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"Black Sails": "Black Sails" has emerged as the
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"Black Sails": "Black Sails" has emerged as the genuine crowd-pleaser Starz has been searching for lo these many years -- that crowd mainly comprised of dudes who like their violence hard, fast and upside the head. It's a Peckinpah western set on the high seas, where the good, bad and ugly rule, though almost exclusively the bad and ugly. With Toby Stephens and Luke Arnold.(Credit: Starz Entertainment / David Bloomer)

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Best TV shows to binge-watch

Netflix, HBO Go and Showtime Anytime offer enough catnip to make potential TV bingers of us all. But all shows are not created equally bingeable — that is, suitable or even advisable to sit in front of episode after episode, hour after hour. That can quickly turn into a form of bondage, or even torture. Most TV is suitable for grazing only, if that. Qualifications for the most bingeable of shows?
1. Shows should ideally have an ongoing narrative; in other words, when one episode ends, like a chapter in a compelling book, you should be left with a burning desire to know what happens in the next episode (which is why modern dramas like "Breaking Bad" are better for binging than those in the '70s era, when they were not always serialized).
2. You should care about the characters, preferably care about them in positive terms as opposed to negative ones, but sometimes either will do; "caring" is what matters.
3. You should always have an abiding assumption that this long journey you'll be embarking on will actually have an end, and that each episode will be a step toward finality. Endings aren't always possible, if the show was cancelled, for example, but at least the illusion of completion is there.
4. That it is fun. You are going on a long trip. You are foregoing sleep. You are forcing the kids to make their own pancakes. This trip had better be fun — or you will begin to suspect that you have just wasted a monumental amount of time, because you have.
5. That it is informative. There's a lot of junk out there -- far more junk than quality. If you jump into the binge pool, head first, then make sure it's the deep end. Shows should have some redeeming quality -- good actors, or production values, or writing, or something that qualifies this as redeeming. Clearly not every show of every series will qualify, but most should -- or don't bother.
6. No commercials. Really. Obvious. Binging isn't about stopping and starting, or getting hit over the head with ad after ad after ad. That's one reason why binging is suddenly hot -- an escape from an endless stream of hard sell. -- VERNE GAY, verne.gay@newsday.com