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Geekscape’s Anglophobe Guide to British Television by Shane O'Hare

As geeks we are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to cool shit. Pokemon. Video games. Large breasted elves. The next thing for us to conquer is those damn Brits. There is a multitude of wonderful television and movie adventures coming from across the Atlantic. You may have found yourself put off by some of the slang and the funny accents, but find yourself Bri-Curious.

I’m going to walk you through a few different shows that I have found in my travels that, hell if I can like then YOU should like them too!

 

Doctor Who

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This goes without saying. It pretty much is on the geek licensing exam to like this show. It’s a rad, cheese filled adventure. Think Kirk era Star Trek but with a tad bit more special effects. A time traveling spaceman from futures-past finds himself in Cardiff in his special space machine, the Tardis, which is disguised as a 1950’s police call box. Think of a phone booth, but one that only calls the fuzz. A wonderful show that goes all the way back to the Kirk era Trek I compare it too. With 11 different actors portraying the Doctor, countless specials and spinoffs, this show will devour your time.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: If you are COMPLETELY new to the Doctor start with the first season of the modern era. Go through David Tennant and finish up with Matt Smith. Then if you fancy more, venture back to the 60’s. My progression was back to Tom Baker and then bouncing around any episodes I could scrape from either the internet or Netflix

Torchwood

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A more serious spin-off of the Doctor Who series. A special undercover group of paranormal police. Think limey version of Warehouse 13. It can be very serious at times, less cheesey than DW. Written by Russel Davies, it has the same feel as Doctor Who, so it is an easy jumping off point if your only experience with the BBC is Mr. Tennants wonderful chin. 

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Just dive right in to Series 1. If you are worried about continuity and possible spoilers in Doctor Who, watch the Tennant Doctor Who first.

Top Gear

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I am very biased to this show, because ITS AMAZING. The geekiest car show ever, and not geeky like “Look at this 4-barrel carburetor attached to these million valves and torques and camshafts”. They care about cars like we care about trading cards or comic books. We understand the value of the old and the new. Love to show off the best and crucify the worst. We understand why a piece of paper can have so much emotional attachment. Take that and swap books for supercars. You will easily find yourself on the couch with the sole intention of watching just 1 episode, and by 1 am you and all your friends are gathered around the TV asking you to put on the next episode. 

SUGGESTED VIEWING: They have a groove that takes some getting used too. I say jump in at Series 8 and work your way up, then go back to the beginning. This way it will get you addicted to their wackiness so when you start over, when the comedy is lighter you don’t think its just another crummy car show.

Spooks

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Man, what is there to say about spooks. I personally just got caught up and finished the last episode of Series 9, everything is still FRESH. The show follows Section D of MI-5 special security services. Think, NSA. This show really is intense. It gets you worked up very easily. You find yourself honestly wishing for the brutal murder of someone because of how horrid they are as a human. The mortality of the shows stars is very apparent with main characters being killed, thrown out or put into protective hiding. You will get a sense when someone will be killed off and who their replacement it. The 2nd episode of the first series got the most complaints the BBC has every received in the history of the existence of the network.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Watch the first two episodes. Then go read the bible and call your mom.

Being Human

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A show about a werewolf and vampire who move into a house together trying to be “human” and fit in with society, end up finding out their house is haunted by a ghost. On paper this sounds like a WACKY comedy from FOX, but it is actually fairly dramatic. Don’t let the crap that is the US version on Sci Fi  dissuade you from watching this. It’s great. My only contention is I wished they kept the origional cast from the pilot. With 3 series out there and another most certainly on the way, there is plenty of material to watch.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: With any Twilight fan. Show them what can be done properly with the lore.

Skins

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A show adverted as how real teenagers exist in the world. Hard drugs and hot sex. I’ve only watched a handful of episodes from each series. From what I have seen is good. You’ll get an uneasy feeling in some, like the episode where the young lads venture into a Brothel and end up beating up a guy tied up to a BDSM table. I can say, as a person who was once a teenager that this isnt how most of us spend our time. I didnt get into the REAL hard drugs and sex until I graduated.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Bottle of Gin in one hand and a bag of crisps in another.

The Mighty Boosh

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Man what a ridiculous show. Crazy odd ball comedy. Follows the adventures of Vince Noir and Howard Moon. From their inception as Zoo workers, then as renters to a shaman and eventually working in the shamans boutique. Its absolutely hilarious, crazy one liners and super funny situations. Each episode is a one off, the story or adventure starts and ends. The series finished on what I feel as a low note, though. They could have gone out MUCH bigger, but don’t let that stop you.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: With a load of friends who enjoy Monty Python esque humor and people you can feverishly quote the amazing one-liners with afterwards.

The IT Crowd

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The adventures of a couple of guys who run the IT department for a giant company. Their office is what I dream the Geekscape headquarters would be like. You can see that these guys are nerds, and if you ever worked in tech support (like I did) you will appreciate their understanding of your hardships. You think from the first few episodes that it will be fairly systematic, but Series 2 really opens up. The first episode of Series 2 is my absolute favorite. You will find yourself screaming with laughter.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Dive right in. You will appreciate it more if you work in tech support, so go start handing out resumes and reading those A+ and N+ books.

The Snuff Box

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A rough sketch comedy show staring two guys from Mighty Boosh. It is very crude, with a proper portion of nudity and cursing. The different skits are intertwined very creatively. It’s quick, only one six episode series is available, you could polish it off in an afternoon, but FUCK what a hilarious afternoon it will be. It’s hard to give you a real idea of the show unless you watch it, really. 

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Watch it with WHORES AND WHISKEY!

That Mitchell and Webb Look

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Another great sketch comedy show, with sketches moving from one to the other fairly gracefully. This show really offers up some funny moments, and it all feels a little bit more mature, mainly because David Mitchell has a very Lewis Black outlook on things. The reoccurring skits are hilarious. You will be saying numberwang the next time you are asked a maths question. The best way to sum this up is with an excerpt.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Replace SNL with this. 

Spaced

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Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are together in what can be best described as Shaun of The Dead the TV show,without zombies. Really a funny show. Great characters, hilarious situations with a proper amount of nerd interest. It’s just about a couple of guys who are up to no good, trying to find love and adventure and enjoy some comic books while they go about it.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: With your best friend…AWE

Father Ted

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A situational comedy about a bunch of priests that live out in the middle of nowhere. They share their island with a bunch of odd inhabitants. Think the Wasilla Alaska of the UK. Father Ted is a good lad, but he just gets himself in trouble. The accents in this one had me going for a minute, it takes some getting used to, but hey it won a BAFTA.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Again, with Gin.

Black Books

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A quirky little show with some excellent people.Morans character Bernard is a huge misanthrope. Hates everything and doesn’t show much enthusiasm, pretty much like me. YOU HEAR THAT YOU BASTARDS, THERE ARE OTHERS LIKE ME OUT THERE! This show is paced and setup much like The IT Crowd. Odd situations with an odd viewing of how they should be tackled. 

SUGGESTED VIEWING: With a bottle of white and a pack of cigarettes. 

Trinity

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I don’t know what to think about this one, I really like it. There is plenty of genuinely funny moments but I get the feeling they were trying to hard with the comedy and lost sight of the “DRAMA” part of the show. I’ll let wikipedia do this one for you.

A new academic year begins at the ancient and prestigious Trinity College, Bridgeford University, and among the new students is Charlotte Arc (Antonia Bernath), whose father Richard Arc (Nick Sidi) was formerly a student and then professor at the college. Richard left the institution suddenly some years earlier and had never explained why, and two weeks before Charlotte is due to join the college, he is found dead in mysterious circumstances. Convinced that her father’s death is in some way linked to the college, Charlotte enrols determined to try and uncover the truth.

I wouldn’t scream out and pick this up on DVD, it is really not a show to get OBSESSED WITH, but its worth the 8 episodes. Whereas Bernard in Black Books is who I actually am, Dorian in this show is who I think I am. Delicious.

The Inbetweeners

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A hugely popular comedy about a group of teenagers. Experiencing their first legal drive, women, booze, clubs. Essentially a coming of age show. It is easy to place yourself in this show with your high school friends. A lot of really hilarious moments all schemed up mostly from the little one Jay Cartwright. Obsessed with sex and coming up with loads of stories proclaiming his fortitude in bed. This, is Gilmore. 

SUGGESTED VIEWING: While skipping class.

Merlin

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I’m not a huge fan of Fantasy. I can’t give this show a flying colours (see that U, I did that for you Satori) because I just CANT get into it, but I know a good show when I see it. It follows the adventures of Merlin, a young sorcerer who finds himself in Camelot (yes that merlin). Plenty of “historical” figures are thrown out in this one.  If you’re into Magicks and what not this is the British show for you.

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Put on your robe and wizard hat.

Misfits

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Man, what a show out of left field. I found this one I didn’t know what to think. A group of criminals are out on community service and get hit by lightning and get super powers. Pretty basic idea, but there are a lot of nice twists going on. Learning their powers. Keeping a MURDER secret. Fighting cults. And thats all in just the first series!

SUGGESTED VIEWING: Watch the first episode and then take a break. Don’t double fist this one or you may get burned out on it.

Let’s go back in time for a bit, some of my favorite older shows from the empire.

Are you being served?

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A great comedy about a group of people working in a Mens and Ladies clothing department in a department store. Old school Python era comedy. It may be tougher to find this one, I’ve only come across it on San Diego PBS, but damn what a great time. The characters are all very engrossing and the situations are very funny and somewhat unique. 

*Oh, may I say that San Diego PBS has a lot of good British shows on it for some odd reason.

The Young Ones

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This show is insane. Violent slapstick with crude Anarchy infused humor. They mix in odd skits, with fourth wall breaking soliloquy and suddenly they switch  musical talent. You will find that slowly you’ll fall in love with everyone of the characters. Really not much to say about this one really, its just good and unique, there isn’t anything out there like it really. You will be sucked into the mess of it. Plus, some of the music is good.

Poirot

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*Authors side note. What a fine looking mustache 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING? MY MOM WATCHES THIS!” Yes, she does like to watch some Poirot. It Calms her down after the copious amounts of sex I have with her.

Poirot is a show spanning many years. Still in production, it is the adaptation of Agatha Christies character from her books. Featured in such tales as “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on The Nile”. The show itself is a tad slow. It feeds you a little more of the plot here and there and brings you to the big reveal at the end. You think you are all caught up and know whats what, BUT NO Poirot pulls a Shyamalan and twists it up for you. A great character and a great series of stories that are timeless and are perfect for a nice day with breakfast in bed.

 

So that was a chore to read I bet. My mind wandering from topic to topic. Now, these are all shows I’ve found to be quite good. A good portion of them can be easily found on US airways. There is a show in there for everybody. From the hyper nerd sci-fi fan, to car enthusiast all the way down to the little old lady who loves her mysteries. So, if you’ve been cautious about jumping into some fine UK shows, for whatever reason, I hope these shows that made me really love the stuff coming out from over there help you discover something new

 

I invite all to comment and share their favorite shows!

Shane O'Hare

The northern most Geekscapist. I've been doing the 'scape since before it was cool! Video games are my main prerogative but I can be passionately geeky for many things.

Posted  Sun 6th Mar 2011 Modified  Sat 11th Feb 2012

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