TVFilter: ISO "family viewing" series
July 2, 2015 5:30 PM   Subscribe

We have watched (it was a long winter) the entirety of Anne of Green Gables, Road to Avonlea, Wind at My Back, and Emily of New Moon. We (two adults, one almost 8 yr old) need a new, mildly addictive, not scary series, hopefully with a similar sort of flavour?

I wanted to start in on Pit Pony (as it turns out I am now a fan of Canadian historical drama? I had no idea) but it looks like only one season came out on DVD. I also considered Battlestar Galactica, but can't remember if it would be too scary, and it's not very same-y; I was also curious about Friday Night Lights but... Would we like The Waltons...?

Ideally it should be something I can find on-line or get from the library. (I don't have Netflix or Hulu or similar, and it's rare to find a DVD series at a reasonable price in Canada.)

I think what we liked about what we watched were the just-sufficiently-soap-operatic qualities, where we looked forward to sitting down with it and seeing it evolve, the "struggle" aspects (people got sick, people had fatal accidents, there were hard times; a comedy series would not do), the maybe or maybe not historically accurate but at least historically interesting parts, and enough dramatics (and silly tropes) to amuse the adults crossed with enough kid stuff to amuse the kid.

Kid can handle fairly sophisticated plots but doesn't care for darker stuff (she loves Doctor Who, but was upset by the cruelty towards Emily at the start of "New Moon") -- but any suggestions you want to throw out are appreciated.
posted by kmennie to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
The new Battlestar Galactica has some very dark themes that pertain to violence at times, and I'm not sure I'd let my 8 year old watch it (and I'm more liberal about these things). The Little House on the Prairie series is pretty timeless. I grew up on those, and I can still enjoy them on their own merits as an adult (not just through the lens of nostalgia). What's nice about those, too, is that it was on TV for years, so there is plenty of watching.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:36 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I think it's a pretty big leap between Anne of Green Gables and Battlestar Galactica. Like, an FTL Drive jump sized leap. Maybe hold off on that for a few years.

My first thought was Little House on the Prairie. On preview, SpacemanStix and I share a brain.
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:38 PM on July 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Lark Rise to Candleford --"An adaptation of Flora Thompson's autobiographical novel "Lark Rise To Candleford", set in 19 century Oxfordshire, in which a young girl moves to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress" -- felt very Anne-ish to me. The main character is a bit older, 16-20 perhaps, but there is a whole community of characters to learn about.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 5:39 PM on July 2, 2015 [10 favorites]

CBC's current family drama Heartland runs in the Sunday night slot previously occupied by Road, Wind, and Emily. It's set in modern times, but on a ranch, and features the adventures of a young horse-whisperer and her family. Sometimes it gets a little heavy, but nothing too dark. I think it's on US Netflix.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:41 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think you'd enjoy Pioneer Quest - a reality TV show that came out about ten years ago, Canadian, about two couples recreating life on the Frontier. It was slow paced and very wholesome and I enjoyed the episodes I saw very much.
posted by bq at 5:43 PM on July 2, 2015

Original Degrassi? Three shows, and you get to watch the actors all grow up.

The Kids of Degrassi Street
Degrassi Junior High
Degrassi High
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:49 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also how about the 7 Up series?
posted by bq at 5:55 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Cranford might fit.
posted by fings at 5:57 PM on July 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Apologies, I was on mobile, and misread that Netflix wasn't an option.* It looks like CBC has streaming episodes of Heartland on their website, but I can't get them to work on my end, at least.

Another show that was in the CBC Sunday night family timeslot was Nothing Too Good For a Cowboy, about a 1940s cowboy, his wife, and his friend; there was a TV movie and a season, I think. Not sure how findable that is. I think Pit Pony also had a TV movie/backdoor pilot, may be worth looking for.

*Though if people are interested in a decent family melodrama, six seasons of Heartland are on Netflix. Bonus: If you're an Orphan Black fan, Tatiana Maslany was on for a couple of seasons and was pretty fantastic.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:02 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Came in to second Heartland. Though it might lead to a horse obsession.
posted by kjs4 at 6:03 PM on July 2, 2015

Try "Monarch of the Glen"...a BBC series set in modern-day Scotland by pre-Downton Abbey Julian Fellowes. Plenty of Scottish scenery and culture with enough hi-jinks to satisfy the school-age set at my house. They watched every episode and still refer to the characters and situations from the show. Anything capital A adult is subtle enough that it doesn't register with young kids. Ran for six seasons...not sure of availability in CA.
posted by Ginesthoi at 6:21 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

You need The Darling Buds of May, starring a young Catherine Zeta Jones. It's about a loud English family set in a 1950s Kent village and was an instant smash when it first came to TV. My family loved it and it's suitable for everyone. It definitely has the same nostalgic wholesome flavour of Anne of Green Gables, and follows the trials and tribulations of the whole family, just in another country.
posted by Jubey at 6:26 PM on July 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

It's from the 80s but The Flame Trees of Thika would be perfect; borrow from the library?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:28 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Came in to say "Heartland" (currently airing on the CBC), see I have been beaten to it.

Agree with "Lark Rise to Candleford" which I binge-watched; agree with "Little House."

"Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" is another one that scratches this itch. "Merlin" from the BBC, which is silly but fun. (I don't thiiiiiiink it gets too adult, but check.) There are a lot of ABC Family shows that would in general suit, but they are aimed at a teen/tween audience and sometimes may deal with sexuality issues (in particular) that you feel are above your daughter's head, so check in advance -- "Switched at Birth," "Bunheads," "The Fosters" (all curent-era). "State of Grace" (1960s) from ABC Family is absolutely age appropriate and I loved every single thing about it.

Movie-wise, the 1994 version of "Little Women" is right in this wheelhouse. If she likes that, the Kiera Knightley's Pride & Prejudice, Emma Thompson's Pride & Prejudice, Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma, and of course Clueless.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:36 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also SyFy's "Eureka" and "Warehouse 13," although Warehouse gets a bit dark from time to time.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:38 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry, was very good, and is out on DVD.
posted by bq at 6:40 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

There was an older TV series of All Creatures Great and Small that might do - it has the struggle aspect but I think it's more episodic so don't know that it will have the ongoing character development you want.

Doc Martin might work? I can't remember how much sex or other adult-ish stuff there is, so preview it, but it's about an irascible big city doctor who comes to a little seaside town and has to deal with the people there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:42 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Avatar: The Last Airbender. It's animated fantasy, but has good human drama and character arcs plus humor that works for kids and adults. First season takes some time to warm up but the ride through seasons 2 and 3 are more than worth it.
posted by weston at 6:49 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Avatar the Last Airbender -- it's animated fantasy but an addictive story and lots of character development. Another series (not animated) is Flambards which is set in England just before and during WW1. Basically a coming of age story of 3 cousins. Themes of old vs new (horses vs airplanes ) class struggles,etc. One of my favorites.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:00 PM on July 2, 2015

Seconding "Dr. Quinn" and "Larkrise" (the latter features Brendan Coyle, aka Mr. Bates on "Downton Abbey"). If you are spiritual, maybe "Touched by an Angel"?
posted by timestep at 7:04 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Dr. Quinn, absolutely. I watched the original series with my mom as a preteen and I'm having all sorts of feels recalling that.
posted by Mimzy at 7:19 PM on July 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Definitely Heartland. We're catching up on the latest additions to Netflix right now.
posted by stormyteal at 9:31 PM on July 2, 2015

I've also come to say Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 9:58 PM on July 2, 2015

The adults will love Avatar. Please give it a shot. I watched it solo as a successful, busy, fun-loving 24-year-old and valued every moment of growth from that show - it's got just the right mix of activity, interpersonal drama, individual development/depth, humor, kindness, and story. So, so good.
posted by samthemander at 10:01 PM on July 2, 2015

Poldark is a great Thomas Hardy-ish, soapy yarn set on the windswept coast of Cornwall. A little racy (nothing more than AA), a little corny which makes it great fun. I think it's running on PBS Masterpiece Theatre now so it should be streamable.
But also: yes, you should be watching Friday Night Lights. One of the best series of the past decade, very family-friendly & wholesome; a 21st century Waltons.
posted by Flashman at 10:35 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm actually really enjoying bingewatching Family Ties.
posted by sweetmarie at 11:02 PM on July 2, 2015

posted by DarlingBri at 11:49 PM on July 2, 2015

Over the Garden Wall!
posted by jbickers at 3:36 AM on July 3, 2015

Call the Midwife? Sorry, I don't know about availability in Canada.

Also maybe some of the BBC adaptations of 19thc novels, like Our Mutual Friend or North and South. These may not be as long as you are looking for, though.
posted by paduasoy at 4:31 AM on July 3, 2015

Maybe Gilmore Girls?

IIRC, it was originally conceived and funded as a show that parents could watch with kids, though the "kids" on the show are actually teenagers, so you may want to wait a couple of years. But it's the rare show where the teenagers actually behave in age-appropriate ways, not like adults plopped into a high school, which is nice. And generally, the show feels like an updated Road to Avonlea, taking place in a small town populated by a quirky-but-wholesome cast of locals.
posted by lunasol at 2:03 PM on July 3, 2015

I love Friday Night Lights, but it's completely inappropriate for a seven-year-old coming off Anne of Green Gables. Lots of sex, attempted rape, murder and hiding the body (by protagonists), a character who works in a strip club (with scenes set there), underage alcoholism, and more -- this is not Road to Avonlea. Maybe watch it after she's in bed.

- When Calls the Heart (much less religious than the books)
- Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, basically this whole series (on youtube)
- Lark Rise to Candleford again
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:37 AM on July 6, 2015

Wait if we're talking Canadiana, how could I forget The Littlest Hobo? The adventures of a dog through smalltown Canada, basically. Perfect for kids.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 AM on July 6, 2015

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