Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best In British TV vol.3

There have been numerous suggestions for what should appear in this series of posts. however after some thought I've decided to shy away from old standards like Doctor Who and Monty Python, as everyone already knows what they're getting there (and not a dis on either as chances are good if you've followed this blog any length of time you'll have gathered I'm fans of both). No, my focus is to pass along to other stateside readers, good shows they should give a shot. Course if any UK readers want to school me in some shows I've never heard of, feel free. I'm always up for finding more cool TV.

Luther (2010-)
Starring: Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Ruth Wilson
Series: 2 (10 episodes)
Netflix: Series 1 Available To Stream

The show follows police detective John Luther as he investigates brutal murder cases and serial killers, all the while trying to keep his personal life together. One of his cases introduces him to a dark and brilliant woman who has committed the perfect murder of her parents. With John not afraid of blurring the line between right and wrong for the sake of justice and saving lives, the two develop a fascination for each other.

This show is brutal. Completely unafraid of stepping outside the norm to catch you off your guard. One really is left with the sense, early on that no one is safe, and that anything can happen. In some ways it tends to step outside the realms of reality, but in its sense of danger it hits at an eery level. The victims, hoping to be rescued, aren't guaranteed saving. The heroes aren't guaranteed to save the day. In some ways it actually reminds me of the first season of Dexter (before the second and third season mediocrity left me disinterested) in how it approaches a less than black & white view of morality. The writing on the show is crisp and at 6 episodes in the first series and 4 in the second, it doesn't have a chance to get bogged down with filler (though I will add the one reason I won't give it a perfect score is because it's too short in my opinion for a couple of plot lines to properly develop). The acting is fantastic, with Idris Elba creating a character that deserves a place in the pantheon of great television and film detectives. Even the soundtrack is great, with songs that fit the closing scenes perfectly. The only thing I would warn is that this is not a show for kids. The violence, is more than a bit extreme in places. But if you're looking for a good crime drama that starts out intense and doesn't stop till the credits roll, than you couldn't pick a better show. 9 out 10

Primeval (2007-)
Starring: Andrew Lee Potts, Hannah Spearritt, Ben Miller
Series: 5 (36 episodes)
Netflix: First 3 Series Available To Stream

When strange portals through time start appearing, a group is tasked with containing the dinosaurs and strange creatures that come through them, as well as trying to solve the mystery of the anomalies. 

Primeval manages somehow to be so much more than the sum of its parts. Weaknesses abound in the writing throughout the show, having really sharp, well done episodes, and some less than stellar writing in others. Like with my favorite type of genre fiction, the show is character driven. From the start, the characters compel you to stay in their world with them. Even as the series progresses, with some characters leaving and dying, a few core members of the show keep you coming back. I don't want to make it sound like that's the only redeeming factor of the show. Even in the places where the writing and production comes up short, Primeval still manages to be entertaining. It's like that series of trashy novels you keep coming back to because they're light, fun, with compelling characters, and creates a complete escapist luxury. After all, inside everyone there's a desire to be an explorer. Oh yeah, and it has dinosaurs. Seriously, what more could you ask for in a show? 8 out of 10

Being Human (2008-)
Starring: Lenora Crichlow, Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner, Sinead Keenan
Series: 3 (22 episodes)
Netflix: Streaming

A vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all live together and do their best to maintain a low key profile all the while ever in search of some sense of normality in their lives.

This is yet another show in the long tradition of American's taking and remaking it for their own, as SyFy is starting on it's second season of its Being Human. Accept no substitutes though. The original British version is a brilliantly written and produced horror series that boldly embraces the anti hero. In the vampire, Mitchell, you have a dark brooding figure who struggles with what he is, and does his best to abstain from drinking blood. His best friend is the moody and geeky werewolf, George, who longs for a normal life, but has trouble getting close to anyone. These are countered by the bubbly and high spirited Annie, a ghost who haunts the place they rent. The show demonstrates textbook checks and balances. Sweet and horrific, funny and tearfully dramatic. Subject matter being what it is, you can expect a lot of violent and disturbing scenes, and they do abound, but if you get past that, (or if you're a horror fan, love) you'll be presented with a show that challenges you on many different levels. 9 out of 10*

*Probably would have gone a half point higher except I get tired of seeing George's ass every time he transforms.


  1. No one wants to see George's ass...
    I'll have to look for Luther. I think right now my favorite British show is Top Gear. All those expensive fast cars.

  2. Luther was the best thing that I watched all year. I wish there was more Torchwood or Little Britain.

  3. One of my favorite shows was the original MI5. Then they killed off all the great main characters or disappeared them some where else. Really good show.

  4. Unlike Alex, stopped watching Top Gear, all those fancy cars turned me green with envy.
    I think Primeval sounds like something to intrigue me.
    I loved the German series Old is still going strong.
    I also watched some episodes of Brit crime shows like Midsomer murders, Prime Suspects,MIT ...might have watched the New Scotland Yard too. Problem is I remember episodes and actors but not the names of the serials.

  5. I love Being Human! Nina is amazing.

  6. Thanks lot for this useful article, nice post


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