3 best free shows on the Roku Channel right now

Roku Channel on a television set
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Whether or not you have a Roku device, you can take advantage of all the free offerings on the Roku Channel. The ad-supported streaming service features tons of live channels, as well as great movies and TV series on demand. There’s minimal intrusion from the commercials, which can be shorter and less frequent than the ad breaks on some paid subscription services.

There’s so much available to watch on the Roku Channel that it might be tough to narrow down a few selections. From vintage TV to current shows to obscure imports, the Roku Channel is full of worthwhile series to watch for free. Here are three of the best shows you can stream for free right now on the Roku Channel.

'NewsRadio'

Amid the 1990s sitcom boom that produced enduring classics like “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” this workplace comedy often gets overlooked. It’s just as worthy of attention as its more well-known counterparts, though, with a top-notch ensemble, endearing characters, clever wordplay, goofy slapstick, and some still-timely corporate satire.

Dave Foley of “The Kids in the Hall” leads a cast that also features Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Stephen Root and the late Phil Hartman, playing the eccentric employees of a New York City AM talk radio station. Although the cast also includes future controversial podcaster Joe Rogan, “NewsRadio” isn’t about polarizing political commentary, and its humor is based more in absurdism than in current events. Whether it’s focused on the office romance between Foley and Tierney’s characters, or randomly reimagining the radio station as a space station, “NewsRadio” is creative, offbeat and hilarious.

Watch on the Roku Channel

'Monsieur Spade'

Monsieur Spade Official Trailer Ft. Clive Owen | Premieres January 14 on AMC+ - YouTube Monsieur Spade Official Trailer Ft. Clive Owen | Premieres January 14 on AMC+ - YouTube
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Clive Owen plays Dashiell Hammett’s famed hard-boiled detective Sam Spade, the main character of the classic film “The Maltese Falcon,” in a series that imagines his life into his golden years. This version of Spade is retired and living in the South of France in 1963, decades after the events of “The Maltese Falcon.” He’s drawn back into crime-solving when a group of nuns are murdered at a nearby convent, leading Spade into a labyrinthine conspiracy worthy of Hammett himself.

Owen updates Humphrey Bogart’s iconic portrayal of Spade while making the character his own, and creators Scott Frank and Tom Fontana combine elements of film noir with a more topical story about the lingering effects of war. The weary Spade uncovers buried secrets in his small French town while confronting difficult decisions from his own past.

Watch on the Roku Channel

'Colony'

Colony on USA Network | Season 1: Official Trailer - YouTube Colony on USA Network | Season 1: Official Trailer - YouTube
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An alien invasion series that keeps the aliens offscreen, “Colony” is a gritty wartime drama with allusions to life in France under the Nazi occupation, as well as more modern insurgency efforts in countries that have been occupied by foreign powers. Here, it’s all of Earth that’s taken over by extraterrestrials with superior firepower, but they aren’t interested in wiping out the human race. Instead, they allow life to continue under harsh restrictions, enlisting a human collaborationist force to keep the populace in line.

Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies play a Los Angeles married couple who are initially on opposite sides of the alien conflict, without realizing it. They eventually team up to fight back, in a series that combines suspenseful action scenes with a complex examination of the human capacity for betrayal in the interest of self-preservation.

Watch on the Roku Channel

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Josh Bell
Writer

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.