror miniseries. Exploring a different setting each season the central focus of the storylines varies from a haunted house in 2011 to to a freak show in the 50s. This chilling set of narratives are as authentic as they are immersive and have been well received by critics.
The Good Wife
Set for a seventh season, this political drama focuses on the wife of a former state attorney who has been embroiled in a widespread political corruption and sex scandal. Following her husband’s scandal, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) is forced to return to her former position as a litigator in order to provide for her family.
From the writer of American Beauty, True Blood is based on a series of books known as The Southern Vampire Mysteries about a contemporary world where vampires and humans co-exist in an uneasy segregated community. Slightly predating the popular Twilight series, the premise hinges on the recent discovery of synthetic blood by Japanese scientists which allows the vampire race to enter the public sphere.
Featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine from Seinfeld) and the writing cast behind the British political comedy The Thick of It, Veep is a comedy-of-errors wedged squarely within the upper echelons of the American government. The narrative follows Vice President Selina Meyer in her struggle to keep the White House’s public narrative on course through the absurd bombardment of constraints and contradictions that come hand-in-hand with the attempt to control the future of a nation.
Written by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, this period drama delves into a family comprised of Russian KGB agents who are posing as an American family in Washington DC during the 80s. Tapping into the US Soviet tensions throughout the tail end of the cold war the series is, at its core, a family drama containing a number of narratives that were inspired by events Weisberg experienced during his time in the CIA.
This Australian drama has picked up a decent local following and has even Aired in New Zealand and the UK. Inspired by the Australian 80s soap opera series Prisoner, Wentworth is set in a contemporary re-imagination of the same fictional women’s detention centre. Following a mother who has been separated from her daughter after being convicted of the attempted murder of her husband, the series follows this mother’s introduction to life within the Australian correctional system.
Following the dubious activities of a ‘fixer’ for the notorious law firm Goldman and Drexler, Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) delivers the cash that lubricates the wheels of an elaborate corrupt bureaucracy, which mitigates legal outcomes for important clients. On top of his long list of day-to-day responsibilities, Ray is forced to manage the release of his father from prison which draws the FBI’s attention to his participation in highly illegal activities.
The first season of True Detective was a revelation. A compelling script, coupled with the amazing combination of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey and some spectacular cinematography made the crime drama essential viewing. The second season didn’t quite live up to the first, but given only season one is available on Presto at the moment, that fact can be easily ignored.