Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Best of British TV

The thing about British TV shows is that they're more like miniseries. Eight to twelve episodes per season, shot in months, and usually written by one or two persons, instead of a team of writers. The Hollywood model is based on speed and quantity, with ten or more people pitching plots and critiquing each others' pacing. Brits like to take their time. It isn't unusual to see just one writer taking credit for a show's entire run.

One of the best in the BBC (heck, anywhere) is Steven Moffat. I knew him via "Coupling," which is what "Friends" can only aspire to be and "Sex and the City" isn't smart enough to rip off. Loved his work on "Doctor Who," writing some of the very best episodes of a show that spans forty years.

His most recent series is "Jekyll," currently on its third episode. I haven't been this jumpy and scared while watching a TV show since "Tales From the Darkside" twenty years ago.

Then there's "Life on Mars," which is being transplanted into the US next season. Not by Moffat, but still very good. A CSI-type detective inexplicably wakes up in 1973, where (when?) he's also a cop, albeit surrounded by Dirty Harry types. Hilarity ensues but believable and well-acted drama keeps it from becoming too silly.

Perhaps in an attempt to balance their karma after foisting Pop Idol on the rest of the world, the Brits have taken to producing some of the best shows currently out there, bar none. Download away, you're not likely to see any of them locally.


Boom said...

coupling is amazing! it's one of the smartest comedies ever. the us version is never quite the same as the original. ooh, and the office.

ok now i'll have to watch jekyll. thank god for BBCA. the tvc looks great, but haven't been able to catch it.

missingpoints said...

I think the US version of "Coupling" is "How I Met Your Mother." Not as sassy but pretty much as smart.

"Jekyll," hell yeah. Gina Bellman isn't crazy here. Plus Meera Syal (granny Kumar) as a lesbian private investigator.

Boom said...

awww but i love the crazy jane!

missingpoints said...

^ Me too. Unlike Phoebe, Jane might actually stab you when you're not looking. It's the eyes. Phoebe has "stupid" eyes, Jane has that half-deranged look.