I'm always up for something new to watch on TV, especially something that I think J. and I might enjoy together. So, I often set the DVR for a new series purely on speculative hope. It's only rarely it actually results in a winner.
Surprisingly, it's been PBS that's been rewarding in the last couple of weeks. I'm planning to spend most of my evening planted in my leather chair nest watching Fringe, but since one of the shows I'd like to recommend is on tonight, thought I'd pop in and share.
The first show that I'm digging right now is Sherlock, a new series produced as part of Masterpiece Mystery. It's a Sherlock Holmes reinvention, featuring the character as he might be if he lived in modern day London. It's like a good procedural police show, only with one of my favorite characters of all time.
I love all the reincarnations of Sherlock Holmes, literary and film-wise. Young Sherlock Holmes ranks right up there among my all time favorite movies, and I enjoyed seeing Robert Downey Jr. take on the role (even if I fell asleep for part of the actual movie). I'm always recommending Laurie R. King's excellent series of books featuring Mary Russell, protege and eventual wife of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, one of the classes I imagine myself someday teaching, when and if I get my dream job being able to invent thematic based literature courses*, would be to explore all these different versions of the great detective. You can bet we'd watch some episodes of House.
I'd also be adding this new series to the syllabus. Sherlock, as played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is almost a sociopath, and solving cases is his way of staving off boredom and keeping his savant-type brain exercised. He's almost uncomfortable to watch, but fascinating. Watson, played by Martin Freeman (who will also supposedly be playing Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hobbit!!), is the character you end up relating to, as he's pulled into Holmes' world and cases nearly against his will, purely because he can't wait to see what will happen next. Anyhow, it's a series well worth checking out. It's on Sunday at 9:00 on PBS, and you can catch up on the first two episodes online.
I don't have as much to say about the other series, which is on tonight at 9:00. It's Circus, and it's a really well done documentary/reality show following a smaller one ring circus based in New York called the Big Apple Circus. It follows all of the major acts and the people who make the show happen first as they prepare for their touring season and then as they go on the road. I really enjoyed the plotline involving a clown just starting out with the show, and the tremendous pressure the other clowns put on him to get his act right. Also fascinating was the ringhand (circus version of construction worker/stagehand) who left his home in Iowa to join the circus, then apparently threatened to bomb the circus which landed him in jail. I'm intrigued by the fact that it seems you are either born into the circus, and continue a generations old tradition, or you come to the circus to completely reinvent yourself and your past. I think you'd also enjoy this show.
If you decide to take me up on these recommendations, and you need to get caught up, you can watch the full episodes of Circus here and of Sherlock here.
*Yes, this is the sort of geeky thing I fantasize about. It turns out this is what I miss about teaching. That and the way that high school kids are truly funny and can make you laugh out loud every single day (with, not AT them). Course, they also make you want to cry most days.