If you have a modern TV with all the bells and whistles, it can be tough to truly put it through its paces. Movies in 4K HDR aren't that hard to find these days, but what about television?
Sadly, many TV shows and television productions still have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to looking great on big screens.
But with every year, we get more TV shows that properly support 4K HDR to look their best. You just have to know what those shows are and where you can watch them!
Here are some of the best TV shows shot in 4K (Ultra HD) with High Dynamic Range (HDR) for the best visual experience.
15. Santa Clarita Diet (2017)
Created by Victor Fresco
Starring Drew Barrymore, Timothy Olyphant, Liv Hewson
30 episodes (3 seasons)
Santa Clarita Diet isn't like most of the shows on this list. As a matter of fact, it's not like most shows period.
This quasi-sitcom stars Drew Berrymore as a woman who's surprised to wake up one morning as a zombie. Her husband, played by Justified's Timothy Olyphant, is even more surprised.
Hilarity and buckets of gore ensue, displayed gloriously thanks to the show's gorgeous 4K HDR treatment. It's truly one of the most unique comedic experiences offered by Netflix.
14. Formula 1: Drive to Survive (2019)
Created by James Gay-Rees and Paul Martin
50 episodes (5 seasons)
Formula 1 and other prestigious motorsport events will always be mainstays for HD television. There isn't a single bar, hotel, or restaurant in the world that doesn't show Formula 1 when it's on. (Okay, we're exaggerating, but it's almost true!)
Naturally, Netflix would want to step in to something like this, and they impressed with the immersive Formula 1: Drive to Survive.
Showcasing behind-the-scenes footage and in-depth commentary, this Formula 1 documentary series offers an exclusive profile of the drivers and their races in the World Championship.
Some inaccuracies aside, Formula 1: Drive to Survive is a gorgeous 4K HDR experience that highlights the best of the technology.
13. Narcos (2015)
Created by Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato, and Doug Miro
Starring Pedro Pascal, Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook
Biography, Crime, Drama
30 episodes (3 seasons)
Narcos is one of Netflix's earliest crowning achievements. It proved to the world that the streaming platform was more than just a library of licensed content, that its previous hits in House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black weren't one-off flukes.
More than that, Narcos took television production values to the next level for its time, and it built on the foundations set by previous drug-centric crime dramas like Breaking Bad.
The story of the larger-than-life narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar is tailor-made for an at-home binging experience. From his humble beginnings to his tragic fall, there's ample amounts of grace and tension that wrap this story up in a visually pleasing cinematic dressing.
12. Chef's Table (2015)
Created by David Gelb
44 episodes (9 seasons)
If you're a foodie who hasn't seen Chef's Table yet, you're in for a treat! Each episode of this documentary series centers on a single chef and explores their lives, careers, and signature dishes.
From the brilliant mind of David Gelb—who rose to fame with Jiro Dreams of Sushi—Chef's Table is half travelogue and half artist's profile, complete with an immense production quality that most TV shows could only dream of.
The end result is a string of engaging, mouth-watering culinary journeys done in anthology format. The series also includes spin-offs that focus on particular styles of food, including Chef's Table: Pastry, Chef's Table: Pizza, and Chef's Table: BBQ.
11. The Man in the High Castle (2015)
Created by Frank Spotnitz
Starring Alexa Davalos, Luke Kleintank, Rufus Sewell
Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
40 episodes (4 seasons)
Based on Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name, The Man in the High Castle is a chilling bit of alternate history that explores what would have happened if the Allies had lost World War II.
While this doesn't make for the funnest subject matter, the show's concept is infused with intriguing elements of sci-fi and it stands out as one of Amazon Studios's first cinematic TV shows.
Thanks to the 4K resolution and HDR color grading by color masters Technicolor, The Man in the High Castle is a brilliant experience for anyone who loves thought experiment-type TV shows.
10. The Boys (2019)
Created by Eric Kripke
Starring Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr
Action, Comedy, Crime, Superhero
24 episodes (3 seasons)
The Boys might feature an awful lot of ugly subject matter, but it's far from an ugly show (visually speaking).
Superheroes often make for fantastic on-screen effects, and that's the case here as much as it is in any summer blockbuster by Marvel.
The difference here is that The Boys is an irreverent take on the superhero genre, featuring superhero characters who are just the worst.
From mass murderers to immature manchildren to literal Nazis, The Boys is a satirical series for mature viewers who love visual spectacle as much as they love dark themes and lots of gore.
9. Our Planet (2019)
Created by Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, and Colin Butfield
12 episodes (2 seasons)
While there's certainly no dearth of nature documentaries out there, Our Planet stands out as one of the greatest nature documentaries ever made, complete with narration by Sir David Attenborough.
Our Planet was shot and released several years later than Planet Earth II (which also appears on this list), so the production crew had access to better technology and were able to capture shots that are even more impressive than what we saw in Planet Earth II.
While we still give the edge to Planet Earth II because its production quality was so revolutionarily good, Our Planet is still incredible.
8. The Crown (2016)
Created by Peter Morgan
Starring Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Imelda Staunton
Biography, Drama, History
50 episodes (5 seasons)
Period piece drama series are tailor-made for high-quality productions shot in 4K HDR. Unfortunately, such high-quality productions are usually only reserved for high-profile prestige dramas.
So what happens when you have a prestige period piece drama series like Netflix's The Crown? You get one of the richest, most gorgeous, most captivating TV shows ever made.
The Crown dives deep into the dynamics and political intrigue of the British monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II, and this Netflix drama is anything but romanticized. (It's also not 100% accurate.)
There's a pervasively chilling atmosphere as we follow the late Queen through history, from her younger years to her most recent days. Presented in 4K HDR, The Crown is a spectacle to behold.
7. Stranger Things (2016)
Created by The Duffer Brothers
Starring Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder, David Harbour
Drama, Fantasy, Horror
42 episodes (5 seasons)
Even in its first season, Stranger Things was a well-shot show with a unique look. But from the second season on, Netflix began filming in 4K HDR, meaning the colors pop even more than before.
This sci-fi horror drama unexpectedly grew into one of the most popular shows of the last decade. And why wouldn't it? There's just something so fascinating about a small rural town that comes under threat of a hostile alternate dimension.
If you've been looking for a reason to start watching Stranger Things, the improved look is more than reason enough to try out the first season. If you like it, you'll love what comes later.
6. Altered Carbon (2018)
Created by Laeta Kalogridis
Starring Joel Kinnaman, Martha Higareda, Dichen Lachman
Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
18 episodes (2 seasons)
Netflix's Altered Carbon is based in Richard K. Morgan's novel of the same name, a dark sci-fi mystery tale that blends elements of cyberpunk with hard-boiled detective stories.
As if that weren't enough of a draw, Altered Carbon takes all of that and throws in a liberal dash of neon lighting and wet pavement, making for visuals that already look great in standard definition but look even more impressive in 4K HDR.
The second season isn't as good as the first, but that's fine because the second season is its own thing and you can skip it altogether.
5. Star Trek: Picard (2020)
Created by Akiva Goldsman, Michael Chabon, Kirsten Beyer, and Alex Kurtzman
Starring Patrick Stewart, Michelle Hurd, Jeri Ryan
Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
30 episodes (3 seasons)
Star Trek and Star Wars have always had very different looks, and this remains true when we compare the look of Star Trek: Picard with the look of The Mandalorian (which also appears on this list).
While Star Trek: Picard goes to places that Star Trek: The Next Generation would never tread, it still has much of the bright, ultra-clean look that defined the aesthetics of the Star Trek universe since its inception.
4. Planet Earth II (2016)
Created by Vanessa Berlowitz, Mike Gunton, James Brickell, and Tom Hugh-Jones
6 episodes (1 season)
The original Planet Earth was hailed as a landmark achievement of television when it released in 2006, partially for its cinematography and partially for Sir David Attenborough's fantastic narration.
Ten years later, we were treated to Planet Earth II, which is largely more of the same—and that's absolutely not a bad thing at all.
Planet Earth II was one of the first documentaries made available in 4K with HDR, and we're so glad that the BBC invested in the tech. The jaw-dropping visuals were even more striking this time around.
3. The Mandalorian (2019)
Created by Jon Favreau
Starring Pedro Pascal, Chris Bartlett, Katee Sackhoff
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
24 episodes (3 seasons)
When it comes to HDR, a lot of the time we focus on how brightly certain colors pop. But HDR isn't only about brightness! HDR can also enhance dim scenes, as evidenced by The Mandalorian.
The show does have its bright moments, of course. But The Mandalorian often visits the darker and dingier locations of the Star Wars universe, and the 4K HDR technology helps to show off the muted color palettes and prevent it from coming off as a drab mush.
The Mandalorian remains one of the most successful TV shows on Disney Plus, and we can't help but suspect that the gorgeous visuals played a big role in making that happen.
2. The Grand Tour (2016)
Created by Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond, and Andy Wilman
Starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond
Comedy, Talk Show
44 episodes (5 seasons)
When the famed hosts of The Grand Tour were still with the original Top Gear on the BBC, they were already reveling in over-the-top videography that showcased cars in the most beautiful ways.
When they moved to Amazon to create The Grand Tour, they took things a step further by filming it all in 4K and HDR, making the cars look even better than they already did.
But this time, it's not just the cars that are beautiful—it's the picturesque locations on display, which serve as a distinguishing difference between Top Gear and The Grand Tour.
1. Better Call Saul (2015)
Created by Vince Gilligan
Starring Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks
63 episodes (6 seasons)
Even in a hardcore drug-laden show like Breaking Bad, there were many immersive and hypnotic scenes that were enhanced by 4K HDR. And yet, somehow, Better Call Saul did it even better.
The saga of Jimmy McGill is captured in its fullness with poetic imagery, with shots ranging from worm's eye close-ups to two-shot portraits. Take any still from Better Call Saul and there's a good chance it could fit right in at a photography exhibit.
It may not have the same blockbuster-level spectacles that you might expect in a 4K HDR production, but it's clear that Vince Gilligan intended this legal drama to be highly cinematic.
If you ask me, Better Call Saul is the most beautifully shot 4K HDR TV show you can watch right now, and it's made all the better by the incredible characters and their fascinating arcs.
More 4K HDR Content to Enjoy
At the top of this article, I mentioned movies as another way to test out your TV. This is especially true if you like to dim the lights and go for the full movie theater experience. Check out some of our favorite 4K HDR movies that are seriously gorgeous!