television shows

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Luther, Season One (2010)

John Luther is a Detective Chief Inspector in the London Police Department.  He is volatile, dedicated and able to deduce the psychological make-up of criminals in record time.  This show is a binge watch all the way.  The crimes are gruesome, but interesting, and the pace is fast.  I've never seen a detective show that spent so little time figuring out the criminal's next move or motivation.

Orange is the New Black, Season One (2013)

Piper Chapman is a blue eyed, blond haired upper middle class college graduate with just about every possible advantage in life. Piper Chapman is also doing a fifteen-month sentence in a minimum security women’s prison for her involvement in a drug trafficking ring ten years earlier. This Netflix original television series is based on the bestselling memoir by Piper Kerman. It dramatizes the encounter between privilege and its opposite, depicting the lives of a variety of women who also made poor choices but had a lot fewer to pick from than Piper did.

Orphan Black (2013)

Amazing acting anchors this new sci-fi series from BBC America (shot in Toronto). Tatiana Maslany plays multiple clones in this thriller that opens with Sarah, a gritty young outsider witnessing the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her - except more affluent. Sarah assumes the identity of this unknown woman - who ends up being a police officer. Soon bullets are flying and mysteries are multiplying.

Parade’s End (2013)

It’s 1914 and the world is about to change forever in this five-part adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s classic series of novels set in England before, during and after World War I. Christopher Tietjens is a traditional Englishman living by the old moral codes and conventions. His wife, Sylvia, strains against the limits placed on women and wives and challenges her husband—and “society”—at every turn. As Christopher tries to manage his marriage and resist changes to the status quo, he becomes drawn to Valentine Wannop, a young and feisty suffragette.

Borgen (2010-2011)

Birgitte Nyborg is the idealistic new (and first female) prime minister of Denmark in this absorbing political series drama. The intricacies of parliamentary politics are surprisingly riveting by themselves, in addition to the melodramatic back stories and personal lives of Nyborg and the other major characters, including her too-good-to-be-true husband, Philip (but is he really?), her media advisor/spin doctor Kaspar Juul (with a mysterious and ominous childhood), and the rising TV anchor star Katrine Fonsmark (Kaspar’s on- and off-again girlfriend).

Mad Men (2007-)

If you like TV antiheroes like Tony Soprano, it's time to start watching Mad Men, featuring Don Draper, a Madison Avenue ad man who is a poster child for poor judgement. This period drama takes place during the 1960s and watching it is like time traveling to a past that feels very nearby. Historical events are incorporated into the episodes, including the 1960 presidential election, the death of Marilyn Monroe, the assassination of JFK, and the mass rape and murder of eight nurses by Richard Speck in Chicago in 1966.

Berkeley Square (1998)

I admit I'm a sucker for BBC period costume dramas...but this is a really good one! Set in 1902, the ten-episode series revolves around three young women working as nannies in London's upper-crust Berkeley Square neighborhood. It's an "Upstairs, Downstairs" story that has it all: illegitimate babies, adorable children, feisty women, dashing and dangerous bounders, adultery, manslaughter, crime, romance, and great costumes. How much more entertaining does it get?

The Guilty (1991)

Barrister Steven Vey has it all: successful career, plenty of cash, beautiful wife, not to mention a recent appointment as Britain's youngest-ever judge. Then one night he drinks too much and rapes his pretty new secretary and faces the loss of everything if he doesn't find a way to shut her up. Michael Kitchen is superb as Vey in this suspenseful two-part psychological thriller from Britain's Central Television.

The Forsyte Saga (2002-2003)

This period drama has everything a miniseries-loving anglophile could want: strong acting and great costumes plus a rich cast of characters suffering from a variety of character flaws including arrogance, silliness, cluelessness, greed and snobbery.  Very high class soap opera!

Sense and Sensibility (2008)

This is the best film adaptation of Jane Austen's 1811 novel, in my opinion.  Because it is 170+ minutes long, the three-part series has plenty of time to tell the story of sisters Elinor (the one with sense) and Marianne (the one with sensibility) and their romantic trials and tribulations.

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