Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
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Addictive and wonderful TV and cable shows

September 26, 2016

Tags: best TV shows, series, great TV, what to watch tonight

I created this list for friends who ask "what's to watch?", but send it so often I decided to post it here. I did not try to cover the universe and I do update it periodically (especially after I binge-watch something). A helpful tool: GoWatchIt, a "comprehensive guide to finding movies and TV shows on the platforms you care about – in theaters, online, on TV, or on Blu-ray/DVD." I am also adding links to the New York Times "Watching" feature, which provides helpful brief reviews.
• Accused (BBC drama series follows people accused of crimes as each awaits the verdict of their trial)
• American Crime (ABC). Good actors take on different roles in compelling, sometimes depressing stories.
• American Odyssey
• • • • The Americans (FX). Read Joshua Rothman's New Yorker piece, The Cruel Irony of "The Americans. I have loved it all but it did bog down in a couple of places midseason.
• The Assets (an eight-part American drama television miniseries based on the real-life Aldrich Ames CIA/treason case)
• Berkeley Square (1998 British dramatic television series in which three young women from very different backgrounds meet, become friends and share experiences)
• Better Call Saul (an eccentric but likeable spinoff from Breaking Bad; a flawed but likeable hero with a strangely defective relative)
• • • Bloodline (Netflix original, and definite binge-watch material). Vox review with spoilers ("I liked it more than any single season of House of Cards" but also "shows what’s wrong with most of Netflix’s original series")
• • • • Breaking Bad (fabulous and I loved it, but it's violent and not family fare--undervalued chemistry teacher becomes quiet behind-the-scenes druglord).
•Broadchurch (BBC and PBS) A "deliberate, slowly unfolding mystery procedural with terrific performances from a fine cast" in the setting of a small, market town in Dorset.
• Brotherhood (30-episode crime drama series, 2006--08, set in an Irish neighborhood in Providence, revolving around two brothers on opposite sides of the law: one a gangster and the other a politician)
• Burn Notice (formulaic but good for when you want something mindless)
• • Call the Midwife (a BBC period drama series about a group of nurse midwives working in the East End of London, starting in the late 1950s and working its way up into more modern times. Watch on PBS on Demand or Netflix Streaming). PSA: You Should Be Watching ‘Call the Midwife’ on Netflix (Dana Schwartz, Observer, 5-25-17)
• Chancer (Clive Owen is the reason to watch this crime series, in which a business adviser with a moral code and an unresolved family past uses all means necessary to help his friends out of financial ruin)
• Cranford. British television series starring Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton, based on novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. "In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies."
• The Crimson Field
•DeadwoodAmerican western television series set in the late 1800s, revolving around the characters of Deadwood, South Dakota, a town of deep corruption and crime. Loved it, but not for kids.
• Dexter. By day, mild-mannered Dexter is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police. At night, he is a serial killer with a sense of humor, who only targets other murderers. If you are susceptible to this kind of addiction, don't even watch one episode.
• Dicte (streaming, Netflix) Danish crime drama, based on Elsebeth Egholm's crime novels.
• The Durrells in Corfu
• The Duchess of Duke Street (1976-77 -- watched years ago and loved it: In early 1900s London, kitchen maid Louisa Trotter's looks and drive enable her to become a celebrated cook and hotelier in this BBC costume drama, available on Netflix)
• East Enders (BBC, on PBS). My chief addiction. I have known only one other person who watches it regularly, and the accents make it hard for many to follow, but the accents, but on the rare occasions when I've missed a segment I felt terrible. What's more, PBS shows only two episodes a week. so the American show is about 9 years behind the British show. Which means I will die without having caught up! See State of EastEnders 2014 From A Yank’s Point of View (Larry Jaffee, publisher of Walford Gazette, HuffPost, UK, 3-24-14)
• Everwood. (American drama series in which a widowed brain surgeon from Manhattan moves his two children to the small mountain town of Everwood, Colorado. I really liked this but they didn't "finish it.")
• Everybody Loves Raymond (cheerful fare about family life in Long Island)
• • • • Friday Night Lights. Avoided it for years because I thought it was about football (which is incidental). Gave it 2 or 3 episodes and then I was hooked, right through the wonderful ending.) Read this: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Couldn't Lose: An oral history of Friday Night Lights (Robert Mays, (more…)