The Globe and Mail
Possibly you’re out of sorts. Possibly you’ve had enough of dark, challenging drama being shoved at you. It happens. Everybody needs a break from bleakness.
In this circumstance many people turn to old reliables – British drama and comedy and the like. Material from over there, Britain and Ireland, that isn’t trying to make you rethink your reasons for existence and your moral code. Material that isn’t trying to make you think at all. Herewith, a list of five suggestions to warm the cockles your heart.
Poldark (Vision TV, Wednesdays, 9 p.m.) is a robust reboot of a Brit classic from the seventies, based on the much-loved novels by Winston Graham. If you’re not familiar, the gist is this – terribly dashing Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) returns to Cornwall after an unsatisfying time fighting in the American Revolution. After years away, his father has died, his true love Elizabeth (Heida Reed) is marrying his cousin, his home and lands are in ruins and his mine, the source of the family fortune, is at the end of its usefulness. What’s a chap to do? Well, brood handsomely for a start. And be kind to urchins. Mostly, it’s all about romance as merely smouldering looks at Elizabeth will obviously not suffice. The series is made with enormous care and the landscape is breathtaking. Not quite as frivolous as it sounds, Poldark is great, dreamy escapism.
The Boys & Girl From County Clare (coming to Vision, Nov. 3) is a delight so watch out for it. An Irish movie about a traditional music competition in remote Clare in the sixties, it has more swearing and salty language than most Roddy Doyle books.
Colm Meaney is energetically phlegmatic as the Irishman who fled to Liverpool but kept his Ceili music roots alive. Even as the Beatles are huge, he’s all about aye-tiddly-aye music. So he takes his band back to Clare where the showdown is with a band led by his estranged brother (Bernard Hill). Ructions ensue, but also some fine fiddle music. Andrea Corr from the Corrs plays a genius fiddler with wan aplomb.
The Interceptor (BBC Canada, Thursdays, 10 p.m.) is a highly melodramatic, all-action thriller series. It’s about the smuggling racket. O. T. Fagbenle is Special Agent Marcus (Ash) Ashton, a British customs agent with a history of violence. But he’s the man needed for a special squad set up to break up the big-time smuggling scams. There’s a bit of spying and a lot of chases and angry words. The show is, like many Brit crime dramas, long on attitude and short in character development, but it’s got an old-school British crime story flavour (think of The Sweeney) to it.
Hinterland (streaming on Netflix) is your Welsh twist on dark Nordic drama. Very much anchored in the style of the Wallander dramas, the brooding detective is Tom Mathias, played by Richard Harrington. He’s in Aberystwyth, and doesn’t want to be there. Murder happens in the bleak Welsh hills, old hatreds resurface and it pains him to see it, even as the landscape is staggeringly beautiful. It’s drenched in sadness, but is not going to depress you a lot.
Death in Paradise (streaming on Netflix) isn’t drenched in sadness. It’s more comedy than grim crime material. Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, it’s very lightweight as Met officer Richard Poole (Ben Miller), who went there to investigate one murder, stays on and tackles more. So it’s very, very “fish-out-of-water” in format. The locals bewilder him, but something nasty happens often and he examines the clues in old-fashioned style. It’s like Agatha Christie with outbursts of hilarity.
Poldark is on order at the library. Hinterland Season 1 and Death in Paradise Seasons 1-4 are available to check out. We look forward to adding the other two series as soon as they are available.