November is a good month for sci-fi and fantasy on Amazon Prime, thanks to titles like alien-apocalypse show Falling Skies and creepy robot flick Ex Machina. Even if you're not a geek, you still have options, with comedies including Top Five to provide laughs. Amazon also tosses in historical fiction, somewhat fictionalized history and a dash of rom-com to keep you entertained on those chilly autumn nights.
TV Shows and Miniseries
Falling Skies, Season 5 (Nov. 28)
TNT's take on the apocalypse includes malevolent aliens' near annihilation of the Earth and the tale of human resistance fighters. It focuses on a specific band of rebels, the 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment, led by a history professor played by Noah Wyle (ER, Pirates of Silicon Valley). It's a bit hokey and histrionic, but still good fun.
The Man in the High Castle, Season 1 (Nov. 20)
Stop what you're doing on Nov. 20 to watch Amazon's much-anticipated adaptation of Philip K. Dick's alternate-history-inside-alternate-history of post-World War II America. If you don't already know the story, we won't ruin the fun by telling you more. Just log in and see where it goes. The pilot episode released in January was dazzling. Let's hope the quality holds up for the rest of the season.
Mr. Selfridge, Season 3 (Nov. 18)
Ari Gold does Edwardian London. Entourage fans missing Jeremy Piven have this ITV show to tide them over. It (more or less) tells the story of real-life entrepreneur Harry Selfridge, an American department store executive who opened his own shop in London and radically remade the British retail industry in the early 20th century. This take is very heavy on Selfridge, very heavy on Piven and very heavy on stirring background music.
Vikings, Season 3 (Nov. 19)
Who needs the imaginary world of Game of Thrones when you have the true bloody drama of the Norsemen who terrorized the medieval world? The History Channel's historical fiction series has high production values and a sexy cast to blow the dust off textbook accounts of the Vikings.
Wolf Hall (Nov. 10)
Fans of The Tudors can revisit the time of Henry VIII in this (vaguely accurate) story of his cunning chief adviser, Thomas Cromwell, a commoner who rose to be one of the most influential people on Earth. Theater legend Mark Rylance stars as Cromwell, returning to the historical era he visited in The Other Boleyn Girl, while Homeland star Damian Lewis plays his frenemy Henry VIII.
Awakenings (Nov. 5)
Watching or rewatching this 1990 classic is a fitting tribute to actor Robin Williams and neurosurgeon/author Oliver Sacks. Based on Sacks' 1973 book (and real-life experience), Awakenings tells the tale of a young doctor who tries a radical approach to rescue a ward full of patients from the catatonic state they've been trapped in for decades. Williams stars as the young doctor Leonard Lowe, a barely fictionalized version of Sacks, while Robert De Niro plays the signature patient, Leonard.
Catch Me Daddy (Nov. 18)
This British arthouse thriller follows a young girl, Laila, on the run from her ultraviolent Yorkshire family, which has sent a group of thugs to find her.
Desk Set (Nov. 1)
Computers stealing our jobs? That was a theme as far back as the 1950s, and the premise for this spoof about automation in the workplace. The film stars Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy — one of the greatest teams in Hollywood and worth a watch in this 1957 adaptation of a hit Broadway play.
Ex Machina (Nov. 14)
Doctor Moreau meets Metropolis meets Google in author Alex Garland's exploration of the age-old sci-fi question: Can robots become lifelike enough to be considered human? (That's followed by the next question: Why is sex with robots such an enticing concept for so many people?) Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) stars as Caleb, a young programmer selected by the eccentric genius head of a Google-like company to participate in an experiment. Can a sexy artificial intelligent bot, played by Alicia Vikander (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), pass the Turing Test of coming across as fully human? Given Garland's other hits, like The Beach and 28 Days Later, you can expect things to go seriously wrong as the experiment progresses. It's an ironic acting role reversal for Gleeson, who played a cute/creepy robot in Season 2 of sci-fi series Black Mirror.
The Enemy Below (Nov. 1)
Remember The Hunt for Red October? Go back three decades to this 1957 film for the original tale of nautical standoff. Robert Mitchum, as the captain of a U.S. destroyer, and Curd "Curt" Jürgens, as a U-boat commander, are locked in a battle to the death. With World War II having been over for more than a decade, Hollywood was ready to portray the Germans as more than one-dimensional monsters. This flick shows the perspective of, and creates empathy for, both sides. Trivia bonus: Mitchum and Jürgens faced off again — along with a lot more co-stars — in the 1962 Normandy invasion epic The Longest Day.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Nov. 5)
Let's start off by explaining that this is a film by Terry Gilliam (Brazil), so it's dazzlingly surreal. Christopher Plummer plays Doctor Parnassus, an ancient man gifted with the ability to guide others' imaginations and cursed with a habit of making deals with the devil — the latest of which threatens his daughter on her imminent 16th birthday. Uneven quality of the flick aside, it's a must-see for the performances by Plummer, Tom Waits, Johnny Depp and especially Heath Ledger, in his final role.
Top Five (Nov. 28)
In the blurring between fact and fiction that Seinfeld and Louis C.K. pioneered, Chris Rock plays an alternate version of himself, a famous comic named Andre Allen who is trying to break out of his lightweight reputation and become a serious dramatic actor. He stars opposite vying love interests Rosario Dawson (Sin City) and Gabrielle Union (10 Things I Hate About You). The flick also features every other comic actor Rock can squeeze in, including Tracy Morgan, Luis Guzmán, Kevin Hart, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Sandler, Cedric the Entertainer and way more. Some play fictional characters, while others cameo as themselves.