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Spring TV Cram (2017 Edition): 6 Excellent Shows to Catch Up on Now

It's time to stop putting off watching these great TV shows

Kaitlin Thomas

As spring approaches and the days continue to get longer, now is the perfect time to trick your brain into believing you have a lot more time to watch TV. It's a fact made up by me just now that the outdoors are vastly overrated (and full of bears), so why not use your extra daylight in the evenings to find your remote, call up your streaming service of choice and catch up on some of the great TV you've missed because you've been "busy" or had "better things to do?"

Look, we know #PeakTV can be overwhelming, but we've made it easy for you! Below you'll find that we've gathered six shows that have either just returned or will be returning soon that you absolutely must watch. Each show on the list has aired just one or two seasons so far, which means you won't have to pull a week of all-nighters just to catch up. So grab some popcorn and your favorite blanket and curl up to catch up. You won't regret it.

Spring Preview: Get scoop on all your favorite returning shows

Season 2 premiered Wednesday, March 8 at 10/9c on WGN America (Streaming on Hulu)


Aldis Hodge, Underground

COMMITMENT: 10 hour-long episodes that are way more action-adventure thriller than dry history lesson

WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: We know slavery stories can be a lot. They can dredge up bad feelings or, on a more benign level, seem repetitive. Not so with WGN America's Underground, a story about a group of people making the daring escape from a Georgia plantation to the North. Think of the series more as an escape thriller -- and a compelling one at that as it's full of sex, betrayal and intrigue -- that's even more mind-blowing when you consider that its stories about people using their cunning, creativity and resiliency to break free are based on real American history. Among the central players are Noah (Aldis Hodge), a natural leader, Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) an initially timid woman who finds ferocious courage, and Elizabeth Hawkes (Jessica De Gouw) a white socialite-turned-abolitionist who risks everything to help slaves to freedom. They, among others, give their frequently heart-pounding, emotionally gutting scenes urgency as they summon unthinkable courage amid terrible choices. The net result is a story that sucks you in, reframes what you thought you knew about slavery and depictions of it and still feels relevant today -- especially with a soundtrack that includes tunes from contemporary artists including Kanye West and The Weeknd.

CHEAT SHEET: The whole first season is great, but if you're pressed for time, watch the pilot and then the last two episodes of Season 1 -- when the squad's best laid plans have taken drastic turns and set up the situation for Season 2. -- Malcolm Venable

Underground's creator on what's next after that shocking Season 2 opener

Season 3 premieres Tuesday, April 4 at 9/8c on The CW (Streaming on Netflix)


Robert Buckley, Rose McIver and Malcolm Goodwin, iZombie

Katie Yu/The CW

COMMITMENT: 32 one-hour episodes that will make you laugh, cry and wonder why this isn't the most popular zombie show on TV

WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: There is absolutely no way to explain iZombie's premise -- a young zombie Liv (Rose McIver) helps solve murder cases by eating the victims' brains and taking on aspects of their personalities and memories -- without it sounding silly. But thanks to the smart writing of Veronica Mars' Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright and the spot-on performances of the entire ensemble cast, iZombie has proven itself to be a delightfully charming, yet incredibly layered story about depression, identity and yes, zombies -- all balanced with case-of-the-week stories and season-long arcs that culminate in some of the most intense action sequences we've seen.

CHEAT SHEET: The first two seasons are on Netflix, making for a super easy binge. However, if you absolutely must skip around (which, why would you and risk missing Liv on a hilarious new brain?), we recommend you check out: "Pilot," "Brother, Can You Spare a Brain?," "Flight of the Living Dead," "Patriot Brains," "Blaine's World," "Grumpy Old Liv," "Zombie Bro," "Fifty Shades of Grey Matter," "Eternal Sunshine of the Caffeinated Mind," "Pour Some Sugar, Zombie," "Dead Beat" and "Salivation Army." Or just watch them all so you don't miss the way the show subtly layers in plot breadcrumbs as it goes. You won't regret it. -- Sadie Gennis

Every CW show, ranked

Better Call Saul
Season 3 premieres Monday, April 10 at 10/9c on AMC (Streaming on Netflix)


Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Michele K. Short/AMC/Sony Pictures

COMMITMENT: 20 episodes of a fantastic drama that are so much more than just a spin-off of another fantastic drama

WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: As soon as the series was announced, its purpose was questioned by many, but after two Emmy-worthy seasons, Better Call Saul has emerged as one of television's best series. Take that, haters! Just as much a character drama as Breaking Bad, Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan's story of Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Emmy nominee Bob Odenkirk) explores new depths of a story we thought we already knew with masterful writing, acting and that trademark Albuquerque camerawork. But as much as it has become its own show, Better Call Saul also keeps rewarding Breaking Bad fans by expanding the franchise's mythology with special cameos; and that gets even better in Season 3 with the return of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito)!

CHEAT SHEET: Things are mostly serialized here, so it's best to watch it all. But if you must skip around because you don't have the time, watch the first few episodes of each season and the last three of each season, where the show really shines. And don't miss Season 1's "Five-O," which is a wallop of a performance by Jonathan Banks. -- Tim Surette

New Better Call Saul teaser delivers more Gus Fring

The Leftovers
The third and final season premieres Sunday, April 16 at 9/8c on HBO (Streaming on HBO Go)


Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux, The Leftovers

Van Redin / HBO

COMMITMENT: 20 sometimes frustrating, sometimes brilliant explorations of the soul

WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: Not many shows are as divisive as Damon Lindelof's The Leftovers. Those who love it call it the best show on television, those who don't call it garbage. Based on Tom Perrotta's book about the sudden (and unexplained) disappearance of 2 percent of the world's population, The Leftovers poses questions but doesn't necessarily answer them, allowing viewers to ruminate on the puzzling depictions of loss and grief and absurd symbolism as those left behind struggle to find their purpose in a world full of rejection. I think. It's hard to say what the show is about, really. But when it's good, it's amazing.

CHEAT SHEET: Season 1 wasn't as good as Season 2, but be sure to check out "Pilot," "Two Boats and a Helicopter," "Guest," and the final two episodes, "The Garveys at Their Best" and "The Prodigal Son Returns." You're also OK skipping straight to all of Season 2, where you can see the show at its mind-blowingly best with "International Assassin." -- Tim Surette

The Leftovers: 5 things you might've missed in the Season 3 trailer

Season 3 premieres Friday, April 28 on Amazon (Streaming on Amazon)


Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, Catastrophe


COMMITMENT: 12 hilarious, caustic and yet weirdly romantic half-hour episodes

WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: In a perfect world you wouldn't have to catch up on Catastrophe because you would have been watching this perfectly imperfect comedy from Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney all along. But if by some chance you have yet to hop on this particular train, here's what you need to know before Season 3 premieres: In Season 1, Sharon and Rob (yes, these are their character names as well) decide to embark on a relationship after a weeklong affair while Rob was in the UK on a business trip leaves Sharon pregnant. The episodes' short-running time combined with seasons that are only six episodes long (bless you, UK television!) means there's very little time for your mind to wander. Not that it would, though; Sharon, Rob and the unavoidable problems that come from marriage, parenting, and loving and hating your family are addicting to the point that it's not that surprising to find yourself devouring the entire thing in one sitting.

CHEAT SHEET: If you don't have time to watch 12 episodes that are less than 30 minutes apiece, you need to sort out your priorities. -- Kaitlin Thomas

Catastrophe stars announce Season 3 with adorable, explicit video

Twin Peaks
New episodes premiere Sunday, May 21 at 9/8c on Showtime (Streaming on Netflix)


Twin Peaks


COMMITMENT: 30 hours plus 3.5 hours extra credit for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

WHY YOU SHOULD CATCH UP NOW: Who killed Laura Palmer? It's the question that sparked a revolution 25 years ago when co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost launched the first season of the bewildering Twin Peaks. The series has become a cult classic that you should probably have in your TV lexicon even if you're not planning on watching Showtime's sequel series. However, the fact is the TV Gods have shined down upon us and they've blessed the world with a return trip to Lynch's trippy world, one that is packed with an all-star cast, including Laura Dern, Amanda Seyfried, Ashley Judd and literally hundreds more! Most importantly, Lynch wrote and directed all of the new episodes so it is sure to maintain his one-of-a-kind style. This is going to be the show everyone is talking about this summer. There are still so many questions: Where is Dale Cooper 25 years later? Who is Diane? Is the coffee still damn good?

CHEAT SHEET: There's two ways to do this. You can either watch the entire series, including the bonus film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (which chronicles Laura Palmer's final seven days alive), which Lynch has recommended watching before the new series premieres. Or you can go into the revival completely blind and see what you make of it. But if you want to get the most out of your experience, we recommend diving into a full binge. Pro tip: Don't try and solve the mystery ahead of time. Just enjoy the ride. -- Megan Vick