These days we’re probably all reading a lot and watching a lot of TV. I know I am. In TV land, I’m doing a slow binge on the Miss Fisher mysteries, an all-too-brief series from Australia. The gentle—very gentle—crimes, plus the slow-burn romance between Phryne Fisher and Jack Robinson, the police detective, are perfect for my mood. Plus, the clothes! And the sets! You would not believe.
I’m about halfway through this series now, so I’ll soon be looking for something else. Television seems to lend itself to mysteries, probably because so many TV serials are based on crime novelists who never seem to run out of ways to kill off a character or two. I admire most of the productions in the UK/Australia/New Zealand/Canada pantheon, so I’m looking for suggestions. I’ve run through the Brokenwood Mysteries, Shetland, Vera, Endeavor, Midsommer Murders, and Foyles War. I like Bosch, too, and I loved Justified, but on the whole, American detective shows don’t do it for me. And I don’t like anything too grim these days. Let me know what to watch!
When I was casting about looking for TV, I bumped into this interview with Julia Quinn, who talks about the upcoming eight-part Netflix series based on her Bridgerton novels. Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, among other projects) is the producer of this series, and Quinn is very excited about it, as am I. I haven’t read all the Bridgerton novels, but those that I have, I enjoyed. Plus, the clothes and the sets promise to be awesome, right?
It made me think about how many television series based on romance novels have ever been filmed. Not many, I suspect. (Quinn says: “Producers would rather do the 496th Jane Austen than something with a ‘romance novel’ label,” and I think she’s right.) I could think of the True Blood series, based on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels (not really a romance); Twilight, based on Stephenie Meyers’s books (you decide if those are romance novels); the Outlander books, based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels (same); and Sex in the City, based on Candace Bushnell’s work (same).
This list is hardly exhaustive, but I think that except for the Hallmark movie juggernaut, romance isn’t overpopulated in TV serials. I’d once thought that I’d hit the pinnacle of professional achievement if one of my books was available for purchase in an airport bookstore, but now I’m holding out for a television series.
What about you? What are you watching? Or reading, and hoping it becomes a TV show? Are you looking forward to the Netflix Bridgerton production?
We must be the only people in lockdown without Netflix, though there’s so much interesting free streaming at the moment we’re hardly short of things to watch.
We were chatting over dinner last night and at some point the talk came around to I, Claudius. The Robert Graves duology (I, Claudius and Claudius the God) is great, but I adore the BBC TV series from the mid-1970s. The cast is stellar. Derek Jacobi, as Claudius, really makes you care. And there’s John Hurt, Patrick Stewart, Brian Blessed, Sian Phillips. The characters are awesome. It’s not gentle, but it’s empathetic. We have it on DVD and I’m planning to binge it some time soon. I think it’s still around, so if you haven’t seen it already and you can find it, I recommend it.
I don’t have Netflix yet, but I think I’ll get it—or sign up for the trial period—when the Bridgerton series starts. I’ve had the Netflix disc option in the past, so maybe it’s time to move into streaming. I already subscribe to Acorn, which gives me the UK/Australia/New Zealand/Canada stuff, and I’ve been an Amazon Prime member for a while, so adding Netflix would be about at the top of what I’d be willing to spend on TV. But if there were ever a time to splurge on TV options, now is the time.
Thanks for the I, Claudius recommendation! Several years ago one of my co-workers mentioned that he’d been watching it and was really enjoying it, and I meant to Make a Note of It and forgot. But this puts it back on my radar. And I think that’s a relatively long-ish series, too, so a lot to look forward to. Yay!
Definitely looking forward to the Bridgerton series, but I’m sure I’ll be heartily disappointed. I’ve read all the books and I’m a purist when it comes to book-to-screen projects. And while I love Julie Andrews, Lady Whistledown is a 20-year-old, NOT an octagenarian!!!
Try Virgin River. A Netflix original. Fortunately, I’ve never read Robyn Carr’s books (not fortunate for Ms. Carr) so I couldn’t do my ‘that-never-happened-in-the-book’ lament while watching, but it’s a good slow burn romance. Only one season, although season 2 is wrapped, but not streaming yet. One thing I love about that series is how damaged the two mains are, and the PTSD of both is played out over the whole first season. That’s where this series differs from Hallmark schmaltz – the darkness of the story lines.
I was super confused about that Lady Whistledown casting, too. But there’s that character in the book, the elderly lady who’s so outspoken (whose name I don’t remember off-hand), and if I remember correctly, some people *think* she’s Lady Whistledown, but she isn’t. So that must be the character that Julie Andrews plays. In one of those articles, they show the cast. As a stickler for authenticity, you might be disappointed to learn that the casting has been diversified. But the leads are gorgeous, so there’s that.
I didn’t know Virgin River had been filmed! I haven’t read Robyn Carr, but I’m willing to give the series a shot. A second reason to sign up for Netflix. 🙂 Thanks!
The Miss Fisher series was hobbled by Game of Thrones – it’s a bit hard to film if your star is working elsewhere on a much bigger budget series!
Not only that, but the movie came out just before the Covid-19 shutdown; however I think I got an email to say that it is now streaming somewhere, and the DVD is available for sale.
I had NO idea that Miss Fisher had to throw in the towel because of Game of Thrones, which I never watched because even in the Olden Days, it was too grim for me. But yes, it makes perfect sense that the actor (I assume the guy who plays Jack Robinson on Miss Fisher) would go for the bigger project. Oh, well.
I’ll check out the movie—I think that’s an American production, and I’ve read that it isn’t as charming as the Australian series. But I have nothing to lose but a little time, so I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks!
No, it wasn’t Jack that’s in Game of Thrones, it’s Essie Davis/Miss Fisher 🙂 And – the movie is by the same Australian production company, who also have a newer series set in the Sixties, where Miss Fisher has gone missing, and her niece inherits. It’s a lot of fun.
Forgot to say – I live in Melbourne, and I loved playing ‘guess the location’.
Another crime series you might enjoy, although it doesn’t really have a romance as such, is Jack Irish – also set in Melbourne.
Oooooh—Jack Irish, YES! Thank you! Some time ago, somewhere, a hotel or something, I caught one episode and thought it was terrific. Guy Pearce at his most rugged. Also I liked the story line, that whole underdog thing. No romance is fine. I like the mystery/detection/puzzle solving all by itself.
It’s fun to play “guess the location,” isn’t it? There’s a TV show on in the States now called “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” that I’m enjoying the heck out of, and it’s set in San Francisco. And at least, the exteriors are shot there. It’s really fun to figure out where they are.
Try and watch the Jack Irish series in order – there is a definite character arch. The last season is the best, but quite a bit of it won’t make sense if you haven’t watched the earlier series.
The offsider of the ‘racing identity’ – Aaron Pederson? – now has his own series: Mystery Road. The second series is being advertised. Unlike the Miss Fishers, it’s based in the cliche Australian outback; fine to watch, but remember that most Australians live in crowded cities, and I live a couple of hours from a ski resort.
Jack Irish? That must be based on the Peter Temple books, right? I’m not a crime fan, but I love his writing.
That is the Peter Temple books! I love his writing, too, which I first became acquainted with when your DH gave me one of the series. For which I am very grateful.
We have just about every streaming service available, and still, we couldn’t find Season 1 of Holey Moley anywhere except on YouTube.
As for what we’re watching, it’s mostly boy shows. We just wrapped up Lego Masters (that was brilliant), and now I’m getting caught up on The Voice. I prefer American Idol, thought (especially the way they’re doing it now with no live audiences–you really get to know the performers’ backstories and that’s my favorite part).
Now that I upgraded our Cox service, I can watch all the Mike Holmes TV I want. Love that guy and what he does for families. Mostly, I love the reactions of folks when they see their house is fixed. And I learned a lot about how to do things properly, which made our renovation go really smoothly last spring.
Aside from TV, I’ve started a few new audiobooks. Because my narrator is a guy, I’ve been looking for historicals where the narrator is a guy. There’s not much out there, which is surprising. TONS of stuff by Justine Eyre and a few others I’m tired of listening to, so I’m discovering all kinds of new authors. Plus trying cross-stitch (which has taught me my vision sucks).
I’m looking forward to the Bridgertons on Netflix, too. Darn, I hope that delivers. And if you want to find out how historically accurate the clothing is (when it comes out), check out https://twitter.com/BillAndTedTest for some laughs. She gives a pass/fail on historical accuracy of period clothing by using the extras in the Beethoven scene of “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” as a benchmark (she thought they did quite a good job). It’s very entertaining!
In this post, you’ve introduced a raft of stuff I’ve never heard of. Yay! So…Holey Moley. Have to check that out, just for its name alone. Lego Masters, that’s probably not for me, and I thought that was … what? Not TV. I guess I thought that was an internet game, or something. I am SO behind the times. As for the American Idol/The Voice conundrum—I didn’t figure out why I liked American Idol better until I read a column by the TV Guide television reviewer. He said that Idol is more about the participating singers, and Voice is more about the star hosts. Plus, Idol does a better job of fostering talent. Yeah, I think that’s it.
Next up on the things I’ve never heard of: Mike Holmes. This sounds like a home renovation/decoration show, and I’m loving these to bits these days. I’ll look for it. And thanks for the tip on historical costuming. This is not something that—heh, heh—normally gets my panties in a twist, but I’m all for having a good laugh these days, so I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for the ideas!
Holey Moley Season 2 starts at the end of May on ABC. It’s seriously entertaining.
You should give LegoMasters a try, for no other reason than to see these amazing builds people can do with Lego bricks. We’ve been blown away at their creativity. It’s on Fox — you can probably stream it.
I completely agree with TV Guide’s assessment of Idol/Voice. Idol is on tonight and I’m looking forward to it.
Mike Holmes is amazing. He’s been on the air for years, mostly on DIY or HGTV. He started off as a guy fixing homes that were renovated incorrectly. His motto is “Make it Right.” I never get tired of watching him (and learning how to fix things correctly!).
In Jilly’s post today, I mentioned something new I just started watching on Netflix with my youngest son called “Rust to Riches.” It’s basically car rehab for the muscle car world, but it’s really entertaining and I’m absolutely stunned at what they can do to these cars that are total junk when they’re brought into the garage. Plus, the guys and girl that work in the shop are amusing in their own way. More crap for the mind…but it’s good, mindless entertainment for when you need your brain cells to take a break.
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