Those of you who know me also know that I do not watch live television if I can help it. I make an exception for football, and if I can do it, I often do that with an hour of lead time.
Lately, I have discovered two great shows from the BBC that have shown me just how shallow and superficial American television is.
When Doctor Who was resurrected (literally) in 2005, I did not care for Christopher Eccleston as the 9th Doctor. The show did not catch my attention but David Tenant is amazing as the 10th. He is quirky, funny and intelligent.
His original companion was Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper), but when she went and did her thing, he found Martha Jones (played by the awesome Freemya Agyeman) who is to date my favorite companion of all times. I am watching the episodes with Donna Noble (played by Catherine Tate), and the writing is just light years ahead of anything they’re writing in American right now.
A “reformed” vampire named John Mitchell is working in a hospital as a porter when he meets a struggling, slightly nerdy werewolf named George Sands. The two of them decide to “be human” and adapt, so they rent a house to establish themselves as normal people. As it turns out, the house is haunted by the ghost of a girl named Annie (played by the stunning Lenora Crichlow who, ironically appeared in one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, “Gridlock”).
The three all have a dark side, amplified by their undead states. The show is primarily about their human relationships with one another, set against the supernatural nature of their existences. Mitchell faces the guilt of his past; Annie discovers that the man she loved had killed her; George embraces his bestial nature.
I am not a fan of vampire or werewolf stories (and no, I have not read Twilight, nor do I particularly care to) but this show is awesome because it is not about being undead. That is just the setting in which these young people (permanently young as it turns out) live their lives – or afterlives.
Other British Stuff
It should not be surprising that I like these shows. I still think "The Vicar of Dibley” is one of the funniest shows ever made, and I used to be able to quote Monty Python for hours.
But what I really like about British shows is that they are inhabited by real people. Tennant’s Doctor is a scrawny guy in Keds. Martha Jones and Donna Noble are often confused and frustrated. Donna looks more like a housewife (not the desperate kind) than a television star. Russell Tovey’s George Sands is brilliantly executed as a total nerd with a squeaky voice and odd hand gestures.
These are not movie stars. They’re normal looking people. This is very different from American television where even the ugly are just pretty people made to look ugly. I find it makes their shows look as good as they are written.