Sunday, January 15, 2012

Britannia rules the waves

So instead of doing anything useful last night, I just sat there watching via DVD old episodes of "Lewis," the British IPV series (rebroadcast in the U.S. by PBS) featuring Inspector Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whatley, right) and his sidekick, DS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox).

I love this series. The acting (and interaction) of Whatley and Fox is a joy to behold; the scenery in and around Oxford, wonderful, and the plots rarely disappoint.

"Lewis" grew out of the earlier "Inspector Morse" series (33 episodes, 1987-2000) with the late John Thaw (1942-2002) as Morse and Whatley as Lewis, his sidekick. I've probably seen all of those episodes, too, and plan to waste this evening by rewatching one entitled "Cherubim and Seraphim." "Morse," too, was set in Oxford.

While I'm watching that, PBS will be rebroadcasting the second U.S. installment of season two of "Downton Abbey," another wildly popular ITV series. Season two was shown last year in the UK and season three is in the works. I'll look at that later.

If it weren't for "Downton Abbey," all we'd have to look forward to in the U.S. is the March HBO premiere of "Game Change," starring Julianne Moore as the eminently forgettable Sarah Palin and Ed Harris as John McCain.

Palin and McCain? What in the world is HBO thinking? And who in the world would want to watch that?

In the instance of television, at least, Britannia still rules the waves. And will continue to rule my heart, since a sixth "Lewis" series is planned for 2012 in the UK and that will show up eventually here.

With the exception of PBS, the sheer banality of American television programming continues to astonish. Even when you think we've got a winner (I really liked the NBC version of the genealogy-based documentary series "Who Do You Think You Are?"), it turns out the BBC got there first. "Who Do You Think ..." originated in the UK in 2004 and fresh  episodes continue to air.

"Antiques Roadshow?" Yup. That's been running in Britain since 1979.

1 comment:

The Rush Blog said...

The banality of American television? Are you kidding me?

Another Yank who overestimates British television.

Look, I am a fan of some of British television as much as the next person. But there are plenty of American series that I truly adore. Especially on cable. And if I must be brutally honest, "DOWNTON ABBEY" did not deserve its Best Miniseries Emmy or Golden Globe. What in the hell were they thinking?