Enter the Net: Let the Limeys rescue you from boring TV

By David Hughes

I was raised from the time I was about 11 years of age by my grandparents and back in those days most folks had one television. Ours was in my grandparent’s bedroom and I can tell you that young Dave had very little influence over what we watched in the evenings.
Rules were relaxed in the afternoon after school and Saturdays, of course, but that was it. If I wanted to see TV, we watched what Mamma wanted and that included “Perry Mason”, “Wagon Train”, “Dragnet”, “Have Gun will Travel” and what I considered the MOST boring – “Hallmark Hall of Fame.” (grin).
I just never got into all those folks prancing around in tights and talkin’ funny (an English accent to an 11-year-old Southern kid in the 50s was definitely “funny talkin’”).
Let’s get in the Wayback Machine and jump forward to my adult years when I had my own television set and controlled my viewing habits … Definitely, I didn’t watch nary’n them English shows of any kind because they were not “cool” and they still talked funny.
Using Marty McFly’s Delorean let’s move on up to the last 10 years of old Dave’s life and it’s funny what happened to his viewing habits – thanks to the technology of satellite and fiber-optic delivered television programming from across the pond.
I’ll admit it – I have become addicted to some of the shows being produced for the British Broadcasting Company and ITE which are usually first broadcast on PBS here in the Colonies. It started several years ago after I was laid low by a blood infection that kept me in bed for several months and eventually has messed up my health.
I spent a lot of time in the hospital, nursing home and later at home watching TV and frankly, I was sick of the same of old stuff on daytime TV and I came across some old episodes of “Doc Martin” created by the BBC and I got hooked on the beauty of the Cornish lands around where the show was filmed.
I then found my Netflix account was rampant with older BBC programming – including full seasons of “Doc Martin.”
Then I discovered a gem called “Ballykissangel” which also featured beautiful English countryside and a plethora of fantastic actors, plots and subplots. I watched more than 60 episodes and I am hoping Netflix will be buying more seasons if they were made.
Both Netflix and Hulu Plus cost under $10 per month and are delivered to my Roku box over broadband Internet, and I can watch my movies and shows on my cell phone when the car is parked while my wife shops, so I really get to enjoy my English dramas.
However, the last years has brought a new crop of English TV series addict with the presentation of “Downton Abbey” on PBS. But, don’t you hate it when I get just to the good part and the PBS folks spend 15 minutes telling you how good the show is and how they need you to send them some money to keep it coming?
PBS is wonderful and I appreciate their programming beyond Big Bird and Elmo. One of the early English dramas PBS hooked me on was about two English veterinarians on “All Creatures Great and Small,” but I think ONE request per show is enough.
The best way to watch “Downton Abbey” is to set aside a weekend day and invite your friends and neighbors over to watch Netflix or Amazon and see an entire season – or even both seasons at one sitting.
I know many of you are waiting on the third season scheduled to begin in January 2013. I have recently finished the season via press preview and all I can tell you is that it will be one of the best yet. I would say more, but I signed a non-disclosure agreement.
Here’s some good news for Downton Abbey fans: NBC and Universal Television announced Tuesday that they have signed a deal with Fellowes to create and produce his next drama series. Titled “The Gilded Age,” the show takes place in late 19th-century New York, and is an “epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance.”
If you are tired of the same old shoot-em-ups and crap on Netflix, Hulu-Plus and Amazon streaming let me recommend some excellent series to give you and family quality television time.
I just completed a 63-episode series called “Wild at Heart” filmed in South Africa dealing with an English Vet who moves his family there to live his dream of creating a wildlife refuge. If you enjoy nature’s beauty and epic wild animal photography this is a must.”
Many years ago PBS featured a series called “Upstairs/Downstairs” which showed how rich folks in England lived, as well as the “other world” of servant live below stairs. There was an update of the series made several years later that’s a must-see.
“Monarch of the Glen” is shot in bonnie Scotland and follows the lives of a laird living on a loch and what all happens in his family. GREAT scenery and drama.
“Island at War” depicts what happened to the Channel Islands in WWII when they were invaded by Germans. It isn’t your typical war saga.
“Land Girls” follows the lives of several women who came from London and other cities during the war to work on farms to help feed the nation and the military. Sounds boring, it is not because of excellent writing.
I am out of space, but you can go to your movie service and search for “BBC Drama” etc. and find many wonderful hours of entertainment.