I’ll begin this dialogue by laying out the current shows I want to discuss. I want to be clear from the very start that my choice of series can be eclectic, but there are certainly common themes and styles that may create a niche for me. Can I talk about Supernatural knowledgeably? Yes. Do I adore Detectorists and worship PennyDreadful? I do. Currently, the two main places I draw my content and inspiration from are Acorn TV, a wonderful streaming service, and http://www.pbs.org.
In the wake of the existential threat to PBS, I have found myself deeply enmeshed in their Masterpiece series, which has painstakingly been offering brilliance for 45 years and offers so much on its website. For a down-at-heels romantic like myself, it’s heaven. I remember the classic intros as a little girl, fascinated by the odd, darkly humorous animation to “Masterpiece Mystery.” Coming to it as an adult, I see much more. I’m drawn by historical series of a certain tone. If a conversational landscape had a color palate, the series I will be discussing are soft, delicate, and luminous with sharp, dark shadows.
I love works that have been painstakingly realized to create a beautifully-orchestrated period piece. I especially love lush, gorgeous compositions where they use a velvet dinner glove over the proverbial iron first, dealing with issues like prejudice, racism, anti-Semitism, classism, sexism, violence, war, corruption, privilege, justice, morality (ambiguous and absolute), elitism, poverty, feminism, mental illness, puritanism and so much more.
My posts will cover Outlander; Poldark (A grand Byronic romance in it’s purest form. It’s breathtaking. The landscapes of Cornwall, the cinematography, and the cast leave little to be desired in its epic, moving scale. It deals with all-too-important issues. It is Romantic in a classic sense, historically and emotionally.); Indian Summers; Murdoch Mysteries (AKA The Artful Detective), a phenomenal series – delicately edgy with cutting-edge visual scope; Victoria, with the ethereally stunning Jenna Coleman, featuring the Queen’s early relationship with Albert and her first days on the throne – a sumptuous delight; Foyle’sWar; Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (That’s my patron un-saint Miss Fisher in the photo, holding her trademark elegant-yet-lethal golden pistol); Call The Midwife; and others of that ilk.
In addition, I will always address the Big Shows. Those shows that were and are fundamental for the evolution of television into the medium it has become. The ones that are so pervasive, their mythology becomes part of our lives, and their mythology is our mythology, the myths of our time. Not in fairy tales or grandma’s stories, not in books, for, unfortunately, most people don’t read much. Not as a currency in tribes, where the oral history was crucial for knowledge and for continuity and entertainment. This is where our myths are born.Television is our minstrel and storyteller. Game of Thrones would be the penultimate one. The Walking Dead, Vikings, True Blood and Supernatural are a few other examples. Then there are the shows that were groundbreaking. The trailblazers, like Queer As Folk and The L Word, Weeds, Northern Exposure and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller who were the godfathers of television as art.
Is it obvious that I have a secret love for a cozy mystery, lemon tea, and my fluffy tortoise-shell cat? That’s not the whole picture. I can do a unit on something completely different in a few months. I have a penchant for gritty shows like Shameless, police procedurals, and taut thrillers with real substance like Homeland or The Affair. I also love me some Schitt’sCreek and Catastrophe. But for now, let us enter the hushed drawing rooms, well-scrubbed East End kitchens, and see haloed, golden sheaves being brought in by floppy-haired men in their shirtsleeves.
Let’s start with a new Masterpiece, PBS tour de force about the Brontë Sisters, a two-hour television special called To Walk Invisible.