Starting Monday, and until March 31, Comcast cable customers can watch more than 3,500 TV episodes on demand for no extra charge — they're calling it the "Watchathon." Regardless of what cable package you have, if you are a Comcast Xfinity customer, all the premium channels' content (HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc.) will be available to you through VOD, tablet, mobile, and web. Same with basic cable such as AMC, FX, and more. Here is the full list of shows.
As I have complained previously, I am a Time Warner Cable subscriber. But here's what I would watch, rewatch, or dabble in if I had Comcast. Oh, and I'm not even including the very obvious shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Oz, Dexter, and Battlestar Galactica, all of which are there in their entireties. But those (and many more things that would cost you DVD or streaming money) are available too.
1) Game of Thrones
As much as I've loved watching Game of Thrones week by week, the fantasy drama is so sprawling — and sometimes so confusing — that it is the ideal show to marathon. Season 3 begins on HBO Sunday, March 31; watching the two 10-episode seasons that precede it sounds like heaven to me.
I've been literally sad since Enlightened was canceled by HBO last week. It was a beautiful show that yes, very few people watched — but there was a movement growing around it. If Enlightened had caught on in a bigger way, I feel like it not only would have been good for television/art, but (I really mean this) good for the world. It had values and politics that would be nice to spread through people's minds. It was not to be, and that is devastating. It would take a total of nine hours to watch both seasons of Enlightened: Do it.
3) The Americans
This new FX drama about early '80s Soviet spies (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) posing as average Americans is fantastic. If you hurry, you can be caught up and start watching it live; its finale isn't until May 1. You will not be sorry. So good.
4) Mad Men
In plain terms, Mad Men is simply one of the best shows ever in the history of television, and it has been watched by relatively few people. That won't be true as years go by and more people decide to dive into the story of Don Draper's (Jon Hamm) work and life. Season 6 begins April 7 on AMC, and it's going to be great too. What are you waiting for?
5) Web Therapy
This Lisa Kudrow comedy, which she created with Dan Bucatinsky and Don Roos, started out as a web-only series but is now also on Showtime. That's a little confusing. But who cares: This show — Kudrow plays a terrible online therapist — is hilarious. A zillion guest stars too: Minnie Driver, Alan Cumming, Molly Shannon, and for god's sake, Meryl Streep. Among others!
After finding the pilot episode idiotic, I did not watch Grimm during its first season. Then enough people told me they liked it that I gave it another chance; I watched all of Season 1 last summer, and it was really fun. Particularly in binge form. And strangely — relaxing? The show has only gotten better during its second season, which I wrote about here.
7) Deadliest Catch
I got on a cross-country JetBlue flight once and there was a Deadliest Catch marathon on Discovery. And then I landed. It was a bit disturbing! The point is, this show about fishermen is addictive and easy to watch. Perhaps a palate cleanser in between Mad Men and Game of Thrones.
I loved the first season of Showtime's Homeland and did not love the second. But this show — about terrorism and war and patriotism and complicated people — is important, and it's here to stay, so if you haven't watched it, and you're a television fan, you really should.
9) Downton Abbey
If you are somewhere rainy, I think all three seasons of Downton, despite its unevenness, has got to be your No. 1 choice. You might die of the cozy feeling. But it will have been worth it. (Don't blame me for the finale of Season 3, though!)
The first season of Julia Louis-Dreyfus' HBO comedy is only eight half-hour episodes! Child's play. Except if you let your child near Veep, which has a lot of cursing and borderline bad people on it, I'm calling the police on you. So don't do that. Season 2 starts April 14. Catch up now.
This Showtime drama/comedy is on the list because I am among those who desperately want to get into it, and feel like I just never have it available to me in some accessible form. Everyone who watches it loves it.
13) The Walking Dead
This show has had its creative ups and downs, and that probably won't change (there will be yet another new showrunner next season). But its massive popularity is rewriting the business of television. If that's not a reason to watch, there are also scary zombies! (Except for the stretches of episodes when there are not scary zombies.)
14) Duck Dynasty
As with The Walking Dead, Duck Dynasty's popularity is part of a wave of cable shows getting ratings the broadcast networks envy. Another good palate cleanser.
I don't get the popularity of this show, to be honest — and we'll see how long it lasts. (For NBC's sake, I truly hope it does.) It's here to check out, though, and maybe it's awesome and I'm just wrong! It would not be the first time.