Monday, April 15, 2013

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The M'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:


"M" is a biggie, so let's not waste any time (and I'll try to be brief, but no promises!).

This is my absolutely most favorite British show hands down (have I said that before?)! It's "what I call" a proper comedy! Miranda Hart plays Miranda, an incredibly gauky and clumsy woman who uses her inheritance to buy a joke shop which she runs with her best friend Stevie (played by Sarah Hadland). She has been in love with Gary, the cheddar-gorge chef next door, as long as she can remember (the absolutely adorable Tom Ellis, our upcoming Robin Hood on Once Upon A Time-which better NOT interfere with filming Miranda), but usually fails miserably when she tries to hook up with him (not realizing that he loves her too). She has an insanely posh mother in the form of Patricia Hodge (such fun!) and her old school chums pop in and out reminding her constantly how she is not living up to her potential, especially Tilly (Sally Phillips of Bridget Jones), who's play on words can sometimes leave you stumped at the best of times ("He just returned from La Grande Pommes where his entrenu made a shed of Johnny Cashingtons!" - got a clue? Translation-he just got back from New York where he made a lot of money...yep, Tilly is a trip!). This is the perfect show for a clip, and this is my favorite clip montage from it!

Midsomer Murders
This is my favorite detective show as well as most of Britain! It's so funny how one little community of villages can be filled with so much sex, violence, and murder! Series 15 is airing now, and they release each "episode" as an individual DVD first (since they are feature length). Once the series is finished, they will put out the complete series. Everybody has been in this show at one point or another from Stephen Moyer from True Blood to Orlando Bloom (do I really need to say where he's from?). John Nettles plays DI Barnaby for most of the series although his Sergeants change over time.

This airs on both SyFy and BBC America, so American audiences should be somewhat familiar with it. It took me a while to come around to this show as well. We have in our minds a set view of the Arthurian legends, and this royally screws with that ideal, so prepare yourself. But eventually, the storylines and characterisations make it all worth while and I hated to see it end. There are five series and I highly recommend buying the UK DVD's, simply because they are packaged better, have more special features, and are cheaper than their US versions. This series follows the story of Merlin and Arthur as young men, Uther still in reign. Merlin is coming to grips with his powers (and having to hide them since Uther has banned magic from Camelot). Morgana, Arthur's half-sister doesn't start off as the Morgana we know, but kind and loving towards her brother. Guinevere is the servant girl to Morgana (another weird anomaly) but in Arthur's sights from the get-go (as well as Lancelot's...but that storyline plays out differently as well). The knights of the round table build slowly over the series once Arthur becomes king. Once you get past your "view" of the Arthurian legends, it really does make for good entertainment!

Monarch Of The Glen
Scottish shows aren't easy to come by (Hamish MacBeth is the only other one I have), but this is the quintesential Scottish show. Set in the Highlands, it's the story of a London restaurateur forced to come back home to Scotland and manage his family's estate and the connecting township. His family are half crazy and the estate is always in a complete state of disrepair and on the verge of getting taken away, but he always manages to barely hang on and keep everything together. There is a lot of romance in the show as well (my personal favorite). The show takes some twists and turns I didn't necessarily agree with, looses some characters (which I completely disagreed with), but still ended in a way that I was satisfied with. Still a very heartwarming, beautiful show and be on the lookout for Doctor Who number 4 - Tom Baker!

Monday Monday
Tom Ellis...need I say more? This only lasted one series, which I totally hated because it was really a great show! Such a stellar cast with Tom, Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter, and the list goes on, it's the story of a supermarket chain forced to close it's main office in London and relocate to Leeds. This is OK with Sally, who wants to get away after her fiance runs off with her sister right before their wedding. She meets Steve and they almost have a one night stand, only to discover that he's the new assistant (and secret lover) of the woman hired to determine who should keep their job and who should go. But this is definitely a love story as Steve and Sally can't help but be drawn to each other, even when her ex-fiance comes back into the picture. I loved this series, it was more like a seven part movie than a series. It's just a shame it got cancelled (but no cliffhanger ending).

Murder Most Horrid
This is an example of a show that has strung on for years, but there are only three series (a fourth is due at the end of the year). Dawn French and all her genius is at the helm of this show, an Agatha Christie type cheesy murder mystery series. Each episode has Dawn playing an entirely new character in an entirely new mystery. It's almost like watching a new show every episode! And the guest stars are absolutely amazing! Once you get past the dramatic shift after each episode, you'll definitely love this show!

My Mad Fat Diary
I only just discovered this show, but how wonderful it was (and a bit too close to home). It's the story of a very overweight teenage girl, Rae Earl, who has just been released from a psychiatric hospital. She comes home to her spastic mother and her mother's secret illegal immigrant boyfriend. Her best friend since childhood (who happens to be skinny and beautiful) has moved on to a group of cool kids and Rae Earl has to fit in or perish with the cool kids. She has to deal with her mental troubles, her old friends from the hospital, and her constant attempts to get a boyfriend. It's set in the 90's, and I have to admit, not being an Oasis fan, the music in this show is just stellar. I'm not sure if there is going to be a second series, but I sure hope so!

Honorable mention to:

Another incredibly spooky series, Marchlands follows three families in three different timelines living in a very haunted house. Each comes closer to solving the mystery of the ghosts that haunts the property. There is a second series (not called Marchlands, but Lightfields, which is just about to come out). It's also a completely stellar cast, so a definite must see!

Another medical drama/comedy (I know, cops and's a weakness!) starring James Nesbitt (The Hobbit). It is a very serious drama, but James Nesbitt is just funny and they did well not to try and bottle his talents! There are two series of this show, but I've only seen the first and the second is on order. Also, pay attention to an up and coming Tom Riley, who Americans will come to know very soon in the new Da Vinci's Demons!

Whew! "M" wore me out, but we are over the hump and it can only get better from here!


runningsurvivor said...

Oh my goodness, I love Merlin...our family watches it on Netflix...following you via the challenge...follow back if you like.

Shannon at I Survived and Now I Run

Kate N said...

Ok...I love you BUT...where the hell is Misfits on this list???? I cant see it??? Whats going on!! ;)