Recommend some good US/British TV Shows!
June 6, 2009 1:08 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend some good (fairly recent) American/British TV shows that my wife and I can catch up on during the ratings lull that's currently occurring in the US?

Hi All.

Just looking for something to watch during the break and realised that there are probably some gems out there that we've just missed in the last couple of TV seasons. Looking for recommendations of shows to watch. Things that we've liked recently:

* Chuck
* Big Bang
* Dexter
* True Blood
* Dead Like Me
* Reaper
* Stargate Atlantis
* Bones
* Castle
* Dollhouse
* Fringe
* Leverage

Interested in shows in the same vein, but if you think something else would tickle our fancy, let me know!

Thanks all for keeping us entertained over the next few months! :)
posted by ranglin to Grab Bag (56 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Six Feet Under
posted by scody at 1:16 AM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

You have about 8 months to catch up on LOST before the final season next spring.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:22 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

As you like The Big Bang Theory - check How I Met Your Mother and Rules of Engagement.
I recently started watching Supernatural, as you like Dexter and True Blood you might enjoy it. It's a very entertaining Horror / Mystery show, starts out with an case of the week concept and gets more serialized storylines later.

And there's Lost and Battlestar Galactica, which are both in the Top-5 of TV shows in the last decade in my books and of course Veronica Mars, which is all kinds of awesome.

There's also some good stuff in this AskMe from earlier this week.
posted by starzero at 1:23 AM on June 6, 2009

Watch the UK version of Life on Mars, then the sequel, Ashes to Ashes.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:25 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you like Leverage, you might also enjoy Burn Notice, another show on USA. It has a similar setup; just replace the word "thieves" with "spies".
posted by strangecargo at 1:31 AM on June 6, 2009

I am, at this very moment I'm typing this, in the middle of episode 7 of season 3 of Battlestar Galactica. I can tell you that it's the best sci-fi show I've seen in years; fantastic drama, and intentionally avoids all the technobabble and "OMYGODSALIENZ!!!" stuff of other shows. It's really and truly great stuff, and I highly recommend it.
posted by koeselitz at 1:31 AM on June 6, 2009

Check out Journeyman. One season and canceled but it was pretty good.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:41 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

When you said British, it immediately made me think of Coupling, probably the funniest and most well written sitcom I've ever seen (at least the first 3 seasons anyway)
posted by cali59 at 1:48 AM on June 6, 2009

You should probably check out the IT Crowd (from the BBC) while you're at it. Much more accurate nerdery than Big Bang Theory.

And since you like Stargate Atlantis, why not watch Stargate SG-1, the series that is *actually* worth your time. It might be a tad bit old for you, perhaps? Or maybe you've already seen it and not bothered to list it. But if you haven't, I highly recommend. It's extremely long, but oh-so-worth watching in order.
posted by Mizu at 2:12 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Mentalist is mostly episodic and doesn't require much involvement.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:20 AM on June 6, 2009

If you like Big Bang Theory then you will like The IT Crowd from the UK.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 2:24 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

On the procedural/quirky-protagonist-escapage side: Psych (a new season starts sometime this summer, actually, so now's the time to start!), The Mentalist. Don't be fooled by the similar-sounding premises - the two shows could not be more different in tone.

On the sci-fi side: Sanctuary: if you're a fan of taking Victoriana and doing bizarre but not necessarily steampunkish things with it, this is the show for you. Also, Bigfoot. But not exactly. And then there's Primeval, which was kind of "I'm only watching this because I'm a paleobio nerd and I like the gorgonopsids" the first season, but has improved in quality in the second and third. A lot of this is because it's unrelentingly nervy with what it does to its protagonists - don't get attached, because characters die or become entirely different people thanks to alterations of the timeline with impressive regularity. Except for the most annoying ones, natch.
posted by bettafish at 2:25 AM on June 6, 2009

American Gothic, Twin Peaks, Baybalon 5, Buffy, etc. Why see new shows? Farscape is good for watching off DVD or piratebay, too fast & disjointed on TV, won some awards. I liked the Terminator series too. If you like episodic, CSI has many many good episodes.

Lost seems kinda opposite Farscape or B5, good for TV, but too slow & disjoint on DVD or Internet. I'd look up plot & review info, select the good episodes, and watch only those. You'll miss some plot in each episode, but often very little.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:49 AM on June 6, 2009

I'd try Criminal Minds. It's loads of fun. Also, noticed you didn't have House on that list (tsk). No but seriously, House is the bee's knees.

British SitCom: My Family. If I could force you to watch it I would, because it's absolutely amazing and I know you'd love it.
posted by alona at 3:06 AM on June 6, 2009

The fiance and I were immediately addicted to the first season of CBS'sJericho. The second (and final) season of the show was produced due to a viewer campaign. In my opinion, it's not as strong as the first year and I didn't complete watching the series.
posted by princesspathos at 3:12 AM on June 6, 2009

The Wire.
posted by ellenaim at 3:14 AM on June 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Re: My Family. If you forced me to watch it, I'd kill you ;-)

Teachers, if you haven't seen it already. I see there was an American remake - I don't wonder if it sucked; more like "how much"?

No Heroics? New Tricks?

Nth-ing the UK Life On Mars - though the storylines will probably be strangely familiar if you've only seen the US one, it's a better show. Ashes to Ashes was less good, but still good.
posted by Pinback at 3:18 AM on June 6, 2009

Like in the other thread, I'll recommend The Office (US version), of which two early episodes will air on TBS on Tuesday. They're good examples of the show's humor. But you may not get completely absorbed by it until it really gets more melancholy/bittersweet in season two.

I've lent my DVDs to two of my bosses over the years, both of whom got completely addicted to them with their respective significant others. Fortunately neither of them is like Michael Scott (and... not just because they were both women).
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 4:01 AM on June 6, 2009

Arrested Development.

In my not so humble opinion, the best sitcom ever to grace the airwaves anywhere.
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:06 AM on June 6, 2009 [7 favorites]

breaking bad, the unusuals, mad men, dead like me, wonderfalls, oz, carnivale.

seconding battlestar galactica.

seconding killing anyone forcing me to watch "my family"

UK wise, peepshow was good, spaced, black books
posted by spyke23 at 4:35 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Third'ing Battlestar Galactica.

I thought Damages was good (at least the first season).

State of Play (the BBC series) is available on the Intertubes and on DVD. If you like British, the Cracker series is also quite good.
posted by scblackman at 4:38 AM on June 6, 2009

2nd-ing The Wire

Deadwood should be required television viewing for everyone. In fact, if you don't watch it, they should repossess your TV.
posted by speeb at 4:46 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Weeds is really great, and fits into the dark comedy vein of shows like Dexter. Season 4 was just released on DVD.

And, of course, The Wire.
posted by The Michael The at 4:50 AM on June 6, 2009

British: Hustle, at least the first three seasons/series. It's a stylish, snappy con artist show, a major influence on Leverage and much more fully pulled together. (I suspect this is because no one made the Hustle team show episodes out of order or yanked them around with mid-season character notes.)
posted by redfoxtail at 4:53 AM on June 6, 2009

The Wire.
posted by svenni at 5:12 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Flight of the Conchords
posted by evil_esto at 5:16 AM on June 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

Brit wise I'd recommend the 5 part drama Criminal Justice. The IT Crowd btw is Channel4 not BBC (give Channel4 their due-They made Father Ted when the Beeb got cold feet).
posted by emalyse at 5:20 AM on June 6, 2009

Mad Men. Season 3 begins in August.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:54 AM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Two British series, the drama/comedy Being Human (Series 1 on YouTube) and the very funny Outnumbered (YouTube clips).
posted by ceri richard at 6:26 AM on June 6, 2009

(plus nthing recommendations for The Wire and Weeds)
posted by ceri richard at 6:27 AM on June 6, 2009

posted by Unred at 6:37 AM on June 6, 2009

The Wire
Mad Men
The Office (British and US versions)
Arrested Development
State of Play (British)
Breaking Bad
the HBO series "In Treatment"
posted by mothershock at 6:56 AM on June 6, 2009

^1 IT Crowd-- the first season has weak spots and may not impress you, but the second season and what I've seen of the third are hi-larious.

I also recently watched a BBC show called "Doc Martin" on my netflix watch-it-now. It's comedy/drama about a British doctor who used to be a high-status surgeon, but gets stuck being a GP in a tiny village. The characters in that town are very funny, the doctor is a curmudgeon with soft spots, and there are medical mysteries abounding.

Vaguely reminiscent of Royal Pains which just premiered on USA this week and doesn't look half bad.

Also, have you ever tried The Closer? A new season starts this month, but catching up on the old seasons would be a great way to spend the summer.
posted by parkerjackson at 7:11 AM on June 6, 2009

Seconding Black Books and Psych.

And if you like Castle and Dollhouse, you'll probably love Firefly, and its "sequel" movie, Serenity.
posted by litterateur at 7:18 AM on June 6, 2009

starzero already recommended it, but I want to give Supernatural as another suggestion. If you like Reaper, True Blood, and Fringe, this show is right up your alley. It's a mix of all three, comedy, horror, serial drama. There are four seasons to catch up on, but once you start them you won't be able to stop.
posted by katyggls at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2009

For psych, try Lie to Me. I don't know how they scored Tim Roth for the main character, but that's a coup. It's a new series, so you don't have to commit to 5 seasons. The wiki and a high-level review of FACS will get you going. A recent episode about a serial rapist was astonishingly good.

For police drama, Southland. This has the makings of a great series. It feels a lot like The Wire; very real.

For legal drama, Damages. It's a tad serial for my taste–miss one episode and you are lost–but I'm finding it a good way to pass the time. I learned about it from an interview of former President Clinton, who mentioned it as one of his guilty pleasures. Glenn Close is its proantagonista.
posted by foooooogasm at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2009

Black Books Black Books Black Books. Seriously, aside from Big Bang Theory, it's the only show of which I can honestly say I love every single episode.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 8:52 AM on June 6, 2009

I really liked Life with Damien Lewis. It's definitely not The Greatest TV in the History of Television like The Wire or some of the other shows here that people have mentioned, but it's well-acted, frequently funny, and I found myself actually caring about the characters.
posted by craichead at 8:54 AM on June 6, 2009

What about Being Human? A BBC show, only 6 episodes from last year. It's about a vampire, ghost and werewolf sharing a house. And no, its not really a comedy. It doesn't seem to be really available in the US without searching it out online. There's also a pilot which was shot before the rest of it was commissioned with almost a completely different cast. I'm sure you don't have to watch that to watch the 6 episode series, but I like watching everything so that's up to you.

I'm not sure if you'll like it, but Merlin (a BBC show which aired in 08/09 in the UK) is airing on NBC starting on the 21st in the US. Its kind of a kid's show but a bit darker. Personally, I'm not sure who NBC is trying to market it to based on the promos I've seen. They're shooting season 2 now and that will be out in the UK in the fall.

Based on some of the shows you mentioned I thought you might be open to supernatural/magic type stuff. Hey, what about Supernatural? It can be funny but also really dark as the seasons get on. There's been 4 seasons so far, already renewed for season 5 next year.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2009

I swear I read all of the answers but it looks like I repeated two suggestions. Have you every watched Dr. Who? I've only seen the newer seasons (nothing pre-2000) and they're fun and should be readily available. If you like that, there's Torchwood which is a spinoff.
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:03 AM on June 6, 2009

For British programs, I recommend The IT Crowd, and also Peep Show. Top Gear if you're into cars at all.
posted by Wild_Eep at 1:26 PM on June 6, 2009

I'll Nth Weeds, Battlestar, The Wire, and Six Feet Under. All fabulous bits of writing and story telling.

I'll strongly Nth Buffy and it's spin off, Angel. If you really enjoyed the first season of True Blood, the only thing you'll need to get through the current dry season is Buffy.

I'll also suggest Veronica Mars, it's pure fun.

And if you've never given it a shot, I'd pick up a few seasons of Survivor. You don't really have to like reality TV to enjoy Survivor (or at least I don't).

Have Fun.
posted by dchrssyr at 2:39 PM on June 6, 2009

I've got nothing new to add, but if you're tallying votes then I've got the following fors and againsts:


The Wire
Six Feet Under
Arrested Development
The Office (UK and US)
State of Play (BBC miniseries)

For, with reservations:

Battlestar Galactica (it's true that you don't get all the hokey sci fi jargon, but the show fills that gap with hokey spirituality)
Big Love (starts slowish, but really picks up for a great second season, if you can stand the Paxton)
Twin Peaks (treat it as a great 16 hour miniseries up until Laura's killer is revealed, and then avoid the slow train wreck leading from then until its cancellation--though the finale is almost worth sticking it out for)
Band of Brothers miniseries (purely for looks if you enjoyed the start of Saving Private Ryan...otherwise, be warned: there are no characters)


True Blood
The West Wing
Mad Men
posted by Beardman at 5:37 PM on June 6, 2009

I just began watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and it is amazing. It's like a more amoral version of the characters of Seinfeld.
posted by reenum at 6:57 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Green Wing, it's sublime.
posted by Acey at 7:23 PM on June 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Most shows I've thought of have already been named.. I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel, possibly, but I'll say Jonathan Creek and Spooks (aka MI-5 in US). And Blackpool, though that hasn't been released on DVD in the US.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:01 PM on June 6, 2009

Oh, and if you like your nerdy comedies.. and you happen to get The IT Crowd (as recommended above), which was recently released in the US (and the rest of the series should be coming shortly), make sure you watch Graham Linehan's extra short Hello, Friend included on the disc.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:05 PM on June 6, 2009

SPACED from the BBC. Comedy gold.
posted by UMDirector at 9:31 AM on June 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised that Waking the Dead hasn't been mentioned here yet; Trevor Eve is the most shoutingest TV detective-type-guy since Quincy.
posted by macdara at 9:35 AM on June 7, 2009

Seconding and thirding the following:

Spaced (UK)
Strangers with Candy (older but good)
The Wire (get ready to make 96 hours disappear, once you start its hard to take a break)
Arrested Development
The Mighty Boosh (UK, a little weird)
Snuff Box (UK, dark comedy)
Nathan Barley (UK, a total jackass runs a website, that makes him semi-famous much to the chagrin of a washed up writer that works at a VICE-ish magazine)
30 Rock
posted by wcfields at 2:40 PM on June 7, 2009

The Wire
Herman's Head
posted by dhammond at 11:15 PM on June 7, 2009

From a UK perspective I'm seconding:

Waking The Dead
State Of Play
Dr Who
IT Crowd
Green Wing

I also recommend:

The Thick Of It
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (possibly a fair bit weirder than you're used to judging from the list you gave above)
posted by jonnyploy at 8:10 AM on June 8, 2009

Eastbound and Down (HBO) is tremendously funny if you like Danny McBride as the main character (former major league baseball player trying to restart his career). Only one season of six episodes so far, but worth it.

Spaced is really, really funny although I almost didn't watch it after the first episode (didn't draw me in), but well worth it. You see the same cast in Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz - very similar humor.
posted by Twicketface at 10:34 AM on June 8, 2009

Nthing Spaced. Also, it might be a bit too much for you if you're squeamish but the british "zombies rampage a reality tv show" miniseries, Dead Set, was riveting. I've heard rumors that it will made into a regular series.
posted by fatedblue at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2009

Who Wants to be a Superhero?

When I first saw its commercials, I thought it was the most inane thing ever. But then I accidentally caught an episode and was hooked. It's parody at its best, and a wonderful homage to comic books. Sadly, there are only two seasons.
posted by litterateur at 3:04 PM on June 8, 2009

I thought I was the only one who liked Who Wants to be a Superhero? There was some really interesting things that lay below the surface on that show. Some of the people looked great in costumes or had a great idea of a superhero but ended up failing by way of trying to be super rather than hero. The over edited reality show aspect actually took away from it in places. I think I stopped watching when it began to move over into fake storylines. I wouldn't necessarily recomend it to anyone, but maybe some Mefites might like it.

I don't think anyone has said it and I'm kind of surprised. Extras (UK) has to be one of the most nuanced comedey sitcoms I've ever seen. I really was blown away by it. Not only do you get the funny stuff, but you get the impact of the transaction that takes place because of it. It also includes an interesting commentary on fame and friendship.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:28 PM on June 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

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