3 TV Shows You Should be Watching.
Part III

I can’t remember exactly when the last time we discussed television shows was but I think I was in my  HBO phase.  I’m pretty much always in my HBO phase. Which is a bit of a shame, because lately HBO doesn’t even seem to be in their HBO phase.  Dustin Hoffman’s racetrack drama, Luck anyone?  Barf.  On so many levels.

 

 

 

The fella and I both got hooked on the first show I’m going to feature by a former colleague.  Heh.  I said colleague. I feel so grown up.  So this former colleague of mine, we’ll call him … Fameison, because it rhymes with his real name, Jamieson, Tweeted about watching Downton Abbey.

I Tweeted back something that would encourage him to explain further.  What the hell’s Downton Abbey you loser?   Or something like that.  Turns out the best way to describe Downton Abbey is how he described it.  It’s part period drama part soap opera that’s “So well written it makes you feel like you’re reading instead of watching television.”  That about sums it up.

Downton Abbey is one of the best television shows ever made in my opinion.  Yup.  The show takes place at the home (more like a castle) of lower level British Royalty (think Ladies, Dukes and Countesses)  starting in the year 1912.  It follows their lives and the lives of their house  help. And there’s a LOT of house  help.  Servers, maids, cooks, valets, butlers and footmen.  It looks like each episode cost about 3 billion, trillion dollars to make.  And that’s just for the costumes.

Here’s a quick look at Downton Abbey …

 

 

And …. just so you know it isn’t all serious drama, watch this next clip featuring the immensely talented Maggie Smith.  Downton Abbey is also laugh out loud hilarious at times.

 

If you vowed long ago to stop watching television or to limit it to something stupid … like the local news … THIS is the show that you should be willing to break  your vows for.  THIS is the kind of show that can make a person break a promise.

 

 

Onto the next!   A few years ago I was shooting a show for W Network in Canada called “W Expert Challenge”.  The head of the production company that produced the show, we’ll call him Scott,  ’cause that’s his name, was constantly running around the set spouting lines from a show he’d been watching.  Then … out of nowhere the camera guy starting spouting back.  And then another guy and another.  No girls oddly.  So, I ignored their attempts to bully me into watching this show they kept quoting.

Then a few nights ago … I decided to watch it.  The fella recommended it and he pretty much knows what I’ll like and what I won’t like.  I don’t like stupid comedy and this show is a bit of a stupid comedy.  You know, the sort of thing that would appeal to a 15 year old boy.  So I was a bit worried about how well I’d like it but I laughed out loud from about the first 3 minutes.  The show was created by Chris Lilley with 3 of the shows main characters played by Chris Lilley.  The entire series is only 7 or 8 episodes long.  I watched them all in 2 nights.  Laughing OUT LOUD the entire time.  Chris Lilley … is a genius.   If you like Little Britain, chances are you’ll like this.  If you like funny, chances are you’ll like this.

 

Granted, this isn’t the greatest trailer in the world, but it’s the best I could find. If you search around on You Tube you can find full episodes of Summer Heights High.  And you should.

 


The Killing is a police drama revolving around a murder investigation. It takes place in real time and is absolutely haunting. I watched the entire first season in 3 nights.

Like a lot of the shows I watch, it was recommended to me by the fella. He told me if I didn’t credit him with introducing me to all of the good shows, there were gonna be issues.  BIG issues.   He didn’t specify what those issues would be, but I suspect it involves a can of Silly String and 4 a.m.

So while there is plenty, PLENTY of really bad television, there’s also plenty of really good television. You just have to find it. Or … have someone find it for you.

 

p.s.  I’m over guest blogging for Erin at Lemon Sugar today!  If you missed my pizza sauce recipe the first time around go on over and have a look at it there.  In fact, go on  over anyway! 


75 Comments

  1. Jan says:

    Love Downton Abbey and other great UK import Doc Martin. Awaiting with great anticipation new HBO Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) series debuting next month. Newsroom.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC8ovJYAU3U

    • MJ says:

      Those are both great! I watched all there was to watch of them on Netflix streaming and am seriously ready for more. You’d probably like George Gently too.

      To add to the list, Life, Kidnapped, and Kingdom. Check ’em out.

      • kris says:

        you can watch season 2 of Downton Abbey on the PBS website

        • Jennifer H. says:

          Kris,
          I’ve been obsessively checking the PBS site and haven’t been able to find Season 2 episodes anywhere! Where are they? Or was it only while the show was playing on TV and then you could view them for a limited time on the site?

          • kris says:

            Gosh — sorry! I just checked and can’t find it myself. I guess you’re right — it’s only on the PBS website for a bit while the episodes are airing. I was so happy they did have them online, though, since Netflix only had Season 1 at the time.

          • Jen says:

            They removed them so you have to purchase them.
            (boo!) They are available on itunes for download.

  2. Fiona says:

    If you liked Summer Heights High, you should watch ‘We can be heroes’ also by Chris Lilley, in which he plays almost every part – I think he lpayed about 8 characters. Its a mockumentary. And hilarious. Funnier than Summer Heights High. Its also where the character of Ja’amie was first aired.

    • Karen says:

      LOVE Ja’amie! ~ karen

      • Belinda says:

        I was about to recommend ‘We Can Be Heroes” too…I think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. And as for Downton Abbey – brilliance! I watched season 2 over a couple of days, and can’t wait for season 3. I love the Dowager Countess character the most.

        • kathryn says:

          I’d also thoroughly recommend another Chris Lilley masterpiece, Angry Boys. But most of all, Bob’s Burgers. Wondrous. I think the Art Crawl episode in the first series of Bob’s Burgers might be my most favourite piece of television.
          ay-nuss! ay-nuss!! AY-NUSS!!!
          watch-bobs-burgers-online.net.

          • Laura says:

            I totally second Bob’s Burgers! Funny and warped beyond belief. I don’t know which kid is my favorite – they get the best throwaway lines. Oh, and during the opening credits, don’t forget to check out the signs on storefront next door and the exterminator van – they change every week. We didn’t realize this until a few episodes into season 2 – the only drawback to the DVR. Please watch it! I’m honestly shocked it made it past the first season – I thought we were the only ones watching it.

            • Sue says:

              We love Bob’s Burger’s too! I also like watching for the “burger of the day” on his chalkboard-cleverrr! Maybe some restaurants need to hire comedy writers to do their menus…

  3. Ashley says:

    You have convinced me to watch Downton Abbey. It will be a nice change from Real Housewives and Teen Mom;)

  4. Laura Bee says:

    We almost cancelled the cable two days ago. (the bastards talked us out of it & gave us a great deal [again!]) Downton Abbey would have been a show we would miss. Great pick!

  5. Carol-Anne says:

    I loved Summer Heights High!!! Hilarious!

  6. Bridget says:

    Get ready, you”ll have loads of people commenting on how they ADORE Downton Abbey.

    My mom told me about it ages ago, then I found it on Neflix. Fortunately the second season was just starting and I taped the episodes while I watched Season 1. I devoured those tv shows! Counting the minute until Season 3.

    I love British TV, so I will definitely check out the others mentioned.

    Thanks for previewing these shows for us!

  7. Erica says:

    Karen, I just started watching Downton last week! So funny that you would post this. I’ve seen a few bloggers mention that they love it, so I rented the first season from Redbox (later found out it’s on Netflix too) and watched the whole first season within 24 hours! It is THAT GOOD! My husband and I are working on season 2 now. I just wish Matthew & Mary would get their lives together… it would be the ultimate resolution in the show. Maybe that’s how it will end? And can I just publicly say that I hate Thomas! I know the show is written to make people dislike him, but I really despise him!

  8. Jules says:

    I just watched the first season of The Killing too- in 2 nights..loved it! Just loaded Downton abbey onto netflix and will be watching..have loved every reccomendation you have made in the past! Thanks as always Karen 🙂

  9. ev says:

    We don’t get “Summer Heights High” here, but it seems pretty outrageous and funny.
    Downton Abbey is amazing and I was lucky enough to get season one & two on DVD. The costumes are great, as is the abbey itself. Acting seems perfect. I await season three!

  10. Judy says:

    Thanks, Karen! I must be living in a bubble not to have seen these. Of course, I don’t know how you can stay awake to watch anything after the days of creativity you put in.

  11. Michelle says:

    How about GIRLS? Have you seen it yet ? Really really good

    • Karen says:

      Not yet. I think the fella did a quick pass and found it unworthy. However, I’ll check it out myself. No time right now. But later. ~ karen!

  12. Barbie says:

    Looking forward to checking these out. Especially Downtown Abbey.
    What is it about Summer Heights High that you like so much? You just said it made you laugh out loud, but why? Your right, the trailer didn’t really make me want to watch it, but I trust your opinion so I do want to give it a try. Always looking for something better and more interesting.

  13. Traci says:

    I don’t have HBO and I don’t usually like television at all but Downton Abbey looks like it would be really good! Plus, I love Prof McGonagal!

  14. Karla says:

    Already hooked on Downton Abby, but I love all BBC television, basically all I watch. But I will check out these other shows…say thanks to the fella!

  15. Rachel B. says:

    I’ve just been getting into Downton Abbey, mostly because of Maggie Smith.

    Also, I would highly recommend the original Danish series of The Killing (Forbrydelsen), as it’s just as haunting, but with the added benefit of involving a culture whose body language is completly different than any north american’s. It was fantastic and amazing and beautiful, if only for Sarah Lund’s sweaters. I don’t know why the US has such an obsession with remaking already good television shows. I found the AMC one good, but not quite as heart-rending.

    • Clare says:

      I totally agree Rachel. The Danish version of The Killing was fantastic. We have just put the US version in our Netflix queue, but are wondering if it will live up to the original.
      We are watching another Danish/Swedish co-production at the moment called The Bridge. It is equally as good as The Killing. If you liked it, you should look out for it.
      Borgen was another powerful Danish series, about the rise to power of a woman Prime Minister. Well worth watching. The Danes are making amazing television at the moment.
      Just put Downton Abbey in the Netflix queue, too. I think we must be the only people on the planet who haven’t watched it yet. My beloved doesn’t like ‘bonnet dramas’, but even he has decided that he might watch it given the weight of opinion.
      We have been late adopters of Breaking Bad, too, but are now totally into it.

  16. Susan Sutherland says:

    OMG another Chris Lilly series!!! I have the DVD “We can be heroes” sent to me by Aussie friends. It’s also hilarious and has similar characters as are in Summer Heights High. I can hardly wait to check out SHH on youtube.
    I also love, love, love Downton Abbey and have seen all the episodes(it was shown in Florida in the winter on PBS) and am anxiously awaiting the third season that I think is now in production.

  17. AmieM says:

    If you liked The Killing, you would like Durham County.

  18. Karol says:

    You should try the new (present day) Sherlock Holmes on PBS. Great actors and fast moving. Last season had only 3 episodes and the new season has just started. Even my husband likes it and he doesn’t watch anything.

  19. Jamieson says:

    This time we agreed on all shows! I have another BBC gem for you: a hilarious sitcom called Miranda. She is a self-deprecating, physically awkward mid-30s gal. It’s Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em if it starred mid-90s Ellen playing a Bridget Jones.
    It’s only 2 seasons of 6 episodes each (3 season coming out this fall). I only have it digitally so I’ll have to mail it to you on a USB key or sumpin.
    Yours,
    Famieson

  20. Jamieson says:

    Also, you must watch The Comeback, an HBO comedy starring Lisa Kudrow from about 5 years ago. It’s really really uncomfortable to watch and I had to sit through the first episode twice before I began to appreciate it. But then it was just the BEST! Very quotable if you like that.

  21. Jane says:

    My best TV watching has also come from this blog – so THANK YOU fella!!

  22. Court says:

    All three of these are fantastic (as is Sherlock, mentioned above), but for several laugh-till-you-cry moments, check out the IT Crowd, if you’re not already familiar. The British comedy streams instantly on Netflix. If you can get past the laugh track, its laugh out loud, and one of my absolute favorite TV comedies!

    • Jane says:

      Just finished watching this and had to thank you! So many brilliant moments in this series… had me in tears!!

      • Court says:

        Yay! I’m glad you liked it! Just thinking of the episode where Roy usies the disabled restroom makes me giggle. 🙂

  23. Jen says:

    You need these to tide you over until Downton Abbey Season 3. Stumbled across them during season 2 and laughed my head off. They’re hilarious! http://www.vulture.com/2012/02/print-out-vultures-downton-abbey-paper-dolls.html.

  24. Katherine says:

    I found Downtown Abby in January on Netflix, then I bought season 3 on Amazon. The BEST show ever! Trued to stretch 3 seasons over 3 months. I wanted it to last forever. I even have my husband hooked. Fabulous in every way!

  25. kris says:

    Check out the Jimmy Fallon spoof of Downton Abbey on youtube — it is perfect. You will watch it several times, I guarantee. (OMG – “Hedith,” Bates’ leg, those little bells at the start … I have watch it again now.)

  26. Mary Werner says:

    Nothing can take the place of Fawlty Towers with John Cleese. Nothing!!!! Only 13 episodes and I still laugh at them after 20 years!

  27. Rachel says:

    Now that we’ve had the update on what you are watching, please give us the update on what you are reading.

    • Karen says:

      Rachel – LOL, I’m actually reading books that were recommended to me by readers on my last “book” post. Some I liked some I didn’t. I’ll do an update soon. ~ karen!

  28. Aly says:

    Two of my favorite shows are Downton and Summer Heights! So I will definitely have to check out The Killing, since it seems we have similiar taste in TV.

    My mom and I like to do impressions of the Dowager Countess whenever we have too much wine. Maggie Smith is completely hilarious in that show! “Electricity in the kitchen? Whatever for??” She needs her own spin off show.

  29. jen says:

    Love all the shows you mentioned. Here are a few others based on those three:

    Sherlock Holmes on PBS (awesome, awesome. and yes, each “season” is only 3 episodes)

    I.T. Crowd (available on Netflix streaming) – British comedy, 3 seasons long and hilarious…though the first episode is probably the least funny, so start with something else. 🙂

    Will also second the recommendation for Bob’s Burgers (hands down my favorite animated show in recent years)

  30. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Well, I guess it is time to break down and watch Downton Abbey..it will a great “something to do” while I recuperate from my surgery..which by the way was postponed as of yesterday..until next Friday..at least it gives me time to get some veggies planted..going to check you out at Lemon Sugar now..

    • Karen says:

      Nancy – I wondered what you were doing commenting when you were supposed to be in surgery yesterday! ~ karen

  31. I too am a HUGE D.A. fan. So “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!” 🙂

  32. kris says:

    Vanity Fair published Downton Abbey trading cards:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2012/02/downton-abbey-trading-cards-finale-christmas-special#slide=1

    (thank you to Quinn Anderson who finds all the funny Downton stuff and forwards to her mom Karen — see Karen’s El Mismo Sol button on this homepage, on the right!)

  33. Reg says:

    I absolutely adore Downton Abbey. I’m glad so many enjoy it.
    If this has been mentioned, sorry I missed it, but Shirley MacLaine is going to play Cora’s [Countess Grantham] mother visiting from over the pond in season 3. I can’t wait to see Maggie Smith and Shirley MacLaine in scenes together. Sparks will fly.
    If anyone enjoys ‘cop shows’ one of the best ever on HBO is The Wire. Gritty, brutal sometimes, mesmerizing flawed characters, and I think the fella would like it.

  34. jj says:

    We don’t do TV (<<<best Maggie Smith voice here) However, Downton Abbey is the exception. We watch it religiously.

  35. Rebecca says:

    Everytime you do a tv post and you mention shows I LOVE, I get so excited. I couldn’t agree more with all of these.

  36. kelliblue says:

    Guess I’ll have to get my TV out of the mothballs…haven’t watched in nearly 3 years! 🙁

  37. karenagain says:

    I wish I knew how to work my satelite system. I have a million channels and I never know what’s on or where to find anything. I’m not even stupid. I just keep it on 532 Deja View and switch to 333 for Coronation Street Sunday mornings. Oh, and 652 for Maury weekday mornings. That’s it. Once I hit guide and landed on Modern Family (I think it was called that) it was a great show, but I never found it again.

  38. Jan says:

    Please tell me you all watched the series “Homeland” with Claire Daines. Riveting! Karen, your fella would also love it too.

    • Karen says:

      Jan – The fella has both watched and highly recommended it to me. No time yet, but it’s on the list. ~ karen

  39. nancy says:

    I love Downton Abbey and love Maggie Smith so much. She’s so funny. I have heard rumors that she is going to die off at her request during season 3 which might break my heart. My sister has watched it all so often her husband is worried about her. My BF wanted to know why, at the beginning of every single episode, he has to see a dog’s ass.

  40. Bobbi says:

    At first I loved DA…but somewhere along the way I didn’t much care what happened to these folks…made it halfway through the second season, I think. Not to be a spoiler, but the relationship between the going to war guy and ditsy maid girl sort of turned me off……..maybe I should give it another try ?

  41. i watched the killing 1st season in one day and the first 7 episodes the following day. i can’t believe that i now have to wait to see the 8th. i love marathons!

  42. Julie says:

    Friday night home alone and into my 4th episode of Downton Abbey, thanks so much for the recommendation. Favourite (as in went back and watched it 3 times!), Maggie Smith quote so far: “Why? She didn’t know him. One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.” LOVE her!! 🙂

  43. Sandy says:

    Downton Abbey….oh yes…we’ve watched that ever since it first came on…& even watch all the re-runs. Love all the clothes, as well as the settings. So beautiful. Can’t wait until the next season begins. One of our very favorite shows.

    Sandy

  44. Shay says:

    Hey Karen,

    Found your blog about a year ago and once stayed up almost all night reading every post. You are responsible for the following 3 significant changes in my day-to-day life: 1) chopping onions more efficiently 2) trying to grow stuff, and 3) watching _Breaking Bad_ (after swearing I would never watch it because I thought the wood paneling in Brian Cranston’s house in the show was “too depressing”–not the selling of meth, not the cancer, but the freakin’ wood paneling. You have to draw a line somewhere. Anyway, I am so glad your reasoning was able to override mine because it is a highlight of our week and we have you to thank. So thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Shay! Thanks for letting me know that. I often wonder what people take away from this blog. If it’s Breaking Bad … that’s pretty good. ~ karen!

  45. Gayla T says:

    I gave up TV years ago when we lived north of Topeka on a big lake. We had cable but you could only have it on one TV so youngest son was still home and he and hubby would gang up to watch sports and I went to my room and read. When Hub died and I moved to town I got dish but found I didn’t watch it much and when I moved here I can’t get it because of the heavy canopy of trees over the house. I’ve been w/o it for 14 months and really only miss it when the tornado siren go off and no TV weather man to hold my hand and everyone I know is in their basements and their cell phones won’t work. I watch a lot of PBS on my ‘puter and love the English dramas as a rule so I’ll be hunting aroud for this one. I’m not surprised you don’t like comedy movies. Again, I was ganged up on by hub and son and was taken, kicking and screaming, to see Dumb and Dummer. About ten minutes into the movie I noticed them whispering and they both stood up and took my arm and pulled me along. I couldn’t imagine why I had to accompany them to the men’s room but was more than happy to go anywhere but where I was. Amazingly, we left the theater. They had been whispering about it being worth it to keep me there and have to listen to my comments the rest of their lives or not. Not won! The part I don’t get is why they would have thought I’d make them suffer if we had stayed. Not me! I’ve never carried a grudge for more than ten years or so and probably would have gotten over this one in only 8 or 9 years. LOL

  46. nikki says:

    we got rid of cable because we were sick of all the lame programming….or the real reason…because were cheap as h$%*#. anyway we only watch hulu and movies and old series. were just now jumping on the Lost badwagon, better late than never. however ive been seeing the Downtown Abbey commercials on hulu and I think Ill give the series a whirl now. Mainly and only because you told me to.

  47. Jodi T. says:

    Karen,
    Just wanted to come back and THANK YOU for recommending Downton Abbey. I. Love. This. Show. For. Real. 😛

    The second season just became available on Hulu, and I waited very impatiently, after watching the first season until my eyeballs almost fell out 🙂

    Thanks again!
    Jodi

  48. Shannon V. says:

    Great stuff. I have Downton Abbey Series 1 & 2 on DVD. My daughter & I watched them in about 4 nights….very addictive. Waiting with baited breath for series 3 in January

  49. Janet Kateusz says:

    I totally agree about Downton Abby. Was hooked from first show. Just starting Season 3. Sorry about the Fella.

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