Please suggest a nice tv show with wizards and fancy dresses!
December 11, 2013 7:57 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a good TV show for my parents to watch that has at least a few seasons available for streaming on Netflix. They really like medieval, wizardy, lords and ladies types of shows, and period dramas in general. Nothing too complicated or upsetting, though.

So my parents have recently been devouring the show "Merlin" on Netflix. Oh man, do they love it. Unfortunately they're just about finished. I really need to find something like that for them to watch obsessively on Netflix streaming. Other shows they really like are "Game of Thrones", "Boardwalk Empire", and "Downton Abbey". So.... period pieces, stuff with diverse casts, accents, interesting costumes, etc. And, it has to be availble for streaming.

Here's the wrinkle - my dad was recently in a bad accident and suffered pretty significant brain trauma. He is back home now, thank god, and slowly regaining his health and cognitive ability. So he really needs a show that isn't too complicated, isn't hard to follow, doesn't jump back and forth in time or have really convoluted plots. Also, nothing too upsetting or violent or death-heavy. So, no Breaking Bad or The Wire. I was considering Once Upon a Time, but I think the whole going back and forth between the real world and Fairy Tale world might confuse him.

Help! They only have one more episode of Merlin to go!
posted by silverstatue to Media & Arts (37 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
BBC Robin Hood is THE GREATEST, though I was very upset by the end of season 2. (Like...very upset. But you can judge for yourself. It's not otherwise upsetting.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2013 [6 favorites]

Heh. I came here to recommend the classic British 1980's series Robin of Sherwood. So that's two Robin Hoods for you.
posted by kyrademon at 8:03 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I found World without End good cheesy fun with a suitably excellent 'all the bad guys get punished' ending. Nice costumes too, though perhaps more violence than you wanted. Robin of Sherwood is excellent (I'm not a fan of the newer series, though, as I found it made me root for the Sheriff). The latest replacement for Merlin is Atlantis, based (loosely) on Greek mythology - it's been running for a bit in Canada, so not sure how available it is in the US. There's also Sinbad, which only ran for a season, but was very Merlin like and had a great diverse cast, including the ever awesome Naveen Andrews.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:09 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

The BBC's Poirot is streaming on Netflix. Cozy, familiar brain candy with impeccable art direction.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:11 PM on December 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Kind of out in left field and probably totally wrong but Black Adder?
posted by BoscosMom at 8:16 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Tudors? I didn't make it past season 2 or 3, because it was a bit slow and I already know how it turns out (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived!) but it starts well.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:28 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was also coming in to mention The Tudors.

It's a little earlier in history than they are probably looking for, but Rome was fantastic.
posted by Sara C. at 8:32 PM on December 11, 2013

Ah, they've already devoured World Without End and The Tudors! Atlantis sounds perfect but alas, is not on Netflix yet. Neither is Robin of Sherwood. I will keep them in mind for the future.

Also... they're completely home-bound right now, so they will PLOW through a series. It has to have at least 30 or 40 episodes on streaming.

Ok, so far BBC Robin Hood looks like the best bet...
posted by silverstatue at 8:32 PM on December 11, 2013

Well, there is Copper. Not sure if it would be too violent... there are some gruesome scenes since he's a homicide investigator, and it explores racial violence of the period. But it's linear and period piece-y.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2013

A lot of really, really good things don't have that many episodes--I wouldn't avoid recommending them, just recommend more things! Blackadder is great--light but lots of costumes and history tied in with the funny, it was made by some very smart people. 'Allo 'Allo is set in the French Resistance and likewise funny without requiring a lot of real thinking about but not *dumb*.

There's several versions of Marple as well as the Poirot, and they're both good and very worth watching, on the more serious side. Dr. Who does involve time travel, but honestly it's written to a relatively young audience and I don't think it's actually that hard to follow, but YMMV. Also lots of episodes for that one.
posted by Sequence at 8:40 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Slightly pre-Downton, there's Bramwell, about a Victorian lady doctor.
posted by XMLicious at 8:54 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not really "period", but definitely has tonnes of episodes - "Midsomer Murders". It's a British detective drama centers set in the fictional English county of Midsomer. Each episode is 90 minutes long and self-contained (although there is character development over the course of the seasons).

It's on Netflix, and has 13 seasons of 6-8 episodes each.
posted by dotgirl at 9:02 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Reign is brand-new, episode 13 is airing shortly, but IT IS THE BESTEST and being on the CW it recaps the plot for you every half-hour and did I mention that it's the best show on TV right now? Because IT TOTALLY IS. But yeah, everyone wears pretty medieval clothes (by way of Hot Topic) and Nostradamus is magic and also BFFs with the Queen of France. It's so great.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:06 PM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Call the Midwife is terrific and largely heartwarming, though it's sometimes a bit of a tear-jerker. No wizards, but there are adorable nuns and babies and Britishness.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:06 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's only 23 episodes (sadly) but Jeeves and Wooster, with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, is one of my favorite TV series ever. I really think your parents would like it.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:12 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Upstairs Downstairs" should provide them with hours of pleasure. Start with the 1971 series. "Foyles War" is very enjoyable. "All Creatures Great and Small" is a really good watch, especially the first season.
posted by firstdrop at 9:13 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another good period piece (although not superior to J&W) is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series from the mid-1980s with Jeremy Brett. The acting, costumes, settings etc are quite good in my opinion. And there appear to be 41 episodes total.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:18 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh, and I just checked and unfortunately you cannot stream either J&W or that version of Holmes on Netflix, I am sorry. But check your local library! They are available on Netflix discs, and streaming on Amazon prime.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:22 PM on December 11, 2013

I have three suggestions, but no access to Netflix so I don't know which ones you will have access to:

The Borgias, I know several people who moved on to this after The Tudors.

Legend of the Seeker, wizards and swords and filmed in New Zealand.

Maddigan's Quest, probably the least likely to be available since it's a New Zealand series from 2006, but it has that fantasy asthetic and was very enjoyable. It's young adult-ish so should be easy enough to follow.
posted by shelleycat at 11:08 PM on December 11, 2013

Oh, also The Pillars of the Earth. It's only a miniseries (so eight episodes long I think) but quite meaty for it's short length. More shorter things will help bulk out their schedule while also looking for longer ones.

I haven't seen it but maybe Deadwood would also fit?
posted by shelleycat at 11:13 PM on December 11, 2013

I don't have Netflix and it doesn't look like you can just check and see if they have stuff without signing in so I don't know if they have them but back in the 80's I really liked both Flambards and Danger UXB ... later eras but they still have that feeling of nostalgia for early times and great costuming. Also, The Duchess of Duke Street. Oh, and Flickers about the early years of film was wonderful.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:13 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about the Irish RM; set in Ireland preindenpendence, quite charming humour. I second the Borgias, if they liked the Tudors. Great costumes and very entertaining. There is also a recent 13 episode series of Robinson Crusoe, which is also very entertaining and a chunk of it is set in London so there are also costumes. A last suggestion is Poldark, an older UK series, set in Cornwall in the days of tin mining and smuggling. The boots are great as is the straddling over various parts of the Cornish landscape; the production values are not amazing though. For longer series there are things like BBC adaptations of Trollope and the Forsythe Saga. (Among the Trollope I recommend the Barchester Chronicles and The Way We Live Now - both very glossy and meaty.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:15 PM on December 11, 2013

If they like Boardwalk Empire, then I'm seconding Foyle's War. It's engrossing but not too violent, there are several seasons on Netflix right now, and while there's a bit of a continuing storyline, the episodes are self-contained.
posted by maudlin at 11:32 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Flame Trees of Thika is set in colonial Africa, also from the 80s. 2nding Flambards (the name of which I've been trying to remember for months, so thank you) same time period but in England. The Pallisers by Trollope, 1974, so they've probably seen it but I'm sure it's worth watching again.

Doc Martin is present day but very mellow.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 12:10 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't have a particular show to recommend, but I wanted to pop in and suggest that if they have Amazon Prime, it widens their options for streaming content. In their circumstances, I'd get Prime just for that, probably. (And it's common enough that they might already have it, and seasonally appropriate that they might be thinking about getting it for holiday shipping right now if they don't.)
posted by instamatic at 12:22 AM on December 12, 2013

Kingdom only had two seasons, but it's also very mellow and very British and has Stephen Fry in it. I loved it. Nothing upsetting at all.

Also a huge fan of Black Adder and Jeeves and Wooster.
posted by jrobin276 at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Roar isn't terrible, and is notable for starring the young Heath Ledger. Stunning South East Queensland scenery, pretty people in lovely costumes and an absolutely ridiculous (but not too complicated) story. Only one season though.

How about Xena and Hercules? They weren't bad fantasy even without the cult status that Xena achieved.
posted by goo at 12:35 AM on December 12, 2013

I'm not entirely sure how to rate how violent or upsetting a show might be for your parents if they enjoy Game of Thrones (the Red Wedding, yo), so I'll throw a lighthearted recommendation into the ring--Xena: Warrior Princess. Many seasons of tongue-in-cheek humor and cartoon violence. Lots of magic. Gods and Goddesses. And Julius Caesar. Some singing. Lots and lots of costumes. I'd actually rate the show up there with Buffy for quality writing, despite all the camp.
posted by xyzzy at 12:42 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

+1 for Foyles War. Another old series they might like is the dramatization of the Brother Cadfael stories. There's only 13 episodes altogether though, and I doubt its on Netflix.
posted by crocomancer at 12:47 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps Ripper Street - a BBC period detective drama that can be gritty but I'd doubt is any more violent than Boardwalk Empire. For a more gentle period detective series, then I'm also thirding Foyle's War, set in WW2.

When Downton first got released it was competing with the BBC's remake of Upstairs Downstairs. Where Downton is soap opera, the newer Upstairs Downstairs is more political, drier but less cheesy. It lasted two series and wasn't bad. Parade's End, a five part miniseries set in WW1 and coproduced by HBO was better than either of them.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:47 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I cannot nth Poirot enough. It's so good.

Another suggestion: Mr Selfridge, created by Andrew Davies of the BBC Pride & Prejudice fame. It's very good and Jeremy Piven is really charismatic as Harry Selfridge.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:28 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Andrew Davies of the BBC Pride & Prejudice fame

On British Netflix you can see most of Andrew Davies's works, including Pride & Prejudice and the many other fabulous adaptations of the 1990s and 2000s (I've been making my way through Middlemarch). I don't know if these are on the American version.
posted by dumdidumdum at 5:20 AM on December 12, 2013

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - an utterly charming series about a lady detective in 1920s Melbourne.

North & South - an exploration of class, gender and romance set in 1880s England.

Under the Greenwood Tree - a rather fluffy adaptation of a Thomas Hardy novel.

I like period English mysteries and Netflix Instant has all manner of Miss Marple adaptations. The Agatha Christie Tommy and Tuppence series was streaming but now is disc only but it's also very fun.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:49 AM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

Duchess of Duke Street - no wizards, turn of the century England, loosely based on a true story. Great cooking scenes and costumes. I love it.
posted by h00py at 7:20 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of great sounding stuff here. I think BBC Robin Hood, Upstairs Downstairs, and All Creatures Great and Small sound the most promising, but I'll suggest a bunch of these, and mark best answers for the ones they end up watching. Thanks everyone!
posted by silverstatue at 8:16 PM on December 12, 2013

If they like All Creatures Great and Small (which I hope they do, it's excellent) they should probably also look into Heartbeat. There are 18 seasons, so this should help balance out my short recommendations earlier!
posted by shelleycat at 10:45 AM on December 13, 2013

They would probably enjoiy Murdoch Mysteries, which is from the CBC. It's on Netflix in Canada, is a low key easy to follow show, with period costume and linking to historic Toronto. It has a similar light, easy humour to Merlin, and some gentle humour related to current events.

You might also try hoopla, a new public library sytem that runs like netflix. Limited stuff right now but does have some old bbc stuff.

nthing Miss Fisher, Call the Midwife, and All Creatures Great and Small, both great.
posted by chapps at 10:35 PM on January 7, 2014

« Older Private Long Lease?   |   Help me source a delicious yet terribly obscure... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.