Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Best In British TV vol. 2

Back again with another edition. A lot of people wrote their favorites and suggested shows that should be included. Happily (or sadly depending on your perspective) I found only a couple titles I didn't recognize. Does my Brit TV junkie heart good (which is great since all the sitting I've done while watching hasn't). But enough gabbing, on with the shows.

Survivors: Complete Seasons One & Two
Survivors (2008 - 2010)
Starring: Julie Graham, Max Beesley, Zoe Tapper, Philip Rhys
Series: 2 (12 episodes)
Netflix: Available to stream and DVD

Based on (this one cracks me up) the book, which was in turn based on the original 70's series both by Terry Nation, the series follows the survivors of a super flu pandemic. In particular it focuses on a group held together by Abbie, a woman in search of her son.

I'll be upfront, the series was cancelled on a cliffhanger. It's not drastically important to the enjoyment of the show as a whole, but it does leave one wishing they'd at least put out one last series to finish it properly. The writing is crisp and character driven, focusing less on the actual events and more on how each person relates to it. There were some complaints after the first series that the show was predictable (which is a ridiculous complaint considering it's based on a book). I would argue that stories don't always have to have major twists that keep you guessing. Sometimes it's more than enough to tell a good story.

My biggest complaint, interestingly enough, is the lead character Abby who I felt was whiny and 2 dimensional. There's also something (bad) to be said about the action scenes. I've gotten used to the shaky cam as a way of cutting down on choreography and adding style to action. Clearly though, the directors never learned how to use it properly as anytime a conflict arises it starts shaking so much that you actually feel like you're holding the camera and shaking it. But none of this is enough to take away from a truly excellent show. Great characters and fantastic writing, I rate it 8 out of 10

Spaced: The Complete Series
Spaced (1999 - 2001)
Starring: Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, Nick Frost, Mark Heap, Julia Deakin
Series: 2 (14 episodes)
Netflix: DVD only

Two twenty something strangers looking for a flat to rent decide to pose as a "professional couple" in order to secure an apartment. Tim (Pegg) is a slacker graphic artist who works at a comic book store while Daisy is an unemployed freelance writer.

Simply put, this has really become one of those shows that you can judge a person's taste by. The writing (by Hynes and Pegg) is absolutely brilliant and hilarious. The chemistry of the cast is amazing, offering comedic rapport that is found only in the best of shows. Edgar Wright showcases his early brilliance as a director delivering a style, that has come to be so familiar in his films. It's positively filled to the brim with pop culture references both well known and obscure, but done in a fun way so it never bogs down, instead providing jokes to get on a second or third viewing. Really the only complaint (and one voiced by many) is that there were only two series. However that was the decision of the creators who really did give it a complete story in 14 episodes. An absolute must see, 10 out of 10

Chef! - The Complete Collection (Series 1-3)
Chef! (1993 - 1996)
Starring: Lenny Henry, Roger Griffiths, Caroline Lee-Johnson
Series: 3 (20 episodes)
Netflix: Series 1 and 3 available on DVD

Gareth Blackstock (Henry) is the greatest chef in England. He is a tyrant in the kitchen and passionate about food. The series follows him as he tries to run the kitchen and eventually own and operate a French restaurant.

Take all the cooking shows you've come to know with the screaming, cursing chefs. This show came out in the early 90's and would look just as relevant put up against any of Gordon Ramsay's shows. The wonderful thing about the lead character though is that he's all bark and no bite. His temper stems from a love for the food he's preparing. It's delivered with impeccable comedic timing. The show does have some ups and downs from series to series in terms of casting, but it's minor. The only real downside is that season 3 has a much different feel to it than the previous two, giving it almost soap opera-ish overtones in places. Nevertheless, it's still enjoyable even in the last series, and thankfully it does cap it off with an excellent ending. A truly classic Britcom I rate it 8 out of 10


  1. I think I may look into Spaced. I'm a big Simon Pegg fan.

    Thanks for the tips.

  2. Spaced is excellent and I rather enjoyed survivors as well. I was disappointed when survivors didn't get renewed.

  3. I loved Survivors, and even though I agree with your rating of 8 out of 10, I really wish I could give it higher because of how much I enjoyed it. (Internal wars can be the most painful.) What I really, really wish is that America would pick it up and do their own version. Some of you haters may be trying to throw something at me for that statement, but c'mon there's no way you can hit me from way over there, plus I don't think America would ruin it, I think in the right hands they could perfect it.

  4. 'Spaced' is on my list. I love that it's not a lot of time to invest for a show I have heard nothing but good about.

  5. Oh man these are a blast from the past – especially Spaced. Hey, no Shasta McNasty?

  6. "...anytime a conflict arises it starts shaking..."

    Was this line supposed to be funny? Because it cracked me up.

    I get what you're saying about whiny and two dimensional. Did you ever see Friday Night Lights? Bleck.

  7. Oooh, you've stumped me today...I don't recognize any of these. (Stumping me is difficult, too...since when in Canada, I got a lot of exposure to Brit shows! LOL!)

  8. realized I wasn't following you - how was that possible??

    also - dang it! - i can't read this post yet, i need to look up vol 1 and the show(s) there I wanted to check out.

  9. I think I caught a few episodes of spaced out thanks to a friend...looks and sounds familiar...should check out Chef

  10. I've never heard of, or seen any of these shows! That sucks!!!


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