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January 18 2008

Send in the Subs. USA Today's Robert Bianco makes in depth suggestions on what to watch during the writer's strike.

"If you like Pushing Daisies... try Wonderfalls."

"If you like Bones... try Moonlighting."

my favorite:

"If you like Heroes... try Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
There is one risk in substituting Joss Whedon's super Slayer for NBC's less super Heroes. Buffy is so much better you may never want to go back"

As much as I love Pushing Daisies I prefer Wonderfalls and even Dead Like Me more. Bryan Fuller is kind of awesome. He even wrote my favorite episode of Heroes "Company Man."
Hamish Macbeth? Really? If any of our American chums want something new to watch I'd recommend Spooks. It's called MI5 in America from what I remember. Though it may be cut heavily so ads can be shown during transmission so try and get a hold of it on DVD.

And if you're looking for superior mindless entertainment, have a look at The Palace. It has the potential to be trash tv of the highest order. Also if you're looking for an Extras fix try Moving Spaces/Echo Beach. The former is a behind the scenes docucomedy about the latter (which is a soap).
I haven't seen the Hamish McBeth adaptations, but I kinda like the books. Are the adaptations not very well done?
I always saw the show as typical BBC Sunday evening drama. Bit like the televisual equivalent of a pair of comfy slippers.
There's nothing wrong with 'Hamish MacBeth' Rowan Hawthorn, in the easy-like-Sunday-evening, watch it with your Granny, harmless entertainment category it was actually refreshingly off-kilter and sometimes even dark. It just bears absolutely no similarities to 'Chuck' whatsoever that I can see, seems an odd choice.

And yep, second that on 'Spooks'. They've hit a few bum notes recently IMO but the early stuff with Matthew MacFadyen as Tom was classic British TV. Kind of a 'Smiley's People' sensibility but with the swish of 'Hustle' or 'Burn Notice' (it's a nice update to classic 70s/80s spy series 'The Sandbaggers').
Robert Carlyle! I loved him in Ravenous.
Hmm...I'd have thought that Spooks (aka MI5) would've been a much better recommendation for the 24 crowd than Murder One - although that was a very fine show. It's not so much the formatthat keeps folks tuning in, but the high energy story, which Spooks has.

Other recommendations for British mystery shows, "Second Sight", "Wire in the Blood", the earlier Rebus stories (just can't accept Ken Stott in that). The earlier "Waking the Dead", lately not as good IMO, and to concur with Biano, all of the "Prime Suspects".

Also, just for fun, the first season of "The Sweeney".

There are others that, unfortunately are not available in region 1 - "Life on Mars" and "State of Play" for example.
Company Man was also my favourite Heroes episode, by far. I really need to get into a Brian Fuller show.
'Dead Like Me' was darkly hilarious and moving and humane and basically all the good stuff. And though it was cancelled it kinda sorta ish had a semi-resolution so you're not left completely hanging - it's where i'd start weelittlepuppetman.

Also, just for fun, the first season of "The Sweeney".



Gotta add (the UK) 'Cracker' to that mystery list Znachki, classic show, one of those times when the cast and the writing combined to create something truly great (Christopher Ecclestone's in the earlier ones for those that didn't get a long enough fix of the Ninth Doctor ;). Early 'A Touch of Frost' was also excellent, small scale human dramas with a memorable hero or the early 'Dalziel and Pascoe' with the inimitable Warren Clarke, quite English though, not much in the way of car chases, explosions or MTV cuts in either one ;).

And in a lighter vein 'Jonathan Creek', less grit and slightly more of a "drawing room" approach than 'Cracker', 'Waking the Dead' or 'Rebus' but each one is a little bundle of "locked room" joy (and it almost never cheats i.e. all the information is usually given, you just have to add the right mind-set and a dash of inspiration and you can solve it yourself).
...and the hits just keep on coming. Loved "Jonathan Creek", "Dalziel and Pascoe" and "Cracker" well, that's just the best!

Another one that came to mind was the excellent "House of Cards" and the sequels "To Play the King" and "The Final Cut". That's political skullduggery at its finest.

Oh, and Ian McShane in "Lovejoy". He's a bit different than Gash's original creation, but it follows in the more "cozy" vein of Creek and D & P.
Znachki- Life on Mars, which I love, is on BBC America these days.
toast - The last ep is Tuesday, and apparently the OnDemand function isn't working for a lot of folks, so no repeats. Those who want to see it may well be out of luck because of that, and because it isn't available in Region 1 DVD format, which might be because the American remake is coming out. (eek!!) Only encouraging thing I've seen about that is the casting of Colm Meany as Gene Hunt.
That's actually pretty inspired, Colm Meany could really own Gene Hunt (OK, I doubt he's gonna top Philip Glenister but at least he'll be in the same ball-park). Otherwise I must confess i'm also not entirely hopeful about the US 'Life on Mars'. Who knows though, 'The Office' US shows (IMO) that it can work, with the right tweaking so LoM could be good.

(rumour has it that "Ashes to Ashes", the follow-on series starts in February, which is practically what the phrase "cannot wait" was invented for. Won't hate seeing Keeley Hawes back on TV either ;)

One day i'm going to get 'House of Cards' etc. on DVD, somehow missed them all on TV but your mentioning it reminded me of 'Murder Rooms', sometimes subtitled 'The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes' with the brilliant and sadly late Ian Richardson playing Dr Joseph Bell. It plays off the idea that Bell was Conan-Doyle's inspiration for Holmes and has the two of them solving mysteries together - worth a look if you get the chance Znachki, seems like it might appeal.
Saje I saw "Murder Rooms", and thought it was a one off, was it a series? I really enjoyed it. Also, you really do need to see HoC - really.

Agree about Colm, and about PG, but I just can't see how the premise can be sustained over the length of the US series, or how it will avoid being a parody. I guess that A2A had a press screening a day or two ago and the reaction was a bit mixed, but really it's operating under the weight of being a follow-up to a pretty amazing show.
I saw "Murder Rooms", and thought it was a one off, was it a series?

Sort of. After the two-part "pilot", there were another four 90 minute episodes, set after Doyle has graduated and more rumoured but despite critics loving it and healthy ratings no more were made after those (apparently due to some weird internal politics at the BBC). The creator (and writer of the pilot and second episode) wrote some 'Murder Rooms' novels too which I may pick up - not usually huge on media tie-ins but these have been quite well received.

Re: 'Ashes to Ashes', in some ways I can't actually see how it's going to work within the context of the first show (vague-ing it up to avoid potential spoilers) and wonder if maybe they should've got while the getting was good. On the other hand, Keeley Hawes ;) - OK, OK and Gene and the rest of them too, it's a very fun world to spend time in. Hope they can make it work and avoid my very worst case scenario i.e. that developments in 'Ashes to Ashes' somehow reduce 'Life on Mars' but i'll definitely be watching.

(and that's a good point, i'd forgotten that 'Life on Mars' US would be 24 episodes per year and that they'd probably want to continue for several seasons if it was a hit. That and the danger of a sort of 'Starsky and Hutch' style piss-take don't do much to allay any misgivings)
So that's why BBCA isn't re-running Life on Mars, which I seriously wish I'd discovered before halfway through the final season. I just hope they don't make as much a mess of the U.S. version as they did of the mercifully short lived U.S. Cracker. Although I've only seen the BBC ones with the marvelous Robbie Coltrane, they were really excellent.
@Simon - I love Spooks/Mi:5. We picked it up on a whim and have fallen in love with it. Though I much prefer the Tom Quinn era. Still really enjoy it.

I did a similar list to this one, only with podcasts! It's good fun.
Dead Like Me was really good for the first four or five episodes that Bryan was a part of. After that it's nowhere near as good but I still enjoyed it eventhough it totally basterdized the show he was making. I would go on but I don't wanna spoil it for those who haven't seen it and choose to. I do love the cast of the show. Who'd have thought I'd look forward to seeing Jasmine Guy in something, but I loved her. And the mom/ sister story was easily my favorite thing about the show.
Now Wonderfalls is one of the best shows of all time. I miss it still. Every few months I break out the DVD's and watch it through it vritually one sitting. Plus you know Tim Minear doing the voice of a stuffed chameleon, how can you go wrong?
And although I have never watched Gossip Girl I am a bit insulted that someone compared it to My So-Called Life, but I could be wrong as I said I've never seen it.
As long as we're talking LoM, does anyone know if they're going to air season two? Or release a Region 1 DVD when the (ick) American version comes out?

Since all of my shows are off at the moment, I've really gotten into Life On Mars and Torchwood. Thank heavens for cable. ;)

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