Jane Campion’s dark and twisting New Zealand-set crime thriller Top of the Lake returned to our screens recently. Top of the Lake: China Girl is artful, complex, involving, disturbing and, well, just really rather good. So you’ll be forgiven for gobbling up this televisual treat as quickly and greedily as humanly possible.
Once you’ve finished, though? You’re going to want dessert. But instead of Googling new crime dramas that are months from broadcast or scouring the TV guide looking for old repeats of Cadfael, try another way. Try Netflix.
Netflix UK has more excellent TV crime drama than you can shake a murder weapon at – and plenty that fans of Top of the Lake will just love. So if you couldn’t get enough of Elisabeth Moss’ razor sharp Kiwi detective, you might like to check out these twelve superb offerings…
13 top Netflix shows for Top of the Lake fans
River, a six-part police procedural from the BBC, scored a real coup in signing up Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård for the lead. He’s predictably brilliant as police inspector John River, a man haunted by the ghosts of the murder victims whose cases he’s yet to solve. But are the ghosts real? Or is his mental health declining? Nicola Walker and Ray Donovan actor Eddie Marsan provide able support.
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Arrested Development star Jason Bateman isn’t exactly renowned for his dramatic work. So when his new money laundering drama Ozark hit Netflix, there was very little fanfare. The story of a regular guy drawn into the nasty world of Mexican drug cartels and scheming his way out of it may sound a little too Breaking Bad, but it isn’t. There’s so much more to this truly fantastic ten-part series. Look out for the performance of Julia Garner from The Americans as Ruth Langmore especially. This is unmissable.
IMDb Rating: 8.7
Anyone who’s seen Public Enemy on Sky Atlantic recently will know that Belgium is a force to be reckoned with now when it comes to dark TV crimers. The Break is a ten part French language series that follows a Brussels detective who moves back to his rural hometown. Once there, he investigates the apparent suicide of a young African footballer. But, as you can imagine, Detective Peeters soon suspects foul play. Often bleak, it’s not exactly a fun watch. But it’s damn fine drama nonetheless.
IMDb Rating: 7.9
On the face of it, Netflix’s Between might not seem to have a huge amount in common with Top of the Lake. But while it may be science fiction, it’s still about people dying – and dying near a very picturesque lake, no less. Set in the Midwestern town of Pretty Lake (see?), everyone over the age of 21 suddenly carks it due to outbreak of a contagious disease. The town is quickly quarantined. The series then follows the tensions that arise from the now very young townsfolk being trapped in Pretty Lake together. Between isn’t the best TV show of recent years, but it’s still well worth a lazy watch of a Sunday afternoon.
IMDb Rating: 6.0
For those of you that enjoy a brief synopsis, Aquarius is ‘Fox Mulder harassing Charles Manson.’ For those of you that prefer a little more detail, Aquarius is a gritty crime series that follows hard-nosed, old-fashioned and hippy-hating LAPD detective Sam Hodiak, played by David Duchovny, as he investigates a missing girl who has been taken into Charlie Manson’s Family cult. In many ways it’s a fairly normal police drama, but then things often get weird. Real-life events are touched on, as well as plenty of drugs, violence and even the odd orgy. Plus, well, it’s Fox Mulder harassing Charles Manson… And that’s weird enough in and of itself.
IMDb Rating: 7.1
A strong female lead boosts this police drama from slightly hokey premise to solid offering, all thanks to Mad Men actress Peyton List. She plays NYPD detective Raimy Sullivan who, weirdly enough, starts talking to her dead father through a HAM radio that gets struck by lightning. It sounds like a rather daft premise and, well, it kind of is. But stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with a well-made crime thriller series.
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Until recently, the name ‘Hannibal Lecter’ conjured up images of a bloodsoaked Sir Anthony Hopkins or a well-thumbed copy of an old Thomas Harris novel. But due to the huge success of Bryan Fuller’s impressive TV adaptation of the early years of the Lecter mythos, the image of a well-tailored Mads Mikkelsen now comes to mind too. Depicting frequent and stylised violence like never before on television, Hannibal is not for the faint of heart. But, if you’ve the heart, stomach and liver for this macabre visual feast and you’ve never seen it before, you’re in for a huge, huge treat.
IMDb Rating: 8.6
Katie McGrath stars in this Canadian horror series that sees a woman whose parents were murdered by a serial killer known as ‘The Executioner’ return to her hometown. Once back, a series of copycat murders rocks the small town once again and our heroine is caught in the middle. It might not be quite as classy as Top of the Lake, but it’s certainly pretty dark. And it certainly doesn’t hold back with the slashing…
IMDb Rating: 6.7
Christopher Eccleston stars in this ITV production about a ex-police officer who is persuaded by a former colleague and friend to turn his idyllic lakeside holiday home retreat into a safe house for a witness in hiding. The house isn’t as safe as it’s supposed to be though and a tense game of cat and mouse ensues. Crime, drama, murder, danger and – of course – a lake. What’s not to like…?
IMDb Rating: 6.5
Now if you’re a television aficionado, there’s a good chance you may already be very familiar with Don Draper’s Madison Avenue-based shenanigans. But if you’re never caught it on Sky, now’s your chance to see Mad Men at your leisure on Netflix. Top of the Lake fans will enjoy another fine performance here by Elisabeth Moss. They’ll also enjoy the rest of it, what with it being one of the finest TV shows ever made.
IMDb Rating: 8.6
Scottish actor Peter Mullan, as he so often does, steals the show in this tale of an ailing crime boss suffering from ever-worsening dementia. He manages to humanise a rather nasty character and elicit some real empathy for someone you’d otherwise cross the street to avoid. The Fear is brutal and uncompromising, but as British crime dramas go, this 2012 Channel 4 production is one of the best of recent times.
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Think we’ve missed a perfect Netflix show for Top of the Lake fans? Let us know in the comments below…