Friday, March 12, 2010

Must Watch Friday: Three British TV series

Love Inspired Author Allie Pleiter confesses an addiction for British T.V. series...

I got nervous when I realized I’m a “Must Watch Friday” post because I don’t actually watch that much television or get to the movies much. But I like a challenge, so you’re going to get a bit of a patchwork from me. What does a woman who doesn’t watch that much television go out of her way to watch? That’s a trick question right now, because two of the three shows I MUST WATCH aren’t on anymore. But versions of them our out in video, so I’ll revise my title to “Three Shows You Ought To Hunt Down and Watch Because They’re Worth the Effort.” How’s that for wordy? And I’ll warn you, they are all products of British television. So perhaps grab a cup of tea before you read on.

I’ll start with the one that’s actually on the air: BBC’s TOP GEAR.
Now, many would call this a “car guy” show, and I’ll admit we are a car family. But I’m not really a “car gal” and hands down, the most laughs I get every week are still from TOP GEAR. The show is exquisitely, uproariously funny. Nearly every episode has had me laughing to the point of tears. About cars. But it’s not really about cars. It’s about the stupid things we’re willing to do with our toys and how much fun three friends can have with too big a production budget and why silly is just plain good medicine. Honestly, I think the three hosts could have as much fun with just about any subject. And, occasionally, handsome men do find their way onto the “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment and that makes for good eye candy even without the Porches.

Next (actually I’d put it number one on my list) is another BBC series currently awaiting the US release of it’s new season (and its new star): DOCTOR WHO.
Yes, I know you’re thinking of the goofy guy with the long knitted scarf from your college days (or you’re younger than me and going huh?), but it’s not. It’s so not. The series’ several seasons--most of which feature the hyper-brilliant David Tennant--are some of the best writing I’ve seen on television. Really. Sure, the side effects are a bit campy, and no one would argue that Dr. Who’s arch-nemesis the Daleks look like salt-shakers, and occasionally the music goes epically overboard, but it’s so well done that you don’t care. The humanity of it all--despite its outer-space setting--is so achingly authentic you care about the characters even if they are green and slimy. In my opinion, it’s the single best example of suspended reality out there. Even if it is really, really out there.

My next pick may give some of the historians in the audience hives: BBC’s recently completed series ROBIN HOOD.
No merry men here, folks, this is a gritty version. But it’s a witty version, too, with many modern references and a healthy dose of disrespect for historical detail. A bit like the Heath Ledger’s A Knight’s Tale. Robin is the right combination of dashing, reckless, and likeable. Plus, they let him get a little out of control every once in a while, which makes him appealingly flawed. His side-kick, Much, is wonderfully multi-layered. The real key to the entertainment value of this series, however, is its absolutely over-the-top villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham. Keith Allen is just deliciously, almost cartoonishly evil and pulls it off with panache to spare. Richard Armitage, as his his dark and brooding deputy Sir Guy of Gisborne, puts Twilight’s Edward to shame...eyes that could halt you at a thousand paces.

The show spans the life-cycle of most series--the early episodes are a bit unsteady, the middle ones are lovely, and the end ones go a bit farther than they needed to (anyone familiar with the television term “jumping the shark?”)--but it’s worth watching.

So what’s on my TIVO? Those three shows. I don’t get out enough, evidently. None of this has anything to do with my current release, Bluegrass Easter, which is about neither cars, not outer space, nor medieval England, and contains absolutely no one with a stunning British accent. Okay, the hero drives a Mustang, but that’s not much. And I suppose sheep have a sort of Anglophile air about them, and there are sheep in the book, bit that’s a bit of a stretch. Perhaps all this proves that I really do like to escape my work when I watch television. Don’t we all?

Visit me at and find out what I do when I’m not watching British television and knitting.


  1. Allie --
    Have you discovered Spooks/MI5? It is fantastic. The 8th series has recently finished. Currently featuring Richard Armitage (Sir Guy from Robin Hood)...

    The new Doctor has not really appeared over here -- just one scene. The last episode with David tennant is a cracker though...

  2. Great choices, Allie - all faves in this house, too!

  3. I miss David Tennant already, but there is hope that he's going to be on US TV in a show called Rex Is Not Your Lawyer. I think that next to Tom Baker, he was one of the best actor's to handle that role. Loved him and I loved Catherine Tate as his companion, more so than any of the others