You know how the Guardian had that handy series called ‘Your Next Box Set’? Yeah, well this is the opposite of that – I need YOU to tell ME what I should watch next. I've just finished watching the final, seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am feeling a little lost. In the past, there has always been a new season of Mad Men or Game of Thrones to get into, or something on the list of vintage TV series which has handily filled the gap.
But now... nothing. A big, scary void in my evening's viewing entertainment. I'm distraught enough at the thought of no more Buffy and co. adventures, and facing the future without an exciting new world to immerse myself in is just too depressing. (And no, I don't want to get out more thanks very much, I like festering on the sofa.) So, will you, kind readers, give me some suggestions for what to watch next please? Here's a little about my TV tastes...
Anything set in the past...
The House of Eliott
Amazing proto-feminist BBC costume drama (complete with wobbly sets) about two genteel young ladies who are left facing financial ruin when their selfish father dies having squandered the family fortune. They have no suitable skills for paid employment, so the younger, pretty one (Evie) has one way out of poverty - to marry their sleazy cousin Arthur. And her elder sister Bea will probably have to be a paid companion to a grouchy old woman as she's 'too old' to marry.
But the girls can sew! And so they start their own business making dresses for society dames, and they cut their hair, and have boyfriends, and dance and drink and it's all very exciting and empowering. Social issues and pretty frocks - how could I resist?
Oh I really don't need to tell you why I love Mad Men, do I? One of the best things to be on television, ever, the snappy dialogue, the conflicted characters, the costumes - all so, so seductive. Pete Campbell is and always will be my favourite character, so there.
Pre-Downton, this was the benchmark for glorious, lavish period dramas. Television shows used to feature quality actors who you couldn't recognise (unlike today's dire 'Marples' which always have Martine McCutcheon or Jamie Theakston making camp cameo appearances) and this allowed you to be absorbed utterly into their story. There will never be another show like Brideshead, with its beautiful boys, stunning houses and air of doomed decadence.
Love In A Cold Climate
This 1980 TV series was a slightly odd amalgam of Nancy Mitford's two novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, but with a stellar cast including Judy Dench as the delightfully vague Aunt Sadie and Anthony Head (GILES!) as Tony Kroesig. We watched this over the gap between Christmas and New Year last year and it was just perfect.
Poirot and Miss Marple
I've watched every single Poirot and Miss Marple in existence, including the crappy ones starring Peter Ustinov, shudder... But obviously it's the David Suchet and Joan Hickson masterpieces that I revisit again and again, to the point where I can tell which one it is within the first five seconds now. Sad.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
In a funny way, I'm quite glad I came to Buffy later in life. I was vaguely aware of it during my teenage years, but never settled down to watch it properly. Having thrown myself into the world of Sunnydale and the Hellmouth for the past almost two years, I know totally get why people write their English Lit. Masters dissertations on 'Representations of Shakespeare in Buffy the Vampire Slayer' (no joke, I actually saw this when I was doing my MA.)
Buffy's struggles, both as the Slayer and as a teenage girl dealing with death, loss, friendship and relationships, have stood the test of time wonderfully well. There's no show that has made me LOL or moved me to tears with more regularity. I wonder how long I ought to leave it before watching Season 1 again? Oh and tell me, Angel or Spike?
Ah Angel, Buffy's brooding, leather-jacket-clad vampire lover. I actually watched Angel before Buffy, which was probably a bit stupid, but never mind. I loved it and all the characters - and this is where we first encounter 'Pete Campbell' aka Vincent Kartheiser aka Connor, Angel's son!
Game of Thrones
I think I've said enough about GoT here.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Really, just for Lena Headey's arms. No, I'm kidding - this is an intense, gripping, fast-paced show with spectacular fight scenes, brain-bending concepts (from the future, from the past, no wait, the future, urghhh) AND Shirley Manson from Garbage playing a molten-metal-cyborg-boss-bitch!
Actually, confession time: I didn't really love Twin Peaks. It was just too... weird seems too obvious a word. I don't know, I love Agent Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne and her brilliantly sleazy dad (who keeps popping up as a villian in various episodes of Murder She Wrote - excellent typecasting!) but somehow the show didn't do it for me. Blasphemy, I know.
I love anything with a strong female protagonist (see: Buffy, Sarah Connor, Bea and Evie Eliott) where they're battling the odds and ultimately triumphing over adversity.
I DON'T LIKE:
Anything contemporary – things set in the here and now. Too much reality! Yuck! Obviously if it’s set now, but with a fantasy/sci-fi element like Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, that’s absolutely fine. So I think things like The Wire, The Sopranos and The West Wing are out - gritty, modern day stuff stresses me out. If you want to show me grisly murders they need to be wearing period costumes please.
I've been enjoying the odd episode of Parks and Recreation on BBC3 and think it's gently funny and sweet - should I watch the whole thing from the beginning?
Please share your suggestions below - I can't be left alone with my brain to think or read for too much longer - I need something to watch!