Needz mawr electronic content
January 23, 2015 3:40 AM   Subscribe

My wife is having surgery this month which comes with a likely long recovery period. To help get her through this time we are looking at stocking up on new TV series and podcasts to keep her mind occupied during this time (aka electronic content!). What gripping-crime-drama TV series or that's-a-cool-idea-I-never-heard-about-before podcasts would you recommend?

We've looked at various 'new season shows' articles and askmefi posts such as this and this but they aren't specific enough for what we are after, and we are working through this great post from 2012, though it only deals with TV.

She has quite a consistent set of likes which I've set out below, based on these what would you recommend to make the days/weeks fly by?

TV Series - she likes those that really grip the watcher and hold their attention, in particular through a crime that needs to be solved such as:
The Closer
Major Crimes
Murder She Wrote
Forbrydelsen (original and US)
The Bridge (original and US)
Lie to me
The Shield
The Good Wife

Or alternatively that grips through some other similar means:
House (gripped by cracking the disease)
Lost Girl (gripped by cracking the case)
Walking Dead (gripped BY THE INSANE TENSION)

Podcasts - She likes non-fiction ones that bring up ideas or issues that otherwise she wouldn't know of:
You must remember this
This American Life
PRI: to the best of our knowledge
Oh no Ross & Carrie
My brother my brother and me
Stuff you missed in history class
Stuff to blow your mind
Slate's XX
Dan Savage
Throwing Shade

Thank you in advance hivemind! We are in the UK if that makes a difference.
posted by thetarium to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Downton Abbey - Season 1-4, right now season 5 is on PBS.
posted by just asking at 3:46 AM on January 23, 2015

I feel like I should throw you down the tantalizing and fun wormhole that is K-Drama.
Hulu has dozens upon dozens for every varying taste.

We've loved Coffee Prince, Protect The Boss, City Hunter and Pasta.

Right now I'm watching Ghost - it's a cyber thriller/police procedural and it's wonderful.

If you don't have Hulu, then there's Viki, Crunchy Roll and Drama Fever.

If you want to look up shows, here's a Wiki of sort.

Also recommend searching MF/AMF for more good stuff.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 3:51 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Fall (season 2 is just starting). On Netflix right now, if that makes a difference.
posted by maudlin at 3:52 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

For tv, Damages and Prime Suspect. Both went for many seasons.
posted by travertina at 3:56 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

She might enjoy Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast. She might also like The Flop House; it's a podcast about bad movies, but the humor is similar to My Brother My Brother and Me.
posted by neushoorn at 4:02 AM on January 23, 2015

Definitely the Fall, which is on U.S. Netflix (I use Hula to access it from the UK), and Broadchurch.
posted by chrispy108 at 4:06 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Broadchurch. I watched the whole first season in a day and a half, very intense crime drama. I've heard the second season is happening in your neck of the woods right now but I'd strongly recommend watching the first season unspoiled.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:08 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Staircase
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:10 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

You don't list The Killing (Danish version) - I haven't seen the US version. If she likes The Bridge and Wallander, this is a good one for her. And has she seen the British version of Wallander?
posted by AnnaRat at 4:13 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

True Detective should happen. Also Hannibal if she can stand gore. The Wire if you've never seen it. For something a bit lighter and more popcorny, White Collar. Breaking Bad, especially after season one, is the very definition of gripping. Sherlock, of course. I found the Fargo tv series to be very good. Terriers was wonderful and gone too soon. For historical crime, Foyle's War. Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are both addictive. Southland was excellent and also gone too soon. Wire in the Blood was highly entertaining Brit tv. And, for something fun, Veronica Mars. I clearly watch too much television.
posted by xyzzy at 4:16 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

Invisibilia! What a gorgeous podcast.

And Criminal! Another one.
posted by Mistress at 4:27 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

French gritty crime drama Spiral - the fifth series is currently on BBC4. This is the first time I've seen it and am loving it and looking forward to going back and watching from the beginning so I can understand the bits I'm missing.

Also, it's not crime, but given your list, she'd probably enjoy Borgen.
posted by penguin pie at 4:31 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Silent Witness, Cracker and Prime Suspect are gripping crime dramas, although not exactly new.
posted by Leon at 4:32 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

You already included This American Life. The TAL Store offers a USB drive with 36 of its best hour-long podcasts. This kept us listening on a road trip across the country a couple of years ago.
posted by yclipse at 4:35 AM on January 23, 2015

The based-on-true-events Underbelly series.
UNDERBELLY uses the framework of the war waging within the underworld, and the war between the underworld and the Purana Task Force, to explore a complex array of individual stories and relationships some touching, some incredible, all breathtaking. It is a series that examines the kaleidoscopic nature of loyalty, love, revenge and pride when the normal and identifiable emotions of human attachment are moved from the context of social decency to social indecency. Based on actual events, this explicit, gripping and violent trilogy exposes the shocking true story of the crime wave that rocked Australia from the 1970s until the early 2000s. Includes three, 13-episode series of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities , The Golden Mile and War On The Streets.
It also provides an insight into embedded aspects of white Australian social culture and moments of utter hilarity. Great acting, script and direction. ADDED BONUS: you can google all the characters and find out what happened to them in real life.
posted by Kerasia at 4:38 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Orphan Black. A joint BBC/Canadian production. It works best it you have no idea what it is about before you watch it. Two seasons done and third season shooting how (at my library actually, next week, whoo).
posted by saucysault at 4:51 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

TV - House of Cards (US version - I know, heresy, but the UK version is too campy to be gripping), Person of Interest. Suits is wildly entertaining, and the dickishness of the heroes reminds me a bit of House. We watched Continuum, which is a Canadian time-travel cop show but also a fantastic multi-faceted ensemble piece, and Fringe, which is kind of X-files inspired. Both transcend fairly cliched set-ups, and are very gripping once you get past the first couple of "introduce the characters" episodes.

Podcasts - go and browse the BBC website. Everything is archived and free to download since you are in the UK. I really like In Our Time on radio 4 (mix of history, philosophy, theology and literature), Things we forgot to remember, and the Long View. A History of Ideas is along the same lines. A History of the World in 100 Objects was great. Ramblings is a more gentle, on-in-the-background sort of thing with Claire Balding wandering around on hills chatting to people about the countryside, but usually pretty interesting. Woman's Hour is hit and miss but on a good day it's really interesting. Gardener's Question Time is far more entertaining than it has any right to be. And this may be a personal thing, but I really like Everyday Ethics on BBC Ulster, which is a NI politics and religion discussion. Again, better than it sounds.

4extra appears at first glance to be stuffed full of 1970s comedies nobody's ever heard of, but actually it also has lots of book adaptations - she might have to hunt around, but there have been plenty of whodunnits on there recently (Cadfael, Agatha Christie, the Havana Quartet) and they have just finished a Gothic season if she likes creepy overwrought victorian melodramas set in castles (Castle of Otranto, Carmilla, etc). Anyway, wide variety of stuff on there if you dig around.

To be honest for radio things I would just download the bbc radio app and have a scroll around listening to things and seeing what she likes. There is so much in the archive she'll definitely find something to listen to.
posted by tinkletown at 5:11 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Happy Valley: British, gripping, crime drama, critically- acclaimed, recent, highly recommended. Also it's not very long. Only one series.

Other goodies: Hinterland, Shetland, Vera, Endeavour, Engranges (aka Spiral). Cracker and Prime Suspect are both incredible but they're old.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:13 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by PMdixon at 5:14 AM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

You MUST watch Durham County. Seriously. Start now.
posted by scratch at 5:15 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding Luther!
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:16 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

In recent years I've been enjoying Criminal Minds, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Love the characters.
posted by JimN2TAW at 5:25 AM on January 23, 2015

If she likes non-fiction podcasts, she might like checking out these academic podcasts. I like the variety of topics and top of the notch speakers.
posted by 15L06 at 5:26 AM on January 23, 2015

I am someone with pretty similar TV tastes but I don't know if they will completely overlap. Anyway, here are some of my favourites that might entertain.

I don't know how she feels about science fiction, but I loved & was gripped by Battlestar Galactica. The story arcs & character development were great.

Also Person of Interest, a crime drama with a twist (tries to prevent crimes that are about to happen) that I loved.

Not crime at all, but E.R. , watched from the beginning is fantastic, in my opinion.


Without a Trace - definitely a gripping crime drama, but sometimes too dark for me.
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 5:46 AM on January 23, 2015

Your wife has excellent taste! Here are the things that last gave us The Grips:

'The Knick' kind of snuck up on us. To call it Victorian 'House' would be to undersell it. Trashy around the edges, very gory (maybe not great if you're not good with blood), Clive Owen is an opium-addicted, blood-soaked, moustachioed treasure.

'The Americans'. Spies-next-door with a dose of cold war and glorious 80s costume design. Keri Russell is incredible. Matthew Rhys is tightly wound. Nobody is happy. It's fantastic.

It also might be a good time to watch 'True Detective', if you haven't already, depending on your feelings about Matthew McConnaughey.

'Generation Kill' is great, great, great, the story of a group of marines in the first days of the Iraq war. We've watched it many times. A++, two thumbs up.

'The Honourable Woman' kind of has crime in it, but also political intrigue and Maggie Gyllenhaal in some of the greatest high-end couture to ever grace the small screen. Bonus points for Gyllenhaal's exquisite cut-glass British accent.

We're also huge fans of the CW show 'The 100.' It's like 'Gossip Girl' had a four-way with 'Battlestar Galactica', 'Lost' and an Abercrombie & Fitch. The first few episodes are *bad*, but the plot does a screaming 180 early in the first season that's worth the wait.
posted by nerdfish at 6:17 AM on January 23, 2015

You don't list The Killing (Danish version) - I haven't seen the US version.

The US version is very good. Right up until the Netflix season which I wish I hadn't watched.
posted by srboisvert at 6:29 AM on January 23, 2015

We have the same tastes and I also like:

The Missing - about a missing boy - can't recommend this enough.
Hawaii 5-0 - we avoided at first because of the violence but then turned to it because we ran out of things to watch and discovered we enjoyed it: the scenery, the camaraderie, the racial diversity, the female characters (love Kono and Katherine although they gave Katherine a one way ticket to Afghanistan last season. damn them.)
Yes, we binge watched Damages and enjoyed the suspense

American Greed is about financial crime but I find it interesting how they follow the timeline of how the criminal is eventually found out.

Have you tried Sons of Anarchy? and if that is interesting there are some History Channel shows on motorcycle gangs that are pretty interesting
posted by cda at 6:32 AM on January 23, 2015

Peaky Blinders is a lot of fun, and the second season is now out on Netflix. Think Boardwalk Empire set in Birmingham, but with less Buscemi angst and the gorgeous Cillian Murphy leading, plus more awareness that we're talking about ENTERTAINMENT. So it's propulsive fun. And there is a a consciously anachronistic soundtrack, and combined with greaaaaaaaaaat production values, it makes for some awesome music video-type bits. There's a lot of Jack Black in the first season, and the second season is heavily PJ Harvey.

Marco Polo is also on Netflix. It's less explicitly crime-centered, but a large part of the first season is tied up with a whodunit about WHO IS TRYING TO MURDERIZE KUBLAI KHAN? I find the lead boring as hell, but the rest of it is super-absorbing. Think Tudors with way more violence and a regular cast that is one white dude and 10,000 awesome non-white characters, many of whom are awesome ladies AND I MUST FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENS TO ALL OF THEM OH GOD.

The Americans is legitimately great television. There are critics who, with justification, say it's the best thing on television. When I need to look hard for a work situation, I pretend the file in my hand is a switchblade and that I'm Keri Russell's character, about to lay the hurt on someone. And while the first season is not particularly mystery-ish, a murder mystery whodunit is the major plot of Season 2. Plus super-ridiculous thrilling tension.

Also, not mentioned in the media you're looking for, but if your wife is up for it, the Rivers of London books are available in audiobook form. They aren't long for audiobooks (all under 10 hours), and are really gripping because the author knows how to construct both compelling, likable, interesting characters and a fascinating murder plot. I don't know where you are in the UK, but the books also give a great feeling of being out and about in London, which might be a nice escape for someone who has been stuck in the same physical location for a while.

Think Luther with a great sense of humor and magic.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:36 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding the suggestions of Miss Fisher, Foyle's War, and Bletchley Circle, above. Also Prime Suspect and Broadchurch.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:38 AM on January 23, 2015

I mentioned Sons of Anarchy because she said she likes The Shield and both were made by Kurt Sutter.
posted by cda at 6:39 AM on January 23, 2015

TV / Netflix: The Returned, a French semi-supernatural (but not the cheesy kind, if it makes sense?) drama.

And for the motherlode of all nonfiction podcasts, In Our Time has sixteen years of back episodes.
posted by Hypatia at 6:43 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding The Honorable Woman and adding that Maggie Gyllenhaal recently won a best actress Golden Globe for her terrific performance.

Also seconding The Fall and Broadchurch.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:53 AM on January 23, 2015

Elementary is very similar to House. It fullfills the hole House left when it stopped airing.
posted by royalsong at 7:04 AM on January 23, 2015

All of these suggestions are excellent -- HOWEVER! I had major surgery in July and decided to catch up on some shows, and I also love crime dramas. Be aware that recovering from surgery can make you a bit emotionally fragile. I watched the Netflix-only last season of The Killing, Top of the Lake, and Durham County, and while they were all good, they were very bleak and made me sad. So you might advise your wife to edge toward the less bleak and more procedural/routine shows. Or the ones with a bit of humor or fun.
posted by clone boulevard at 7:07 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

She might really enjoy the CBC podcast 20 Pieces of Music That Changed the World - each episode is a different piece of music and a really interesting take on the culture (mostly Western, but you can't have everything) at the time.
posted by Mchelly at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've heard Borgen is very good.
posted by bq at 7:48 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I see that The Wire has already been mentioned, but as someone who put off watching it for a long time because I thought it would leave me an emotional wreck... well, maybe it's because I grew up reading the newspaper in Maryland in the 80s and 90s, but at 1.3 seasons in, I find it realistic, but not in danger of making me sob and hate humanity any more than usual.

Might be the lack of INSANE TENSION, as you put it. I'm super susceptible to that, and The Wire calibrates its tension in a less crank-up-the-dramatic-score-with-quick-cuts way.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries!
posted by phunniemee at 8:20 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If she enjoys British crime drama, there's Wire in the Blood, Waking the Dead, Inspector Morse and the still-running Morse-spin-off Lewis. All these are pretty reliably good, with Wire in the Blood being a bit darker than the others, and there are a lot of episodes available.
posted by rjs at 8:47 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite] seems to specialize in British mysteries, and often has stuff I can't find anywhere else. Subscription , if I remember right, is $5/month.

If she needs some lighter fare sometimes, stuff you can doze off in front of - I can't necessarily follow stuff like Scandinoir when I'm doing heavy physical healing - I can't recommend Midsommer Murders enough. And there's lots of them. It makes a nice change from Law and Order.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:49 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Top of the Lake - miniseries, directed by Jane Campion, gripping, feminist, intense, gorgeous. Do it!!!

The Fall

The Wire! It's a classic for a reason.

Bletchley Circle - Season 1 is great but it kind of gets a bit repetitive after that


Orphan Black
posted by barnone at 8:56 AM on January 23, 2015

Immediately after I had serious surgery, I had a kind of short attention span and just wanted "diverting" stuff to watch. It only took about a week or two for me to get back to my usual self, but you might keep in mind easing in to some of the more serious stuff recommended here. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and also Veronica Mars would work well for that easing in period, as they are gripping but also have elements of wisecracking humor, though dealing with murder and very serious topics. Also, I have not seen mentioned and would recommend the Inspector George Gently series. There is a mini series called The Lost Room from a few years ago that is a mystery, though not a murder mystery, and I would recommend that also. Finally, I don't see a mention of Justified, which I highly recommend.
posted by gudrun at 9:15 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

"Forbrydelsen" is the original "The Killing", so OP has seen both versions.

Another vote here for Borgen. It's fantastic -- and, imo, much better than the other Danish shows on your list.
posted by paperback version at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2015

Life on Mars, the British one, not the US version
posted by lois1950 at 12:22 PM on January 23, 2015

The CBC has a 1 hour program called Ideas that's been on the air for what seems forever. It's worth spending some time going back into the archives for things like, How to Think About Science which was a 24 part series or The Power of Colour which was a 3 part series.
posted by redindiaink at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2015

If she likes the Scandinoir, then she can check out Beck. Media abounds, but I think either the 30 most recent films (!!) if you can find them with subtitles or the BBC radio show mentioned at the link could be good for you.
posted by Iteki at 4:26 AM on January 24, 2015

I stream Netflix and Amazon Prime into the wee hours (insomnia) and have viewed most of the above with pleasure. I would add:
The Glades
Life On Mars ( yeah, the US version)
(some of this is getting into mystery/scifi)
Happy Valley
The Finder
Inspector Alleyn
Heat of the Sun (marvelous series set in late 1920's India)
The Campion series
Best wishes with the surgery/recovery.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 1:05 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

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