December 16th, 2013
We all know the holiday season sometimes becomes the season for too much —too much on the credit card, too much good food, too much shopping, too much to do, and too many places to go and people to see. It’s fun and we love our frenetic traditions, but it can be overwhelming. I have the perfect antidote: too much TV! Take a break from the holiday hoopla or the January aftermath and binge on some great episodic TV on DVD, free from the library.
Have you noticed that TV has gotten better lately? Modern TV series have dramatic plots and characters that resonate and draw the viewers into otherworldly experiences. The vast wasteland of old, mediocre TV has become a new frontier of intriguing, engaging, habit-forming and downright excellent programming. The kind of television that leaves you desperate to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Why wait for one episode a week to dribble out? Watching multiple episodes of great TV on DVD back-to-back can be a very satisfying experience. It’s just like reading a great “I couldn’t put it down” novel and then gorging on the sequel. And there are some wonderful series you’ve maybe never heard of available now from the library on DVD.
Think of these recommendations as “I couldn’t take my eyes off it TV.” Don’t be afraid to binge (it’s calorie neutral) and enjoy some well-earned down time over the holidays or in the new year:
An epic story of love and betrayal, set during a formative period in British history, from the twilight years of the Edwardian era to the end of World War I. Based on the quartet of novels by Ford Madox Ford, this five-part miniseries was adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard. BBC delivers with beautiful costumes and settings and “Sherlock” fans will adore seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in a different role.
Due to his old-school style, U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned from Miami to his childhood home in a poor, rural coal-mining town in Eastern Kentucky. Lawman Givens is a tough, soft-spoken gentleman who never gives an inch. Based on a novella, “Fire in the Hole,” by Elmore Leonard.
The 1971 granddaddy of Downton Abby. One of the first of episodic PBS TV series that went viral due to its riveting plot lines and engaging characters. Production values were initially crude, but no one knew any better. The story of life in the home of British aristocrats and their servants holds up today (and in my opinion, develops more deeply than Downton.)
HOUSE OF CARDS
A Netflix original series now on DVD. Frank Underwood is a cunning career politician. Zoe Barnes is an ambitious young journalist. Together, they forge a partnership that trades powerful secrets for political access, and so much more. This story of inside-the-beltway political evil and intrigue will hook you.
THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE
British series about four women who worked as code breakers at Bletchley Park and have taken up humdrum civilian lives after the war. They can’t help but apply their code skills to their routine lives. Susan has collated data about a series of murders. She tries to convince the police she knows where another body is, but they are unable to locate it and dismiss her. She turns to her three code-breaker friends to work out where the next victim will be taken and find the killer.
This HBO original series takes a behind-the-scenes look at a high-rated cable news program at the fictional ACN Network, highlighting the on and off camera lives of its acerbic anchor, a new executive producer, and their newsroom staff. Critics have loved it or hated it.
When headline-making, life-ruining trouble rears its ugly head, there’s only one person to call: the legendary Olivia Pope. With her steadfast rule of always trusting her gut, Olivia leads an expert team of crisis management consultants skilled at making even the most sordid, salacious scandals disappear. But as these self-proclaimed “gladiators in suits” begin to reveal the cracks in their own armor, will the masters of damage control be able to control the damage in their own personal lives?
In this British import set in London in 1956, the BBC has just launched “The Hour,” a topical news program. At the heart of the show are three contrasting journalists: enigmatic producer Bel Rowley, a spirited woman in a man’s world; her best friend, Freddie Lyon, a brilliant and passionate reporter; and charming, well-connected front man Hector Madden. As Freddie moves to cover a significant but controversial story, the trio becomes entangled in an intense interplay of politics, ambition and romance, all ignited by a mysterious murder and chilling conspiracy.
PARKS AND RECREATION
A modern-day mockumentary that looks at the exciting world of local government. The series examines the mundane but necessary ways that people interact with their government, and asks why it’s frequently so complicated — standing in line at the DMV, applying for home construction permits, or trying to get the city to fix a pothole. Check out the librarian!
The story of Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman who arrives in Amiens in Northern France to stay with the Azaire family and falls desperately in love with Isabelle Azaire. They begin an illicit and all-consuming affair, but the relationship falters. Years later, Stephen finds himself serving on the Western Front in the very area where he experienced his great love. He must learn to endure the ravages of war and make peace with his feelings for Isabelle. Based on the popular novel by Sebastion Faulks.
What are your favorite shows to binge watch?