television shows

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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.

George Gently (2007-2011)

Another entertaining British crime series, this one set in Northumberland in 1964.  George Gently is the detective inspector, lately from a bigger-time city career, and John Bacchus is his arrogant, ambitious and inexperienced sergeant. The series takes place during a period of changing social attitudes and values, and the story lines incorporate themes like racism, women's liberation, homophobia and child sexual abuse. Based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter (he published nearly one per year from 1955 to 1998!).

Treme (Season 1, 2010)

Watch a motley collection of New Orleans residents try to pick up the pieces of their post-Katrina lives in this HBO drama that begins three months after disaster hit.  It's worth watching for the music alone (check out the soundtrack on CD), but you will also be drawn into the stories of the people and the unique culture of the city.

Sword of Honour (2006)

This two-part WWII drama based on a trilogy by Evelyn Waugh is sort of like a British "Catch-22" in the way it satirizes military culture during wartime.   Englishman Guy Crouchback joins up out of idealism and a sense of honor, both largely shattered by the end of his war, which takes him to France, Scotland, Crete, Egypt, Croatia and Italy. Stay with the story through part two, when it becomes especially engaging and moving.

The IT Crowd (Season 1, 2006)

This hilarious series will make you laugh uncontrollably.  Two computer geeks who work in the basement IT department of a giant British corporation are assigned a new boss who knows nothing about computers.  The computer guys are the slovenly, lazy Roy, and the super nerdy, socially inept Moss.  Their new boss Jen sees her job as a relationship manager who will get the IT department noticed and appreciated by the rest of the building.  It takes an episode or two for the show to get its rhythm but after that  it's impossible to stop laughing.  And the best part is

South Riding (2011)

It's 1934 and the wounds of the Great War are still fresh when 30-something Sarah Burton returns to her small Yorkshire hometown to run the local girls' school, encountering poverty, local politics, hypocrisy--and a handsome local landowner with a tragic past.  Is there romance in store for Sarah?  Yes, but the story doesn't go the way you think it will. Based on the novel by Winifred Holtby.

Island at War (2003)

This suspenseful period drama depicts life on the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands during World War II, focusing on three local families and several German soldiers. It's an absorbing series that shows how different human beings respond to the stress of being occupied by a hostile force--or being a hostile occupier. Check Our Catalog

Foyle's War (2002-2010)

I recently discovered this British period drama cum mystery series and can't praise it too highly. Start with the first episode ("The German Woman") and meet Detective Chief Inspector Foyle (Michael Kitchen) as a modest yet razor sharp British policeman trying to do his crime-fighting job on the homefront during World War II. The series begins in May 1940 and ends 22 episodes later in August 1945 and incorporates many actual historical events.

Samurai Champloo (2004-2005)

Samurai Champloo is one of the most entertaining adventures in the samurai genre. Three unwilling companions set out on a journey across Edo period Japan.  A young woman looking for a possibly nonexistent samurai that smells like sunflowers,  a wild swordsman looking to challenge absolutely anyone who irritates him, and a taciturn ronin with a hidden past forge an unlikely bond. Though set in the 17th century,  Samurai Champloo has a hip-hop sensibility, with many modern references and themes.  The dialogue is extremely witty and the characters endearing.

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