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Great TV Miniseries with Less Than Five Episodes for Quick Bingeing


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

Picking a TV show to binge on streaming is largely determined by how much time a viewer has on their hands. A lazy Sunday might call for a show like 24 or Grey’s Anatomy, while a weekday evening might call for a miniseries with a few episodes. Forother viewers, following multi-season arcs isn’t appealing enough to make the commitment. To them, a short and sweet story is simply far better. Thankfully, there are plenty of great small-screen projects that fall within this category.

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Consisting of five episodes or fewer, the following shows are economical, with backstories and character development being delightfully swift. Of course, this is all while ensuring that each individual’s motivation is always clear. Most importantly, the story unfolds at a quicker pace, raising the tension and making the payoff even sweeter. Such shows are more common in the United Kingdom, but the United States has now also embraced the trend in recent years. So, here are some great TV miniseries that are well worth a binge.

Updated Jan. 27, 2024: This list has been updated with brand-new features and additional information.

10 Obsession (2023)

Four Episodes in Total

Based on the 1991 romantic novel Damage by Josephine Hart, the miniseries Obsession introduces viewers to Dr. William Farrow (Richard Armitage), a respectable London surgeon who happens to be a poorly behaved dad. As soon as he is introduced to his son’s fiancée, Anna (Charlie Murphy), he falls for her, and the two begin a passionate affair. They struggle to end things because Anna is a remorseless siren who is having the time of her life juggling between father and son, while Farrow has no clue how to curb his temptations.

Obsession Features Piping-Hot Chemistry

Stories about illicit affairs are common on television, yet Obsession sticks out thanks to great acting and some piping-hot chemistry. Richard Armitage and Charlie Murphy are very believable whenever they grab each other in passionate embraces or burn with restlessness as they long for each other. The ending isn’t what you’d expect, either. In any other similar show. Dr. William Farrow’s son would find out about the affair soon enough, driving a wedge between the two. That’s not what happens here. Instead, viewers are presented with a more tragic and unexpected conclusion, which we won’t spoil for you here.

Stream Obsession on Netflix

9 Roots (2016)

Four Episodes in Total

Roots

Roots

Release Date
May 30, 2016

Main Genre
History

Based on Alex Haley’s bestselling book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, Roots follows Kunta Kinte (Malachi Kirby) a young West African man from the Mandinka tribe whose life gets turned upside down when he is sold into slavery. The miniseries — which is the second adaptation of the book — traces his journey from his days as a warrior in Africa to his struggles while working for various plantation owners in the United States.

An Improvement Over the Original Adaptation

The first Roots adaptation was quite popular at the time of its release, but this 2016 miniseries beats it in the action department. The fights keep coming, whether it’s inter-clan warfare while Kunta is still in Africa or slaves attempting a mutiny while being transported to America. The story stretches to the American Civil War too, so the gunfire never stops. The new Roots also trumps the original in aesthetics, so much so that it was recognized at the 2016 Visual Effects Society Awards.

Most importantly, the show captures the plight of the average slave better than most movies about the horrors of slavery. There are disturbing assault and torture scenes, all of which are condemned rather than merely included for entertainment purposes. Because of its overall brilliance, it received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Limited Series.

Stream Roots on Freevee

8 The Last Don (1997)

Three Episodes in Total

The Last Don feels like a blood brother to one of the most critically acclaimed gangster movies, The Godfather. It not only shares plot elements with the popular mob flick, but is also based on a book written by the same author, Mario Puzzo. In The Last Don, the aging Don Domenico Clericuzio (Danny Aiello) begins making succession plans to secure his family’s future. However, his dreams of transitioning to legitimate businesses get shattered when dirty family secrets emerge.

Conflict and Competition in the Cosa Nostra

The miniseries perfectly highlights the ideological differences between the new Cosa Nostra generation and the old one. Some of the younger gangsters even politely decline when they are ordered to kill, something that could have been considered a cardinal sin in the older days. In addition to that, there is a huge intellectual gap between Don Domenico Clericuziot and his sons. He makes all the right decisions and, in the end, it’s still him who gets to save the family from ruin. Besides that, the show is visually stunning. Just like The Godfather trilogy, it relies on orange and yellow hues to create an amazing color palette. Consequently, each scene feels much more mesmerizing, resulting in a deeply rewarding viewing experience. The Last Don is not available on streaming.

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7 A Very English Scandal (2018)

Three Episodes in Total

In the conservative world of the 1970s, the world still had a wrong and misguided view about members of the LGBTQ community. One can thus relate to the panic that plagues the Liberal party leader, Jeremy Thorpe (Hugh Grant), when his scorned lover, Norman Josiffe (Ben Wishaw), threatens to broadcast details of their affair to the world, as depicted in A Very English Scandal. Regrettably, Thorpe handles the situation very poorly. Instead of sitting down with Josiffe and setting up a peace treaty, he plots to kill him.

A Reflection of a Tragic Past

A Very English Scandal has no hero. Josiffe is malicious as he keeps trying to extort Thorpe, while Thorpe handles the whole situation very poorly. Still, the two men aren’t necessarily villains. It is society that is the real antagonist. In a tolerant world, there would be no “scandal” in the first place. Presumably, each of them would have behaved more reasonably. By focusing on a decade when the world was cruel to members of the LGBTQ community, the miniseries makes viewers appreciative of the strides that have been made and the freedoms that are currently in place.

Stream A Very English Scandal on Prime Video

6 Olive Kitteridge (2014)

Four Episodes in Total

Olive Kitteridges titular character (Frances McDormand) is a misanthropic former school teacher, which makes one wonder how she survived in her prior profession. The miniseries revolves around her life as she struggles to deal with her emotionally distant husband, her troubled life, and personal issues such as bereavement and depression. The miniseries’ events are based on a novel by Elizabeth Strout, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009. The miniseries would subsequently debut in 2014, going on to win eight separate Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series.

Frances McDormand Shines in Olive Kitteridge

Frances McDormand is one of the few actors with no single bad performance in their career, and as expected, she won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. However, she isn’t the only diamond here. Set in the quiet Crosby, Maine, Olive Kitteridge initially seems like it’s going to be a dull show, but several interesting characters pop up. Whether it’s a talented piano player whose mother propositioned her boyfriend, or a woman being left at the altar, there is no shortage of drama. Additionally, the miniseries extensively covers relevant topics such as mental health (Olive always believes she isn’t okay despite the doctor’s stating otherwise) and alcoholism (the piano player cannot perform without drinking).

Stream Olive Kitteridge on Max

5 Stonehouse (2023)

Three Episodes in Total

Matthew Macfadyen is better known as the shrewd Tom Wambsgans from the major hit series and must-see business-themed drama, Succession, but he has put in great work on a couple of other projects. Stonehouse, a 2023 miniseries, is one of them. The show chronicles the chaotic life of the MP for Walsall North, John Thomson Stonehouse (Matthew Macfadyen), who faced accusations of being a Czech spy and tried to fake his death as a way to escape his despondency.

A Surprisingly Hilarious Spy Series

Though the politician’s situation happened in real life, Stonehouse avoids the dark and somber atmosphere that most spy shows are known for. There is plenty of flippant humor, and John’s handler even refers to him as “the worst spy ever.” He is quite correct because John comes off as a true ignoramus while carrying out his duties. He makes endless mistakes and rarely gathers any useful intel. So weird is the character that when he first gets blackmailed into becoming a secret Czech spy, he doesn’t protest or list down all the ways such a career trajectory would be disadvantageous to him. He simply asks: “Will I be paid?”

Stream Stonehouse on BritBox

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4 Unorthodox (2020)

Four Episodes in Total

Esty Shapiro (Shira Haas) from Unorthodox is a fugitive, not from law enforcement authorities, but from her husband, who wants her to remain within the confines of the arranged marriage that they had been put in. The 19-year-old woman happens to have fled from New York to Berlin, where she has become “off the derech — a Yiddish-English term for a Jew who has rejected traditions in favor of secularism.

An Honest Examination of Orthodox Judaism

As the first Netflix series to primarily use the Yiddish language, Unorthodox honors Jewish culture while providing criticism on some of the rules that don’t necessarily mesh with secular cultures. The dangers of patriarchy and the effects of a lack of independence are all examined through Shapiro, whose rebellious attitude appears to be justifiable in some instances. The show received eight Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series, so anyone who decides to spare some time for it can be guaranteed quality entertainment.

Stream Unorthodox on Netflix

3 It (1990)

Two Episodes in Total

The recent It movies are some of the most accurate adaptations of Stephen King’s novels but they aren’t the first to bring Pennywise’s story to the screen. Over 30 years ago, the ABC miniseries, It, told the same story of the killer clown that can transform itself into its victim’s worst fears. Taking place over two parts, the miniseries follows a group of kids, The Losers Club, who become the monster’s playthings, leading them to work together to save themselves. However, after their first attempt, they may find themselves digging up old wounds as adults. The show would become the network’s most successful production of 1990, with praise still heaped on Tim Curry’s terrifying portrayal of Pennywise.

Tim Curry’s Pennywise Carries This Miniseries

The miniseries’ visuals pale in comparison to those of the movies (mainly due to budgetary reasons and modern CGI advancements), but the television project trumps the blockbusters in character development. For example, the movies never care to explain why the bully, Henry Bowers, became so mean, while the show certainly does. In addition to that, Tim Curry, who had made a name for himself after his excellent work in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, does a better job of portraying Pennywise. He nails the smiles, the awkward laughter, and the dialogue, making the villain appear far more menacing.

Buy or Rent It on Prime Video

2 When They See Us (2019)

Four Episodes in Total

When They See Us chronicles the real life “Central Park Five” case. In 1989, five Black and Latinx teenagers were arrested and charged with raping a woman in Central Park. They were each found guilty and given lengthy prison sentences only for the real culprit to reveal himself years later. After being released following years behind bars, the wrongly accused must adjust to life outside while fighting for justice for themselves.

When They See Us Is an Incredible Miniseries

True to its title, the miniseries explains how racism is a major cog in the criminal justice system’s wheel. Whenever any major crime happens, Black or Latinx people are often shown singled out as potential suspects. This is all seen in the lackluster manner in which investigations are conducted and how the slightly fictionalized prosecutors present the cases in court. Apart from the message, the show benefits from some incredible performances and strong direction, all of which are reflected in the 11 Emmy nominations the miniseries received. These include Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, Outstanding Limited Series, and Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series.

Stream When They See Us on Netflix

1 The Salisbury Poisonings (2020)

Four Episodes in Total

Sergei Viktorovich Skripal has had an eventful life. Now 72 years old, he is one of few double agents who have lived long enough to tell his story. The former Russian military intelligence officer once had a side gig involving the sale of secrets to British intelligence. For that, he served 13 years behind bars, and shortly after his release, he and his daughter were poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent while sitting in a park. Luckily, they survived. That particular incident is covered in The Salisbury Poisonings.

The Dangers of Collateral Damage in Espionage Operations

Collateral damage in espionage never gets as much attention as it does in military exploits, so The Salisbury Poisonings comes off as refreshing and distinctive for covering this particular area. Though the nerve agent is only intended for Sergei, several other people come in contact with it, resulting in disastrous outcomes. Regarding the narrative, the use of archival footage in some scenes benefits the miniseries greatly. The video recordings help make the story more authentic. Hence, viewers are treated to a tale that is both educative and cautionary.

Buy or Rent The Salisbury Poisonings on Apple TV

Had your fill of short limited series? Why not check out our picks for the best limited series currently streaming on Netflix? You can check them out in the video below:

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