People of my generation grew up watching our favorite TV shows for free. And although today’s cable and internet subscriptions - like Netflix - may offer a lot of choice, they can be expensive. Fortunately, YouTube already has a backlog of hundreds of famous television shows, some classic and some hidden gems that you can watch without paying a dollar. From this veritable treasure trove of drama, sci-fi, comedy, documentary, and more, we’ve selected 8. Simply click on the video to play the first season of any given series. Each link provides several hours of quality viewing pleasure.
Just make sure you add this page to your favorites, and remember which episode you got up to!
Starring: James Arness, Amanda Blake, Burt Reynolds
Summary: The longest running TV program of the 20th century, tells a familiar western tale that we all love: Gun slinging sheriff James Arness comes to town with a goal of bringing order to the lawless chaos around him. Here we offer you the first season introduced by the legendary John Wayne. They simply don’t make westerns like this anymore, so you might as well enjoy it!
Summary: This star-studded swords and sandals epic was based on the Claudius novels by Robert Graves. Made by the BBC and broadcast in America by PBS, the series was a blockbuster success that launched great interest in the historical genre. The palace intrigue, murders, affairs, and scintillating dialogue have made this a personal favorite of mine. Start watching I, Claudius, and you’ll quickly be shouting “Hail Caesar!” at your TV!
3. Cold War
Starring: Kenneth Branagh (Narration)
Summary: For many of us, the Cold War was the dominating political reality throughout our adult lives. This award-winning documentary offers a careful and considered analysis of the conflict coupled with interviews of some of the key players, such as George HW Bush, Egon Krenz, and Mikhael Gorbachev.
Summary: Created by Thunderbirds masterminds, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, this live-action sci-fi is full of thrills and spills you won’t want to miss. If it weren’t for Dr. Who and Star Trek, this post-nuclear disaster series would be the king of the genre. The special effects are fantastic for the time-period, and the story-lines will probably turn your brains inside-out!
Summary: Feeling guilty about not having read that old copy of Tolstoy’s masterpiece War and Peace? Fear not, because this classic seventies BBC historical drama starring Anthony Hopkins tells the whole story in 20 thoughtful and intense episodes. Even if you have read the great Russian novel, this will be a wonderful way to see it re-imagined, and even watch with someone else.
Summary: Who doesn’t remember the adventures of the masked crusaders, Green Hornet and his fists-of-fury sidekick Kato (played by a young Bruce Lee)? For a good time comic-book style adventure, you could so much worse than revisit this sixties American classic.
7. Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minster
Genre: Political Satire / Sitcom
Year: 1980-1984 & 1986-1988
Starring: Nigel Hawthorne, Paul Eddington
Summary: Have you ever enjoyed Margaret Thatcher’s favorite TV show? Yes, Minister, and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister, is thought to be the greatest of all British sitcoms by some pundits – and I can see why. The dialogue is as witty as anything ever shown on television, the plots are delightfully absurd, and the characters are terrific. Don’t worry if you’re not up on the political makeup of the United Kingdom, it really doesn’t matter. You just need to know that there’s a politician who wants to get things done, and a civil servant who is bent on opposing him.
8. The Century of the Self
Starring: Adam Curtis (Narration)
Summary: If you are craving some intellectual stimulation, then the documentaries of Adam Curtis could be just what you’re after. This particular series tells the story of how Sigmund Freud’s work on the study of desire has been utilized by corporations and governments to fundamentally alter the way we live our lives.