An Interlude on TV Shows

Like many other book bloggers, my love of story is not confined to the written page. I thought I’d share some thoughts about TV shows I’ve watched in the past few months.

Shows I’ve enjoyed:

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012 – )

Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) and Miss Fisher (Essie Davis)

Dot (Ashleigh Cummings) and Miss Fisher (Essie Davis)

Saw this in my Netflix Recommendations, but was compelled to watch based on the praise of NPR’s Linda Holmes. It’s an Australian series set in 1920’s Melbourne, and has the costume appeal of Downton Abbey, while featuring a saucy feminist “lady-detective” Miss Phryne Fisher (played by Essie Davis). And book connection! The show is based on a book series written by Kerry Greenwood.

I’ve only seen Series One, which is available on Netflix Instant, and I can’t wait until Series Two. It’s refreshing to watch a show which features a single woman over 40 (not sure Phryne’s age actually, but that’s the actress’ age). And while there is a will-they-won’t-they vibe between Miss Fisher and Detective Jack Robinson (Nathan Page), it doesn’t overly dominate the screentime. As a viewer, I especially delighted in Phryne’s friendship with her Catholic maid, Dot (played by the adorable Ashleigh Cummings). At times, the fact that Phryne is always on the right side of social issues threatens to make her a little too much the rough saint, but even she is sometimes brought up short by others. In one episode, for example, when Phryne observes to a female suspect that she did not seem to be distressed at the death of her bookshop patron, the woman responds, “Because I didn’t break down in tears and bare my soul? How could you begin to know how I’m feeling?”

Anyway, I highly recommend the show if any of the above is pinging your sensibilities!

Terriers (2010)

Terriers

Terriers belongs to that club of shows the internet calls “Brilliant but Canceled”.  Many have opined that the title contributed to the demise, because it’s not about dogs, though there is a dog, but that dog is not a terrier (it’s a bulldog). Even for viewers who looked beyond the title, the premise may not have sounded very original at first glance: it’s “about” two (unlicensed) private investigators Hank (Donal Logue) and Britt (Micheal Raymond-James) who look into cases in Ocean Beach, California. The special sauce of Terriers is in its nuanced characterization and the fact that the plot is driven by characters rather than the other way around. Logue and Raymond-James are wonderful, as are actresses Kimberly Quinn and Laura Allen as Hank’s ex-wife and Britt’s girlfriend, respectively. And lest you think that the plot is perfunctory, I was genuinely surprised by some of the plot turns, both in the cases of the week and in the overarching season-long plot. I also appreciated that this is a show that doesn’t overlook consequences – Hank’s overreach in one episode will turn up to bite him near the end of the show. Anyway, superb show. I saw a Television Without Pity article that recommended it to Veronica Mars fans, and I can totally see that parallel. I saw Terriers on Netflix Instant (all my TV-watching is internet-based), and even with that availability, I’m annoyed it doesn’t have a DVD release.

The Good Wife (2009 – )

Unlike the previous two shows, this one is better known. Like Terriers, its title may hurt it some, but hey it’s at least still on the air. I’ve only seen the first two seasons, but Alicia Florrick is already one of my favorite TV characters.

Parks and Recreation (2009 – )

Possibly the only show that I keep up with as it airs (or, more accurately, when its episodes turn up in Hulu).

Call the Midwife (2012 – )

Though at times a little heavy-handed in its depiction of post-WWII social issues, I really do enjoy the humor and warmth of this show. Miranda Hart is spectacular in this.

Edited to add: Downton Abbey! I love/hate this show. It has so many wonderful quiet moments (like Branson’s friendships with his sisters-in-law), and then some storyline with Bates (the Mr. not the Mrs. – love Joanne Froggatt) will drag it down. This fourth season brought me back in love with Mary as a character, and kept me hoping in vain that something good would last for Edith.

Shows that were okay:

Bob’s Burgers – I watched the first two seasons, when I was searching for a half-hour show to watch on Netflix Instant. This show was an enjoyable way to pass the time, but I don’t have a strong feeling of attachment to it.

Lost Girl – I think I watched four or five episodes of this Sci-Fi show. I liked the character of Kenzi (the main character’s human friend), but overall I thought the writing fell flat.

New Girl – I flew right through this one at first, but as with Bob’s Burgers, there’s no strong bond there. Too much drama with Schmidt’s love interests, I think.

Show I used to love:

Doctor Who – I started watching this show in the Christopher Eccleston season, and he is still my favorite Doctor. I liked Rose and Martha, and sometimes I liked David Tennant, but sometimes I thought he was too shouty. I loathed all episodes with The Master (though I’m a fan of John Simm in other roles). I couldn’t get past the silliness of David Tennant’s finale episodes. I recently tried to revive my declining interest in Doctor Who by watching the first two Matt Smith episodes, and . . . I’m just not into it anymore. My friend has urged me to watch a few more Matt Smith episodes, which I may do, but with little optimism.

Current state of affairs:

I’m trying to decide which show to dive into next. I wish I was interested in House of Cards or The Walking Dead, because people are discussing them all around me, but I’m not. I’m thinking about rewatching my first season DVD of Friday Night Lights, and just blitzing right through to the end of the series (I watched that show when it was airing, up until the middle of the second season). There’s also the season of Freaks and Geeks – saw the pilot episode and thought it was decent. I tried two episodes of Arrow, but blah, so boring. Anyway, I’m open for show recommendations, particularly if they are on Netflix Instant.

For context, shows I’ve already seen all the way through and enjoyed: Arrested Development, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Orange is the New Black, Slings and Arrows, Veronica Mars. I’ve also seen most of Sherlock, Community and The Office.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “An Interlude on TV Shows

  1. I’m broken up with Doctor Who too, sadly. I miss it but I am tired of Steven Moffat’s nonsense. And hooray that you like The Good Wife! I love that show but whenever I try to get somebody to watch it they go “Oh my mom likes that show.” GRRRR. And it’s been SO GOOD this season!

    Okay, recommendations: Have you seen Orphan Black yet? That shit is amazing. Or also, the first two season of The Vampire Diaries are pretty great, and I am not saying that ironically. You have to give it five or six episodes before it becomes awesome, but I promise it becomes awesome. It is very tightly plotted, and for those two seasons it was one of the best things on television. Swear.

    • Good Wife is definitely not a show just for moms! I got my friend to try it though and she’s now way ahead of me. So yay for proselytizing. I have not seen either of the shows you recommended. Vampire Diaries is the one on Netflix Instant so that is the one I will probably try first.

  2. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has been popping up on my Netflix recommendations as well, but I was sure about it. Based on your review, I may give it a try.

    • The first few minutes I wasn’t that sure about it either – the filmmakers seemed to be really aggressively pushing its title character onto the audience, like “You will find her charming! You will!” but it eventually calms down in that aspect and the second episode was when I really started getting under its spell.

  3. Adding Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to my list!

    I second Jenny’s recommendation of Orphan Black, and also, definitely watch Friday Night Lights through to the end! S2 is very weird at times, but then it gets amazing again.

    • I hope you both find and enjoy Miss Fisher! Yeah, I think the weirdness of S2 contributed to my fade off from the show. I remember still liking moments from the show in S2 but it was hard to take the sudden dysfunction of the beloved Taylor family not to mention that one S2 plotline with Tyra and Landry.

  4. You’re encouraging me to find out more about netflix. I haven’t signed up for any pay TV so I rely on free to air. I’m always interested in new recommendations – I’m stuck on Dr Who (cos my man is), NCIS (original not LA), SVU, Bones (although I’m loosing interest in this), and ABC specials – RAKE and Janet King. I love my DVD collections of Northern Exposure, West WIng, and Darhma and Greg!

    • I don’t know how Netflix works outside the US, I’m afraid. I used to watch Bones with my friend, but after the third season ended with what was tantamount to character assassination in my eyes, I could not motivate myself to continue. I think I’ve seen three seasons of the West Wing and did enjoy what I saw of that. Since Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is an Australian show, have you heard much about it over there? I’m jealous because I have to wait for the second season to hit Netflix – I think it’s airing in Australia now.

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