Thursday, April 11, 2013

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The J's

1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:


"J" is another surprising letter, not in quantity, but quality.

Jonathan Creek
Yes, I love Alan Davies (and even more yes, I find him sexy...sue me). He has that mop-top geeky charm that just makes him lovable no matter what character he is playing and Jonathan Creek is no exception! There are four series and a few specials, but every few years they put out a new special and the series has been on a lot longer than 4 years (one is just about to come out on DVD and is available for pre-order). This series is about a man whose job consists of creating magic tricks for professional magicians, all the while living in a windmill. He reluctantly gets dragged into solving a crime by a mystery writer, only to discover he is a pretty good detective and they keep getting jobs solving the unsolvable. Each show ends with a very Murder She Wrote/Sherlock ending, Jonathan revealing the guilty party through a step-by-step walk-through of his deductive skills. His female leading co-star changes several times throughout the series, starting off with Caroline Quentin (from Blue Murder, which I've covered) to Julia Sawalha (from Absolutely Fabulous and happened to be involved with Davies at the time) to Sheridan Smith (Smithy's sister on Gavin and Stacey). I'm really looking forward to the next special!

Jam And Jerusalem
Like Stephen Fry, I will watch anything with Dawn French in it. Period. End of. She is absolutely brilliant (yes, I know I say brilliant too British tele and see how much your vernacular changes!) and yes, she is another Potter alum (anyone remember who she played? I do, but I want to hear it from you). Although her role in this is a lesser one, I think it might be one of the finest performances of her career. The show is written by Dawn's writing partner, the equally brilliant (well, there isn't a better word really) Jennifer Saunders (who American's might know as Eddy from Absolutely Fabulous). Jennifer does make appearances in the show, but I remember it to be uncredited. There are a lot of familiar faces in J&J (released on American DVD as Clatterford) including Sue Johnston, Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones' neurotic and potty-mouthed friend Shazza and better known to me as an "M" submission..."bear with, bear with, bear with, bear with, back!") and David Mitchell (from Peep Show - shown on BBC America). It pretty much centers around a women's group in a small community where everybody knows everyone else and are pretty much in each others businesses. There are three series, and whether you decided to buy the J&J or the Clatterford version, you will definitely not be disappointed (I actually own the Clatterford because I found it on regular Amazon first and one of the few British shows I have purchased in their American format).

Jeeves and Wooster
We are back at Stephen Fry again! Most people (well Americans) don't know that Hugh Laurie (Dr. House) is not only British, but a comedian by trade, as well as Cambridge graduate. His old school comedy troop consisted of not only Stephen, but Emma Thompson as well (yes folks, Emma was once in a comedy troop and even had her own variety show called...wait for it...Emma!). Fry and Laurie have starred together in numerous shows together (including one called Fry and Laurie), written more comedy sketches than you could ever imagine, and are just all around best friends. But I'm digressing...Jeeves and Wooster, set in the 1930's, tells the adventures of a gentleman (Laurie) and his man-servant (Fry) - although, honestly, I think it would have made more sense to me to see the roles reversed, I see Stephen as more the gentleman-type, but maybe that was the intention. It's funny, heartwarming, and even action-packed upon occasion!

And that's it for "J"! Anyone know the connection between Stephen Fry and Alan Davies? If you don't, all shall be revealed in the Q's, so stay tuned!


Melanie Schulz said...

Thank you for introducing me to what sounds like some very fun shows.

Nicole Rivera said...

Oh no... your challenge could be dangerous for me (she types as Doctor Who plays in the background). I think I am going to have to go through your whole alphabet to see what I have been missing! So far my only access to Brit tv has been BBCA, PBS and, of course NetFlix :)

Kate N said...

I LOVED Jeeves & Wooster and watching Hugh Laurie on House was odd at first but he is pretty good. I do like House.

Rebeccah Giltrow said...

If you like Alan Davies, check out Whites. I know it's not 'W' yet, but it's a very good programme. There was only one series though, which is a shame.