COVID-19 Diaries: Rewatches and British TV

In addition to educational art videos, I’ve been watching a lot of other stuff. Outside of movies and shows I had already been following, much of it is comfort fare — in other words, rewatches of old shows and random British TV.


Designing Women. This was funnier than I remember, especially Delta Burke as Suzanne and Jean Smart as Charlene. Of course there are a lot of problematic aspects (the word “bitch” and fat/slut shaming are thrown around quite a bit). Other surprising things: Julia (Dixie Carter) gets on her soapbox a lot more often than I remember and when Suzanne gets “fat” she’s only chubby. They make it seem like she’s obese. 

I stopped watching when Suzanne and Charlene left. I had also forgotten how utterly unlikeable Julia Duffy’s character is. At least Jan Hooks is funny.

A Different World. This holds up better than I expected. The first season is SO DIFFERENT from the rest, but still enjoyable. Also problematic aspects (fat shaming again, accepted sexual harassment from Ron, and Whitney’s racist attitude toward Kinu). But unlike Designing Women, I’ll most likely watch until the end.

British TV

For some reason I love British television shows. I think it all started with Doc Martin (which I watched after a heartbreaking breakup) and Midsomer Murders. During the shutdown, I was looking for the same kind of comfort.

Agatha Raisin. I ended up signing up for Acorn TV because Midsomer Murders left Netflix. (I had also canceled HBO because it was no longer compatible with my Apple TV.) Agatha Raisin was promoted like crazy so I gave it a go — and LOVED IT. Agatha is in her 40s and divorced. She’s left her high-power PR job to settle in a small town she vacationed in as a child and has fond memories of. So it’s like single independent woman with quirky townsfolk. Then someone gets murdered and she gets roped into solving the case. So good. I only wish there were more episodes.

Queens of Mystery. Needing more of a murder-mystery-with-women-investigators fix, I checked this out and was not disappointed. A young woman returns to her hometown to take a job as a detective sergeant. Her aunts are all mystery writers and always try to butt into solving the murders. Again, need more episodes of this.

Dead Still. This was terrific. Set in Victorian England, the show is about a photographer who takes pictures of dead people, which was a thing back then. The photographer is a loner with a troubled yet unclear past. Things change for him when his spunky, independent-minded niece joins him and he unwillingly takes on a new assistant. Macabre yet humorous.

Pitching In. This show wasn’t as good as the others, but I still enjoyed it. Set in a beachtown in Wales, it of course has a cast of quirky characters and the plotlines aren’t too stressful. I also found the seashore environment very relaxing. 

Love, Lies and Records. This, on the other hand, was pretty stressful. I mostly watched it because Ashley Jensen from Agatha Raisin is in it, and I kept watching because it’s very much like a soap opera. The scenarios are a bit ridiculous, but I wanted to keep watching. And it’s just one season so not much of a commitment.

Gavin & Stacey. This more-than-10-year-old show co-stars and was co-created by a pre-Late-Late-Show James Corden. It’s also really good. So funny and heartwarming. It also has Mathew Horne from Agatha Raisin as Gavin. Ruth Jones who plays Nessa cracks my shit up, and the slang and accents are so crazy, I have to watch with subtitles. I’ll be dedicating an entire post to the Welsh slang of Gavin & Stacey. So bummed I’m done watching it except for the 2019 Christmas special (which for some reason is on BritBox instead of Acorn).

Mount Pleasant. Kind of dumb but still entertaining. A light and funny soap opera type with a whopping seven seasons, five of which are on Acorn. I’m only on season one now. The agro husband from Love, Lies and Records is on it as a deadbeat husband, and Nico from Killing Eve is completely unrecognizable as flirty neighbor Jack.

Lark Rise to Candleford. I just started watching this BBC production (on Hulu rather than Acorn). It’s not my favorite show but it goes down easy. Set in 19th-century Oxfordshire, it’s about a young woman who takes a job at a post office and all the lives of the people in Lark Rise (more rural) and Candleford (more citified). It’s extremely wholesome and has a post-Ab-Fab Julia Sawalha (Saffy) and pre-Downton-Abbey Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates).

Whoa, that’s a lot more than I realized. I’ll save the other shows for another post.

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