Around the world on the small screen

My wife and I enjoy watching TV shows that tend to have more dialogue and plot, so we spend a lot of time watching shows produced outside of the US. This is not to say there are not good shows produced here as we watch several. But when these foreign shows are aired on PBS, they are sans commercials and can be focused on. You may not care for these or have not given them a try, so here is a taste of a few.

800 Words – is an Australian produced show about a unique coastal town in New Zealand called Weld, a made up name. In short, a columnist father moves his two teen children from Sydney after his wife dies suddenly, to a town called Weld he visited as a child. The town is replete with unique people and he captures this on a column he writes online called “800 Words.” It is not unlike “Northern Exposure” made in the US a few years ago.

A Place to Call Home – is another Australia based series which follows the travails of one family whose widowed head of household falls for a Jewish woman. The show is set in the 1950s, so there are lingering biases toward some Italian descendents as well as recurring prejudice toward this woman. There is enough machinations going on to keep people interested, with a power hungry women trying to upset everything and the head of household’s mother who has the best part to play.

Two other Australian shows which we have enjoyed are Doctor Blake Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The former is about a forensic doctor who had been in special forces during the second world war, while the latter is about an avant garde woman in the 1920s who is a clever mystery solver. It also has one of the best theme songs around.

From the UK, we have several we watch and none are Downtown Abbey, which we have seen a few of, but caught on too late.

Endeavour – is a police detective series set in the late 1960s and 70s. It focuses on the camaraderie of an older and younger detective team (Inspectors Thursday and Morse), but there is a close knit team that abets their efforts. The shows are 90 minutes long, so require a little more investment of time.

Call the Midwife  it started out tracing the diaries of a midwife in England from the late 1950s over four years, but has continued well beyond into the 1960s. The issues, the attire, the lower middle class and poverty are all well researched and presented. They covered the Thalidomide babies who were born with severe deformities, abortion, unwed mothers, rape, disease, and environmental toxins.

Other shows we enjoy are Father Brown, about a crime solving Catholic priest and Grantchester, about the friendship of a Church of England vicar and police officer who solve crimes together. Both are set in different time periods which add to the nostalgia. We also watch Midsomer Murders and Doc Martin. 

A limited series show from the UK is called “Unforgotten,” is about a team that digs into old cases when a body is discovered years later. It is very somber, but well done, as the detectives have their own problems as they explore those of others.

Finally, a Canadian show is of interet called “Burden of Proof.” It features the relationship between a very capable, but disillusioned attorney who left her father’s firm and a small town attorney who continues to surprise her with his capabilities and due diligence.

Let me know what you think. Do you like these? Do you have others you prefer?

29 thoughts on “Around the world on the small screen

  1. I have seen a few of those you mentioned. Father Brown is a good detective show. It reminds me of Murder She Wrote. Another show I loved to watch was New Tricks; a detective series with an ensemble cast. It ran for 12 seasons.

  2. Note to Readers: I just realized I should have mentioned Poldark. The women love the lead actor, especially when he takes his shirt off, but I must confess debating which of three leading ladies is more attractive. Yet, at its heart is good intrigue.

  3. I haven’t watched any of them Keith (not even the British ones I am afraid). I do watch a bit of TV, but it tends to be documentaries or docudramas rather than fictional plots.
    I did watch the box set of ‘Boardwalk Empire.’ The HBO 5-season, series was loosely based on the life of the real Enoch (Nucky) Thompson, and his dealings with underworld booze and drug cartels (Rothstein, Capone, etc) and IRA gun running during the prohibition era. It was very good, but a few years old now.

    • Thanks Colette. I do enjoy documentaries as well, but if I only watched them, I might be divorced. I did not watch Boardwalk Empire, but from what you describe it sounds interesting. Keith

      • Colette, I see the resemblance.

        What I found interest in reading before the election is Trump’s father did not want to do business in Atlantic City as he did not want to deal with organized crime. So, for the most part, he stayed away, but there is one story where he relented. After signing some papers, the father left the room leaving the younger Trump. When the partners realized he missed one page, they refused to accept the current president’s signature and someone ran to get the father to sign. I find this telling.


  4. My wife and I watch many of the same programs! In fact, when we find a series we really like, such as Endeavour or Midsomer Murders we end up buying the DVDs and watching them again….and again.

    • Thanks Hugh. I think through reruns, we wind up at the same point. They did start airing a new season of Grantchester which is good. Midsomer Murders now is airing the brother of the original detective, so we are getting used to his style. Keith

  5. I love British shows over American any day. I have Acorn TV and BritBox. I I love PBS. I watch many you do and I also love Shetland, Unforgotten ( or was that what you meant by Unforgettable?), Silent Witness, Vera, Victoria, Scott and Bailey, Lochness, Inspector Lewis, and more I can’t think of at the moment.
    The only really good American series was The Americans.
    British has the character buildup, the little nuances of expressions and they can capture the mood far better and don’t feel they have to have all the chase scenes, bullets flying and everyone doesn’t look like they just stepped out of a modeling shoot. They look like real people.

    • Mary, I agree about the revelation and character development. You are right, it is “Unforgotten” not “Unforgettable.” I watched a couple of Shetland shows. It is good, but sometime I pass if shows come on at 10 pm. I need to watch them during the day. Is “Vera” good? That is a new one on my PBS stations. Thanks, Keith

      • Vera is an older women detective who doesn’t take any BS. It’s excellent.
        If they are on pass 10pm….get a DVR or subscribe to BritBox or Acorn TV… very inexpensive….

      • Mary, we watched “Vera” the other night. I told my wife one of my blogging friends said it was good. It was as good as you advertised. She is a no-nonsense person. I got tickled how she would pepper her constructive criticism with the word “love.” “You need to do better, love.” Good show. Thanks, Keith

  6. Note to Readers: There are two other foreign shows of interest, another detective series on a tropical island called “Death in Paradise,” but you need to make sure you watch the ones with the quirky, goofy Irish detective rather than the quirky somber one. I think it has had three different co-stars. The other is the true story (with poetic license) of the “Durrell on Corfu,” about a widowed English mother taking her four children to live on the isle of Corfu off the Greek coast. One of the children became an author and one became a famous zoologist.

    Back in the US, we are high on three new shows. One is “The Village” who follows a caring community of neighbors in a NYC apartment called by that name. Another is called “Manifest” about the travails of people whose plane back to the US arrives 5 1/2 years later. They did not age, while the rest of the world. The last is called “Enemy of the People” abouta CIA team leader who betrayed others to save the threatened life of her daughter. She is brought back in cuffs later to help the FBI find the person who killed her team and others.

      • Hi Meth. Ok, I was mistaken. I watched The Tunnel on PBS. It is in English and French. Great cop show! The Swedish export is Mdus also on PBS and also a cop show 🙂 Thumb’s up on Poldark!

      • Thanks. I have not watched The Tunnel yet, but it caught my eye. I am not familiar with the Swedish one. Ol’ Ross needs to stop making rash decisions. Demelza needs to knock him up side the head every once in awhile. Keith

      • Sorry it was supposed to read Hi Keith not Hi Meth – omg! Yes, I keep waiting for Ross to mature a bit more. I was disappointed when he accepted the duel! She definitely has to reel him quite often! I’ve heard the book series is quite good but I haven’t attempted yet.

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