With the country sitting tight for the next few weeks, there's no better time to catch up on some great classic tv shows.

To mark the arrival of the hugely popular American political drama The West Wing on the RTÉ Player this month, along with '00s much-loved high school drama One Tree Hill (Hello, Chad Michael Murray!), we've rounded up some of the best binge-worthy shows out there.

In no particular order:

You can view all of the RTÉ Player's box sets here

Schitt's Creek

In the mood for a good giggle? Well, multi Emmy-winning sitcom Schitt's Creek is Schitt hot, and all six seasons of the much-loved show are currently running on Netflix. Here's what RTÉ Entertainment's Laura Delaney had to say:

What's it all about?

The title may throw you, but there's a lot more to this Canadian gem of a sitcom than meets the eye. Created by father/son duo Eugene and Daniel Levy, the sublime show follows the once-wealthy Rose family who are forced to move to a motel in the rundown (and downright wacky) town of Schitt's Creek - which they once purchased as a joke – after they are stripped of their wealth.

Reasons to watch . . . 

Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara (Yes, the mum from Home Alone) are comedy gold, with O'Hara's one-liners surrounding her career as a fallen actress providing a lot of LOL moments.

Schitt's Creek strikes the perfect balance between ludicrous and side-splitting, while still maintaining a heartwarming story. The series has been hailed for its LGBTQ+ storylines, and for showcasing the importance of meaningful human connections.

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Be warned!

You'll never say 'David' the same way again.

Fun fact: 

The show also features Eugene's daughter, Sarah Levy, in the role of happy-go-lucky waitress Twyla.

This is Us

Are you ready to go on an emotional rollercoaster? Created by Dan Fogelman and starring Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, and Sterling K. Brown, This is Us will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. 

What's it all about?

Filmed in Los Angeles, and streaming on Amazon Prime, the show follows the family lives and connections of several people who all share the same birthday and the ways in which they are similar and different. The exploration of household dynamics, marriage, parenthood, adoption, sibling rivalry and grief are dealt with in such a relatable and real way that viewers can't help but see reflections of themselves in each thoughtfully-crafted episode. 

Reasons to watch . . .

The show is the perfect blend of beautiful scriptwriting and refreshing (and likeable) characters. It doesn't sugarcoat real-life issues and manages to maintain a balance of comedy and drama throughout.

Be warned!

The switching time-frames between the 1970s and the present-day lives of the triplets, and the occasional flash-forward, takes some getting used to.

Fun fact: 

The show was originally called 36 - that's the age the siblings were at the start of the series. It was also originally planned to be a movie about Jack and Rebecca's sextuplets. 

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The Civil War

Ken Burns' masterful documentary series about the American Civil War is still one of the greatest achievements in television history, says Alan Corr

What's it all about?

This nine-part series explores the most important war in US history - the five-year conflict that set brother against brother and north against south in a bloody confrontation that killed over 600,000 men. Ken Burns' award-garlanded history charts the causes, the battles and the consequences of the years 1861 to 1865 in the US with an unflinching documentarian’s eye. Watching it is almost a physical experience.

Reasons to watch . . . 

RTÉ recently screened Burns’ excellent Country Music documentary series, but this is his masterpiece. The way he marshalled all the elements of such an epic story into nine concise and compelling hour-long episodes is one of the great technical and storytelling feats in television history. It was first screened on PBS in 1990 and with a current White House incumbent who seems intent on firing up American’s Cold Civil War, this is a must-see - now more than ever.

Be warned!

To state the obvious, The Civil War is not for the faint of heart. Burns used over 16,000 contemporary photographs and paintings from the era, along with excerpts from the letters and journals of the men in the battlefield to the leaders in high office to tell this story. These visuals and voices from 160 years ago are graphic and heart-breaking.

Fun fact: 

No fun facts here other than this nugget - Richard in Friends was obsessed with this documentary series and would often watch it when he was nursing his broken heart after breaking up with Monica, his "twinkie in the city". On a more local but no less engrossing and bloody note, history nuts can find all 13 episodes of Robert Kee’s masterful 1980 RTÉ/BBC 1980 co-production Ireland: A Television History on YouTube. 

Seinfeld

John Byrne insists that 'nothing' compares to Seinfeld

Quite simply the greatest sitcom ever made, Seinfeld was a groundbreaking show that ran for nine seasons and led the way for the like-minded likes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

It made superstars out of its main cast of Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards - and made an awful lot of money for all involved. The show’s earnings are gradually moving towards the $10 billion mark.

What's it all about?

It took a little while for Seinfeld to really take off, but the show where the only rules were 'no hugging, no learning’ gradually became a monster hit in the US during the 1990s.

One of the reasons many people didn’t get Seinfeld initially was because they couldn’t relate to the main characters: Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. "They’re not nice!" And that, of course, was the point. This was a show that could be dubbed the Anti-Friends.

People are often told not to sweat the small stuff, but Seinfeld was all about the annoying minutiae of real life and - during a decade that’s arguably the greatest in terms of TV comedy - it ruled supreme.

Reasons to watch . . . 

Not only is Seinfeld hilarious, it’s also remarkably inventive. One episode is set entirely in the queue for a Chinese restaurant, another sees Jerry and co stuck in a car park for the whole show. One episode even runs in reverse order, starting with the final scene and ending with the first.

And then there’s ‘Festivus for the rest of us!’ where the late great Jerry Stiller offers a masterclass in comedy acting.

Pure genius.

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Be warned!

If you offend the easily-offended Soup Nazi, he will say: "No soup for you!"

Fun fact: 

You’ll see a few faces in guest slots who became famous in their own right, most notably Bryan Cranston, who went on to star in Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad, but appears here as Jerry’s dentist.

Availability: RTÉ Player and All4. Netflix is set to gain exclusive streaming rights in 2021 and broadcast the show in 4K for the first time. 'Not that there's anything wrong with that.'

Succession

Excellent acting, witty dialogue and endless twists and turns make Succession a must-watch, writes Sinead Brennan

What's it all about?

Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) is the head of a global multimedia conglomerate and Succession centres on the family dynamics and power plays between him and his children as the world wonders who will succeed him to the company throne. They're a family of money-driven, power-hungry, (mostly) conscience-free people; they make for fantastic television, but you wouldn’t be inviting them around for tea.

Reasons to watch:

If you love a good drama, Succession is for you. It’s absolutely world-class in every aspect of production and the ensemble cast is outstanding. Each character feels so well-formed and multi-faceted straight off the bat - a level of character development that usually comes after much longer on screen than just two seasons. The scripting is excellent and it will have you laughing and sharply intaking breath - sometimes simultaneously. It’s probably the best show on television. 

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Be warned!

There are only two seasons so far and season three has been delayed by COVID-19, so when your binge ends, you might have quite a wait for more!

Fun fact:

The show takes inspiration from real-life families in the media.

Available to watch on Sky Boxsets and Now TV.

Breaking Bad

It's as addictive as the "mad shards" Walter and Jesse sling, says Alan Corr, who’s watched all 62 episodes three times

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What's it all about?

"It's a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr. Chips into Scarface" is apparently how Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan pitched this brilliant drama about a meek chemistry teacher who turns drug kingpin to raise money for his family after he is diagnosed with cancer. Bryan Cranston plays polymath Walter White, a man who redirects his scientific expertise into alchemising the finest methamphetamine known to humanity, and in the process becomes a cunning crime overlord with MacGyver level ingenuity.

Reasons to watch:

BB was originally screened between 2008 and 2013, which seems like an age ago in today’s quick fix TV culture but over a decade since its debut, it remains the gold standard, along with The Wire and The Sopranos, for intelligent long-form television. This is a series that operates on so many levels - from suburban family drama, to cop show, and from buddy movie, to drug netherworld, and to how power can drive a man mad. Ozark? Schmozark!

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Be warned!

Breaking Bad is as addictive as Walt and Jesse’s primo product. The multi-layered storytelling, all-round excellent acting, and switchback/switchblade plot twists will leave you hankering for your next fix.

Fun fact:

Vince Gilligan has said the premise of the show is inspired by Steely Dan’s 1976 song Kid Charlemagne. That’s reason alone to watch it!

Our Friends in the North

Harry Guerin still gets misty-eyed watching clips of the 90s classic

What's it all about?

Before Daniel Craig was Bond and Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor they were cast opposite Gina McKee and Mark Strong in this epic BBC drama, charting the lives of four friends from 1964 to 1995. The North here is Newcastle, from where Geordie (Craig), Nicky (Eccleston), Mary (McKee) and Tosker (Strong) try to find their way in the world with varying degrees of success. And regret. 

Reasons to watch:

The nine-episode Our Friends in the North was first shown on BBC Two in early 1996; 24 years later fans still consider it their duty to convince their own friends to watch it. The personal and political upheaval here is always gripping and often heart-rending, with Craig's breakout role as Geordie one of the most fascinating character arcs in TV history.

Be warned!...

The greying of the quartet feels a little hokey towards the close, but in all other aspects Our Friends in the North has aged very well, as bingeable now as it was appointment-to-view way back when. In the words of Eccleston's Nicky: "Tomorrow's too late... Why not today?" 

Fun fact: 

It has the best use of an Oasis song on any soundtrack. Ever. Don't spoil it for yourself.

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Edge of Darkness

It's broody, brilliant and best watched with the lights off, says Harry Guerin

What's it all about?

Thirty-five years on from its premiere on BBC Two, Edge of Darkness still delivers the chills - a nuclear conspiracy thriller as relevant now as it was back in the winter of 1985. Perhaps more so. The late Bob Peck (above) plays Ronald Craven, a Yorkshire police detective who wages war against a shadow enemy after the still-shocking scene in the opening episode sets the tone for what is to come. 

Reasons to watch:

Winner of six BAFTAs, including Best Drama and Best Actor, Edge of Darkness set a new cinematic standard for the small screen, a cornerstone for what has been achieved in the decades since. The plot is the epitome of a black onion and as Craven peels the layers we're left reeling by the twists, Eric Clapton's haunting score seeming to signal that there's worse to come. 

Be warned!...

Director Martin Campbell, who went on to helm Bond movies, returned to the Edge of Darkness story for the 2010 Mel Gibson-starring remake. Avoid it, but make it your mission to watch this.

Fun fact:

To give some idea of the series' genre-changing power, when the original broadcast ended on BBC Two on December 9, 1985, BBC One scheduled primetime double episode repeats - for 10 days later. The audience doubled to eight million. 

Rick and Morty

Surrealist cartoon comedy at it's best, Sinead Brennan says Rick and Morty should be on your watch-list

What's it all about?

Genius scientist grandad Ricky goes on intergalactic adventures with his teenage grandson Morty, and it’s just all sorts of brilliant. Anything is likely to happen and the sky is the limit in terms of what the pair, and the rest of their family, encounter season to season.

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Reasons to watch:

It’s silly, witty, imaginative and so very meta. Taking inspiration from the sci-fi genre and poking fun at cliched tropes from other shows, everything is fair game for Rick and Morty, but it never becomes too topical that the humour dates with the news cycle. It’s a masterclass in escapism and there is nothing else like it. Always watch for the post-credits scene!

Be warned!

There is no point trying to make sense of it all - and in the latest season the creators make it abundantly clear that you’re wasting your time by trying to, and that’s ok!

Fun fact: 

The pilot episode was written in just six hours.

Available to watch on Netflix.

Justified

Another one of those shows that was touted through word of mouth, John Byrne considers modern Western Justified as justifiably one of the greatest TV dramas of the last decade and more

What's it all about?

Based on Elmore Leonard's Raylan Givens stories, Timothy Olyphant stars as Givens, an old school US lawman enforcing his own particular, pistol-packin' brand of justice.

After a quick-draw shooting of a mob hitman in Miami, Givens is reassigned to Lexington, Kentucky, which includes Harlan County - the hillbilly land where he grew up and wanted to escape. Bad news for him, but even worse news for the lawless folk he encounters there

Olyphant is great in the lead role (and that hat), but the show's standout performer is Walton Goggins, who plays Boyd Crowder, the son of one of Harlan's biggest career criminals.

Reasons to watch...

The stories are brilliantly unpredictable and engaging, but the character actors that pop up each season are a joy to watch, particularly the peerless Margo Martindale’s Emmy-winning turn as amoral matriarch Mags Bennett in season 2.

Another standout character is Season 3’s chief villain, Robert Quarles, who was played by former Desperate Housewives star Neal McDonough. He’s been exiled to Kentucky and looks to replace local crooks - with extreme prejudice.

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Be warned!

The only problem with Justified is that it’s highly addictive and there's only so much of it. And as each season is a self-contained story, you’ll rattle through all six seasons in no time, and end up desperate for more. But there is no more!

Fun fact: 

Walton Goggins played Boyd Crowder as a favour for Timothy Olyphant. It was supposed to be for a single episode as Boyd originally died at the end of the pilot.

But as the character scored so well in audience tests, it was decided to reshoot the ending so Boyd survived and became a main character throughout the show's six-season run.

Availability: Justified is currently streaming on Channel 4's All4 site and Amazon Prime.