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August 7, 2014 8:31 AM   Subscribe

A.V. Club compiles a list of 30 foreign series that need immediate legal import to the U.S.
posted by travelwithcats (130 comments total) 93 users marked this as a favorite

 
I started watching Real Humans, have a post up over on FanFare. Another one from the list is Black Mirror, which I also recommend.
posted by travelwithcats at 8:38 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Not only was Broadchurch (21 on the list) available to those who had BBC America in their cable roster, it is being remade for FOX this fall, under the name Gracepoint.

Okay, yeah, yeah, I know, America always cocks it up when we redo British shows, but I'm a bit more inclined to trust this one because they not only kept David Tennant on hand, they also kept writer Chris Chibnall.

Although my "they better not be making My Doctor look stupid" instinct will be on high alert nevertheless. (From the preview clips I've seen, though, his American accent is much better than in previous attempts....)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


I could have sworn I have streamed Ripping Yarns and Green Wing in the past. Though for those unwilling to wait, just buy a $40 DVD player whose unlock codes you can locate and suddenly amazon.co.uk becomes a viable resource - it's how I've been able to rewatch Darkplace every year.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:45 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Hey, that's weird. I was about to write that Green Wing is available on Netflix (and it's hilarious), but I see it no longer is. I wonder what the hell happened?

Our Friends in the North is just one of the great, great, great TV shows of all time--up there with The Wire and Deadwood. How it's not available in the US is a complete mystery to me--especially given the number of people in the cast who've gone on to become pretty familiar stars.

Best of Youth is also fabulous and is available on DVD on Netflix (or was)--but it's possible that it's in the cut-down theatrical version (which is still terrific).
posted by yoink at 8:45 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


They dropped the ball by omitting Misfits. If you haven't seen that, imagine this: it's a mysterious-event-gives-older-teens/young-adults-superpowers story, BUT... the young people are asshole estate kids doing court-ordered community service under ASBOs (anti-social behaviour orders) and they do not wonder what it all means, they do not ponder their responsibilities, they generally do not learn or grow. They use said powers to become even more complicated asshole young people. In short, it's fantastic.

The cheap & fast _____ + ______ description people always give is "X-Men meets Trainspotting."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:46 AM on August 7 [27 favorites]


Mandatory listicle nitpicking: I have never seen EastEnders, but from what I've heard/read about it, I wonder if a lot of it simply wouldn't translate. Ripping Yarns is available on Region 1 DVD, and as someone who should be part of the natural audience for Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace--rabid Stephen King fan who is quite aware of King's shortcomings and highly-variable quality--I've found what I've seen of Darkplace on YouTube to be kind of meh. On the other hand, it is kind of shocking that Blake's 7 isn't out on DVD, and one series that didn't make the list would seem to be a natural for American audiences: Wizards vs Aliens, co-created by Russell T. Davies and co-starring Gwendoline Christie, aka Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:46 AM on August 7


Christ, I'm not sure any country but our own really deserves to be exposed to eastenders.
posted by dng at 8:46 AM on August 7 [15 favorites]


I also notice that they don't include QI on the list and it is therefore a bad list made by people who are bad.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:48 AM on August 7 [16 favorites]


Blake's 7 was great. I know I saw it in the USA in the '80s, probably on a PBS station. And didn't BBC America run Ashes to Ashes?

The article refers to Karen Blixen as the writer behind "The Immortal Story." Do people no longer refer to her as Isak Dinesen? If so, why not?
posted by ubiquity at 8:48 AM on August 7


As for the ones that did make the list, Black Mirror is outstanding, like genre-redefining kind of outstanding. It takes the format of The Twilight Zone and retrofits it for our technological age, serving up a half dozen stories of bold, jarring, highly original drama set in the near future that look disdainfully on our culture of social networking, gadget obsessiveness, and tech-related disconnect and then damns us all to hell for all of it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:50 AM on August 7


Eastenders? Why not call this 29 foreign series... etc and just stop there?
posted by biffa at 8:52 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


It may be because it has at some point been exported to the US (there was apparently a poorly-received remake) but it's a bit of a surprise not to see This Life on the list.
posted by jontyjago at 8:55 AM on August 7


Wot no Riget?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:57 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Our Friends in the North: brilliant. Brass Eye: brilliant. And yes, the original UK Max Headroom programmes were a must-watch at the time. Not sure they'll have aged that well, mind. The original feature/promo is still pretty ace, though.
posted by Decani at 8:57 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Throw in Inside No. 9 (2014), by Reece and Shearsmith (of The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville fame) is 6 half-hour stories, each taking place inside a different house whose address is #9. Brilliant stuff.

Brass Eye and its predecessor The Day Today launched or at least boosted a lot of comic careers in the UK, and Paedogeddon was prophetic.
posted by bjacques at 8:58 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Misfits is available on Hulu.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:58 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Wot no Riget?

I know, right? That horrible Steven King US adaptation was, well, horrible. The original is so haunting and eerie and totally perfect.
posted by hippybear at 8:59 AM on August 7


There was a thread here about the british Max Headroom shows last year.
posted by dng at 9:00 AM on August 7


Misfits is available on Hulu.

Is it? Ah. Well, then everyone watch that shit immediately.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:01 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


I know I'm in Canada and all, plus access to a proxy server, but a lot of the choices on this list in terms of British TV strikes me as "seriously? I have watched a lot of these on Netflix, including the US one. How hard did you try to find them in the States?"
posted by Kitteh at 9:04 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


This article is a bit out of date: Utopia's season 2 started a few weeks ago.

It's interesting to me how many good science fiction shows are coming out of BBC right now. I wonder why there's a British market for them but not the US?

(Wanted: the same kind of list, but for Asian soap operas.)
posted by Nelson at 9:06 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, that's what I meant. "Good news: it's actually on Hulu, go watch it."

Favorite moment: the first time they're attacked by another superpowered being and they're lying on the ground reeling from it, the chav girl yells at him "You cou'da killed us, you prick!"
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:07 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


My favorite Misfits moment is: "Where've you been?" "Fighting fucking Nazis. Kicking the shit out of Hitler."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:09 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Misfits is great. But like with many shows, only the first 2-3 seasons. Then it gets weird (dramatic cast changes, far fetched storytelling).
posted by travelwithcats at 9:11 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


QI might be available in the states already? I know it's on Acorn TV.

(Btw, if you like British TV and you don't have an Acorn membership, get one now and thank me later. It's basically Netflix for British shows, in the US - ~$10 a month and they've got tons of stuff).
posted by Itaxpica at 9:12 AM on August 7 [8 favorites]


A Touch of Cloth and Black Mirror are both really exceptional; wildly different shows from the same inexhaustible creator. A Touch of Cloth is comparable only to the original Police Squad! series, and demonstrates that the fact that the Naked Gun films were crap doesn't mean the concept was played-out, only that its writers were. Black Mirror -- one comparatively weak episode "Be Right Back" not withstanding -- is some of the finest dark SF I've ever seen.

Broen / Bron wasn't all that. I found both the characters and the story a little overconceptualized and unreal.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:12 AM on August 7


"Sorry, we're too busy greenlighting another show with bachelors, or homicide detectives, or suburban white people in a house, or some shit."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:15 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


+1 Black Mirror. Not sure that one about the prime minister and the pig would fly (no pun intended) in the U.S. though; probably not even on HBO.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:15 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


What about Australian TV? There is nothing on the list.
posted by travelwithcats at 9:16 AM on August 7


Darkplace, Green Wing, Brass Eye, Misfits are all great.

And yes, you can stream Green Wing and Misfits, but you can't buy them to keep legally. I had to buy region 2 for Green Wing and Darkplace, which only work on my laptop.
posted by winna at 9:18 AM on August 7


The "White Bear" episode of Black Mirror is one of the most stunning things I have ever seen on television. The last five minutes of that dominated my thoughts for weeks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:19 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Reece and Shearsmith (of The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville fame)

Reece and Shearsmith are the same person, I think you mean Shearsmith and Pemberton...

About 10 years ago I went through a phase of seeking out British comedies that are more or less unknown in the US, and apart from Darkplace and Chris Morris' The Day Today and Brass Eye, my two favorites that haven't been cited above are People Like Us and The Armando Iannucci Shows. Special shouts out to Nathan Barley, and the Darkplace sort-of sequel series Man to Man with Dean Learner (which is definitely weak compared to Darkplace, but I mainly blame the format, and it does have a few great moments).
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:19 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Oh, the briefing that Inspector Cloth gives to the other cops in the first episode of series two is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. It will ruin you for every similar scene in detective drama for the rest of your life.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:19 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


That being said, I would like to see someone re-broadcast Blake's 7.


I'd love it if they ever did get the re-boot going, but I sort of dread to think who they might get to play Servalan.


Also, Sandbaggers.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:20 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


What about Australian TV? There is nothing on the list.

I've been periodically looking for a copy of Frontline that I can get to the US for years, because I'm a huge fan of that team's The Castle.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:23 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I found "White Bear" (Black Mirror) the most disturbing of them all. My favorite one is "Be Right Back".
posted by travelwithcats at 9:24 AM on August 7


Our Friends in the North is just one of the great, great, great TV shows of all time--up there with The Wire and Deadwood. How it's not available in the US is a complete mystery to me

Agreed about how extraordinarily good it is, but not on the mystery so much, given that it's in large part a framework for reviewing UK sociopolitical failings of the three-and-a-bit decades it covers which would have no resonance whatsoever for US viewers. It's good as hell, but like a lot of stuff that doesn't make it here, it's also British as hell.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:27 AM on August 7


For those wanting to sample Black Mirror, a few have made it to YouTube. (This is an anthology series, all episodes are standalone.)

"Fifteen Million Merits"
"The National Anthem"
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:29 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Whoops, Pemberton. Seconded on Green Wing.

Also Black Books, which has Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan from Green Wing and the incomparable Dylan Moran. Also great guest stars.

Spaced shouldn't be hard to find, with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Jessica Stevenson (now Hynes). Also Mark Heap and others.

"A Touch of Cloth." I c whut they did ther.
posted by bjacques at 9:30 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


What about Australian TV? There is nothing on the list.

The Slap was really exceptional.

A few other recent UK series that belong on this list, on a very different note, are Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Wartime Farm, in which a team of historians (the same three principals in each) recreate rural life in past eras. Charming, gorgeously made and utterly fascinating.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:34 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I totally forgot about Spaced - what a great show.

Also, if you have Hulu, they've been streaming the British comedy Rev in the US. It's one of the funniest shows I've seen in a while.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:36 AM on August 7


Has The Crimson Field made it to the US through non-torrential means? That one is a big hit with my partner and mom. It's sort of like Downton Abbey Goes to War. (It follows the nurse volunteers at a WWI Field Hospital.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:36 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Real Humans was a visually striking 10-episode series....


It has a second series as well (up in the air as to a third, currently.)

Recommended.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:37 AM on August 7


Also... while we're talking about UK tv, can anyone from that side of the pond explain what the fuck regarding This Is Jinsy? Is that just a British thing and I don't get it? It makes me want to stab my eyes out and kick small animals. Sample weirdness.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:38 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


A few other recent UK series that belong on this list, on a very different note, are Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, and Wartime Farm, in which a team of historians (the same three principals in each) recreate rural life in past eras. Charming, gorgeously made and utterly fascinating.

This sounds a lot like the truly spectacular The Supersizers Go, a tragically underappreciated show cancelled before it's time.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:38 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


I know at least The Bridge and Ashes to Ashes are on Hulu Plus because I only just subscribed and put them in my queue, and canistream.it tells me that you can get some of the others on other US sites like Vudu.

This is a great list, and it may help keep me off the streets for a while. Thanks!
posted by ernielundquist at 9:38 AM on August 7


Isn't Broen/Bron available on Netflix? I watched it several months ago.
posted by peripathetic at 9:39 AM on August 7


Wait. No In The Flesh? Is someone airing it?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:41 AM on August 7


In the Flesh is on BBC America.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:42 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


(Btw, if you like British TV and you don't have an Acorn membership, get one now and thank me later. It's basically Netflix for British shows, in the US - ~$10 a month and they've got tons of stuff).

Wow, looks like $4.99 monthly or $49.99 for the year. There is a free 30-day trial too. I will be trying this out for sure. Link
posted by joelhunt at 9:43 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


My vote is for "The Games". I know the BBC did their own version, but I want me some feature length Clarke and Dawe.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:50 AM on August 7 [5 favorites]


+1 Black Mirror. Not sure that one about the prime minister and the pig would fly (no pun intended) in the U.S. though; probably not even on HBO.
Someone's been breaking the first rule about pig club.
posted by fullerine at 9:53 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


The Australian Wilfred is much better than the US remake on FX, and is on Hulu Plus.
posted by rfs at 9:54 AM on August 7


What about Australian TV?

Some 14 years ago, in the weeks before the Sydney Olympics, CBC ran The Games in some unheralded weird-ass time slot -- Wednesdays at 10:30 PM or something -- and I thought it was brilliant. It is a single-camera bone-dry comedy about the put-upon organizing committee for the 2000 Olympics. It is hard to appreciate what a bang-up job they did unless you have seen Twenty Twelve, a British series that took the same premise of harried organizers (now of the 2012 Olympics) and managed to make it broad and embarrassingly unfunny.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:56 AM on August 7


Oh, there's a lot of good stuff in that list. Two quibbles though:

1. Black Mirror is, no, not comparable to Twilight Zone. Some of Black Mirror is beyond the bleakest bleak.

2. Eastenders is ... no. It's 30 minutes of fake Londoners shouting threats at each other.

Glad Utopia is on there, as this is SO GOOD at the moment. Last episode of Series Two next week and it's my favorite Brit TV of this millennia so far. The color, script, unsettling points about controlling over-population, quotable lines, the outstanding acting of Neil Maskell, and the dark humor of the violence. Example, and this is **NSFW** because of the violence, with an episode opener containing the annoying IT manager.

But it's because of the violence that I cannot see Utopia being shown on US TV, especially the school massacre episode. Which is a pity. Get it any way you can.
posted by Wordshore at 10:01 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


The Thick of it and the movie In The Loop, which leads into the show's final series. Fly on the wall series about UK government, featuring the fantastically sweary Glaswegian spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi), based loosely on Tony Blair's old buddy Alastair Campbell. Capaldi was also in the second season (both were great) of The Hour, about a news show in the 1950s, he was Cardinal Richelieu in Musketeers and will be the new Dr. Who (without swearing).

In The Loop Bonus: the American neocon deputy Secretary of Defense or State or similar is played excellently by David Rasche, previously of the COen Bros.' Burn After Reading and the great violent cop sitcom Sledgehammer (1980s)
posted by bjacques at 10:04 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


2. Eastenders is ... no. It's 30 minutes of fake Londoners shouting threats at each other.

Yeah, if you've seen Charlie Brooker rubbish Eastenders on Screenwipe you've pretty much seen all the Eastenders you need.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:05 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


It's 30 minutes of fake Londoners shouting threats at each other

Threats and questions, sometimes at the same time I suppose. Example dialogue:

P: "Wotchoo up to?"
G: "Ooze arskin?"
P: "Wots your problem?"
posted by biffa at 10:10 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


This is an article about good foreign TV that isn't available on DVD in America, so I don't think it matters that it's not accessible enough to be aired. Considering how many US DVDs are of strictly niche interest I don't know why we can't at least get the miniseries by famous European directors.

My local video store has a lot of Region 2 DVDs, so I've been able to watch some of their recommendations. At least in season 1, which is all I could stand, Ashes To Ashes is dumb (for the 50th time here's Alex announcing that she's a time traveler and the police are hallucinations, and they all nod their heads and go "whatever you say, guv," and then LOOK IT'S BOY GEORGE haw haw). Life On Mars was great -- it really gave you a sense of the culture of 1973 Britain, which is interesting to me because so much of the rock music I like came out of that time and place. By the end of season 2 of Blake's 7 the decent episodes finally began to outweigh the awful ones, and Avon is a great character, but I still gave up halfway through season 3. I think I'll try some of the other material being recommended in this discussion thread.

(I think my problem is that I have unreasonably high standards where I expect every episode to be really meaty and stand all by itself like a movie, or I lose interest. Traditional episodic TV works on a longer scale, more like a serial novel than a set of short stories. This is my own failing, not trying to humblebrag, and I wish I could learn how to appreciate ordinary shows without nitpicking them so much.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:10 AM on August 7


If you can find 1990's Chancer, which made a star of Clive Owen, don't miss it. Series One and Two are spectacularly different in tone, with the first being wry and charming and feels peculiarly more remote in time than it actually is, the second bringing in some astonishing weirdness. Both very good but almost unrecognizable as the same series.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:16 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Seconding Sandbaggers from above. Really nicely done (and apparently realistic) spy story.
posted by tavella at 10:21 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I love QI and have only recently discovered its related comedians-on-a-panel shows 8 out of 10 Cats, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and Would I Lie To You?

We need all of these shows in NA, but I doubt if our minor celebrities would subject themselves to the relentless piss-taking as well as their Brit counterparts.
posted by rocket88 at 10:22 AM on August 7


We need all of these shows in NA, but I doubt if our minor celebrities would subject themselves to the relentless piss-taking as well as their Brit counterparts.

Oddly, Comedy Central's @midnight seems to be the most British television series ever created in the US.
posted by hippybear at 10:26 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Somehow I would have expected mefi to run with the Prisoner: Cell Block H crowd.
posted by sonascope at 10:26 AM on August 7


The panel show format flourishes in the UK because so many of our best wits have the national disease of diffidence. I always find it a really interesting contrast with the shows in the US that occupy the same cultural slot - the Daily Show etc - where the weighting of the burden of focus is so entirely different.
posted by forgetful snow at 10:28 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Speaking of those panel shows, it's become a tradition in my house just after New Years to go on Youtube and find the annual Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Through it we've gained some working familiarity with several UK celebrities we might never have even heard of otherwise.

It felt really weird when Kristen Schaal was on it last year.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:31 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


What's silly to me is that, while I've met tons of Americans who love Life on Mars and feel sort of lukewarm-okay about Ashes to Ashes, none of us seem to have watched The Sweeney, which is pretty much essential viewing if anyone ever wants to know where Life on Mars was really coming from.

And now, on googling, I see they actually made a new The Sweeney film? Wow. Still, gimme John Thaw any day.

Which reminds me – it was years ago, but I remember enjoying Inspector Morse a lot, in a Columbo sort of a way. Is that available here yet? I'm thinking no, but I'd have to check.
posted by koeselitz at 10:31 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Oh good, I didn't hallucinate Ken Finkleman's The Newsroom. I have vague memories of it and was going to post an ask but couldn't word it without blabbing on about generalities (actually, knowing this group, I could have just written Canadian, news show, baffled woman and gotten an answer). It was so good I had a feeling it would be on the list but I didn't count on it already being on DVD. Lucky for me his later work isn't.

Wait, no.
posted by danabanana at 10:33 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I unashamedly love Scandi Noir, so I will always recommend Forbrydelsen and Broen/Bron - the stories are good enough thrillers but the actors are incredible. Sofie Gråbøl and Sofia Helin are so, so good as Sarah Lund and Saga Noren. (My secret dream is a Killing/Bridge crossover where Lund and Noren encounter each other.)

And there's a dual language Welsh crime series called Y Gwyll or 'Hinterland' which I found very enjoyable as well - set around Aberystwyth it's strongly influenced by the Scandi crime genre but with a distinctly Welsh flavor and beautiful bleak landscapes.
posted by ewok and chips at 10:40 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Green Wing is still available for streaming on Hulu... damn fine show, I wish more people knew about it so I could talk to them about Sue White. And I'm glad to see Utopia show up on this list, I just started watching that last night and holy crap, I'm hooked. I do wish that Misfits was on the list, though... such a great show. And it's so jarring, seeing Iwan Rheon show up there as Simon, then as Ramsay Snow on Game of Thrones, then as the adorable straight neighbor/foil to Ian Mckellan and Derek Jacobi on Vicious...
posted by palomar at 10:41 AM on August 7


Borgen is a Danish series that's been hugely popular in the Uk & Australia - about a female Prime Minister trying to navigate murky political waters. I tried watching it but Sidse Babett Knudsen looks so much like my mum that it always throws me off whatever I watch her in.
posted by kariebookish at 10:46 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Utopia is currently being discussed in Fanfare! I think I'm alone in not really liking Black Mirror, I found it implausibly bleak, in particular the first episode I just found frustrating.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 10:48 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


while I've met tons of Americans who love Life on Mars and feel sort of lukewarm-okay about Ashes to Ashes, none of us seem to have watched The Sweeney, which is pretty much essential viewing if anyone ever wants to know where Life on Mars was really coming from.

To be fair, The Sweeney was only just released on DVD here last year. I've been watching it because Ashes To Ashes didn't scratch the itch raised by Life On Mars. It's a lot of fun, but at times it's really just Starsky And Hutch in London, so I don't think it has quite the same depth...

My favorite show of those listed in the original article is The Changes, a dramatization of Peter Dickinson's great kids' SF books. The AV Club writers seem mostly to steer clear of British Children's Fantasy/Sci-Fi in favor of British Mystery Series, which I think is a mistake. If you can find a DVD of the 1970s show Timeslip, I would definitely recommend it -- push on through the first few episodes to the second "serial" and the story gets excellent.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:48 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, The Sweeney is on DVD? That's fantastic. I remember watching torrented copies years and years ago.
posted by koeselitz at 10:52 AM on August 7


Also... while we're talking about UK tv, can anyone from that side of the pond explain what the fuck regarding This Is Jinsy? Is that just a British thing and I don't get it? It makes me want to stab my eyes out and kick small animals. Sample weirdness.


That looks simply insane.



I want to watch it!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:56 AM on August 7


No Wallander? I know Masterpiece Theater has sporadically picked up the BBC adaptation but I don't think the Swedish version has been on American TV.
posted by gyc at 10:58 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


No Wallander? I know Masterpiece Theater has sporadically picked up the BBC adaptation but I don't think the Swedish version has been on American TV.

The Swedish version of Wallander is available to stream on Netflix, or at least it was earlier this year. I can't check right now, but maybe someone else can?
posted by palomar at 11:01 AM on August 7


it's really just Starsky And Hutch in London

Now that's a show I'd watch! I mean, of course, literally David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser banging around 70s London, utterly out of their depth and desperately trying to remember to drive on the left.

No Wallander? I know Masterpiece Theater has sporadically picked up the BBC adaptation but I don't think the Swedish version has been on American TV.


You can stream it on Netflix.
posted by yoink at 11:03 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Also... while we're talking about UK tv, can anyone from that side of the pond explain what the fuck regarding This Is Jinsy? Is that just a British thing and I don't get it?

Previously explained here. Sort of.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


This sounds a lot like the truly spectacular The Supersizers Go, a tragically underappreciated show cancelled before it's time.


I think they were running out of decades, and possibly fearing for Giles' and Sue's stomachs/livers/etc.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:11 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


I seem to recall Ripping Yarns being on VHS here in the States many years ago, marketed as "from the people who brought you Monty Python" or similar.

One non-USA series I liked that's not on this list is the Irish crime drama Love/Hate. It has aspects reminiscent of The Sopranos (it covers both the personal and "professional" lives of a small group of gangsters), The Wire (they're in the drug business) and Sons of Anarchy (they get mixed up with the IRA), though the quality level is more like season 2 of Sons (very good, but not all-time great) than the first two.

I'm not really surprised it hasn't been imported , because the accents can be hard to understand, but if you can get past that, it's worth a watch. First three series are on Hulu. Don't know if the fourth series can be streamed anywhere, but it can be found online in the same way that lots of stuff not officially available for download can be found online.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:11 AM on August 7


It's 30 minutes of fake Londoners shouting threats at each other

Threats and questions, sometimes at the same time I suppose. Example dialogue:

P: "Wotchoo up to?"
G: "Ooze arskin?"
P: "Wots your problem?"



Didn't you kill my bruvva?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:14 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I've been periodically looking for a copy of Frontline that I can get to the US for years

There is a Frontline Youtube channel with almost every episode.
Frontline Official Channel on YouTube

Binge watched it the other day. Though it did remind me that Bruno Lawrence up and died between seasons 1 and 2.....damn he was awesome.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:15 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Borgen is a Danish series that's been hugely popular in the Uk & Australia

I don't understand why the leading actors aren't getting stolen by US and UK filmmakers, given that they (not atypically of NW Europeans) speak flawless English. Søren Malling, who plays the TV news head -- and who also did a superb turn as corporate CEO in the Danish film A Hijacking -- can control the camera's attention with a subtlety only the best film actors ever learn. He's a standout in a particularly fine crowd; they're all like that, pretty much.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:16 AM on August 7


Over Christmas, Hulu was streaming Moone Boy, which if you haven't watched it, you should. It's genuinely one of those sweet sitcoms from the UK that made the NYE monster cold I had bearable.
posted by Kitteh at 11:17 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]


I'm also still waiting for the American broadcast of Numberwang
posted by Itaxpica at 11:22 AM on August 7 [11 favorites]


A lot of recommendations for British kids science fiction TV shows in this Ask MeFi thread, in case anyone is interested.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:26 AM on August 7


Oh yes, seconding Moone Boy, it's hilarious and adorable. The theme song gets stuck in your head like whoa, though.
posted by palomar at 11:27 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


If you have DirecTV, Black Mirror is downloadable.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:53 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Glad to see Brass Eye (Previously) is on the list. For those who can't get enough of Chris Morris (for instance, ambient comedy radio show Blue Jam, news parody On the Hour (Previously, John-Oliver-related Previously)) I suggest the website Cook'd and Bomb'd, which started as a Chris Morris fan forum but has general British comedy discussions as well. From the site, a guide to the Chris Morris / Peter Cook radio interviews (which have been released on CD), Why Bother?
posted by larrybob at 12:01 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


The Swedish version of Wallander is available to stream on Netflix, or at least it was earlier this year. I can't check right now, but maybe someone else can?

Only the second series. The first and third series are not available on Netflix.

Borgen is a Danish series that's been hugely popular in the Uk & Australia

I don't understand why the leading actors aren't getting stolen by US and UK filmmakers, given that they (not atypically of NW Europeans) speak flawless English. Søren Malling, who plays the TV news head -- and who also did a superb turn as corporate CEO in the Danish film A Hijacking -- can control the camera's attention with a subtlety only the best film actors ever learn. He's a standout in a particularly fine crowd; they're all like that, pretty much.


Is it just me or are Kasper and Katrine Danish doppelgangers of Joshua Jackson and Billie Piper?
posted by gyc at 12:05 PM on August 7


the fantastically sweary Glaswegian spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (Capaldi)

My favorite Malcolm Tucker quote:

"[...] I would rain down on you so hard, you would have to be reassembled by fucking air crash investigators."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:15 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]


Take DirecTV's claims with a grain of salt. One of the main reasons I cancelled with them is their tendency to advertise programming and then just not have it. In fact, I specifically had problems with Black Mirror. I was able to record one episode, but the others they claimed to have never worked. Then, when they cut off the last episode in the second season of Orphan Black, I decided that if I was going to have to torrent or pay for everything individually anyway, I'd just eliminate the "try to get DirecTV to work as advertised" step entirely.

We are much happier now.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:28 PM on August 7


Seedboxes are pretty cheap.

Or so I've heard
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:39 PM on August 7


Eastenders used to play on public TV here. I tried to watch it a few times but it might as well been in in Icelandic for the amount of dialog that I could understand.
posted by octothorpe at 12:57 PM on August 7


Also... while we're talking about UK tv, can anyone from that side of the pond explain what the fuck regarding This Is Jinsy?

So ahead of the zeitgeist it's uncanny.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:58 PM on August 7


Of course all the truly great Dutch tv is exported worldwide: Survivor, Big Brother, The Voice, all the classics.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:00 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I am still astounded that Coronation Street is very much A Thing here in Canada. (You can find it at least once a day on tv!)
posted by Kitteh at 1:03 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


And there's a dual language Welsh crime series called Y Gwyll or 'Hinterland' which I found very enjoyable as well - set around Aberystwyth it's strongly influenced by the Scandi crime genre but with a distinctly Welsh flavor and beautiful bleak landscapes.

That was indeed great. One of the few wannabe arty BBC crime dramas where the incessent trailers beforehand didn't put me off.

I quite like Inspector Montalbano, BBC Four's Italian detective series, too.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:07 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I love QI and have only recently discovered its related comedians-on-a-panel shows 8 out of 10 Cats, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and Would I Lie To You?

All this and no Have I Got News for You, the panel show that brought us Boris Johnson as mayor of London?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:10 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]


Speaking of UK teevee, I sort of faded out on Lightfields. Should I go back and watch that or did it stay meh?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:20 PM on August 7


EastEnders is currently on Twin Cities public TV, or at least I stumbled across it again while flipping channels within the last week or two. It's been on at 11 or so on Saturdays nights for, who knows, 25 years or so?

Significant chunks of Brass Eye are on YouTube. I've been meaning to order the DVD set from overseas, now that I have region-free capabilities set up.
posted by gimonca at 1:24 PM on August 7


I guess I get what they're going for on This Is Jinsy.

I just have never seen twee/whimsy played quite so loud and shrill before and I'm baffled that anyone can stand the thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:37 PM on August 7


I don't understand why the leading actors aren't getting stolen by US and UK filmmakers, given that they (not atypically of NW Europeans) speak flawless English. Søren Malling, who plays the TV news head -- and who also did a superb turn as corporate CEO in the Danish film A Hijacking -- can control the camera's attention with a subtlety only the best film actors ever learn. He's a standout in a particularly fine crowd; they're all like that, pretty much.

Sofie Gråbøl's not only appearing on stage here in the UK but she's filmed a new 12 part crime thriller for Sky Atlantic called Fortitude. It's set in the Arctic Circle and she's the governor of a small town. Stanley Tucci, Christopher Eccleston and Michael Gambon are also in it. Can't wait, although I expect I'll have to watch it on DVD.
posted by ewok and chips at 2:05 PM on August 7


Misfits, as it's name implies, is about young people and how they are often alienated from society for one reason or another. I could go on at length about this show but I'll save it for Fanfare. There are a couple of times it goes off the rails but it's actually pretty solid.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:18 PM on August 7


I'd throw in NZ's Outrageous Fortune; ridiculously bawdy, incident-packed comedy drama following the misadventures of a bogan crime family who decide to go straight. Featuring Anthony Starr (Banshee) playing twin brothers (brilliantly) and the fabulous Munter.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:52 PM on August 7



Of course all the truly great Dutch tv is exported worldwide: Survivor, Big Brother, The Voice, all the classics.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:00 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


According to a comment on the article: there is a Dutch version of the Golden Girls, unimaginably kept from the rest of the world.
posted by rollick at 3:02 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Man, and a Russian version of The Nanny ran for 173 episodes, compared to 146 for the original. Who needs Rosetta Stone in this modern world of ours?
posted by rollick at 3:06 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


This is a pretty good list.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:14 PM on August 7


I haven't seen The Bridge in either American or Danish/Swedish versions, but I have seen the UK/French adaptation The Tunnel, starring antisocial Fleur Delacour and cheerful Stannis Baratheon. I'd recommend it.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:16 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Outrageous Fortune has Antony Starr? I'm in. Banshee is a favorite of mine. For my money, it's the most underappreciated show on American TV. (Fair warning though: it's also among the most violent. Like every-episode-contains-at-least-one-savage-beating violent.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:25 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I think Being Erica (Canada) and Offspring (Australia) both deserve a mention for comedy/drama with a pinch of fantasy. Also the Aussie MasterChef and the British The Apprentice are SO MUCH BETTER than the US equivalents (albeit not quite quality TV).
posted by travelwithcats at 3:58 PM on August 7


I am still astounded that Coronation Street is very much A Thing here in Canada. (You can find it at least once a day on tv!)

I get CBC - Vancouver in on cable package in Seattle, and Coronation Street has become something that I've looked forward to. I don't go back and seek out episodes that I missed, and I still don't know many of the characters by name, but I like watching it for an hour or so on Sunday morning.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:04 PM on August 7


Danger 5 is a pretty serious omission but then this list is pretty much "by foreign, we mean Europe of course" (and 1 Israeli show and 1 Brazilian show). Nothing going on in Japan or South Korea?

QI and every other British panel show mentioned here are also good fun.

I'll third Moone Boy, that's a lot of fun. Hulu is killing it with quirky Brit imports. They even have the previously mentioned The Supersizers Go...
posted by davros42 at 4:39 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Another vote for Borgen; a more gripping political drama than one might naïvely expect coalition politics in a peaceful, prosperous small country in Europe to be; but of course, the nature of coalition politics, and the potential for double-dealing and backstabbing that comes from it, makes it compelling; the characterisation and plotting are also impeccably well thought out.
posted by acb at 4:51 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


They dropped the ball by omitting Misfits.

Jesus christ does that show get shitty really fast in the later seasons though. You can almost perfectly mark off when it starts to suck, because it's like a switch flipping.

It goes from being one of the best shows i've seen, to being something completely mediocre i could see ABC running on an off night.
posted by emptythought at 4:52 PM on August 7 [4 favorites]


Recommended: NZ's comedy "Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby".
posted by oluckyman at 6:12 PM on August 7


emptythought -- Nathan and his potty mouth was more vital than realized. (Though I do have a soft spot for Rudy.)
posted by Kitteh at 6:54 PM on August 7


Green Wing is on Youtube and Hulu in all its glory! Watch it now! !

AND some saint has also uploaded all the bonus material from the DVDs, to help you ease through the inevitably depressing withdrawal you will experience once you finish the series. ): GOD i love that show
posted by krakus at 7:09 PM on August 7


No love for Ideal? I believe BBC America showed a series or two, but otherwise it doesn't appear available in the US - no region 1 DVD that I can find.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:17 PM on August 7


Great list. As if I'm not having enough trouble keeping up with Fanfare. I'm looking forward to the new series of Touch of Cloth.

Tamson Greig is phenomenal. Nthing everyone who recommended Green Wing. Very funny. Sadly, even her talent can't convince me to watch Episodes.

If you liked Moone Boy, give Spy a shot. I found this funnier though MB was, as someone mentioned above, sweeter. Spy is on Amazon. I found it more contemporary and a bit more fun.

Also missing from the list
The Smoking Room (with Mitchell Webb)
Bluestone 42
Ideal (on Amazon)
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:34 PM on August 7


What about Australian TV? There is nothing on the list.

It's funny, Australians love to complain about how terrible Australian TV is, but since moving away, I've realised we actually make a lot of good stuff -- partially through things I've realised I really miss, but also through people from other countries saying "Oh I love [Australian show]!" and thinking "Huh, yeah, I guess that was pretty good." One of my (American) workmates specifically came to ask me for recommendations the other day because she was enjoying one Australian show so much.

I hope now that the internet is allowing and encouraging discerning viewers around the world to seek out quality content from overseas, more Australians will come to appreciate that we make a decent amount of quality TV and stop constantly crapping on the local industry.

My recommendations (that haven't been mentioned): The original Rake (I think it's on Netflix), Blue Murder, Rockwiz and Spicks and Specks (neither are as good as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, but both have their moments), Underbelly (well the first few, anyway).
posted by retrograde at 7:42 PM on August 7


Australian programs seem less accessible, to me, than UK or US shows, travelwithcats. Good News Week and Kath and Kim could be pretty funny but also seemed a bit tame and the characters in Janet King just made some indecipherable choices. Well that goes for Kath and Kim, too, but I've always understood they were meant to be a bit out there.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:54 PM on August 7


I "found" all of the Black Mirror episodes today and after watching the first 3 I have to ask: are the rest of the episodes totally fucking depressing. Ugh.
posted by photoslob at 8:05 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Photoslob, yup. Don't continue watching. They don't get any better. I'm happy to be a non-fan of this series. Won't you join me?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 8:15 PM on August 7


Christ, is that true? Then everyone watches it.
posted by jessicahyl at 10:38 PM on August 7


Line of Duty (esp series 2) is also highly recommended

(8.2 score on IMDB)
posted by DanCall at 2:31 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Surprised no one mentioned it, but the most likely reason Utopia hasn't made it to US screens yet is that HBO owns the rights and has hired David Fincher to remake it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:32 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Australia's national broadcaster, the ABC have had some incredibly good shows in the last few years. Redfern Now is a series of short stories about indigenous people living in the inner city suburb of Redfern in Sydney. The Gruen Transfer is a talk show which gives a devastatingly insightful look into the world of advertising. Pretty much anything to do with Shaun Micallef, the drollest man on Australian TV, is worth a look. A Moody Christmas is great. Sam Simmon's show Problems is sublime suburban surrealistic sketch comedy. The Librarians is excellent as well. So much good tv from the ABC, that's just the tip of the cliche.
posted by h00py at 5:03 AM on August 8


For those into the Scandinavian thing, I'd very much like to recommend Ørnen (The Eagle).
posted by mirthe at 7:44 AM on August 8


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