10 spell-binding fantasy period dramas to binge-watch
Fantasy period dramas make for amazing viewing, whether you’re going back just a tiny bit to the 80s, or you want something a little older… like the 1700s. You’ll find all these perfect-looking productions on Netflix, Showmax and Prime Video in South Africa.
The Nevers (Showmax)
In Victorian England (1837-1901), a group of strangers from all walks of life, from gentlemen and ladies, to beggars on the street, discover that they’ve got very special powers. Powers that not even the modern world could explain – telepathy, controlling electricity, speaking in every language. They’re diverse powers and the people with them are known as “The Touched”. That makes them a rare and valuable commodity. But they’ve got a mission – The Touched are going to save the world from a gang of villains who want nothing more than to see the planet burn… and their bank accounts filled, of course.
The first six episodes will be ready to binge-watch on 17 May 2021, with new episodes landing every Monday until then.
Lovecraft Country (Showmax)
This one is a little more recent – it takes place in 1950s USA and follows a young man named Atticus Freeman, a former soldier who goes on a road trip across the country with his friend Letitia and Uncle George in search of Atticus’s father, who has vanished mysteriously in the racially segregated world they live in.
It’s not just ignorance and prejudice that the group need to deal with – there are supernatural beasties like giant aliens with tentacles and a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth waiting for them.
The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
The two seasons to date follow a group of children with special abilities who’re taken in by an eccentric billionaire and turned into superhero group called The Umbrella Academy. The kids have no parents and they’re also given numbers instead of names as the series starts. They’ve each got their own abilities – like the one who is part monkey and spends his free time living on the moon – and together they’ve got the power to stop an apocalypse.
The problem is that they’re torn apart and because they’re now estranged, the end of the world is precariously close and their enemies are lining up to take advantage of the situation.
Shadow and Bone (Netflix)
The kingdom of Ravka is split in two – the east and the west – by the Shadow Fold, pure darkness that is home to flying monsters called Volcra. At the centre of the story is a young map maker named Alina, who discovers that she can control light… and when she’s powerful enough, she can permanently banish the Shadow Fold and save the land from death.
The problem is that there are powerful criminals who’re able to wield magic too, and they like the cover of darkness that the Shadow Fold provides, hiding their scams, crimes and schemes from the world.
Shadowhunters: The Immortal Instruments (Netflix)
In a magical world, 18-year-old Clary discovers that she’s a skilled shadowhunter and has the natural abilities to kill evil… because after climbing through a portal into an alternate world, Clary learns that she’s half human, half angel. And what do shadowhunters do, exactly? They hunt and exterminate demons who want to control the world.
Clary’s new world includes everything from warlocks and vampires, to werewolves and time-shifting portals. Plus, she’s got a pretty awesome razor-sharp sword to dispatch her enemies.
Arguably the greatest time-travelling love story every told, Outlander is based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels of the same name and follows nurse Claire Randall as she is transported from 1945 to 1743 after visiting a monolithic structure that looks similar to Stonehenge.
But Claire’s adventure is just about to begin, because in 18th-Century Scotland a highlander warrior named Jamie Fraser is waiting for her – it’s love at first sight and the pair will do everything to stay in touch and live as lovers, even cross oceans and possibly into the future if they must.
The first four seasons are on Netflix.
The Irregulars (Netflix)
Consulting detective Sherlock Holmes is missing and his assistant John Watson needs help solving supernatural crime and mysteries. And who better to get around Victorian London without too much fuss, searching for clues, investigating strange occurrences and doing what they do best – being pests – than street kids who’re called The Irregulars?
While they don’t have special abilities or powers, the crew have the natural abilities to deal with things they can’t explain.
The Witcher (Netflix)
This fan favourite is set in a magical world, where a hero monster hunter named Geralt of Rivia searches the land for demons and other nasties as he plies his trade. The problem is that there are dark and sinister forces who want his head.
His story is linked to the Crown Princess Ciri and a sorceress named Yennefer of Vengerberg. It’s a mixture of Dungeons & Dragons, Game of Thrones and other series with wizards, witches, and power struggles over kingdoms.
The Boys (Prime Video)
Superheroes have two lives – the one is the high-profile stuff the world sees, and in the other, they’re not doing their superhero thing. While they’re recognised for their good deeds and being kind to the community, when no one is looking, they’re absolutely vile people, egomaniacs and narcissists.
Those are “The Seven”, heroes saving the day. But their time is up and they’re under attack from “The Boys”, vigilante heroes who want to see the corrupt Seven exposed for the crooks they really are.
Carnival Row (Prime Video)
The noir crime thriller takes place in an alternate version of Edwardian England as Inspector Rycroft Philostrate investigates a conspiracy against the fae community. As a half-fae, he understands the persecution they’re facing, while as a military veteran, he also understands the fight for their lives that they’re getting into as he continues his investigation into a series of grim murders in the city that’s shrouded in a cloud of dark mystery.