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British Invasion - Flat Screen Edition

By now, most Americans have heard of Downton Abbey, featuring the razor sharp wit of Maggie Smith, but there are many other BBC shows that deserve some recognition. If you enjoy the glittering evening gowns and the lush landscapes of Downtown Abbey, the revival of Upstairs, Downstairs may be right up your ally. The original Upstairs, Downstairs ran five seasons, from 1971 to 1975. Like Downton, the series focuses on the lives of residents at 165 Eaton Place: the servants downstairs and the family, upstairs. If you aren’t quite ready to devote yourself to the entire 1970’s series, there is a new version of Upstairs, Downstairs that began in 2010 (Season One and Season Two) that incorporates elements of the old season, but can be viewed independently without causing the viewer any confusion. Personally, I started with the new Lyn Euros version and now want to go back and watch the original series. On a side note, if you really can’t get enough of the English aristocracy of Downton Abbey, try reading Snobs, written by Julian Fellowes, writer and creator of Downton.


If your preference lies with grittier, action-packed programming, then you may prefer BBC America’s Copper. This series is set in 1890’s New York and centers on the entanglements of the rough and tough residents of the historic Five Points neighborhood and the wealthy and influential inhabitants of Fifth Avenue. The show’s lead character, Irish Immigrant detective, Kevin “Corky” Corcoran, moves between both worlds relying on his brass knuckles, street wit, and help from friends in high and low places. BBC America recently named the show their highest-rated drama series of all time and I have to agree, after watching Season One in just a few days! I’ll be eagerly awaiting the release of Season Two. This is a series that may appeal to fans of Gangs of New York, Deadwood, and Hatfields and McCoys. 


I’ve saved my absolute favorite BBC series to talk about last. Sherlock! Sherlock: Season One and Sherlock: Season Two, created by Stephen Moffat, loosely follows the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is one of the most (if not THE MOST) adapted characters in fiction, some adaptations more successful than others. I’d say this one is one of the best yet and die hard Sherlockians also give this series their stamp of approval. Moffats's version is set in present day London and Sherlock, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, employs some modern technology to assist him in his cases; however, the technological advances incorporated in to the show never overshadow his pure brilliance and innate skill of deduction. The inclusion of modern day technology is incorporated subtly; for example, in Season Two his assistant, Dr. Watson, played by Martin Freeman, begins blogging about their cases, which instantly elevates Holmes to celebrity status. Text messaging also plays a big role throughout the series. The well-known villain of Sherlock tales, Professor James Moriarty, makes an appearance in the series and he is the perfect blend of a spoiled over privileged brat, and total sociopath. The relationship between Moriarty and Holmes walks the line between mutual respect of one another’s brilliance and obsession with conquering the other. Whether you’re a full-fledged Sherlockian or just appreciate a cleverly written and executed television show, this is the show you should be watching. This show may appeal to fans of, Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Dexter, House M.D. and Twin Peaks.

I'm on a BBC TV kick so stay tuned for future reviews. On my list to watch: Ripper Street, Robin Hood: Season One, and Call the Midwife.

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