Off Topic Saturday – Nudity makes yet another thing better!

Jun 08

Off Topic Saturday – Nudity makes yet another thing better!

I have a LOT of interests and I’m hoping that they’re…of interest…to some of you!  To that end, I’m going to try to keep up with doing an “off topic saturday” post of things that I find particularly amusing or important.

My first one revolves around TV shows outside the US.  Because of things like iTunes, and the more global market, we now have access to the TV markets/shows of other countries.  I’m a nut for good entertainment, specifically TV and movies…and I’m here to tell you that the shows being produced outside the US are AMAZINGLY good.  I also believe that, due to the reasons I’ll discuss here, the shows often offer a much better viewing experience.  At the end of the post, I’ll offer up a batch of my favorites that you can see on iTunes.

Differences in the US and other TV markets:

  • Nudity – Yup…this is how I got away with that headline.  The shows outside the US aren’t porn or anything like that, but they have a MUCH more casual attitude towards nudity and even sex (less so than just simple nudity).  It simply makes things more realistic and doesn’t take you out of the plot or the moment.  Best example?  When a main character (female) is in a car accident and is rushed to the Emergency Room…in the US they are all working feverishly on her while she lays there in a lovely bra (if it’s past 9 pm) or just a sort of unbuttoned shirt.  It’s just so unrealistic…I’m constantly looking at a scene like that and saying…”ahh…well..they had to do that I guess..for the censors…looks so fake”.  Outside the US..they’d simply show the naked female’s body.  Full stop.  None of the children are harmed and the world doesn’t disintegrate into anarchy.  For me, it just makes the show seem more genuine and the characters more vulnerable and real.
  • Pacing – The US is all about “get in and get out” in 44 minutes so there’s 16 minutes of commercials.  We have a pace with our hour long programs, and the vast majority of them follow it to a “T”.  It normally doesn’t allow for anything to really develop on the slow burn.  We look for instant gratification and resolution at every turn.  Part of this problem is due to the next issue (format), but it’s also just sort of by design and it’s become the custom of the US’s TV writing.
  • Format – there are 2 formats available in the US: 22 minutes ad 44 minutes.  That’s about it.  ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING you do needs to be shoehorned into one of those formats.  Also, we have no mini series concept anymore.  Shows are just series and are either running with 10-20 episodes and multiple seasons…or they’re not on.  Special TV films or shows have also fallen out of fashion.  The perception is that a “made for TV movie” in the US is of poor quality.  That is FAR from the case outside the US.  When you’re not having to fit into the confines of the US market, you have (it seems) pretty much complete freedom over your format.  Mini series (3, 90 minute episodes and done)? Check, TV season made up of 3 shows each 90 minutes? check, Special event show 2 hours and done? check, 25 minutes, 50 minutes, 87 minutes?? check, check, check.  It’s whatever you want and whatever you think “fits”.  This also helps address the pacing issue.  When you release yourself from a box that you have to conform to, you can relax the pacing rules too.
  • Talent – Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Laurie, Martin Freeman, Judy Dench, Elizabeth Moss, Holly Hunter…you get the picture.  These are just the international well known doing TV series outside the US.  The caliber of acting is, in my opinion, simply BETTER overall than the US.

Some of my favorite TV outside the US – ALL available on itunes

  • The Bletchley Circle – What an AMAZING treat!  Set in 1950′s London, it’s about a group of women who were code breakers in WWII as they set out to solve a murder.  It’s 3 , 45 minute episodes and you wish it was a lot more.  Can you imagine pitching this concept in the US..err..no
  • Continuum – GREAT Scifi from Canada
  • Copper – NY cops in the late 1800′s – great stuff
  • Sherlock – THIS is CRAZY good from the BBC.  Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson…yes please.  3 episodes each “season” each like a movie
  • MI-5 – Britain’s FBI , don’t get too attached to the characters though…geeze…
  • Orphan Black – New scifi (sort of anyway) with an VERY talented actress playing the lead
  • Top of The Lake – New Zealand show, sort of a mini series, it was 6-7 episodes and it’s over.  With Holly Hunter and Elizabeth Moss.  Scenery, plot, acting (the unknown to me New Zealand actors were AWESOME), it has it all.
  • Being Human – The US redid this and the remake is good…but the original is better.  The first 3 seasons anyway.
  • The Secret of Crickley Hall – Just 3 episodes 1 hour each…a true mini series…a GREAT old fashioned ghost story…most excellent!
  • Wire in the Blood – My favorite for last – This is an older show that ran for 6 seasons.  Each season is 3-6 episodes and 90 minutes each.  It stars Robson Green who you rarely see in the US.  The slow burn pacing and non resolved issues (won’t spoil them) that are threads throughout the series are the hallmark of what makes TV outside the US so great.

There are SO many more, but enjoy these and let me know your favorites!

11 comments

  1. Couldn’t agree more! Great shows all around. Sherlock is riveting in its modern retelling and always leaves me wanting more episodes. Since you’re clearly on a BBC kick, the new Doctor Who is great, also (especially the first 4 seasons with Chris Eccleston and David Tennant). Another country up and coming (at least with film) is South Korea: check out “Doomsday Book” for a compelling scifi trilogy full of existential angst.

  2. Steve,
    I do not have a lot of time for TV so I pick my viewing carefully. Now you made it tougher as here in Canada we do not have the same selection as you do in the States unless you want to pay a small fortune in cable or satellite fees. The shows I have access to I will check out. MI-5, Sherlock and Orphan Black look like good choices although overall our tastes in programming seem to match up. I think I will have to research accessing on line TV.

  3. Great post, agree with you.

    Plus most of the remakes in USA are not up to the original.

    One exception I have seen lately, is House of Cards – the original UK version was very very good, series about a devious politician, lots of twists and turns.

    The US remake stars Kevin Spacy and is equally as good.

    Cheers

  4. Claudio /

    what about music!!!!!!!!
    in any club in Europe you hear music from Spain, Germany, Italy, UK, etc.
    IN the US you barely hear any from Europe besides UK pop hits.

    • Merton /

      Claudio I have to agree with you. It seems there are alot of talented artists outside the US.

      It ashame that they rarely get air play here.

  5. Oh… a butt. Well I was way off… here I thought it was a play on words about some Existential introspective gobbledygook about revealing more of the true inner-self… phewy! Great stuff… enh, I can never find my pants anyway. And… seriously (speaking of not being able to find things) has anyone seen my marbles?

  6. Penny /

    I thought you said your new website was going to be about you being a closet writer. Come on!!!!!!!! Write something worth reading to most people.You know the comments you get are less than 9% of what your audience believes. Or dont you? You probably lost 80% of your audience, or at least 40% with this bs post. Freak

    • Hmm..I thought it was VERY interesting! My goal is to write about things that interest me…in the hopes that it will interest others. This post is something that interests me…mission accomplished. I am a freak, though…I’m certain of it.

    • Penny, why do you have to be offensive? If Steve wrote something that doesn’t interest you, go elsewhere, no-one has your fingers glued to this site.

      Normally when someone comments with this sort of remark its merely showing their level of immaturity.

      Don’t worry, you’ll grow up and probably be charming adult.

  7. PBS (Masterpiece Theatre)is available in Canada and they always manage to come up with some great non-commercial products:
    “Downton Abbey for the past few seasons and “Mr Selfridge” this past Spring. “Inspector Lewis” and “Silk”.

    Whilst they are not created here, they are certainly available, best of all, with out commercials.

    Stations? There is Knowledge in Vancouver and PBS out of Boston.

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