Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adding To Our Media Library: Best British Mysteries, Clean Comedy, and Awesome Nature & Travel Documentaries

So today I have been searching for DVD bargains on Amazon. We are fleshing out our collection with clean comedy, documentaries, movies we'll watch over and over. I do not have an Amazon affiliate account, so it you are going to buy from there, be sure and use the Amazon Search Box on your favorite blog. They'll make a little on it and it won't add to your cost. :-)  Amazon has great promos lately.

Clean Comedy: The funniest comedians make us laugh without embarassing us, and comics like Jeff Allen stand right up there with Jeff Foxworthy. My husband has a new by-word: "I'm a happy, happy, man." Heh.

Two great collections to pick new favorite entertainers from are the Apostles of Comedy and Thou Shalt Laugh (several volumes available - we started with Volumes 1 & 2. Read the reviews before buying - viewers say Volume 3 contains inappropriate material).

Used Boxed Sets on Amazon can be a real bargain. Be sure you are getting the DVD version, because there are still some VHS tapes down in the "lowest price first" sort!

If you don't yet own "Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series" with the original David Attenborough's narration, it's a great bargain right now. I got a pristine set last month for less than $15.00. That's 550 minutes - more than 9 hours - of magnificent footage. Get the regular dvd, not the HD one - the regular boxed set contains hours more programming with fascinating "behind the scenes" footage.

I ordered the "Reader's Digest Journeys of a Lifetime Boxed Set" today. It has 13 hours of armchair travel for as low as $5.00. These kinds of things are nice to unwind and settle down with right before bed time.

More than 6 hours of "TV Classics: Westerns Vol. 1 and 2 (Box Set)" for a penny - $3 once you add in shipping. Buy from Amazon for $2.98 with free shipping. Or find a "just launched" seller and buy from them - support home businesses by helping a new seller get of the ground!

The BBC did a series of "The Chronicles of Narnia (BBC)" in the 1980s that reviewers say is even better than the recent movies. One reviewer notes that the BBC version is carefully true to the story as written by C.S. Lewis, so the nuances of the books remain intact. I'm looking forward to seeing this.

Speaking of the BBC and Masterpiece Mystery, some of my favorite recent discoveries on the British Mystery front are:

New Tricks - There just aren't enough praises for this well written, perfectly cast ensemble series about an engaging trio of retired detectives dragged back into service by a cute, tough, woman inspector who's young enough to be their daughter, good (and old) enough to be their boss, and real enough to need their friendship. The age jokes are realistic - and funny - but it's the serious plots that won me over. Interesting cold-case crimes that unfold in fascinating detail, that require both deep historical research and human deduction to unravel. Warm and believable relationships between the characters (nearly all the supporting cast recur, just as they would in real life). Love the characters, love the scripts, love the theme song, love the series!

Sherlock - Another that rates pure applause. The premise sounded like a bad idea: Conan-Doyle's detective set into the 21st century world. I thought: "Yawn." I feared Romeo & Juliet in blue jeans. Then when the show started I sat up and paid attention. Wow. Simply, truly, brilliant.

Here's an idea of how good "Sherlock" is: 259 reviews on Amazon, and 247 of them are 4 star or better (224 are 5 star!)! Smart. Witty. Fast paced. Clever. Not suitable for young children, as the violence is dark, but not gratuitously so, and so far it is relatively "clean".  Martin Freeman's Dr. Watson is perhaps the best I've ever seen, and Benedict Cumberbatch pays tribute to Jeremy Brett's fearless high energy while making the role his very own.

Speaking of Sherlock, Gerard Van Der Leun of "American Digest", has a downloadable PDF of his book "The Quotable Sherlock Holmes" available free to his readers. Or, you can buy a print copy or the Kindle Edition on Amazon.  (I'll also take this opportunity to thank him for permission to keep and display the nifty "Welcome to Texas" Bilboard over on the left (my other left).

Other Greatest Hits of the BBC and PBS Mystery include Mr Palfrey of Westminster - a surprisingly clever (and believable) series about a cold war era consumate British spy catcher working within the heart of London to foil Russian efforts to undermine Western governments. Presents as a "cozy" but it is not.  The cloak and dagger deceptions extend even to his own staff, and Palfrey's counter-espionage skill will keep you guessing. It reminds me pleasantly of LeCarre's low-key approach.

I've written before about Inspector Lewis. It's still a favorite and I plan to buy the series soon. I'll watch this one for a long time. (P.S. Paul says "You forgot Lovejoy. You need to mention Lovejoy in there. It's still a favorite of your husband, who plans to buy the series soon." Hee!)

Once you get past the low budget cinematography, the BBC movies (actually mini-series - some are nearly 5 hours long) made from PD James' books that star Roy Marsden as Adam Dagliesh are very good. The two more recent, standard-length movies in which Martin Shaw is cast as Dagliesh, Death in Holy Orders and The Murder Room, are also excellent. Each man brings a different look at the complex poet-detective's personality.

I ordered a couple more neat dvds totalling less than $5 each with SuperSaver shipping, but I can't mention them here yet because I want to surprise Paul with them, and he reads Pecan Corner. Hi, Honey! Love you much! :-D

So what great media bargains have you found recently? Or have you discovered a fab British, Scots or Irish show that we all need to know about? Do tell!


  1. While reading your post, I went right to Netflix and put New Tricks, Sherlock, and Mr. Palfrey in my queue.

    My all time favorite video mystery series is Foyle's War. Great writing, wonderful cast, accurate history. You probably have seen them but, if not, I think you will enjoy!

  2. Oh goody! I hope you'll enjoy them!

    Foyle's War! Thank you for mentioning that awesome series. It is one of my very favorites too, and I rented it again and again on Netflix. It's also on my wish list! The girl who plays his driver calls to mind the young Queen Elizabeth, who was a driver as a member of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during WWII. And Michael Kitchen is so perfect for the part. I don't know how they do it, but the BBC certainly has the magic touch when it comes to casting dramas - perfect nearly every time.



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