Why You Should Watch

Five Reasons You Should Watch ‘Victoria’

Long live Victoria and this iconic blue dress. (Photo: Courtesy of ITV Plc/MASTERPIECE)

Period drama Victoria finally comes to America this January, telling the story of the early years in the reign of one of England’s greatest queens. The eight-hour drama will follow Victoria from her ascension at just 18 years of age through her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert. She went on to have nine children and 42 grandchildren, as well as to rule over a rather large portion of the world. But she wasn’t always the stodgy older woman dressed all in black that we all know from history. She was once a flirtatious, impetuous young woman at the head of a court filled with scandal and drama.

In short: This is the kind of history that makes for pretty great TV. Here are some reasons that you should give it a try.

‘Black Mirror’ Reflects a Dark Future: Why You Should Watch It Anyway

If you haven’t yet experienced the newest British sensation from Netflix, Black Mirror, I’m here to make a proper introduction. That and perhaps to forewarn those of you who have heard this techno-thriller series is the new Twilight Zone. Yes, both shows are anthologies of unrelated stories and characters. Both use science fiction as the apparatus for delivering messages about societal issues.

However, for fans of that groundbreaking fantasy horror series of the early 1960’s, please know there are no aliens, dream states, time travel or creepy children in Black Mirror. Instead creator Charlie Brooker speculates about what the dangerous combination of new technologies and the less wholesome side of human nature can spawn. This was post-watershed TV in the UK, not prime-time, family-friendly network fare. Many of the episodes have sexual elements, adult language and violent themes.

That being said, I was fascinated and slightly freaked out by the dystopian scenarios portrayed in these disturbing tales of admonition. Could we be that close to developing technologies that can fully activate the some of the most harmful human instincts we possess? The answer seems to be a resounding yes.

If the description thus far intrigues you, I have prepared a quick guide to all six Black Mirror episodes which can currently be found streaming on Netflix. Since the sequence you watch them in doesn’t really matter, I have ordered them from the episode that I found least compelling to the one that really blew me away.

What I’ll Be Watching on Super Bowl Sunday: ‘The Great British Baking Show’

While many Americans are excited about the imminent Super Bowl extravaganza, I dare to suggest that not all of us plan to partake in the annual football classic. In fact, I have an alternative competition that just might have you on the edge of your seat rather than asleep in your recliner (if like me, the background drone of football games tend to lull you into a stupor, that is).

PBS’ latest BBC hit acquisition The Great British Baking Show, a program that pits twelve amateur British bakers against one another for a series of culinary challenges, has become a topic of Monday morning water cooler conversation for many Yanks. I propose it could well be the perfect viewing option for those looking for a compelling championship level event without all the big sweaty men. Well, there was that one episode where it was really hot in the bake-off tent, but I digress.

The following is my argument for watching The Great British Baking Show instead of the Super Bowl…

Five Reasons You Should Watch 'Peaky Blinders'

Netflix – one of my new favorite homes for British television these days – just dropped the second series of buzzy drama Peaky Blinders, a period crime piece which follows the story of a notorious gang whose members were known for sewing razor blades into the brims of their hats. Sound weird? Maybe a little bit. But this show just works, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store in Series 2.

If you haven’t tried Series 1 yet… well, you definitely need to give it a look. The show is full of interesting characters, fantastic performances, and a well put together story that’s a great ride from start to finish.

But why watch it, really? Here are five reasons that Peaky Blinders is worth your time.

Five Reasons ‘Happy Valley’ Is Worth Watching

This past spring all my social media feeds and the British entertainment websites I frequent were overflowing with praise for the BBC crime drama Happy Valley. I was intrigued and wondered when or if this word-of-mouth hit would reach our shores. Last week Netflix brought the most talked about British drama of the year to American audiences and I’m here to tell you it’s lived up to the hype.

Before we get started let me clarify that the title of the series is deceptive. Happy Valley is not a quaint and pleasant dale nor are many of its inhabitants very cheerful. In fact, it’s named for the area’s rampant drug problem. Happy Valley is not a cozy mystery program and can be graphically violent at times.

That being said let’s get on with the reasons you should want to give this series a go.

The Game Is On: Why 'Sherlock' is the Best Bit of TV You Should Be Watching

For Sherlock fans across the country, January 19 is basically a national holiday. Yes, it’s the day we’ve all been waiting for – the premiere of the highly anticipated third season of this beloved mystery series with The Empty Hearse.

So whether you’re a hardcore fan who’s already mainlined the Series 3 episodes through a proxy server sixteen times, a newcomer who stumbled onto a random episode on Netflix, or someone who just has a friend that won’t shut up about that Benedict Cumberbatch guy, Sherlock is what you should be doing on Sunday night.

But why? Sunday nights are already slam packed with great television options – trust me, I know, my DVR exists in a permanent state of tears about this situation – so why should you devote any of your precious viewing time to this random British show starring that guy with the crazy sounding name that takes multi-year hiatuses and emotionally destroys your life?

It’s difficult to attempt to distill my love for this show down in to bite size chunks that don’t make me sound crazy, but, let’s give it a whirl.

Why You Should Still Be Watching Being Human

The end is nigh. The fifth and final series of Being Human is currently being broadcast on BBC America and only four episodes remain in this saga which tells the story of a unique threesome of housemates.

In the beginning there was George, a bewildered werewolf; Mitchell, the tortured vampire who befriends him; and Annie, the lonely ghost whose house in Bristol George and Mitchell find to let. After a bit of adjustment, these three paranormal black sheep learned to support and encourage one another in their attempts to “be (more) human.” However, at the end of Series 3 the trio starts to fall apart quickly. First we see the departure of desperate, defeated vampire John Mitchell. Actor Aidan Turner had to go off to Middle Earth to play a dwarf for a few years so his exit came as no surprise. Then, right on the heels of Mitchell’s sad end, besieged werewolf George sacrificed his life in the first episode of Series 4 because Russell Tovey had decided to explore other options as an actor. Fans were left wondering whether Annie’s (Leonora Critchlow) ghostly antics alone would be enough of a reason to continue watching the show.

If this was the case for you, I’d like to take this opportunity to convince you to stick with the series because I feel it accomplishes one of the best cast turn-overs I’ve ever seen. While it’s very clear the trinity of a werewolf, ghost and vampire is fundamental to the show, the writers didn’t just substitute impersonators - the same supernatural with a different face. They created characters that were unique and interesting in their own right and, I felt, worthy of my time. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

Five Reasons You Should Watch Doctor Who Tonight

There’s a little science fiction program premiering tonight on WETA UK that some of you might have heard of at some point or other. It’s a show about an alien, some humans, a blue police box and their adventures through time and space called Doctor Who. It’s the best show in the world, in my obviously not at all biased opinion, and I desperately want each and every one of you to give it a try.

Doctor Who’s set to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. It’s basically a national treasure in Britain. Half the country’s grown up watching it. And right now, tonight, is the absolute perfect time for you to jump into this show if you’ve never seen it. WETA UK begins Doctor Who with the first episode of what is *technically* Series 28 (I think?), but that doesn’t matter, because this is also the episode that marks the series’ return after a 16 year hiatus. Referred to by fans as the “reboot,” the series was reinvented and restarted for a new audience in 2005 with the introduction of the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. Its initial episode, Rose, basically serves as a second pilot of sorts and explains all the history you’ll need to know to feel completely up to speed on the show’s premise and the Doctor’s backstory.

I promise this system works. Nine is “my” Doctor – fan code for the particular incarnation of the character that gets you hooked on Who – so I didn’t go back and start watching earlier installments (like those featuring Tom Baker, William Hartnell and Peter Davison’s Doctors) until well after I was already a die-hard Whovian. This is a perfect entry point to the series and to the “Whoniverse” as a whole.

But why should you bother? Well, I thought you’d never ask. Doctor Who is not only my favorite television series – of any type, genre or era – it’s a wonderful example of how television can remain smart and interesting and brave and relevant over an extended time frame, without condescending to its audience. It is, quite simply, one of the best television series ever made, and certainly one of the best things airing on any network right now. Great writing, fun adventures, scary monsters and characters that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. TV doesn’t really get a lot better than this.

Click through for some specifics about why, if you’re a person that loves quality television programming, you should give the WETA UK premiere of Doctor Who a chance tonight. And I promise I won’t even say I told you so afterward.