We are part of The Trust Project What is it?
Wondering what to binge on in the new year? Here are the best 4K (and otherwise) shows the What Hi-Fi? team has been watching on Amazon Prime Video...

It's not all about Netflix (unless you're a die-hard Marvel fan). Amazon Prime Video has quickly become a favourite streaming service thanks to an increasingly impressive library of comedy and drama shows, as well as its own comic book adaptations.

There's a strong selection of shows in 4K Ultra HD and HDR, although this is largely reserved for Amazon Studios' original shows (like the Award-winning Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel). It goes without saying shows like American Gods and The Man in the High Castle look spectacular in 4K - you get the full impact of stunning depth of colours, strong contrasts and crisp detail far better when watching on a compatible 4K HDR TV rather than on your laptop or - God forbid! - your smartphone.

But that doesn't stop us from recommending non-4K shows as well. The Americans and Preacher, for instance, are simply too much fun to ignore.

So if you're on the hunt for your next binge, here's a selection of what the What Hi-Fi? team has been watching on Amazon Prime Video.

Sign up here for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime Video

MORE:

Amazon Prime Video vs Netflix: which is better?

19 Amazon Prime Video tips, tricks and features

American Gods

Available to stream in 4K.

What is American Gods about? On the surface it might be about a war brewing between old gods and new gods, but the meandering, road-trip narrative is intercut with vignettes of people and their lives – strangers from across different periods of time and history with different beliefs, different experiences and different deaths.

It’s an extremely difficult show to define. But showrunner Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) takes on Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed novel and breathes life into it with stunning visual flair, marrying brutality and dark comedy in a way that’ll keep you hooked.

The cast is incredible: Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson, Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Stormare and Crispin Glover are just a handful of the actors delivering epic, scenery-chewing performances, while Pablo Schreiber is particularly memorable as the unlucky leprechaun Mad Sweeney.

Scene stealer(s): Any of the gods, really, but Gillian Anderson as Media, Orlando Jones as Mr Nancy, Chris Obi as Mr Jacquel and Yetide Badaki as Bilquis - they're literally awesome.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

The Man in the High Castle

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

What would have happened if the Axis powers had won the Second World War? This series, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, takes us to a United States in the 1960s under the thrall of Nazi Germany in the east, and the Japanese empire in the West.

We follow a number of characters on either side – Nazis, Japanese government officials, resistance fighters, traitors and more – on a journey across the States in their quest to track down the titular mystery man, via some strange movies that seem to show the War having a different outcome.

It’s an enthralling premise – and the story rolls along at a cracking pace, with twists and turns, betrayals and reconciliations aplenty.

Scene stealer: Nobusuke Tagomi, the stoic Japanese Trade Minister (played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), whose sense of morality shines like a beacon in this bleak alternate reality.

Words by Jonathan Evans

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

Set in 1958 Manhattan, this gloriously bright and funny show tells the tale of Mrs Miriam “Midge” Maisel – a well-to-do Jewish housewife who, after the breakdown of her marriage, finds a new lease of life as a stand-up comedian in New York's The Gaslight Cafe.

Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (who was responsible for 90s hit Gilmore Girls) brings her characteristic rapid-fire dialogue to the screen, along with warm, believable and immediately likeable characters that light up the screen. The period setting and costumes are gorgeous (imagine a more colourful Mad Men), the dialogue is smart and snappy, and the interplay between all the characters is electric. 

Scene stealer: Rachel Brosnahan's performance as Midge - she's clever, sympathetic, sharp and sweet and carries the show brilliantly.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Mozart in the Jungle

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

Despite the name, Mozart in the Jungle is not about the composer.

Inspired by Blair Tindall’s memoir of the same name, Mozart sees Gael Garcia Bernal’s musical maestro Rodrigo sweep in and become the new conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra. In turn he inspires his young charges (Lola Kirke’s oboist Hailey), causes controversy and realises that symphonic music is a complicated mistress.

This half-hour comedy is genuinely funny and touching, with its look at the world of orchestral music one that’s rarely depicted.

Scene stealer: The performances are entertaining, but the real star is the music. If you fail to be swept away by a track such as Danzón No. 2, we weep for you.

Words by Kob Monney

Preacher

Available to stream in Full HD.

Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s apparently unfilmable comic book series makes a surprisingly brilliant TV show.

Comic nerds will tell you it’s slow, that it takes a whole season to get to the beginning of the books, but ignore them because no-one said a TV show has to match its literary genesis frame-for-frame - and the first series is full of scene-setting texture, bizarre, twisted characters and extremely peculiar goings-on, as the titular preacher (played by Dominic Cooper) reignites an old flame (the brilliant Ruth Negga), makes friends with an Irish vampire (the endlessly hilarious Joseph Gilgun), and becomes the repository for a strange, demonic power.

The show is gorier than an abattoir, weirder than Trump’s hair and swearier than the crowd at Chelsea FC, but it’s also extremely stylish, funny and all-round rollicking good fun. A true must-watch - assuming you can stomach it.

Standout scene: A fight in a motel involving the preacher and three characters that, when killed, regenerate metres away and resume battle. A stern test of both your stomach and funny bone.

Words by Tom Parsons

The Americans

Available to stream in Full HD.

If you’ve never seen The Americans then you need to redress that issue tout suite.

One of TV’s best and most under-watched shows, it’s about two Soviet spies (Keri Russell’s Elizabeth Jennings and Matthew Rhys’ Philip Jennings) in Reagan-era America, during the final act of the Cold War.

But that it were so simple. The Jennings also have a family, including an increasingly suspicious daughter, and a neighbour in Noah Emmerich’s FBI Agent Stan Beeman, whose day job is to uncover Russian infiltrators.

Part of what makes The Americans so riveting is its verisimilitude, the unsparing plot developments, and the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip. This isn’t the life they expected, but it’s the one they’re dealt with and they have a job to do. It makes for an engrossing watch.

Standout scene: The show's title sequence

Words by Kob Monney

More after the break

Bosch

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

Bosch is more clichéd than a post-match interview with a Premier League footballer, but it must be hard to be original when producing a new TV show in a genre as long in the tooth as the crime thriller.

Besides, Bosch gets away with it, largely thanks to the grumpy, craggy charm of the seen-it-all-before titular detective - but also on account of the stunningly stylish cinematography, which brings LA to life, warts ‘n’ all, better than almost any other TV show or movie before it. Watch in 4K HDR and you’re in for a particularly alluring presentation.

Scene stealer: Lance Reddick (him of The Wire, Fringe, John Wick, and just about everything else on screens at any given time) chews through the scenery in trademark fashion as the tough-but-honest Deputy Chief Irvin Irving.

Words by Tom Parsons

MORE: Bosch TV series review

Mr. Robot

Available to stream in Full HD.

Fuse Fight Club with Hackers and you’ll get Mr. Robot. The techno-thriller show follows Elliot Alderson (played by Rami Malek), a socially awkward, clinically depressed cybersecurity engineer and hacker who falls down the rabbit hole of a mysterious group looking to erase all the debt held by the largest conglomerate in the Mr. Robot world, E Corp.

Its refreshingly realistic take on hacking, corporate espionage, and social engineering (insofar that you can’t hack into a government organisation by frantically typing binary or MS-DOS commands) is balanced by the show’s flair for the dramatic. In true Mad Men-esque form, the little changes to character relationships can make or break giant corporations. It keeps you hooked.

Standout scene: Elliot breaking into the data security facility Steel Mountain in series one is a microcosm for the entire show: phone hacking, psychological manipulation, and good old-fashioned nihilism, all rolled into a slick, short sequence.

Words by Adam Smith

Lucifer

Available to stream in Full HD.

What happens when the Lord of Hell teams up with a LAPD detective? A surprisingly enjoyable, if sometimes baffling, show that refuses to take itself seriously (although it doesn't top its main thematic competition, 30 Rock's God Cop).

The immortal devil, having given up Hell to run a club in LA instead, has the ability to make people confess their sins (helpful when assisting the police department). But he becomes mortal-ish when around detective Chloe Decker, who appears to be immune to his powers. Sure, why not?

It’s a far cry from the character’s origins in DC/Vertigo's Sandman comics (for one, he's meant to look like David Bowie), but the show is 40 minutes of fun a pop – similar to eating an entire packet of biscuits in one go. It’s not necessarily good for you but, once you dig in, you’re hooked.

Standout scene: Rachael Harris as Dr. Linda Martin, whose reaction when Lucifer reveals his true face to her is an unexpectedly emotional performance that elevates the entire show.

Words by Adam Smith

Black Sails

Available to stream in Full HD.

Black Sails is a lavish, Michael Bay-produced series with Blockbuster ambitions. Its four-series run is pure guilty pleasure and worthy of binge-watching.

Merging fictional and historical characters, it's positioned as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which centres on a group of pirates operating out of the port of Nassau in the Bahamas.

Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) plays Captain Flint, whose crew is either sailing away or straight into the arms of trouble every other episode. Black Sails boasts plenty of betrayals, sex and impressively staged action scenes, and ends up being a show that’s more entertaining than Disney’s recent Pirates films.

Scene stealer: Jack Rackham. The pirate's snarky repartee, and how exasperated he gets when no one goes along with his clever plans (usually because they backfire in spectacular ways), is always fun to watch.

Words by Kob Monney

BrainDead

Available to stream in Full HD.

In this tumultuous political atmosphere, it’s nice to have a simple explanation for why everything feels so extreme and confusing. BrainDead’s answer? Space ants.

The conceptual baby of Veep and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, our protagonist is Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who decides to take a job assisting her Senator brother.

When the US government shuts down due to a budget crisis, Democrat Healy initially sees the enemy as the Republicans – but eventually political differences are put aside as she joins forces with the other side to fight those who have, literally, have lost their minds to alien insects that encourage extremism. It’s light-hearted and funny, but not without its moments of tension.

Standout scene: The hilarious moment a doctor discovers that You Might Think by The Cars is a faster version of the Music of the Spheres, that the space-ants like it, and that’s why everyone is playing the same pop song.

Words by Adam Smith

Transparent

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

Everything you need to know about Transparent is in the title: it’s about being trans, it’s about being a parent, and it’s about how visible either of those qualities are to the outside world.

The attention of the show is divided equally, and superbly, between the battle faced by Maura Pfeffermann (formerly Morton, and played by Jeffrey Tambor) as she deals with being a father to her dysfunctional adult children, and her adjustment to being a transgender, and relatively elderly, woman.

The show never exaggerates its subject matter. There’s never an overblown conflict between what is masculine and what is feminine and, while there’s a fair share of transphobia addressed, Transparent doesn’t turn it into a pseudo-zoo for its cisgender viewers.

Standout scene: Maura’s ‘whirlpool’ speech during a tense dinner near the first series’ end takes on the transphobic behaviour of her son-in-law - culminating in her heartfelt appeal to his basic humanity ("I'm just a person, and you're just a person").

Words by Adam Smith

Black-ish

Available to stream in Full HD.

Currently into its fourth season, Black-ish feels like a modern version of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – funny and charming, but not afraid to tackle the political.

We follow the inner lives of the upper-middle-class Johnson family, specifically focused on Andre "Dre" Johnson Sr (Anthony Anderson), an advertising executive who is keen to teach his relatively disinterested children what it means to be ‘black’, assisted by his underappreciated wife (Tracee Ellis Ros) and stern, hard-nosed father (Laurence Fishburne).

Balancing insight with humour, the series tackles America’s attitudes to race, politics, police brutality and LGBT issues – all from an African-American perspective. At 20-minutes an episode, it's incredibly binge-able.

Standout scene: Dre’s speech about the disappointment of black Americans, and his love for the United States – with Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit playing underneath it and images of black oppression overlayed on top - is possibly one of the most powerful political commentaries shown on television.

Words by Adam Smith

Sneaky Pete

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

The main problem with Sneaky Pete is the somewhat tenuous premise. Accept the unlikely set-up, however, and this is an entertaining and compelling crime/con caper with an excellent cast (including Marin Ireland, Margo Martindale and Peter Gerety), decent writing and some likable characters.

Giovanni Ribisi stars as Marius, a conman just released from prison into a whole world of trouble. In an attempt to avoid Vince (Bryan Cranston), a serious bad guy to whom he owes serious money, Marius assumes the identity of Pete, his former cellmate - who is still incarcerated. He is accepted into the lives of his new family (who lost contact with Pete when he was a boy) – but they inevitably have problems of their own.

And so things get complicated – and the cons are on…

Scene stealer: Vince, the gangland boss. Bryan Cranston plays, in effect, Walter White’s alter-ego Heisenberg from Breaking Bad.

Words by Jonathan Evans

Constantine

Available to stream in Full HD.

While we’re a fan of the not-entirely-faithful Keanu Reeves film from 2005, Matt Ryan’s portrayal of the trenchcoat-wearing anti-hero is as if John Constantine had casually stepped out from the pages of the iconic Hellblazer comics.

He may not be allowed to swear and smoke as much, but Ryan is utterly charismatic and steals every scene he’s in as the irreverent, cynical and sarcastic conman and "petty dabbler" of the dark arts as he hunts and exorcises monsters.

The storylines are never quite as strong (which eventually led to the show’s cancellation), but it’s still an entertaining watch. There are hints of just how gripping, potent and dark the story could be, though, especially when it delves closer to home and deals with Constantine’s personal demons.

Standout scene: The excruciating, emotional final moments of episode four, where Constantine holds the hand of his junkie friend Gary Lester as a demon is trapped inside him - it's a glimpse into the true potential of the show.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

The Grand Tour

Available to stream in 4K HDR.

Armed with a bigger budget and more freedom than they had on the BBC, the former Top Gear trio have found a new home in Amazon. Now in its second series, the show has had a refresh: they've dropped segments that didn't work, brought back celebs racing each other, and the tent now has a home base. 

Not much has changed when it comes to the silly camaraderie between Clarkson, Hammond and May and the equally silly misadventures in between some actual car testing. But what we like most is that the high production values that we’ve come to know from the Beeb’s show has carried over, and then some. There are some stunning, jaw-dropping shots of cars and landscapes, which look even more gorgeous in 4K HDR.

Standout scene: Clarkson driving the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider in Morocco.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Le Mans: Racing is Everything

Available to stream in 4K.

Forget Formula 1. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the toughest, oldest and most elite endurance race in the world of motorsports. Every year in France, teams of multiple drivers engage in a non-stop relay race that lasts a full 24 hours.

In this six-episode series, film crews get unprecedented behind-the-scenes access as they following six of the biggest teams (Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Aston Martin, Rebellion and newcomers Nissan) and high profile drivers such as F1 veteran Mark Webber, three-time Le Mans winner André Lotterer and rookie Jann Mardenborough in the run-up to 2015's race.

It's a fascinating, exciting insight into the way the teams and drivers work to take part in this intensely challenging race that isn’t without its accidents and fatalities. And of course, the actual race footage looks impressive in 4K.

Scene stealer: It's not for entertainment value, but when the drivers are talking about how they've lost friends and teammates to this dangerous race it packs an emotional punch and leaves a lasting impression.

Words by Kashfia Kabir

Products featured in this story