Star on Disney Plus lands in UK homes later this month. What this means for those signed up to the existing Disney Plus service is a tonne of extra content – double, in fact – with a small price increase as a result. This is Disney’s effort to upgrade its streaming service from simply being a hub for family-friendly films and TV shows to a service that can compete with Netflix in the broader entertainment streaming space.
The company hopes to achieve this through delivering a mix of old and new shows. Star on Disney Plus will feature its own originals, primarily from its US-owned production companies such as FX, ABC and 20th Century Fox, with four available on the day of launch. This means that the type of content you may previously have seen land on Sky or BBC iPlayer in the UK will now have a home on Disney Plus instead, which is potentially game-changing.
You can see the full list of Star shows and movies coming to Disney Plus at launch here, but below we’ve picked 10 shows that we believe are worth a watch once new content becomes available on February 23.
1. Solar Opposites
Rick and Morty’s Justin Roiland has co-created a new animated series about a group of aliens trying to blend in to suburban American life. When the show rolled out on Hulu in the US last year, we were a little annoyed that no UK broadcaster had picked it up; now we know why. It’s a Disney Plus Star original over here. The show has already proved popular enough to earn both second and third seasons, and if you’re a fan of Rick and Morty, then you’ll be pleased to learn that it really isn’t a million miles away in terms of its type of humour.
2. American Dad
Several Seth MacFarlane-created shows are landing on Disney Plus UK on February 23, including the long-running Family Guy. But American Dad is by far the best. What starts as a Bush-era homeland security comedy develops into a far more complex, weird sci-fi-tinged series in the same vein as Rick and Morty.
Essentially, it’s an animated sitcom about a family similar to The Simpsons. Here, patriarch and CIA agent Stan Smith takes Bush-era stances on subjects such as terrorists potentially moving into the neighborhood. All the other family members have their own storylines, too. The Smith family also has a drunk talking alien called Roger living in the attic.
Roger is the show’s secret weapon – a disguise-obsessed figure who leads the series into ever stranger situations as the seasons go on. Like any long-running animated sitcom, American Dad isn’t particularly consistent from episode-to-episode, but after a slightly rougher season 1, it makes absolutely perfect background entertainment .
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer – with equally excellent spin-off Angel – is heading to Disney Plus for the Star launch on February 23. Does this make Buffy a Disney Princess? Let the tedious discourse begin!
As with all shows that are more than 20 years old, some parts of Buffy hold up less well than others. Nevertheless, the show remains a phenomenal supernatural teen drama, which is really at its best in the opening three seasons set in high school. Although the remaining four seasons still have noteworthy moments to offer, they become increasingly overwrought with adult drama, and less fun as a result.
Still, perfect for a binge-watch.
Another show from creator – and future Avengers director – Joss Whedon, who’s become a complicated figure to discuss these days. Running for only 14 episodes, this sci-fi western follows the ragtag crew of the spaceship Serenity, who try to make a living in a galaxy controlled by a totalitarian government.
The series takes inspiration from Cowboy Bebop, and is great fun to watch, even if it ends well before reaching its full potential. You suspect that had it been made for a different channel, or for streaming services years later, it may well have run for five fantastic seasons. The sequel movie, Serenity (not on Disney Plus, because it was made by Universal), is a worthy-if-depressing capper to the show.
JJ Abrams’ spy series is classic ’00s TV – well, for its first two seasons at least; thereafter it begins to lose momentum. Starring Jennifer Garner, the show is about a secret agent who believes she’s working for the US government, but who is in fact operating on behalf of an Illuminati-like terrorist organisation called SD-6.
Gradually weaving in Da Vinci-infused conspiracies and big sci-fi ideas, Alias definitely loses its way at a certain point. However, despite appearing somewhat dated, and the fact that its many apparent ‘international’ settings are clearly just Los Angeles in disguise, it’s extremely entertaining.
6. Feud: Bette and Joan
The best thing about Star is that it could end up offering a permanent home to many of the great TV shows coming out of FX in the US. Indeed, the likes of Snowfall, Sons of Anarchy, Atlanta and The Strain are confirmed for launch.
Feud is one of its lesser-discussed mini-series, and is fantastic. A star-studded show about the fraught making of 1962 movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, the series explores the rivalry between co-stars Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon). It’s an empathetic and well-drawn drama from Ryan Murphy, creator of American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck.
Feud was supposed to be an anthology show, but sadly, no further series have been produced.
Ever tried rewatching Lost since it came to end in 2010? It’s a fascinating experience. This mystery drama about the survivors of a plane crash landing on a mysterious island still looks incredible in HD years later, thanks to its on-location filming in Hawaii. It’s also a really easy watch, with the 40-minute episodes a blessed relief in an age of hour-long chapters on streaming services.
By crashing and burning several times during its run, Lost learned lessons aplenty about serialised storytelling so that other shows didn’t have to – with none of its event series imitators able to capture the same magic. Lost had too many characters, too many mysteries, and entire stretches of episodes that had no forward momentum – but, at its best, it made for smart and extremely compelling sci-fi TV.
8. The X-Files
Is there ever a bad time to watch The X-Files? It’s been a staple of Amazon Prime Video in the UK for a while now, but Disney Plus will soon be Mulder and Scully’s new home. Those who have watched the show, will know the deal: it’s mostly great when it’s about monster-of-the-week stories; but mostly bad when the mythology elements come into the foreground. Still, if you’ve never seen it before, then this is the perfect time to get involved.
9. Prison Break
Is Prison Break actually good? That’s a tough question to answer. Arriving in the wake of densely serialised dramas such as Lost, it follows Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) as he attempts to break his brother, Linc (Dominic Purcell), who’s on death row, out of jail before he’s executed. The twist? Scofield has the prison’s entire map tattooed on his body. Each week, that plot device is used to get the duo one step closer to freedom. At least, that’s the plot of the first season; then it changes up quite a lot.
Here’s the thing: when you call a show ‘Prison Break’, you have to keep putting the characters back in prison once they escape, which is a problem this show doesn’t deal with all that well. Still, the first two seasons are incredibly entertaining – but is it good? Fifteen years after we first watched it, we’re still not sure.
Another series cancelled before its time, Terriers is about a couple of washed-up, unlicensed private detectives who quietly take on jobs in a San Diego town. This offbeat, funny show had won critical acclaim and a passionate fanbase; but it never quite found an audience, and was scrapped after a single season. We suspect Terriers may well have done better in the age of streaming services, where people could discover and celebrate the show long after it went off the air.
Still, you’ll at least get the opportunity to enjoy the episodes that were made on February 23.