Tuesday, 24 January 2012
We don't have a TV at home: a conscious decision which almost certainly leaves us with more time for doing other things, as there's less temptation to just switch on the box and watch something indiscriminate. One added advantage is that by the time we come to watch a series on DVD, we can take recommendations from friends who've already seen it.
Over the last couple of years, catching up on good TV has evolved into a regular social occasion with a group of friends. We get together and watch two episodes from a series, punctuated with a meal between the two, and then come back the next week for the next installment. Sometimes someone cooks, but more often than not we grab the Domino's pizza menu (I love the stuffed crusts, or the 'Double Decadence' base, which has cheese between two thin layers of dough... ahem, I'm making myself hungry now!), and because Andy has such a sweet tooth, we usually also take along a little something for dessert (whether that's a box of chocolates, freshly baked cookies, or - last week - a popcorn machine).
Given my travel habit, it probably doesn't come as much of a surprise that our selections had an international feel - not that I can claim any credit for the choices, as I just turn up to watch. But I do enjoy getting some insight into what's popular around the world.
We started off with The Wire, a crime drama set in Baltimore. I loved it for its greyscale morality, where the police were often prepared to be as unethical as the drug dealers, but also for the laugh-out-loud moments such as when a couple of police pretend that their photocopier is a lie detector, to intimidate their suspect into a confession. The production used a lot of local casting, with genuine Baltimore residents and even some genuine drug dealers on the cast, which gives it a lot of authenticity.
For a little light relief after working our way through all five series of The Wire, we then moved on to watching Icelandic sitcom The Night Shift (or Næturvaktin). This is a fairly dark comedy set in a Reykjavik petrol station, and concentrating on the lives of the three men who work the night shift. It was interesting for the glimpse into Icelandic humour, as well as being funny in its own right.
We've just finished Series 1 of The Killing (or Forbrydelsen), a Danish crime drama which has made as much of a splash in the UK for its fashion (gorgeous Faroese knitwear) as for its drama. I wasn't completely won over by this one at first (there are a lot of false leads and sudden about-turns, even by crime drama standards) but it got really good in the last half-dozen episodes. I'd quite like to watch the second series at some point, but not straight away!
We haven't decided what our next series is going to be, so if you have any recommendations for excellent television, please let me know in the comments.