What to Watch on Amazon Prime Instant Video


One of the benefits of Amazon Prime is that you can watch thousands of movies and television shows for free.

But you can’t watch any movie or t.v. show for free.

There are shows worth watching, but you have to sort through them.

The first step is to connect your device via wi-fi. The newest televisions make this easy. Otherwise, check your DVD player. Yet another option is to watch a video on one of your many other devices (PC, Mac, laptop, tablet, iPad, Fire, etc.).

Once you’re connected, and you start enjoying Amazon Prime videos, you’ll eventually reach a point where you’re trying to find another movie or t.v. series to watch.

One problem is that there are a limited number of videos in any category when you browse from your device (such as your smart t.v.). And most of the videos in any one category are usually irrelevant for what you like to watch. When you reach the end of the list, you may wish it kept going—you “know” there are more videos in that category, it just won’t display any more.

An alternative is to search for the video on Amazon’s website on your PC or other device. Once you find the movie or t.v. show that you want to watch, then you can search for it by name on your television, for example.

Which brings up another strange thing about searching for videos to watch on Prime: The search feature probably won’t work as you expect. As I type the first few letters, I see all sorts of strange results, and not the popular show that I’m looking for until I get many more of the letters typed.

I’ve been enjoying Amazon Prime videos for a few years. Let me offer a variety of recommendations to help get you started.

Note: Some of these videos may be rated R. Please check the ratings before you watch (if that concerns you). Although I noted mature content or violence for a few of the shows listed, there is mature content and violence on some of the other shows even though I didn’t mention it (for one, I don’t recall every detail of every show), so you should definitely do a little research if you’re concerned about such things.

I’ll start with t.v. shows. A great thing about these is that if you enjoy the series, it can last for weeks or months (especially when there are several seasons available).

  • Covert Affairs. I thought it was a cool spy series. There are a few seasons, so it will last for a while. I rather liked the characters. As the series progresses, it gets a little too suspenseful, perhaps, where you really feel compelled to watch the next episode.
  • Shaun the Sheep. I felt these were very well done. My daughter and I watched every episode, and we both enjoyed it. If you finish all the series available, there are a few bonus episodes somewhere (for example, there is one with Olympic-like sports that was worth watching). They also have the movie. Those sheep can do anything!
  • Orphan Black. This is a suspenseful sci-fi series that stays engaging throughout. I really enjoyed the variety of roles that the lead actress plays. There is some mature content.
  • Bosch. The title video at the beginning is stunning and worth a look. This is a detective show set in Los Angeles. There is some amazing video from the protagonist’s house in the hills of Los Angeles. The series is engaging and I enjoyed it. Maybe it was a little too real in ways, and a little slow at times.
  • Sneaky Pete. This is one of several Amazon Originals. It was suspenseful and, I thought, rather well done. There is some violence.
  • How I Met Your Mother. This comedy has a good vibe to it. There are several seasons so there is plenty of material. Although the reruns may still be showing somewhere, a great thing about Amazon Prime is that you can watch the entire story unfold in order without missing an episode (with no commercials, of course!).
  • I Love Lucy. Some of the classics in Amazon Prime are enjoyable. Lucy always does something crazy, and it often makes you laugh. The golf episode is absolutely hilarious. Some are funnier than others, but if you only watch one, find the golf episode. Look for Volume 3, Episode 11.
  • Spongebob Squarepants. There are several popular kids t.v. shows, such as this. They also have PBS Kids shows.
  • Family Ties. There are a number of popular comedies and family t.v. shows from one or more decades back that are worth watching. I like the character Alex.
  • The Andy Griffith Show. Another of a number of classics available on Amazon Prime.
  • Humans. I liked this sci-fi concept. Unfortunately, there was just one season available on Prime last I checked.
  • Hunted. Another spy show that I enjoyed, but again just one series last I checked.
  • The Night Manager. I watched it because it features the actor from House. I actually enjoyed it, but there was only one season available when I watched it.
  • Extant. I thought this was a cool sci-fi series with suspense. Maybe things got a little too extreme at some point, but that seems to be the way most series are these days.
  • House of Lies. Definitely some mature content. It was certainly interesting, but grew a bit too wild for my tastes.
  • The Wire. This features a police precinct. It seems very real, and naturally there are both good and bad aspects of realism. It has drugs, violence, and mature moments, as do many cop shows.
  • Defiance. This is another suspenseful, engaging sci-fi series. A couple of the characters were quite intriguing.
  • The Worricker Trilogy. This is one of several PBS shows (they also have Masterpiece Theater). This is an intriguing spy series. It’s a little slow, but just a few episodes.

Now for movies. I’ve come to prefer t.v. series for two reasons. First of all, sometimes I spend an hour trying to find what I want to watch: When I find a series that I like, my hour of research results in dozens of shows, whereas when I find a movie to watch, it only lasts for two hours. Secondly, a single t.v. show lasts between 30 minutes and an hour usually, so it doesn’t demand as much time as a movie. (When I was younger and had more time though, I used to enjoy movies more.) Some of the movies I actually saw in the theater, but I would have watched it on Prime had I not already seen the movie before.

  • Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise).
  • Mission Impossible (Tom Cruise). You can also find the original t.v. series.
  • Spectre (007).
  • Rush Hour (Jackie Chan).
  • The Hunger Games.
  • Hot Pursuit (comedy).
  • Ex Machina (sci-fi).
  • The Spy Next Door (Jackie Chan).
  • The Whistleblower.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (kids/family).
  • Ella Enchanted (kids/family).
  • Happy Feet (animated).
  • Ocean’s Twelve.
  • You can also find a number of classics: Ghost, Indiana Jones, Coming to America, The Hunt for Red October, 48 Hours, Braveheart, Star Trek, etc.

Amazon does add new titles to Prime periodically. Usually, when I finish watching a new series, there is new material to sort through.

However, occasionally a few titles disappear from Prime. So if there are several things that you want to watch now, be sure to watch your favorite first, just in case. (So it’s possible that a few of the videos on my list have dropped off of Prime since I wrote this post—but there will probably be some new ones out there by then, too. In my experience, I notice hundreds that get added, but only a rare show that disappears.)

Tip: Try searching on your PC or laptop:

  • From Amazon’s home page, choose Prime Video under Departments and select Included with Prime.
  • This is similar to searching on a t.v., but by clicking on the right arrow at the end of any row, you can scroll faster (the entire row is replaced with a new row).
  • For a few rows, when you reach the end, there will be a See More option, but for most rows there is just a limited number of movies displayed.
  • So there is another option that I like better. Return to the home page. Change All to Amazon Video (look at the top near A, don’t look for V) in the Search field, leave the search field blank, and click the search icon.
  • I did this just now and got 200,000 results. Obviously, that’s too many, but I like this as my starting point.
  • First I click the Included with Prime option. That reduced my results down to 40,000. This way, paid videos won’t get mixed in with the ones that are free with Amazon Prime.
  • There are some interesting options on the left that are worth exploring, such as Mood and Theme. For example, there is Exciting and Feel Good.
  • Also look at the genre and decade options on the left.
  • Another way to filter the results, besides the options on the left, is with the Sort By dropdown menu on the right. This is handy if you want to find New Arrivals.
  • If the various filters on the left aren’t working to your satisfaction, try adding a broad search term in the search field. It might not work quite as you’d expect, but it will help to narrow the search results considerably.

I hope you find some videos that you enjoy watching.

Chris McMullen

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