When I began to write “for real,” I was working. There was never enough time to do what needed to be done, even when I woke up at 4 AM to peck away. Watching television soon went by the wayside, and not only because I couldn’t wrestle the remote away from my husband. I got antsy and guilty sitting around, and most shows were simply not my cup of tea. No canned laughter for me. No darkness and gore and violence. And definitely no Real Housewives of Botoxia and Implantistan.
Fast-forward to present-day Maggie, who still doesn’t turn on the TV in the living room, but…
I confess. I am cheating on my book and streaming stuff on my computer. Here I sit barefoot at my desk, my screen bigger than the first black and white TV my parents bought in the fifties. I am a fool for procrastination—my current WIP has been about half-way done for too many months to count. I’ve tricked myself into thinking I’m doing “research” by watching newish mystery series. I dream of the Lady Adelaide books being optioned (Manifesting. Make it so. I will put shoes on for the premiere.).
I always had trouble committing to “tune in next week,” but how lovely it is to be able to binge several episodes at once, only pausing for snacks and nature. I prefer cozy, light, nearly disposable shows. However, I find gritty Slow Horses on Apple+ extremely compelling, though I’ve had to close my eyes for a lot of it. The writing is perfection. Gary Oldman is simply spectacular, but does need a shower.
If you, too, are looking to kill a few hours/search for inspiration, I have some suggestions. They are in no particular order, not even alphabetical. I may not watch much TV, but my husband has a subscription to virtually every streaming service out there, so some are on Acorn and BritBox. You will notice most shows take place in the UK, because I am a hopeless Anglophile and I miss our trips abroad.
- McDonald and Dodds, set in Bath, England, features an older neurodivergent sergeant and his very ambitious young female boss who has come to count on his off-kilter detection skills.
- Agatha Raisin, based on the M.C. Beaton books. Nice ensemble cast. A bit (okay, a lot) silly in spots. Great clothes, though.
- The Chelsea Detective. London. A houseboat on the Thames. Multifaceted, empathetic leads. Really good and the city looks great.
- Only Murders in the Building. NYC. Sweet Selena Gomez with geezers Martin Short and Steve Martin. So much fun, though it got kind of crazy/uneven as the season went on. Can’t wait for Round 2 anyhow.
- Shakespeare and Hathaway. P.I.s in Stratford. Wonderful scenery. A tribute to British actors resembling real people in all their avoirdupois and scruffiness. No Botox here.
- Harry Wild. Ireland. Retired (abrasive, wine-swilling, grammar-and-literature-addicted) college professor discovers she has a knack for solving murders, much to her Garda son’s dismay.
- Murder in Provence. Mature adults in a mature relationship. Food. France. More food. No subtitles necessary because they’re all British actors who look like they’re having a blast drinking French wine in lavender fields after work.
- Madame Blanc. France again with British actors. Armchair travel avec antiques.
- Whitstable Pearl. Kent, UK. Diverse cast. A little moody. Interesting cases. The beach. Made me want to drink beer, eat seafood, and watch the sun go down.
- Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Wales. Classic Christie. I’d read and seen it before, but this latest production was very stylish and I’m going to watch it again.
I also viewed the new Dalgliesh iteration. I read all the books when they came out decades ago, so consequently remember none of the plots, LOL. The look is very evocative of the time period, which is slightly depressing. Dalgliesh’s male sergeant is as sleazy as they come, and has the mustache to prove it. It’s very well done, but I can’t say it warmed my heart.
What have I missed? What else should I be watching? Will I ever finish my book? Stay tuned.
I watched video very rarely until the pandemic; the last thing I binged was The Sopranos. So my suggestions are likely dated for regular viewers, but a couple things I’d add to the list… Shetland, on BritBox, and Trapped, on Amazon. Both with compelling characters, wonderful acting, and great local color. Couldn’t “put them down” and now I want to read the whole Ann Cleeves series, thinking, “Wow, if the books are better than the screen version like usual, I bet they’re great!”
Thanks for your suggestions! I’m going to look into Shetland, which for some reason I haven’t clicked. I’ve never heard of Trapped. Off to investigate & procrastinate!
actually, friends and I found the books very disappointing after the TV “Vera” series, which we love
No TV but we really were delighted to discover the Whitstable books.
I haven’t read them, but now I want to. 🙂
Maggie, thanks for these insights into British mysteries. I did love Dalgiesh and can’t wait for the next season of Shetland. I couldn’t get into Whitstable Pearl at all. I will certainly look for the other shows you mention. Ted Lasso is a series set in London, but with some Americans in the cast, not a mystery, but wonderful insights into human behavior and hilariously funny. You’ll need subtitles even for the Americans because the dialog is so rapid fire. It’s on Apple +.
I LOVE Ted Lasso. Finally got my husband to watch it (as a former football coach himself, he doesn’t think much of soccer, LOL). I guess I should start watching Shetland!
Can’t help with the completion date for your book – but I’m printing your list of binges! Write well, and remember, research is defined as whatever doesn’t kill you. Leaves a broad swath of space for interpretation.
Love your philosophy, LOL!
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I also love British crime shows..have seen 8 out of the 10 you listed..but alas spring has sprung…and the outdoors calls…whether I answer or not is a different story…especially when the brown tail moth emerge. Thank you for this post.
I spent the afternoon in the garden doing pots and window boxes. I’m dirty but happy. 🙂
Thanks for the list. I have been working my way through INSPECTOR LEWIS with Kevin Whately.
I haven’t seen those. So many seasons, it’s somewhat daunting!