3 TV shows you might want to watch

The Village

It's hard to describe this show without comparing it to Downton Abbey, so I'll just go ahead and compare it. The first season of The Village is better and feels more realistic, if depressing, than much of Downton. The first season is just very good. The second season is good, but--and maybe it's just because it's more uplifting than the first--it falls a bit short of the bar they set.

The show is like Downton, only from the perspective of poor and working class families, and a little from the wealthy. Contrary to Downton, while it tends to focus on one poor farming family, it does well by diversifying and giving us insights into many lives of those in the village--you get to see what it's like from not only the poor, but the factory workers, the women, the politicians, and the young.

My one gripe: The farmer's wife evolved rather quickly, and I'm not talking about her foray into politics. The first episode shows her as a caring, but submissive wife. A handful of episodes later, and especially in the second season, she's a very independent woman, speaking her mind and standing up to everyone in her way, including her husband. I can understand the change, but it seemed sudden.

Still, probably one of the best shows I've seen in a while.

Marco Polo
Handy Netflix link

A great series so far. I'm sure it's taken quite a few artistic liberties with the history, but history lessons are probably not why anyone is watching it. Marco Polo is like Vikings (it's a little better than Vikings), only with a lot more nudity. It's all very great but for a few things.

It follows Marco Polo during his time with Kublai Khan, who only wants to conquer the world.  Kublai is set up as some great conqueror, but has a hard time with one particular city. There's almost a contradiction there and it just doesn't feel like the show hashed it out enough. Couple that with the allusions to warring the West and it's almost unbelievable. A few fight scenes are over the top, but those moments are sort of few and far between.

And then there's Marco's character. He's almost genius, with encyclopedic knowledge--which is fine, it's TV--but just prior to and during his trip to the East, Marco is portrayed as a complete dumbass. Apparently, we're supposed to think that some martial arts training, fed to us via montage of course, turns the naive idiot into a savvy, worldly go-getter.

Other than that, Marco is a great show. It's got that stranger in a strange land thing going on.

Old School

This is a show from Australia. You'll need to get creative, if you want to watch it in the U.S. It's not a perfect show--I found myself wanting to skip some parts--but it pays off. Every episode is solid crime-drama-comedy fun.

Maybe other shows have done the cop-teams-up-with-robber thing, but I can't seem to remember any. In any case, this is not your ordinary rinse-and-repeat cop show. It's a season long story, developing every episode, and wraps up nicely. So nicely in fact, that I wonder if there will even be another season.

The acting is very good, and the comedy just flows from the dynamic of the two protagonists. If you're bored, and have already seen (or aren't interested in) the other shows mentioned here, definitely give Old School a try (if you can find it).


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