3 TV Shows You Should be Watching.
Part V

A couple of times a year I like to try to convince you that not all television is bad. I hear it all the time. “There’s nothing to watch on television“.

I am here to tell you, there is. There’s all KINDS of great stuff to watch on television. You just need to know what to watch.

I’m not arguing about the fact that there’s a lot of bad television out there. There is. But there’s a lot of jaw dropping, GREAT television too.
 

Call the Midwife is a period piece set in 1950’s East London.

It follows the life of 22 year old Jenny, a midwife who works out of a  convent. The nuns’ midwifery clinic cares for the residents in one London’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The series is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth.

It’s SO good.  Lesser known than Downton Abbey, but just as addictive.

You can buy Call the Midwife on Amazon.

 
 

I’m one of those people who had never heard of Scandal until Kerry Washington was nominated for an Emmy for it.

And even then I ignored it until I heard Tommy Smythe talking about it a couple of months later.

I don’t watch a lot of regular network shows so I didn’t have high hopes for for ABC drama.

I was wrong.

It’s good.

There are still moments I think it’s a little toooo network, but then I’m  hit with a SHOCKER and I get over myself.

Scandal follows the professional and personal life of former White House employee, Olivia Pope.  A scandal fixer.  Someone the likes of Rob Ford could have used.  I have to say they need someone new cutting their trailers though.  Or someone new approving them, because the trailer below doesn’t do the show justice at all.  But have a look anyway!

You can buy Scandal on Amazon.

 
 

Brooklyn 9-9 is the underdog of the bunch.

The show is the starring vehicle for Saturday Night Live alum, Andy Samberg.

The half hour comedy focuses on a police department just on the outskirts of NYC.

It’s ridiculous and stupid and funny.  And it doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves for some reason.

You can buy Brooklyn 9-9 on Amazon

 
 
Winter is the time of year for television watching in my house. In the summer, I try to mash in an hour of television around 10:00 at night, once the chickens are away and it’s too dark to do anything outside.

But in the winter I’m capable of sitting on the couch and marathoning for 4 or 5 hours straight with a show I love. The fact that you can get in your pajamas once it gets dark out at around 5:00 makes sitting on the couch seem more acceptable too, so if I’m not working, television watching starts much earlier in the day in the winter. As does eating. A lot more food hoarding seems to go on in the winter. I’m like a chipmunk.

Yes I love reading. Yes I love music. But, yes I love television. I don’t care what form it comes in, just go ahead and entertain me.

If you want to learn about some other great shows you can find many more in parts I, II, III and IV of this series.

 


87 Comments

  1. Raymonde says:

    You have to watch “Sherlock”!!!!!!!
    Season 3 starts on PBS january 19th, it’s intelligent, funny, addictive, it’s great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Raymonde says:

    You have to watch “Sherlock”!!!!!!!
    Season 3 starts on PBS january 19th. It’s intelligent, funny, elegant, addictive and Benedict Cumberbatch is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. gloria says:

    After watching a few episodes of Call the Midwife, I had to read the books. They’re wonderful. Fascinating history lessons about that part of London during that time, too. Do yourself a favor and get the books. Loved the soundtrack to the shows as well.

  4. Lani says:

    Brooklyn 9 9 is a winner but I am always biased to anything Andre Braugher is in. For the future, if you even miss new episode of Scandal, or just want to laugh, you could always get the recap from awesomelyluvvie.com. Hilarious…(of course, don’t get sidetracked by the hot-dog peen story.)

  5. Melanie says:

    Love Call the Midwife, so upset I missed the Christmas special!

  6. Tina says:

    I don’t care who thinks watching TV is a waste of time…I love it! And I use that time to look at all of Blogs that I have so conviently signed up for. Like right now, reading your awesome daily update and watching some programs I recorded ( DVR! What an amazing invention).

  7. gogothrift@etsy.com says:

    You’re my hero…… you’re not a snob about TV or books
    I just finished The Signature of All Things by Melissa Gilbert this past holiday …. ONLY because you gave me permission to lay on my couch and read for 9 hours straight and not feel guilty (even tho I don’t need a break from my DIY-extraordinaire life like you do). I think you wud love it…it involves botony!!, nautical adventures, moss, faith, evolution, sex and redemption…wahoooooo!!!!! Thanks Karen

  8. Edith says:

    I also had not heard of Scandal, or knew who Kerri Washington was, until recently. We sure are hooked now. We’ve been watching three to five episodes every night trying to catch up.

  9. dana says:

    I agree Call the Midwife is good & I love Chummy. My favorite cant miss shows are Bates Motel on A&E & Reven8e. Theres some deep doodoo Ems has gotten herself into on that one. Not sure that you can just jump in & start watching them though without knowing the back stories. love your blog!

  10. nancy w says:

    Ok, I’m almost done with Hawaii 5-0 (only 6 episodes left on the dvr) and these sound like something good to get addicted to for a few marathons. Have you checked out Blacklist? It’s on my list but haven’t watched it yet. Thanks Karen!

  11. Amie Mason says:

    Brooklyn 9-9 fits into my ‘easy-watching-trash’ category; I’m finding it surprisingly addictive, even if it is a little bit clunky in parts.

    My top 3 shows that I have watched recently are: Offspring, Whitechapel and Sherlock. Offspring is a great little Aussie production that I think you will love. Fourth season just finished with a bang. I’m pretty sure it was one of the highest rating shows last year… Let me know if you watch it!

    By the way, have you got the BBC iPlayer app? I’m addicted!

  12. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    I’m shocked you didn’t mention Olivia Pope’s wardrobe! I’m not a fashionista at all, but I still scouted out a fabulous winter white coat inspired by hers. Funky collar included.

    I don’t own a tv but once I discovered Scandal on Netflix, I sat in front of my computer every chance I got for 2 weeks catching up. I loathe predictability and love that there is extremely little.

    Netflix’s show Orange Is The New Black was also excellent if you like character study over plot.

    • Julie says:

      I know! Olivia’s wardrobe is gorgeous…and that white winter coat is to die for!

      • Karen says:

        I believe her white winter coat is Burberry and many, many thousands of dollars. 🙂 Which make sense. It’s what her character would wear. ~ karen!

        • Adrienne in Atlanta says:

          Correct on the outrageously overpriced Burberry. Luckily I found a great one at Old Navy and it was $30. It was my coup of the holiday season.

  13. shawna says:

    We started watching Scandal last week and love it. It is reassuring to know that you recommend it as well.

  14. Marianne P. says:

    I totally agree with all your recs. Just found Brooklyn 99 on Hulu – have seen everything else! More good advice! Good luck with the kitchen!

  15. sue says:

    Television can be great, you have to be selective. The series is over, but I started watching, Breaking Bad from the beginning, and kept telling anyone who would listen, to watch it. I always check PBS and find that American Experience is consistently interesting and high quality. Call the Midwife is a favorite on mine, too. I have to admit, that I am always a bit skeptical of network shows but you have peeked my interest. Andy Samberg showed a lot of talent on SNL…perhaps I will give his show a chance. Sometimes, I do feel like a bit of a snob when it comes to network television and I realize I might be missing something quality, but hey, there is only SO much time for television.

  16. Zoe says:

    Love Call the Midwife – new season starts soon! We just started The Killing (the American version) – I’m sure we are late to the party on that one but it’s completely addictive.
    Btw – have you ever watched MI5 / Spooks – it’s on Netflix – if you ever want a show to lose about 100 hours of your life to – that is it….

    Happy Winter TV season 🙂

  17. Su says:

    Justified on FX… just saying… Raylan is hot and the plot twists are crazy

    • Karen says:

      I’ve tried Justified Su, and I just can’t get into it. I loved Westerns, but that one just didn’t do it for me. Deadwood however? LOVED it. ~ karen

      • Su says:

        Justified isn’t really a western – its about a present day federal marshal running after bad guy hillbillys in the south – the Kentucky mafia.. I agree with you on Deadwood – super show!

        • Karen says:

          Yes, I know, lol. But it’s generally categorized as a modern day Western. I might give it another shot, but I’ve tried it twice and it didn’t catch me. ~ karen!

  18. Ann says:

    Watch The Americans. Returning to FX on Feb 26th. Which means they will probably do a season 1 marathon the week before. Great story, intrigue, amazing acting, drama, drama, drama.

  19. Marti says:

    Well-timed post, Karen, since I haven’t left my apartment to go out into the 16 degree air in two days.

    I love Call the Midwife (particularly great Christmas shows, right?), but I think I’ll buy the books for Mom for next Christmas.

    As for why Brooklynn 9-9 is doing so poorly in the ratings, last night was the first time I’d ever seen a trailer for it. What kind of hate does a network exec have to have to do that?

  20. maureen says:

    Have you seen The Goldbergs? Reminds me of The Wonder Years. It’s very funny!
    I’m hooked on Chigaco Fire, too.
    Showcase is running a comedy called Mrs. Brown’s Boys set in Belfast. My husband laughed so hard he couldn’t breathe.
    Doc Martin on PBS is hilarious, too.

  21. Dawn says:

    May I suggest a show for you? Something I just think you will either find hilarious or horrifying, or maybe both.

    Naked and Afraid.

    Seriously. It’s awesome. They drop off two complete strangers somewhere in the wilds of somewhere, completely naked, and drive (or boat) away. Think African savannah, or jungles of Panama, or an island off Costa Rica. It’s crazy stupid and wonderfully frightening all rolled into one!

    You would love it!

    • Karen says:

      Dawn – I actually saw the first little bit of one a couple of weeks ago. It looked ridiculous but funny and strange all at the same time. But over the past decade or so I’ve had my fill of unscripted shows. For the time being I really only seem to crave shows that have a cast, a producer, a director and a slew of writers. 🙂 Which in fact, I guess, describes most reality shows. Hah! ~ karen

  22. Cathy Reeves says:

    Addicted to Midwife, havent’t seen the other two—just great, Karen; another reason to procrastinate on my house chores!

  23. Jodi T. says:

    Karen! This type of post is one of my favorite from you. YOU alone are the reason I found Downton Abbey before most of Texas ;). Thanks for that. I plan on checking out Call the Midwife too. Period drama is my new favorite… As for Scandal, I’ve tried finding season 1 on Hulu (which is where I play catchup, b/c my son hogs the DVR) and it’s not there. I hate starting a new series in the middle.

    • Adrienne in Atlanta says:

      Yeah, this is one that you need the background from episode 1 to move forward. (It’s available on Netflix streaming.)

  24. marilyn says:

    i love tv! just got netflix and have become addicted to breaking bad and we are just starting to watch orange is the new black..call the midwife sounds like something i will love tho..will give it a try, thanks

  25. NikiDee says:

    Are you sitting down? We. Don’t. Own. A. T.V. Even scarier… we don’t miss it. We use Amazon Prime Video. On our computer. It’s just perfect for us. We aren’t water cooler people so if we see something a year later – it’s new to us. I enjoy Call Of The Midwife tremendously (Amazon has plenty of BBC shows including the wonderful Downtown Abbey). I’ll take your word on the others since my books typically win out on couch time.

    • Karen says:

      I couldn’t do without cable let alone TV for one thing because I love to watch the news every night. Even if I already know what’s going on in the world from the computer, I still love to watch the news. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • NikiDee says:

        We stream local news (listening now) & typically read 2 or 3 aggregate web news sources. Then I go have a glass of wine & some chocolate to compensate for all the “bad” news. 😉

  26. Ana Rocadas says:

    I’m with you on Brooklyn 9-9. It’s so underrated and so funny and weird. I didn’t think Andy’s humor would translate to half hour network comedy, but it works. I hope the show doesn’t get cancelled because people dismiss it before they try it.

  27. JebberJay says:

    Consider Damages on Netflix. Whoa. Crazy good. Corrupt lawyers in NYC (Glenn Close = maxi-corrupt) Thanks Karen for the list. I’m a winter watcher like you. I’m a winter knitter too. So I knit and watch TV and drink tea, which makes me sound … like a … SUPERHERO!

  28. Mary says:

    Love Call the Midwife, Downton Abby, and Last Tango in Halifax. All PBS and all wonderful. How many of you love Longmire and Major Crimes? We are still in love with Big Bang Theory. A lot of good t.v. To watch.

    • Grammy says:

      Yes! Longmire and Major Crimes. And Big Bang Theory.

      Also Elementary. All the best Sherlockian stuff set this side of the pond with Lucy Liu playing Watson perfectly. Excellent.

  29. Brenda says:

    I just watched “Brooklyn 9-9” last night for the first time. Definitely a mood lifter! The other new show that I love, love, love is “The Crazy Ones” with Robin Williams & Sarah Michelle Gellar. The show is super funny and I LIVE for the bloopers at the end of each episode. Have never heard of “Call the Midwife” but I might have to read the book(s) first.

    • Dee says:

      This is one time reading the book beforehand will ruin the series…ask me how I know. Spoils too much. I’m still kicking myself.

  30. Julie says:

    So glad Scandal is getting some love! I’ve been watching it in real time since the first episode, and no one I asked had ever seen it…sadly I dont think it is on again until the end of February….

  31. Kristin says:

    Sherlock is my current favorite. Can’t wait for Season 3! Actually, my daughter found a way to confuse her computer into thinking it was in the UK, and was able to stream the latest two episodes on her laptop. I watched one of them with her and unfortunately couldn’t keep my eyes open for the second one–not because it isn’t interesting, but because I am currently in Winter Sleep Schedule mode (I tend to fall asleep around 9 pm.)

  32. Barbie says:

    Perfect timing! I just finished “Breaking Bad” on Netflix. Now I need another show that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I will try Scandal now. I use it to motivate me to exercise …..I can go for a couple of hours on my elliptical when I’m watching a good drama! Ha!

    • Karen says:

      Barbie – For that kind of TV I’d also recommend Homeland. All in all a better show than Scandal, but both are addictive. ~ karen!

  33. Barbie says:

    OH! and I will DEF try Midwife! If you say it’s as good as Downton. !!! Thx Karen!

  34. I watched the Midwife show on netflix. Was pretty good!. Will keep the other two show in mind after I finish season 8 of Dexter!

  35. Anita says:

    I just have to share my claim to fame… Stephanie Beatriz’s (Rosa on Broklyn 99) mom is my son’s Spanish tutor. Small world, eh? I never would have watched it if she hadn’t told me her daughter was in “this new little show” I might like. Yup, I like it (Not for young kids!) Agree Midwife is excellent. and if you haven’t yet seen Sherlock — you must!!

    • Karen says:

      That’s great! I love the character Rosa! Well tell her Mom I’m watching too. 🙂 And hopefully a few more people after this post. ~ karen!

  36. sarah b says:

    great suggestions! i couldn’t find brooklyn 9-9 on netflix, but the others are available.

    other shows to consider: Homeland, Veep, Getting On. Veep (HBO) is with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the VP of the US. Very funny. Getting On (HBO) is with Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Neicy Nash & is set in the geriatric long-term care wing of a hospital. Funny, sad. 1st season just ended.

  37. viveka says:

    I totally agree with the two first series … the 3rd I never heard of, will check up now – thanks for the tips .. and I would to say that the best series for me is “House of Cards” – absolutely brilliant show.

  38. Jcrn says:

    I love Call the Midwife and am watching a quirky and funny show (so far, 3 episodes in) called Lillehammer, about a mobster who testifies against another mobster ( yawn worthy so far, right?) and then….TA DA…ask to get sent to Lillyhammer as part of a witness protection program.

    The series was a HUGE hit in Norway and I am so happy it is now available here. It is laugh out loud funny at times and totally endearing and poignant at others. It is just…surprising.

    Oh, and I DID read Call the Midwife and would recommend watching the series instead. Maybe it was just me but I found the writing a bit flat.

  39. Sheryl says:

    Love Scandal and Breaking Bad. Here are a couple of my quirky faves. Shameless about a worthless alcoholic dad and the kids that learn to cope with life on their own. Dark but sometimes downright hilarious. Another dark creepy one that I think is great (and just renewed for season 2) is Hannibal which is a prequel to the movies and is set while the Dr. was working with the police before he was discovered to be a killer. Excellent after you get used to the actor that play Dr. Lecter. And yeah, Raylan on justified is HOT.

  40. beth says:

    Okay have you seen ‘Homeland’, or ‘Masters of Sex’. I was all in with Scandal then got busy this fall and only saw a few episodes this season, can’t wait to have the time to catch up with K
    erri, I could watch just for her wardrobe. I am a ‘Shameless’ junkie it never fails to surprise me, New season starts the 12 of January. I am anxiously awaiting the third season of ‘Blue’ with Julia Stiles on HULU. Wish they would hurry up already, its a great show, essentially each episode is 15 minutes long and both seasons go by so fast! Let me know what you think!

  41. Karen says:

    Since we only get tv over the air our watching is hit or miss. However! We do watch HULU (free) at lunch and supper. We have our fav shows lined up and when they come in we get to watch ‘The Middle,’ so FUNNY; ‘Bones,’ very interesting; ‘Revolution,’ good if you can suspend your common sense; ‘Doc Martin,’ possibly the BEST show I have ever seen – we watch that series over and over. We saw all the ‘Call the Midwife’ on PBS, but you have to catch it the week after it shows on air because it goes away. My hubby is nuts for ‘NCIS’ with Mark Harmon, and we both love ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ We own all six seasons on dvd and watch those frequently. If you don’t own a smart tv hook that baby up with a dedicated pc and watch tons of stuff you can get on the internet. I will try ‘Scandal’ and ‘Brooklyn 9-9’ if I can get it on the internet or over the air for free. I’m all about the FREE.

  42. Ev says:

    “Call The Midwife” is wonderful! I really like TV that involves true history. Downton Abbey is a biggie-love how it follows history, and the clothes are awesome!

  43. Janie says:

    I watch Scandal..yes..it IS good. And Brooklyn 99? I watched when it first started and wasn’t sure but gave it another chance because I like Andre Braugher but it is funny..I do watch it..Our family is SOO media..I get such a kick out of watching a show in front of a computer and tweeting (or at least reading what “they” tweet and jumping to websites to check where you saw that actor before..love it..we should be in some kind of business!! LOL…I never heard of Call the Midwife but it sounds interesting…I will have to check it out. I LOVE News Room…..

  44. Mary Jane says:

    Check out SILK, a British legal drama that aired on PBS in the fall. The lead actor is Maxine Peake, who I love. Her character has a lot of integrity and she has compassion for the underdog. If you have not read RUTH, by Elizabeth Gaskill, it is a great read. My favourite book of all time.

  45. Trish R says:

    I’m two for three on this list. Love Scandal and love Brooklyn 99! I’m going to have to give the first one a try. Great taste Karen!

  46. Wendy says:

    If you like Chummy in Call the Midwife, played by Miranda Hart, then you should look out for her comedy show, Miranda, is is really funny and quirky. She is a great talent. I also agree that Silk is another must watch show along with Doc Martin.

  47. Dana says:

    I’m OBSESSED with Call the Midwife! Love it (more than Downton Abbey…shhh)!

  48. Dana says:

    It might only be on Netflix, but the show Derek is heartwarming, funny, sometimes sad, and definitely quirky. Ricky Gervais is fantastic in it. It’s a mockumentary type show set in a nursing home. There’s only 1 season so far…I hope they make more!

    • Karen says:

      I got halfway through the first season of Derek but stopped watching it for some reason. I’ll give it another look. ~ karen!

  49. dana says:

    Nobody else but moi watches Reven8e???

  50. Giovanna says:

    thank you again for the suggestions… Call the Midwife sounds intriguing. Can I suggest an incredible series, too – only one season yet, 8 episodes, but terribly addictive and different from your run-of-the-mill supernatural drama series. The Returned, a French series (original title: “Les Revenants”). I promise it is worth watching (and the soundtrack is great as well), check it out.

  51. Jaime Rose says:

    1. If you love Call the Midwife, then give the Bletchley Circle a try. It’s about women who were codebreakers in WWII who have to go back to being wives/mothers and find a new postwar purpose (trying not to give spoilers here) after getting restless with the typical housewife roles. It is on PBS as well. I think it may be on Netflix too.

    2. You Canadian ladies probably already know about Bomb Girls, but if you haven’t watched it, I totally recommend it. It is about Canadian women who build bombs for WWII. The outfits are fantastic and it is a really positive female message without being preachy at all. It is on Netflix.

    • Jaime Rose says:

      I can’t believe I forgot the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. It is on Netflix and it’s an Australian show (I think) and the costumes are fantastic.

    • Dee says:

      Yes, yes, yes for Bletchley Circle. Loved it. Any idea if there will be a second season?

  52. SeaDee says:

    “The Good Wife” and “Scandal” are the shows I watch live.
    Also love “Suits” on USA Network (the pilot is sooo good!).

  53. Gail says:

    Love Scandal- have been a fan since the beginning! Also, Took 2 weeks to get through 4 seasons of Breaking Bad………………fantastic! And so good to see Brian Cranston got a Golden Globe award for his performance!. Yeah– and I adore The Midwife! House of Cards was neat too! Good performance by Kevin Spacey. An indepth into the world of politics and how the wheels turn….

  54. kathryn says:

    Funny to hear about these US remakes of UK series like House of Cards, Shameless, The Office & Getting On. I’m not aware that we do the same with US series; we just watch the originals. I guess the UK population is more familiar with US cultural references than vice versa?

    Anyway, my recommendations for those who enjoy a bit of original, eccentric British (with a touch of Irish) humour are: Black Books; Toast of London; Him & Her; The IT Crowd and (oldie but goodie) Johnny Depp’s favourite (they wrote him a role in a special at his request) The Fast Show. Amongst many, many others.

    x

  55. tj says:

    True Detective is incredibly good. I just started watching it and had to tell you! I think the TV shows series is my favourite of yours.

  56. tj says:

    I just want to add The Americans to my suggestion. It’s also a great show.

    Enjoy Thailand!

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