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TV Worth Watching: The Doctor Blake Mysteries

October 18th, 2017 Comments off

TV Worth Watching: The Doctor Blake Mysteries

Another in a long line of mystery shows I love, The Doctor Blake Mysteries comes from Australia. The show follows the life of Dr. Lucian Blake, recently returned to Australia after living — and working in intelligence in Shanghai during World War II. His life there was thrown into turmoil when he was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned, losing touch with this his Chinese wife and young daughter.

Dr. Blake is a bit unconventional for the small, Gold Rush town of Ballarat in the 1950s. He works as a police surgeon for the local force, but find himself often in conflict with his coworkers and townspeople. The stories, acting,  writing, and production are top-notch.

Season 5 of the series (its last)  is currently airing in Australia, but Seasons 1-3 are available via Netflix and 1-4  available for sale on Amazon. The Dr. Blake Mysteries also airs on many public television stations in the US.

On YouTube: Gardeners’ World 2017 – Episode 1 (HD)

March 12th, 2017 Comments off

I make time to watch Gardeners’ Word from the BBC any time I get the chance. They just started their 50th Season this week. One great segment they’ve added for this season is an interview with a major influence in gardening each episode. Garderners’ World is my brief respite from the “real world” each week. — Douglas

On YouTube: Gardeners' World 2017 - Episode 1 (HD)

Watch YouTube: Gardeners’ World 2017 – Episode 1 (HD)

I liked this video and think you might find it interesting, too!

TV Worth Watching: Autumnwatch 2015 from the BBC

November 4th, 2015 Comments off

Autumnwatch (web site) is one iteration of an annual series from BBC2 in the UK and I absolutely love it. You can find clips of the series from past years on YouTube (See this YouTube search for Autumnwatch and Springwatch). I would love to do something like this here in the US. There is so much diversity in the US that there are possibilities for regional editions in hundreds of places across the US, each with the own unique flora and fauna.

Most of the video on the site is “region-locked” to only be viewable in the UK/Europe, but there is a lot of other great information there.

Autumnwatch 2015 from the BBC

Here is a silly clip from this year’s Autumwatch

…and an episode of Springwatch 2015 to give you a sense of the format of the series.

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TV Worth Watching: Slings and Arrows – Canada

January 4th, 2015 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


Slings and Arrows – Canada

In the fictional town of New Burbage, legendary theatrical madman Geoffrey Tennant returns to the New Burbage Theatre Festival, the site of his greatest triumph and most humiliating failure, to assume the artistic directorship after the sudden death of his mentor, Oliver Welles. When Geoffrey arrives he finds that Oliver is still there, in spirit anyway, and with his guidance (and often in spite of it) Geoffrey attempts to reconcile with his past while wrestling the festival back from the marketing department. Despite a bitter leading lady, a clueless leading man, and a scheming general manager, he manages to stage a remarkable production of Hamlet — the play that drove him mad.

Rosanne and I discovered this Canadian series when it was mentioned in the review of the new Mozarts in the Jungle series being produced by Amazon. Perhaps it is because of our history (and love) of the theater and our experiences there, but we have adored the show. We are currently watching the final 2006 season. WE have been laughing so hard at points that our son has asked us “What crazy show are you watching?” several times.

It seems to us that the writers know a but of out the craziness that surrounds live theater, actors and especially productions of Shakespeare. Add in the machinations of arts funding, sponsors and crazy directors and you have a fine mix of craziness and art. We are greatly enjoying the show and will be sad to complete this final season of episodes. It will be like the closing night of productions we have been involved with, I am sure.

TV Worth Watching: Slings and Arrows - Canada

 
 
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TV Worth Watching: The Art of Gothic: Britain’s Midnight Hour from BBC4

October 23rd, 2014 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


The Art of Gothic: Britain’s Midnight Hour from BBC4

Another excellent series from the BBC. I love these “deep dives” into particular areas of history, literature and art. While I am basically familiar with most of the works mentioned in the series, it is seeing them laid out in a clear timeline and analyzed for the very specific aspects they brought to world culture and how they effected culture everywhere. Graham-Dixon delves into all aspects of Gothic including architecture, literature, the politics and culture of the era — which included the amazing changes being wrought by the Industrial Revolution in Britain. These types of documentaries are some of my most favorite viewing from the BBC (along with Doctor Who, of course) and I am constantly seeking out new series almost regardless of the topics then cover. I would certainly add this series to My Own Personal Master’s Degree notes and playlist.

The Art of Gothic: Britain's Midnight Hour from BBC4

Watch on YouTube

Andrew Graham-Dixon explores how a group of 19th-century architects and artists spurned the modern age and turned to Britain’s medieval past to create iconic works and buildings.

In the middle of the 18th century – in England – an entirely surprising thing happened. Out of the Age of Enlightenment and Reason a monster was born – a Gothic obsession with monsters, ghouls, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. From restrained aristocratic beginnings to pornographic excesses, the Gothic revival came to influence popular art, architecture and literature.

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TV Worth Watching: Murdoch Mysteries (Canada)

July 19th, 2014 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


Murdoch Mysteries (CBC Canada)

TV Worth Watching: Murdoch Mysteries

Watch Murdoch Mysteries on Netflix

Murdoch Mysteries books and DVDs from Amazon.com

 

Watch Murdoch on Amazon Instant Video (Free with Advertising)  | DVD

More Murdoch Mysteries Novels by Maureen Jennings

A fun romp through turn of the century Toronto, Canada, Murdoch Mysteries was a great find for Rosanne and myself. We love history, we love mysteries and the show is pretty darn good. I know some people will discount television from Canada (and any other country) but we are alway pleasantly surprised when we go looking for something new. I enjoy Murdoch Mysteries more than many American shows. The writing is good, the acting well done and it makes a great hour of entertainment each episode. We love the way they include historical figures and incidents in the story including people like Arthur Conan Doyle and Nicola tesla, technology of the time like Zepplins and the beginnings of forensic science and deal with modern issues in the context of their times like the rights of women and First Nations people. 

Be aware, Season 1, Episode 1 is a bit stiff, but the cast and crew soon hit their stride and the later episode and seasons improve with each episode.

We are working our way though the first three seasons, which we discovered via Netflix and Murdoch has become our standard dinnertime/evening viewing along with our other favorites like Miss Fisher’s Mysteries from Australia and All Creatures Great and Small from the BBC. 

From the CBC web site…

Set in Toronto at the dawn of the 20th century, Murdoch Mysteries is a one-hour drama series that explores the intriguing world of William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson), a methodical and dashing detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders.

Murdoch’s circle of associates includes Constable George Crabtree (Jonny Harris, Hatching, Matching and Dispatching), Murdoch’s eager and often naïve right-hand man; Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig, Coronation Street), Murdoch’s skeptical yet reluctantly supportive boss; feisty pathologist Dr. Emily Grace (Georgina Reilly, The L.A. Complex); and the love of his life, pathologist-turned-psychiatrist Dr. Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy, Durham County), a staunch ally who shares the detective’s fascination with forensic science and innovative ideas. All are valuable allies who help Murdoch solve his varied cases and traverse the many stratums of Victorian-turned-Edwardian society.

More information on Murdoch Mysteries (Canada):

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TV Worth Watching : Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Australia)

June 21st, 2014 1 comment

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Australia)

Miss Fisher Title

Watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries on Netflix

Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries books and DVDs from Amazon.com

As Summer vacation arrives, we have had a bit more time to relax and watch a little television. Poking around in Netflix, I found Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries as a suggestion since I tend to watch lots of mysteries and police procedurals like Miss Marple, Poirot, Inspector George Gently, Endeavour and more. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found in this series.

Set in Melbourne in 1928, the show is a fairly standard period detective show, but it then reaches out to address the issues of the day (and our day) like women’s rights, drug abuse, political strife and more. The acting is top notch, especially Essie Davis’ portrayal of the protagonist. The writing is also quite good, with several twists catching me off guard in the first 7 episodes we have watched.

It is refreshing to watch television from other countries and see the world through their eyes and their art. I have always loved UK television (and watch a lot of it), and it is great to see that Australia has some great, entertaining shows to offer, too. 

If you are a mystery love and looking for a good romp, you should check out Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I think you will enjoy it quite a bit.

From the ABC web site…

Get ready to immerse yourself in the opulent, exciting world of Australia’s leading lady detective Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis), in ABC1’s new 13-part drama series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Phryne (pronounced Fry-nee) is a glamorous and thoroughly modern woman of the 1920s. Our lady sleuth sashays through the back lanes and jazz clubs of Melbourne, fighting injustice with her pearl-handled pistol and her dagger sharp wit.

Phyrne

After many years abroad, Phryne returns to Melbourne, in part to start a new life in her home town, but to also ensure that Murdoch Foyle (Nicholas Bell), the man thought to be responsible for her younger sister’s mysterious disappearance, never gets out of jail. But before her very proper Aunt Prudence (Miriam Margolyes), a well-known society matriarch, can drag Phryne off to attend her first soiree, Phryne finds herself embroiled in a murder.

She befriends the most unlikely of murder suspects – an innocent Catholic girl, Dot Williams (Ashleigh Cummings). Phryne takes Dot under her wing, employing her as a maid. Over time, Dot becomes one of Phryne’s closest companions; with Dot’s natural intelligence in all things domestic and catholic she is often an unexpected asset in Phryne’s murder investigations. From illegal abortions to union disputes, exploited workers and missing girls, Phryne finds justice for those who can’t help themselves.

As she delves deeper into the murky world of murder, Phryne crosses paths with the local constabulary, befriending the handsome Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). Despite being married, Jack finds himself drawn to Phryne’s vibrant personality and seeks to ensure that she is kept out of harm’s way as they endeavour to solve the cases.

They come to rely on each other, Jack for the information he gets through diligent police procedures, and Phryne for the information she obtains using her charms and daring. When Jack won’t give Phryne the information she needs, she can easily manipulate Jack’s trusting deputy, Constable Hugh Collins (Hugo Johnstone-Burt), to keep her informed even if he is not aware he is doing so. Leaving a trail of admirers in her wake, our heroine makes sure she enjoys every moment of her lucky life and along the way she unlocks the truth of her own dark history.

The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher began life in 1989 as the daring lady detective protagonist of a series of 18 crime books written by Australian author, Kerry Greenwood. With an acquired taste for the best, but impeccable working-class origins, Phryne was an instant success with readers and still shows no sign of hanging up her pearl-handled pistol or giving up her ‘adventurous’ love-life for just one man.

More information on Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Australia):

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TV Worth Watching: A Very British Renaissance – 1. The Renaissance Arrives

March 22nd, 2014 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


A Very British Renaissance – 1. The Renaissance Arrives

Uk reviews of this 2-part series were less than kind, but I found it fascinating. I a very familiar with the Italian Renaissance — as are most — but the state if Britain in the Renaissance is definitely a blanks spot for me. While I recognized a few names like Han Holbein, most of the people highlighted here are new to me. I have a great love for books and documentaries that focus on particular, defined pieces of history. I love going deeper into the specifics as most shows try to cover as much as possible and leave you with nothing more than a grand overview

British ren

From the BBC web site…

When most people think of the Renaissance, they don’t think of England – they think of Italy, and the talent and exuberance of Leonardo and Michelangelo creating glorious works of art.

Now, in a new series for BBC Two, Dr James Fox looks back at a forgotten British Renaissance, celebrating an age that saw Britain shed its medieval shackles and embrace a world of cutting-edge art, literature, architecture and science.

Across three episodes, James reveals the painters, sculptors, poets, thinkers and figures who, he argues, brought a bold and beautiful artistic movement to our shores between the 1500s to the start of the English civil war.

In the opening episode, James explores how the Renaissance arrived, with a handful of influential European artists bringing ideas from the continent in the early 16th century – from the inspiration of Torrigiano, who fled Florence after a fist fight with Michelangelo, to Holbein and his influence on painter John Bettes – thought to be the first English Renaissance-trained artist. Although impossible without this foreign stimulus, this renaissance quickly became quintessentially British – and it was gaining momentum.

A Very British Renaissance Episode 1

 

More information on A Very British Renaissance – 1. The Renaissance Arrives:

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TV Worth Watching: Death in Paradise – Caribbean Mystery Series

February 1st, 2014 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


Death in Paradise

I love mystery series, and I have featured many here in the TV Worth Watching series. Add one more to the list with Death in Paradise from the BBC and currently airing on KCET here in Los Angeles. It is a funny, witty, and excellently written mystery with a “fish out of water” element in the main character, a Chief Inspector with the London Metropolitan Police Force who finds himself in an island world he cannot quite comprehend. As usual, lots of of our favorite UK actors show up as guest stars in the series, which is always a treat. Former Doctor Who, Peter Davison, shows up in the current season (3) as a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who is suspected of trying to kill the star of his latest film.

Death in paradise

From KCET.org web site…

Sent to the tiny island of Saint-Marie to solve a mysterious murder, Detective Inspector Richard Poole is a total fish out of water. A quintessentially British cop, he would much prefer the London drizzle and a freshly pressed shirt to blue seas, sparkling sands and gorgeous tropical weather. This warm, light-hearted detective series takes place against a stunning Caribbean island backdrop – as far away from the grey skies of London as you could possibly get. What Richard finds is a ramshackle station and a very different type of policing. The fact that there’s a goat in one of the cells says it all. He can’t get out of there fast enough, but there’s a job to do and he does it brilliantly. His reward – a permanent posting to the island, his own personal hell on Earth. He may be stuck there, but he’s not going to let his standards slip. He’ll bring British rigor to this relaxed Caribbean workplace. Always in a suit and tie, eschewing sandals for a stout brogue, he’s the very embodiment of the Englishman abroad. He can get through his ordeal, if only he could find a decent cup of tea.

Death in Paradise – Episode 1 (YouTube)

 

More information on Death in Paradise:

DVD
 
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TV Worth Watching: Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve

December 28th, 2013 Comments off

TV Worth Watching is a new series highlighting my favorite television viewing. I am a big fan of UK television, so you are sure to see many UK shows and movies featured here. — Douglas


Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve

Yet another of the great BBC Documentaries that caught my eye recently. It is so serendipitous when i find one of these. I am almost never looking, specifically, for a television show about X, Y or Z, but when it is placed in my path, I am always amazed and entertained. As a devoted viewer of UK television, I think series like these are one of the best aspects of their television system — whether publicly funded by the BBC or commercially on ITV or Channel 4.

Pilgramage reeve

Even as someone who is not very religious, the history and meaning found in pilgrimage certainly make for an enlightening and entertaining show. You can watch both episodes on YouTube below.

Description from BBC.com:

“For centuries, pilgrimage was one of the greatest adventures on Earth, involving epic journeys across the country and around the world, and new BBC Two series Pilgrimage With Simon Reeve sees Simon retrace the exciting adventures of our ancestors.

He meets inspirational modern travellers, sees extraordinary sights and learns about the forgotten aspects of pilgrimage, including the vice, thrills and danger that awaited travellers. He explores the faith, the hopes, desires, and even the food that helped to keep Medieval Britons and more recent travellers on the road.

In the first episode, Simon embarks on a 500-mile journey beginning at one of the earliest sites of Christian pilgrimage in Britain, the island of Lindisfarne. He retraces the footsteps of some of Britain’s first Christians to Canterbury who made the journey some 1,300 years ago.

Such Medieval travellers believed that journeys of endurance, suffering and sacrifice to a holy site would help them find a place in heaven. But Simon discovers the inspiration behind pilgrimage has not always been religious devotion and piety and was often a chance for long-suffering peasants to get away from a life of drudgery and explore their land.

On his way from the Holy Island in the North to the shrine of Thomas Beckett at Canterbury, Simon explores the vast network of pilgrimage sites across Britain. His first stop is to Lincoln Cathedral, then on to the remote village of Walshingham in Norfolk, where he joins thousands of people on an annual pilgrimage.

Next stop, London – once the gateway of pilgrims heading to Canterbury – and Simon discovers why so many visitors stopped at London Bridge. And for the final leg of his journey, Simon joins a group of Chaucer enthusiasts as he trails the route from London to Canterbury made famous by the Canterbury Tales.”

 

Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve Episode 1

Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve Episode 2

 

More information on Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve:


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