Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
z

And here we are at the end of the Challenge. It's been a long one (and I'm sure my decision to do two separate topics had something to do with it). So to tie the two together, my love for Disney and British television, "Z" is for Zazu aka Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson!


Thank you everyone for your kind comments! Hope you had a chance to read both blog challenge series (although they were about as varied as I am)! Since I enjoy the Disney more, I think it's probably safe to say that next year's challenge will be Disney oriented again, but what specifically, I haven't figured out yet!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The Z's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Here we are at the end:
a-to-z-letters-z

This is a borderline like, it had to grow on me, but eventually it did (and it's the only "Z" I have). I'm definitely not going out with a bang here, but that's OK!

Zen
Most Americans know Rufus Sewell (if not by name). This is one of his finest roles as an Italian detective in Rome (although everybody speaks English). Also starring the absolutely adorable Callum Blue (who American's might know from Dead Like Me or Secret Diary Of A Call Girl), it's pretty gritty, centering around a very corrupt Roman police force. Zen tries to stay on the straight and narrow while he falls in love with a co-worker while dealing with his clingy Mother and soon-to-be ex-wife. The music I found most annoying...it was often overbearing at times. The scenery is quite amazing though. It was based on a series of books, but since I haven't read them, I can't really judge them based on it. There was only one series of this show.

And that's it for the A to Z Challenge! I still have one Bonus Challenge post to go, so I'm not quite finished and I'm sure the organizers will ask for another retrospective post at some point like they did last year, so more will probably follow. This Challenge was pretty exhausting, but not nearly as bad as last year's! Either I picked an easier topic or I'm getting better! Thanks again everybody and see ya next year A to Z Challenge (hopefully my new followers will stick around)!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
y

"Y" is another one of those "there can be only one" letters. I'm referring to Yen Sid, the Sorcerer himself, from one of the most famous shorts of all time (and the narrator for the opening sequences in Epic Mickey). If you have never seen Fantasia all the way through, you are really missing out!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The Y's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-y

Despite my lack of X's and O's (ha!), I do manage to have a Y!

The Young Ones
Another show from my youth, Young Ones was one of the first regular shows MTV had, back in the day when they actually played music videos. The Young Ones is very hard to describe, but I'll give it my best! Four "college" blokes share a flat, pick on each other and do other mean stuff (mainly to Neil) while hiding from their landlord. You've got the geek, the metalhead (quite literally), the hippie, and the old one. This is an all-star cast of the finest of British comedic actors (probably none of which is known to the American audience other than Rik Mayall, aka Drop Dead Fred. That's a real shame because Adrian Edmondson (aka Mr. Jennifer Saunders) and Nigel Planer are really quite brilliant (there's that word again).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

April WIPocalypse 2013

I'm still working on the "secret project" and, since it's the only project I've been working on, I can't show any progress for this WIPocalypse.

The A to Z Challenge is coming to an end soon, I do have to say, it's been nice to be offline so much. Days go by where I don't even pull out my laptop when I get home. It's amazing how working in IT has changed my home computing life, that and a little pup named Bam who wants to be held 24/7 (hence the reason why I'm still working on the "secret project").

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
x

I seem to be doing a lot of cheating in this challenge, but as a Disney die-hard, my Disney interests are varied and extensive, so I think it's fair to cover all aspects of the Disney empire. So "X" leads us to X-Men and one in particular...Gambit! Why he hasn't had more movie screen time I will never know. One can only hope that the upcoming X-Men film has more of Remy LeBeau!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The X's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-x

I am really cheating with this one. I have no X shows and the only one I could think of I have only seen very few episodes of.

X-Factor UK
Yep, X-Factor started across the pond first (and has been running for almost 10 years). I started watching it when Gary Barlow and Mark Owen from my favorite group, Take That, starting mentoring and then Gary took over for Simon Cowell when he came to do the American version. I don't watch it faithfully, and I really only watch it for Gary's sake via YouTube (hey, I was desperate for X's!).

There is something about a grown-up boy-bander (see Am, it's not just me!)

Friday, April 26, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
w

Witch Hazel is another one of the classic Disney characters not a lot of people know (as well as being a Warner Bros character, albeit in a different manifestation). But, as with Humphrey, I discovered Witch Hazel through Donald Duck, and this is another one of my favorite classic cartoons:

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The W's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-w

Another biggie, but the last of the biggies, so that might be some consolation! This is a series of mostly dark dramas...wallowing "W's" some might say!

Waking The Dead
There are nine series of this show starring Trevor Eve about a cold case squad. It's a very dark view of murder and there is quite a dark feel throughout the entire cast. It is one of, if not my favorite police dramas (have I said that before?) and I really miss new episodes of it. I got into it about series 4, so I've been with it a while. Waking The Dead starts to change cast members after the first couple of series and never stops. But they did have a final episode, so no cliffhanger (and The Body Farm, see my "B" post, is a spin off of it).

Wild At Heart
This is a new series for me, which I only got because Stephen Tompkinson was in it, but I absolutely loved it! I managed to watch all 8 series in less than a week simply because I couldn't turn it off. I have seen African dramas before and some of the shows I watch have made episodic treks to South Africa upon occasion (aka Silent Witness), but I have to admit, I'm not a fan of them per-se. They tend to deal more with the racial issues than just the characters or stories, but Wild at Heart is the exception. Tompkinson plays a Bristol vet who takes his family along to Africa to release an animal back into the wild. The family decide to stay and open a wildlife refuge. After the first couple of series, tragedy strikes (I'm not giving it away), so prepare yourself. I'm also not a fan of the "family show", which this definitely is (more snogging would have been nice), but I really loved every single moment of this show.

Wire In The Blood
Robson Green plays a psychologist who helps the police solve crimes by getting into the mind of the killer. He has a lot of trouble separating himself once the case is over and each case affects him more and more. This is possibly the darkest drama I have in my collection, but I really loved every minute of it because Robson's character was obviously an Asperger like me. I also probably wouldn't watch it with kids around simply because of how dark it is.

Whitechapel
Rupert Penry-Jones. I could just stop there! He is second only to Richard Armitage in my book! This three series arch might throw the average viewer into a tailspin, each series has the "feel" of a different time period. The first series deals with a Ripper copycat in modern day Whitechapel (with an 1890's feel), the second with a Kray brothers copycat (with a very 1960's feel), and the third more modern with just murders in general. Most every American is familiar with Jack the Ripper, but not a lot of people know about the Krays (and I only do because Gary and Martin Kemp, from the 80's band Spandau Ballet, were in a movie aptly called, The Krays). The Krays were twin brothers who were the most notorious mobsters in England's Whitechapel (or all of England for that matter) in the 1960's. They made Al Capone look like a total wuss! They didn't use hitmen, they took care of the wetworks themselves, often quite brutally. That's what makes this show so interesting...Whitechapel is famous for more than just the Ripper murders and it's nice to see it's other nefarious critters getting their due!

William And Mary
Another Martin Clunes show, William and Mary is the story of an undertaker with two daughters who meets and falls in love with Julie Graham, a midwife with two sons. It's a drama, but really sweet as well. The oldest daughter and the oldest son get involved, Mary ends up getting pregnant, the ex-husband of Mary comes back on the scene and tries to get his family back, William has to deal with his business competition and keeping everything running to support his newly expanded family, all the while trying to keep everybody together. Look for a very young (and very bad) Michael Fassbender in one episode!

Honorable Mention:
Wallander
I might be the only person on the planet, but I am not a Kenneth Branagh fan. Having said that, most of his movies I do like. Wallander is a remake of a Swedish show about a Swedish detective solving crimes in the Swedish countryside (you knew I was gonna say Swedish one more time, didn't you?) and dealing with his personal problems (which are quite numerous). This is another very dark series because Wallander gets very personal with the people in each episode, both the victims and the killers, on top of dealing with divorce, a daughter he doesn't have time for, girlfriends he can't keep, a father with Alzheimer's, and his own alcholism...this dude has got problems! There are three series so far.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
v

Another cheat here, sort of, but "V" could be no other character(s) than Villains! So let's visit my absolute favorite Disney World season, Halloween, and the Villains Dance Mix and Mingle...It's Halloween-lo-ween everybody!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The V's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-v

"V" could possibly be the most important letter next to "D" and "S" for the simple reason it contains this little gem:

Vicar Of Dibley
Dawn French. Richard Armitage. As a couple. Need I say more! Granted, Richard doesn't pop up until the final two specials, but oh, does it make the entire series or what! Based on a real female Vicar, Dibley is a comedy about a woman who takes over as vicar to a small village of pretty much elderly old-school men! Written by Richard Curtis (aka Love Actually, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones, Four Weddings And A Funeral, you get the picture, he's practically the reason why Americans love the Brits so much) and what could be his finest work, Dibley comprises four series and a number of specials and one-off's spread out over almost 15 years. Look out for Hugh Bonneville in the Richard episodes, this is one of my favorite parts of his. I'm still waiting for the next special! It's funny, heartwarming, and just plain good television. If you only manage to get one series from my entire A to Z posts, then get this one!

Here is an actual clip of the day that Geraldine meets Harry:


Vexed
Bronte fans will know Toby Stephens from one of the many incarnations of Rochester from Jane Eyre, but I think this is my favorite of his roles. He often gets typecast as a bad guy, and like Richard Armitage, I don't like him that way. Toby plays a detective that doesn't adhere to the rules much, operating out of a bar instead of the police station. He may be womanizing, but he's a really good detective. There are two series and each one has a different female partner (and I think that Miranda Raison (from Spooks) in the second series is my favorite-they have a lot more chemistry).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
u

OK, so I didn't have much choice with the "U's", and before last October, I probably would have bypassed "U". But, once again, Disney World has a huge influence over me and this might possibly be one of the coolest figures at WDW! I picked a pic with Am in it for the simple purpose of size ratio:

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The U's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-u

Are there "U" shows? Yep! I actually have three, but we're only gonna cover two (I'm NOT an Upstairs, Downstairs fan-the new version, haven't seen the old, so I'm leaving it out).

Ultimate Force
I think I might have mentioned my love for action/military shows in the "S's"...this show is the poster child for said shows. If you can think of a hot British actor, odds are, he's been in this show about a special black ops squad. Richard Armitage, Jamie Draven, Jamie Bamber, Elliot Cowan, Tobias Menzies, Laurence Fox, hell, even Ross Kemp grows on you after a while! Hot men kicking ass...does it get any better?

Ultraviolet
I might be the only person on the planet that has seen this show, but I still loved it! There was only one series, and it got cancelled, so no tie up at the closing, but it's basically about vampires and the secret detective unit created to hunt them. Starring a very young Jack Davenport (Norrington to Pirate fans) and Stephen Moyer (Americans will know him as Vampire Bill on True Blood), you never really know who is what until mid series (I think there were six episodes). I wish this show would have carried on because there was real potential there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
t

I've already mentioned my general distaste for Pixar films, but there are some characters that stand out, probably none more than Tow-Mater! Yes, I love a redneck tow truck voiced by one of the guys from that stupid Blue Collar Comedy Tour, despite my disdain for all things redneck! So, first an image from Disney World of the new Art of Animation Resort, the Cars section:

and secondly, lets throw in some more Robbie Williams Disney theme music. Pay attention and try to catch Tow yelling "Pistachio Ice Cream!" (if you've seen the movie, you'll get it).

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The T's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-t

After another long diatribe of a post (see "S"), "T" is more on the shorter side!

Torchwood
Being a Doctor Who fan, Torchwood is one of those shows you just have to watch as well! Captain Jack (aka John Barrowman) was created in the Who-verse, and because of an "incident" in the new Who series 1, can never die, no matter how many times he's killed. He hops back and forth between the two shows upon occasion, and not watching one or the other could be confusing! Torchwood is a spin off of Doctor Who (as well as an anagram), based on the government agency created to study the Doctor and deal with alien threats. Unlike Doctor Who, Torchwood is a bit more grown up and deals with more adult subject matter (whereas The Sarah Jane Adventures, goes the opposite and is for a younger audience, but has cross-over episodes as well). I'm wondering where the U.N.I.T. spin off is! Another big difference between Torchwood and DW is the fact that it is very Spooks-like, no one is safe from dying, so don't get too attached to characters! There are four series of this show (with series four being released on the American channel Starz, in an effort to keep the show active since the Beebs dropped it). As of now, there is no plans for a fifth series (had they kept the same format and theme, I don't think the Starz version would have bombed - yet another case of American producers "dumbing down" a great British show for us stupid Americans and ruining it in the process - we obviously "get" British television, or we wouldn't watch it in the first place!).

The Thin Blue Line
Rowan Atkinson cannot be accused of being type-cast as Bean (at least not to British viewers). His character in Thin Blue Line couldn't be more different than Bean or Blackadder, although just as funny! He plays a police inspector heading up a team of misfit CID officers. He constantly butts heads with the detectives who try to steal his cases, bungles his personal relationship with the desk sergeant, and generally screws up everything, despite his pompous air of superiority! But then again, since that sounds like both Bean and Blackadder, maybe it is a bit typecast.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
s

There is only one character second to Donald for me and that's Stitch! Most people don't like Stitch, probably because, at least for a time, he took over everything Disney. I even love the attraction at Disney World (and I might be the only person on the planet). I watched the TV show, have all the movies, and know when to hold my breath on the ride...that takes true dedication! I absolutely love this clip, a series of trailers for when the movie came out, where Stitch invades the Disney "classics" (classics being a questionable word in my book).


IHSW Results

OK, so you won't actually be seeing a pic of this week's progress (since it's a secret project-gift for a friend), but I did make some, just not as much as I wanted. C'est la vie!

Instead, I'm going to use this post to thank everyone for your kind comments on my A to Z Challenge posts (both sets). I'm horrible at commenting back, I usually just don't know what to say, whether or not I need to answer to certain people directly, when to email privately, etc. So, in a typical anxiety disorder way, I just keep silent. But that doesn't mean I haven't read them (or, in the case of recommendations of British shows, added them to my wishlist), it just means I'm a big chicken!

Same goes for commenting on other blogs! How many times does one need to hear, "great stitching progress, well done", or "great blog post, I totally agree"? I'm there in spirit, can that just be enough? Well, until I grow some you-know-whats, I guess it will have to be. There are very few times in my life that my social issues affect me, this is one of them. I wish I could just comment away and be funny and witty, but it just ain't gonna happen.

So fellow challengers, we're almost to the end, so good luck everyone!! And fellow stitchers, looking forward to seeing your progress!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The S's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:
a-to-z-letters-s

Spooks
There is no "S" without Spooks, no modern-day British tele worship, no Matthew MacFadyen, Rupert Penry-Jones, or Richard Armitage worship, simply put, my British TV life probably would have ended with just the fond memories of my childhood PBS viewing! In America, it was aired as MI-5, and that was how I first came into contact with it. When the DVD's finally made it into their American releases, they were almost $100 a piece! That was before I had an all-region player, so I was forced to buy them this way. But I didn't care...the show is THAT good! I have since replaced the first few series with their Spooks equivalent, and finished out the series the same. The British Spooks version are about $12 per series (basically, you can get the entire series for less than the cost of one American version-although I don't know what the American versions cost now).

Spooks is a fictional drama about the British security services, specifically MI-5 (as a better frame of reference, James Bond, who all American's know, is MI-6-where 5 deals with domestic issues, 6 deals with foreign-think of it as FBI/CIA). The story lines are top-notch and really "on the edge of your seat" type stuff! I do have to warn you, no one is safe on Spooks no matter how important the character, don't think he/she is above killing off...practically everyone dies at some point, often quite violently! You get very attached to these characters almost immediately due to the great writing, and you'll wind up bawling your eyes out when they go (or was that just me?). Matthew starts off as the lead character, Rupert takes over for him, then Richard, but the shift in main characters never affects the quality of the show, it stays strong throughout the entire series (10 in all). Each main lead is a completely different personality, and although it affects the dynamic of the other characters, it doesn't feel like you are watching a "different" show like some character changes can do (ER was always good at this sort of thing). As the series progresses, instead of each episode centering around a different threat, it becomes more of a mini-series arch encompassing one threat per the entire series. This is why I don't recommend watching this as it airs in re-runs, but getting the DVD's or you will be in cliffhanger hell.

This is another show where the guest stars are amazing and Hugh Laurie as head of 6 in the early episodes is one of my favorites! The final series did not end on a cliffhanger, but don't expect a happy ending, they stayed true to the "everybody dies at some point" philosophy. I should also point out that Spooks, per series, has lesser episodes than most series, starting with 10 and dropping down to 6 (because it used to be one of the most expensive shows made by the Beebs-Doctor Who has since shattered those records).

I have mentioned this before, but for my fellow Janeites; Spooks is FILLED with Jane Austen actors. Matthew was Darcy, Rupert was Wentworth, Peter Firth was Tilney (in the absolute weirdest adaptation I have ever seen with its creepy 70's music), and the list goes on. Not a single Spooks episode goes by that one, if not more, Jane actors are spotted. It's the funniest thing! Even though Richard was in Gaskell's North and South, I still think of him as Janeite quality, so therefore, we can add Richard as Thornton to the list. It's like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon...only the Jane Austen edition! I sometimes look at it the opposite way while watching an Austen, spotting Spooks actors and remembering what episodes they were in!

There are a couple of spoilers in this fan vid, but I think it gives a good idea of the show and I've already told you almost everybody dies, so it's not that much of a spoiler.


Silent Witness
I may work in IT, but it's in a pathology laboratory. I've been around pathology my whole life (my Mother and Aunt were both histotechs and I started working here at age 16). You'd think shows about pathology wouldn't interest me, but this one does. It can be fairly realistic, so if you are squeamish of blood and gore and nudity, don't watch (although I do laugh out loud sometimes at their prop bowels!). It centers around a group of forensic pathologists (and later the addition of a forensic anthropologist and, even later, a forensic investigator). The 15th and 16th series just came out on DVD (they usually release them two series per set, so you have to prepare yourself for quite a wait time between DVDs). The show has evolved quite a bit, and I think watching them spread out over years has helped, otherwise I probably still wouldn't watch it because it's changed so much...what started out as more about the deaths and solving the crimes, becomes more of a personal journey for the lead actors. Emilia Fox (Merlin watchers might know her as Morgause) takes over as lead about early to mid series, and, even though in the actual episodes she's not always the main lead, is definitely featured prominently as such on packaging. She's OK, but I SO wish they would at least use an eyebrow pencil on her pale, non-existent looking brows. It's so distracting - I find myself searching for her eyebrows more than listening to her.

Strike Back
No, I'm not talking about that sex, drug, and violence-infested Showtime version, but the original show (no matter what Showtime calls the first and second season, there was a series before and that's the one to which I am referring). This one starred Richard Armitage (you knew that was coming, didn't you?) and Andrew Lincoln. It had tons more heart (and even action) than its current predecessor. It follows a deniable military department dealing with terrorism, where even your best friend can't be trusted. Richard was in the first episode of the new series, but couldn't continue due to his Hobbit obligations (and I'll leave it at that). If you don't like the Showtime version, you might like this one, if you do like the Sho version, you will like this one even better. I have a weakness for action movies, and although I'm not a fan of American military action, there is just something about a Brit in uniform!

Sherlock
Again, not the American version (which thankfully, after my last rant when I initially heard they were doing an American version, isn't as bad with Jonny Lee Miller (who I do love, despite his choice as a first wife) as lead-although still nowhere near the British). Since Sherlock is popular here, I don't know how much detail I need to give, but Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star in a modern retelling of the Sherlock stories. It's not action-packed like the Guy Ritchie movies, or buddy-driven like the American version, but a lot more cerebral (which I prefer for Sherlock).

Stella
I love Ruth Jones as Nessa in Gavin And Stacey, but I didn't know how I'd feel about her playing a different character (I see her as Nessa in my mind). Stella turned out to be very surprising! It's the story of a single mom with three kids, all different ages. Her oldest son (by her high school sweetheart) is in prison, her teenage daughter is pregnant and wants to get married, and the youngest has all sorts of problems. The second two kids are by her ex-husband who ran off with a younger woman, both of which are constantly in Stella's life. It's life in a small Welsh town, where everyone is in everyone's business and you can't get away from people you don't like, no matter how hard you try. On top of dealing with her personal problems, plain-jane, pleasantly-plump Stella meets a man, a much younger, extremely hot man and has to deal with her insecurities with herself, all the while questioning his interest in her and just as she starts to settle, her high school love comes back into the picture! It's just great drama! There are two series, the second has just been released (and I haven't watched yet, so nobody give it away).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
r

R-In line with my "official" A to Z Challenge, this "R" is for Rumpelstiltskin, aka Robert Carlyle, from Once Upon A Time.

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The R's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-r

Roger and Val Have Just Got In
This is one of the most interesting and entertaining shows I have. It's very theatrical, completely dialog driven, and plays out in real time. It follows a married couple, Dawn French and Alfred Molina, as they come home from their respective jobs. You might think it sounds boring, but this show is far from boring! But I do have to say, until you get used to the format, it does feel extremely voyeuristic! There is a second series to this show, but it hasn't been released on DVD as of yet.

Robin Hood
This is Richard Armitage as the baddest of baddies, but you can't help but feel sorry for him! This three series arch is yet another incarnation of the Robin Hood legend, but, other than the old Errol Flynn version, this is the only other one I actually liked. My impatience almost ruined it for me though. I loved the first series so much, that I couldn't wait to watch the second series, so I started looking around the web for spoilers...bad idea! Once I knew what was going to happen, I barely made it halfway through the second series before I quit watching it. The second and third series sat virtually unwatched on the shelf next to my beloved first series for years and I would cringe everytime I looked at them. But my love of Richard won out, and on a day when I was having Richard withdrawal, I started them again. Boy, was I severely angry with myself for waiting...they were amazing! Once you get past the "hump", it's one of the best shows to ever air on BBCA. I have seen Jonas Armstrong in several other series and in guest roles, but he will forever be Robin. I really wanted to put up a fan video of Richard as Sir Guy, but the good ones all had spoilers, so you'll just have to see for yourself!

Ripper Street
This is a fairly new show, starring Mr. Darcy himself, Matthew MacFadyen. Set in Whitechapel in the late 1800's, immediately following the Jack the Ripper murders, it centers around three men, two cops and a forsenic specialist (or as specialist as the 1890's can get) trying to control the streets and prevent copycat murders. It's gritty, dark, spooky and raw, but Matthew still is one of the most gorgeous men alive! There will be a second series next year, so plenty more of him to come.

And that's it for "R". "S" is huge, both in quality and quantity, so you might want to get a nice cup of tea ready!

Friday, April 19, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
q

Q is a bit of a cheat...Queen, as in Wicked. My sister's favorite villain, the Wicked Queen from Snow White, although not as evil as Maleficent (and I don't care how they handled it in Once Upon A Time, Maleficent would NEVER loose in a fight with the Wicked Queen), was still a pretty good baddie! So, this one is dedicated to Am and the Wicked Queen!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The Q's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-q

You'll be surprised to know that not only did I have one "Q" series in my collection, but two!

Q.I.
My only game show on the list and one that I only have only three DVD's of, mainly because they haven't released any more than A-C on DVD (and may not ever release anymore). But our friends on YouTube have kindly posted entire episodes, so those Q.I. fans aren't left hanging (but come on DVD production people...get moving on putting out the rest!). Q.I. stands for Quite Interesting and it's not your typical game show. Hosted by my beloved Stephen Fry, there are four other comedian/actor panelists (one of which is always another beloved of mine, Alan Davies). Anyone who's anyone in the comedy world has been on Q.I. at some point (as well as some of Fry's acting friends like Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie). The subject matter of the questions is on an almost genius level, sometimes the comedians get them right (you'd be surprised how smart some of them are) or they crack jokes about the questions. Did you know that the Earth actually has more than one moon? Yeah, well I didn't either until I watched Q.I. Fry and Davies have a very Laurel and Hardy rapport and I often find myself being blown away by Fry's genius and yet feeling sorry for Davies' stupidity (however contrived). Each series of this show is a different letter of the alphabet and they are currently up to "J" and about to start "K". This series has spawned numerous books and games as well.


Queer As Folk
This is the only British show with an American counterpart which could possibly be better, but only slightly. Russell T. Davies, creator of the new Doctor Who, was the creator of QAF and subsequently sold the rights to America. The American series lasted for five seasons, whereas the British really only had one and a half series. I watched the American version first, which may have skewed my opinion of the British a bit, but since the Brit version came first, I have to treat the American as the copycat, and copycat it does, almost down to the exact dialogue (minus the British slang). The stories don't really take a major shift until the final British episode, which actually aggravated me at first, but, after watching it a second time, I had a serious rethink about my worship of the American version (which didn't end so happily). There is no simple way to describe this show, so I'm not gonna try, but it's the story of two gay best friends living in Manchester. There is no much intertwining of the story line and off branches, I can't even begin to do it justice. As a straight girl living in the bible belt of Arkansas, this show pushed every single boundary I have, but the characters were so strong and the writing so good, I can proudly recommend it as one of the best shows ever (as well as the American version). The UK version is not nearly as sexually graphic as the US version, but it's still pretty raunchy, so prepare yourself.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
p

P was a hard one, but not because I couldn't come up with my favorite "P" character, the problem was there was too many! I could have chosen my favorite sidekick Pascal:


Or my wonderful Prince Philip:


Or even my favorite sidekick duo, Pain and Panic:


Nope, I'm choosing an oldie but a goodie, another cartoon I watch all the time, and my favorite counter service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom (TACO SALAD AND A FIXIN'S BAR - HEAVEN!):

PECOS BILL!


Like how I managed to sneak the others in anyway?

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The P's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-p

Let's get back on track with British television series now, with another pretty varied group.

Primeval
Another one of my first series on BBC America, it has gotten a bad rap and I don't know why. The general premise is time anomalies are ripping holes in the world, causing dinosaurs from different eras to roam free in modern day UK. A government agency is created to deal with the threat and try to hide everything from the general public's knowledge while trying to find out what's causing the anomalies in the first place. This entire series is filled with gorgeous hotties for the girls (starting off with James Murray and ending with Ciaran McMenamin...who I might have mentioned a couple of times before), but also plenty of dinosaur flesh-eating action for the boys. There were five series of this, but it has been reincarnated as Primeval New World which has just been shipped out, so verdict is still out on that one.

Peak Practice
This is a different kind of medical show, centering around GP's in a small English community. It's very character driven and is more about relationships than the medical profession, but that's OK. They have several cast changes throughout the six series that have been released. It starts off with Amanda Burton (from one of my upcoming "S's") and Kevin Whately (from Lewis). For some reason they stopped releasing new DVD's mid series, which really sucks once you get into the show. But don't despair, there are more series on the way finally (the seventh has just been added for pre-order). I honestly don't know how many total series there were.

Prime Suspect
Again, not the crappy American try at a remake (which I think got cancelled after just a couple of episodes), but the series that put Helen Mirren on the map. This is a very gritty and dark police drama about a woman officer making her way up the ladder any way she can while dealing with her alcoholism. She changes coworkers and even cities numerous times, but it pretty much spans her whole career (since the show ran for so long).

Honorable mention to:

Psychoville
Talk about your dark comedies, I don't think it gets any darker than this series. It's really hard to describe it without giving away the plot, but it follows the individual lives of several different insane people who have a link, but you don't know what or why. I can't really tell you more than that. Again, this is another Dawn French part and she is my favorite character. A lot of the actors play more than one character. The mother and son push the "comedy gone too far" border, so prepare yourself. There are two series here, and no word about a third, although, considering the varying cast, it may take forever for them to get back together to film another series.

As these posts go on, I'm managing to get shorter and shorter (which I'm sure is a plus for my readers)! Last year's Disney posts kept getting longer and longer, so I'm making progress!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

IHSW for April

This weekend is the International Hermit And Stitch Weekend! Woo Hoo! I won't be able to post my progress unless I finish since I'm working on the "secret" project, so here's hoping for a productive stitching weekend!

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
o
O-Oswald. How many of you guys know who Oswald is? The die-hards will know. People with video game-playing kids will know too. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was Walt's first major character, long before Mickey. He lost Oswald in a power play with Universal, but the rabbit is back in the house of mouse and thriving! Here is a great video about the history of Oswald that leads to the Epic Mickey version (if you can get past the annoying presenter):

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The O's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-o

"O" is gonna be a bit different...see, I didn't have any "O" shows in my collection. So I've decided that "O" will be "Others" as in British movies or mini-series that should also be viewed by an American audience. This is a long list, so I'll try to shorten it as best as I can. I may leave out the actor links (since those take the most amount of time).

Lost In Austen
My regular blog visitors have no doubt about my love of Jane Austen. I have every incarnation of her stories ever made on DVD. This is one of my favorites! It's the story of a modern girl named Amanda in love with the idea of Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride And Prejudice, only to find that a wall behind her bath is actually a secret door to Longbourn, home to the Bennets. She and Elizabeth swap places (not by her choosing, Elizabeth can be pretty tricky) and she suddenly finds herself completely messing up everyone's happy endings (as well as finds herself in love with Darcy). Should she go back home to her mundane life, or fight to keep the man she loves? There are so many twists and turns, for a true Janeite, you can't help but love it! The cast is amazing, Jemima Rooper (with Christina Cole not far behind - see "H"), Tom Riley, Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston, Gemma Arterton, Elliot Cowan (who I love) and many more. I actually have this on my iPod I watch it so much! But I did actually find the trailer on YouTube:


North And South
Richard Armitage. Yum. I have mentioned this before (and no, not that crappy American mid 80's soap opera) and probably will again. This is my favorite Elizabeth Gaskell novel (she was a contemporary of the Bronte sisters, just a bit after Jane Austen). This is the mini-series that opened my eyes to Richard. It's the story of the daughter of a southern vicar who decides to give up the cloth and move the entire family to the industrial town Milton (a fictional recreation of Manchester). They struggle to survive and deal with the differences in the northern culture. But Margaret's encounters with the broody John Thornton are what drive the "will she" or "won't she" fall in love with him story. This is one of the best scenes from the four part series, and the reason why I absolutely adore Richard! Don't worry, I'm not giving away spoilers here, this is from the middle of the series:


Shakespeare Retold
Talk about stellar casts...these are a series of four modern interpretations of Shakepeare plays, each one completely different, but not one fails to disappoint! MacBeth, with Richard Armitage, James McAvoy, and Keely Hawes; The Taming Of The Shrew - Shirley Henderson, Rufus Sewell, and Stephen Tompkinson; Much Ado About Nothing - Billie Piper, Tom Ellis, Damien Lewis, and Sarah Parish; and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Bill Patterson, Imelda Staunton, Dean Lennox Kelly, Zoe Tapper, and Rupert Evans. There is also a series of Canterbury Tales and Fairy Tales that go with this series, and have just the same large number of brilliant actors.

Watermelon
I've talked about this movie before, I absolutely love it! Ciaran McMenamin and my beloved Jamie Draven star with Anna Friel, a young, recently graduated Irish girl who heads to London with high aspirations (built on a pyramid of lies). But everything goes haywire when her dream job falls through and her boyfriend discovers all and leaves her. She meets a new guy, only to discover she's pregnant by her ex, which she fails to reveal to her new boyfriend until the baby is born. She's forced to run home back to Ireland with her tail between her legs and finally fess up to her parents and the baby's father. But will true love win out? You'll have to watch and see!

Forget Me Not
I've also discussed this movie in the past. Simply put, boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love in 24 hours, boy has secret that could ruin everything. Tobias Menzies stars in this very dialogue driven story.

Death At A Funeral
No....not the crappy American remake, but the original, very dark British comedy. Another amazing all-star cast with Matthew MacFadyen, Keely Hawes, Rupert Graves, and half a dozen other great actors. This was a movie that did not need to be remade. I did try to watch the American version, but ended up turning it off pretty quickly.

Cranford
I do so love my period dramas! This is filled to the brim with American A-list quality actors who happen to be British; Dame Judy Dench, Imelda Staunton, and a whole host of others. Another Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation, but one of her more comedic stories. You'll laugh and cry, maybe even in the same moment!

Secret Smile
David Tennant as a real baddie...I thought I'd hate it, but he does bad good! He plays a man who, at first seems loving and genuine,but rather turns into a crazy stalkerish madman hellbent on ruining his object of affections life by any means necessary (by ruining her professional reputation, hooking up with her sister, etc, all the while doing the same to several other women simultaneously).

Casanova
Speaking of David Tennant, ever want to see him in a period drama? Then look no further my friends! This is a mini-series following the life and loves of Casanova (including one love in particular). It gets extremely raunchy at times, so prepare yourself (and hide the kiddies eyes on this one). Rupert Penry-Jones plays his main rival and watching these two on screen together almost as good as Rupert and Richard Armitage on screen together!

I have several others on this list, but I better stop now or I could go on forever! The point of this post is to show that it's not just British series that are worth watching, but their mini-series and movies as well!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
n

N-Nemo...not the character, but the movie. I am not a Pixar fan per-say, but this movie is the exception. And the best way to get in a Take That mention, Sir Robbie did the closing song, so here's a fan made video of Nemo - Beyond The Sea:

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The N's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-n

"N" is a whole heck of a lot shorter than "M" (thankfully!).

Not Going Out
Love This Show!! Lee Mack has created a really great comedy with just the right touch of romance! Lee is a slacker, secretly in love with his roommate (both roommates, he's had two, the second being his best friend's sister). I really can't wait till the sixth series comes out because they are saying there might actually be some action between these two! Also, be on the lookout in the early episodes for Miranda Hart whose first appearance was as an acupuncturist, but ends up as their cleaning lady (although she didn't do much cleaning)...her performance in this is what gave her a chance to do her own show!


New Tricks
This is another one of the first series I started getting on DVD. It is a cop show, but with a twist. When Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) accidently shoots a dog in a drug raid, she's demoted to running the Unsolved Crimes and Open Case Squad, a team of retired detectives probably better referred to as "elderly"! It's got a fabulous cast and pretty good storylines with the crimes. There are nine series so far.

I'm gonna stop the "N's" here since "M" was so big. "O" is gonna be a bit different, so get ready!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!

m

Being such a Disney fan, you'd think this letter would be Mickey...but oh no! There is one "M" that is greater than the mouse himself. My all-time favorite villain, the ultimate masterpiece of Marc Davis, and the worst fairy on the block, give it up for Maleficent! How about we visit another small corner of my world:
DSC03845

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The M's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-m

"M" is a biggie, so let's not waste any time (and I'll try to be brief, but no promises!).

Miranda
This is my absolutely most favorite British show hands down (have I said that before?)! It's "what I call" a proper comedy! Miranda Hart plays Miranda, an incredibly gauky and clumsy woman who uses her inheritance to buy a joke shop which she runs with her best friend Stevie (played by Sarah Hadland). She has been in love with Gary, the cheddar-gorge chef next door, as long as she can remember (the absolutely adorable Tom Ellis, our upcoming Robin Hood on Once Upon A Time-which better NOT interfere with filming Miranda), but usually fails miserably when she tries to hook up with him (not realizing that he loves her too). She has an insanely posh mother in the form of Patricia Hodge (such fun!) and her old school chums pop in and out reminding her constantly how she is not living up to her potential, especially Tilly (Sally Phillips of Bridget Jones), who's play on words can sometimes leave you stumped at the best of times ("He just returned from La Grande Pommes where his entrenu made a shed of Johnny Cashingtons!" - got a clue? Translation-he just got back from New York where he made a lot of money...yep, Tilly is a trip!). This is the perfect show for a clip, and this is my favorite clip montage from it!


Midsomer Murders
This is my favorite detective show as well as most of Britain! It's so funny how one little community of villages can be filled with so much sex, violence, and murder! Series 15 is airing now, and they release each "episode" as an individual DVD first (since they are feature length). Once the series is finished, they will put out the complete series. Everybody has been in this show at one point or another from Stephen Moyer from True Blood to Orlando Bloom (do I really need to say where he's from?). John Nettles plays DI Barnaby for most of the series although his Sergeants change over time.

Merlin
This airs on both SyFy and BBC America, so American audiences should be somewhat familiar with it. It took me a while to come around to this show as well. We have in our minds a set view of the Arthurian legends, and this royally screws with that ideal, so prepare yourself. But eventually, the storylines and characterisations make it all worth while and I hated to see it end. There are five series and I highly recommend buying the UK DVD's, simply because they are packaged better, have more special features, and are cheaper than their US versions. This series follows the story of Merlin and Arthur as young men, Uther still in reign. Merlin is coming to grips with his powers (and having to hide them since Uther has banned magic from Camelot). Morgana, Arthur's half-sister doesn't start off as the Morgana we know, but kind and loving towards her brother. Guinevere is the servant girl to Morgana (another weird anomaly) but in Arthur's sights from the get-go (as well as Lancelot's...but that storyline plays out differently as well). The knights of the round table build slowly over the series once Arthur becomes king. Once you get past your "view" of the Arthurian legends, it really does make for good entertainment!

Monarch Of The Glen
Scottish shows aren't easy to come by (Hamish MacBeth is the only other one I have), but this is the quintesential Scottish show. Set in the Highlands, it's the story of a London restaurateur forced to come back home to Scotland and manage his family's estate and the connecting township. His family are half crazy and the estate is always in a complete state of disrepair and on the verge of getting taken away, but he always manages to barely hang on and keep everything together. There is a lot of romance in the show as well (my personal favorite). The show takes some twists and turns I didn't necessarily agree with, looses some characters (which I completely disagreed with), but still ended in a way that I was satisfied with. Still a very heartwarming, beautiful show and be on the lookout for Doctor Who number 4 - Tom Baker!

Monday Monday
Tom Ellis...need I say more? This only lasted one series, which I totally hated because it was really a great show! Such a stellar cast with Tom, Miranda Hart, Jenny Agutter, and the list goes on, it's the story of a supermarket chain forced to close it's main office in London and relocate to Leeds. This is OK with Sally, who wants to get away after her fiance runs off with her sister right before their wedding. She meets Steve and they almost have a one night stand, only to discover that he's the new assistant (and secret lover) of the woman hired to determine who should keep their job and who should go. But this is definitely a love story as Steve and Sally can't help but be drawn to each other, even when her ex-fiance comes back into the picture. I loved this series, it was more like a seven part movie than a series. It's just a shame it got cancelled (but no cliffhanger ending).


Murder Most Horrid
This is an example of a show that has strung on for years, but there are only three series (a fourth is due at the end of the year). Dawn French and all her genius is at the helm of this show, an Agatha Christie type cheesy murder mystery series. Each episode has Dawn playing an entirely new character in an entirely new mystery. It's almost like watching a new show every episode! And the guest stars are absolutely amazing! Once you get past the dramatic shift after each episode, you'll definitely love this show!

My Mad Fat Diary
I only just discovered this show, but how wonderful it was (and a bit too close to home). It's the story of a very overweight teenage girl, Rae Earl, who has just been released from a psychiatric hospital. She comes home to her spastic mother and her mother's secret illegal immigrant boyfriend. Her best friend since childhood (who happens to be skinny and beautiful) has moved on to a group of cool kids and Rae Earl has to fit in or perish with the cool kids. She has to deal with her mental troubles, her old friends from the hospital, and her constant attempts to get a boyfriend. It's set in the 90's, and I have to admit, not being an Oasis fan, the music in this show is just stellar. I'm not sure if there is going to be a second series, but I sure hope so!

Honorable mention to:

Marchlands
Another incredibly spooky series, Marchlands follows three families in three different timelines living in a very haunted house. Each comes closer to solving the mystery of the ghosts that haunts the property. There is a second series (not called Marchlands, but Lightfields, which is just about to come out). It's also a completely stellar cast, so a definite must see!

Monroe
Another medical drama/comedy (I know, cops and docs...it's a weakness!) starring James Nesbitt (The Hobbit). It is a very serious drama, but James Nesbitt is just funny and they did well not to try and bottle his talents! There are two series of this show, but I've only seen the first and the second is on order. Also, pay attention to an up and coming Tom Riley, who Americans will come to know very soon in the new Da Vinci's Demons!

Whew! "M" wore me out, but we are over the hump and it can only get better from here!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
l
Lucifee! I am not usually a cat fan, but Lucifer from Cinderella has long been one of my favorites. Every attempt at eating Jaq and Gus Gus fails miserably, but he never stops tryin! He's overweight, lazy, and conniving...a bit like somebody else I might know! This clip shows the epitome of what the Disney company does best...any animal owner (especially an overweight one) will recognize the way Lucifee's belly rolls when he breathes!

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The L's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-l

Lark Rise To Candleford
I'm really surprised I made it this long until I had a true period drama on my list (not including Garrow's Law - but a more Austen-esque type). Lark Rise is the story of a young girl named Laura who was born in the very poor Lark Rise, and is given an opportunity to work in the post office by her post-mistress second cousin in the affluent Candleford. She does a lot of growing and changing throughout the series, growing up, falling in and out of love, dealing with loss, and trying to balance her life between the two very different worlds. She often blunders things, but there is usually a happy ending. The cast in this show is quite amazing...Dawn French is absolutely fabulous as the often drunk and lazy, mostly single mother of numerous children who ends up in debtors prison, leaving her oldest son to take care of his siblings. Then you have Julia Sawalha as the post mistress who is completely in love with a man she can never have. Brendan Coyle (Americans might know him as Bates on Downton, I know him as Nicholas Higgins in North And South-no not that stupid 80's civil war drama, but the Elizabeth Gaskell classic starring my dearest Richard Armitage) as Laura's very proud father. There are four series of this show and they have a very nice sendoff, so no worries on the ending!

Lewis
Lewis is a spinoff (or followup, depending on how you look at it) of Inspector Morse, one of the most beloved detective series probably in British history. Set in Oxford, Lewis picks up a few years after Morse leaves off, Morse is now dead and Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately resumes his role) has been promoted to DI. Instead of being in the shadow of Morse, he now leads DS Hathaway (played by Laurence Fox-Billie Piper of Doctor Who's real life husband) as they solve crimes in and around Oxford. The scenery of this show is amazing and I often catch myself looking around as the action is going on. Lewis focuses a lot more on the surroundings than Morse did. It is kind of funny how quickly Laurence Fox grows on you...he goes from being this gangly, extremely tall, geeky looking guy, to a total hunk! There have been seven series of Lewis, and both actors say it is their last, but we'll see.

Law And Order UK
One of the few British shows to copy off an American one instead of the other way 'round (it was bound to happen sometime). I haven't watched a single Law And Order American version, so I can't compare, but I absolutely love this show! I guess it operates off the same premise...the police solve the crimes and the crown prosecutors make sure the criminals are punished. But man, what a cast this has! Jamie Bamber (who most Americans might know from Battlestar Galatica), Freema Agyeman (from Doctor Who), and Ben Daniels are just the regulars. You have a plethora of guest stars and, unlike regular cop shows, this one tends to push a few boundaries, so prepare yourself. So far there have been six series of this show.

Honorable mention to:

Life Begins
Another Caroline Quentin show, about a woman who seemingly has everything, only to have her husband leave her and is suddenly forced to get a job and support their kids. She struggles a lot to find her place in the world and to keep her teenagers in check as well as dealing with her husband's many girlfriends. Eventually, the husband wants to come back, but can it work? There are three of these series and it's very heavy on the drama side.

That's it for "L". "M" is a big one, so I hope you're ready!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
k

K is for Keebles! How am I a Disney character, you ask? Well, if this doesn't prove it, nothing will, how about a pic from one corner of one room of my tiny little house?
DSC03843

TV Anorak: An American Intro To British TV-The K's

anorak
1. British: A person obsessively interested in a thing or topic that doesn't seem to warrant such attention.

This series of Challenge posts is an introduction to British TV shows for my fellow Americans. For instructions on how to play different region-coded DVD's, please go either here or here to read my previous blog posts that should clear up any confusion. Next up:

a-to-z-letters-k

I probably shouldn't say "K's" with this one, but "K", because there is only one. But my oh my, what an important one it is because, again, prepare yourself for yet another Stephen Fry submission (can you tell I love the guy or what?).

Kingdom
Does Fry do comedy, drama, or documentaries better? Kingdom is definitely a plug on the drama side! There were only three series of this show, and other crappy cliffhanger-ending cancellation (why can't the networks let them know they are getting cancelled so they can do a finale episode?). There are comedic moments in the show, but it centers around Peter Kingdom (Fry) who takes over his brother's law practice in a small coastal town after his brother mysteriously walks into the ocean and disappears. His sister, played by Hermione Norris (and you may remember me mentioning her from Cold Feet and an upcoming "S", I can't stand her, although this is one of her better performances), has been in and out of mental hospitals her whole life and comes to live with Peter while wreaks havoc as she struggles to control her sanity. There is nothing quiet about this little town and Peter is constantly dragged into the soap opera lives of its inhabitants as well as his family's! Here's a hilarious clip of Peter Kingdom having an encounter with a magic mushroom!


Know any other good "K" shows? Let me know!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Growing pains

In case you haven't noticed, I've been having a few growing pains the past couple of days. I'm in the process of sprucing up my page and I just can't decide how I want it. All these Disney posts have been putting me in a Country Bears frame of mind, so enough of this chit-chat, yak-yak, and flim-flam...just bear with me 'til the bear end and refrain from hibernatin' while I bear'l around with my settins' for spring! Enjoy a bonus Country Bear Jamboree clip from YouTube!

A to Z Bonus Challenge - Disney Characters

I just can't stand it...an A to Z Challenge without Disney! So here's a mini bonus Disney character Challenge of my favorite Disney characters. It's pretty crazy to do two challenges, but I'm not known for my sanity gene!
j
J-Jiminy Cricket. No, I'm not a Pinocchio fan, but as a Disney fan, in particular Disney World fan, you can't ignore the cricket! He pops up in parades and fireworks shows, he's the "voice" for the parks just about as much (if not more than) Mickey. And, as a Once fan, he makes a pretty good psychiatrist!