#AtoZChallenge Entertainament! TV Talk

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By Tomascastelazo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Time for TV Talk! Which is all about entertainment. Which starts with an E. What’s that, hypothetical reader?

It’s totally legitimate! Entertainment IS an e-word and today’s show, “Chewing Gum” is A++ entertaining. There’s no such grade as A++?

There is now.

So “Chewing Gum” is a British comedy created by, written by and stars Michaela Coel. You might recognize her from the British show “The Aliens.”

No, hypothetical reader, you don’t? Come on now, I’m not the only person who watched that show. Probably.

It’s a good show, but back to “Chewing Gum.” It also features Susan Wokoma, who appeared in the equally brilliant “Crazy Heads,” and “Crashing.” Wokoma, like Coel, is a natural comedian, and so, with this show you have that magical combination of perfect, precise performance coupled with witty, razor-sharp material.

I told you it was A++.

Coel stars as Tracey, who lives on a housing estate (the flowery UKian term for public housing) with her mother and sister, Wokoma. She navigates the awkward moments of young adulthood in excruciatingly hilarious comic fashion, written with just the right amount of push and restraint.

I admit I’m a sucker for the shows written by the stars, something that seems to happen regularly in the UK. It allows for such a range of talent, and the material is always so suited to the performances.

Two seasons (series on the other side of the Atlantic) of “Chewing Gum” are available on Netflix US, and you need to start watching it now. Small caveat, though: like many British shows, a series is just six episodes.

Use them wisely.

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Putting the Period in Period Drama

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I have been obsessed with period dramas recently. British period dramas (though that might be a bit redundant. Can something be a bit redundant? Hmm).

I have absolutely no idea why. I’m not a person with a shiny nostalgia for the days long past. I know well enough–mostly from watching period dramas, I guess–that not everyone was the lady in the fancy clothes imported from France. And even she had her constraints, not the least of which was her corset.

But still, there’s something about them, something about opening a television-sized window into the past, thinking about the day-to-day lives of people from a hundred years ago as people, not as hazy lines of paint in the works of the impressionists.

It’s a way of remembering that, all the way along, people have simply been people. They were not bustles or feather-and-ribbon-laden hats. They were not horse-drawn carriages or cobbled streets.

They were simply people. As are we.

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Time Travel with ‘London Hospital’

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I’ve started watching a British period show, “London Hospital.” Just a warning, if you’re squeamish, be prepared, there are some graphic bits about medical procedures.

Anyway, it’s set around 1906 in the great London Hospital (now the Royal London Hospital). It grabbed me because I adore the show “Call the Midwife,” and the London is a character there as well, serving the poor East End half a century later.

So there it stands, the stalwart hospital. Since 1740.

Imagine that. A hospital in service for nearly 275 years. There’s a new building now, of course, I looked it up, it’s a great big shiny expanse of glass and steel, clean, antiseptic.

But it’s still the same institution, in spirit. It’s incredible to see how brutal medicine looked just over a century ago, how mystifying and obstinate ailments morphed into things we easily tame today, like dehydration.

And I can’t help but think, in a hundred years from now, how brutal our medicine will look, how people will marvel at how easily they tame our most resistant problems. Science is a never-ending journey, and even we have a long, long way to go.

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My Heart Belongs to British TV

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I’ve got a problem. I’m utterly, hopelessly addicted to British television. The comedies. The dramas. The dramadies. I love it all.

All.

It’s gotten so ridiculous, I sometimes think in a British accent. I think that might possibly mean I’m overdosing. And I also think that might possibly mean I’m not so sure I care.

A combination of factors make it so irresistible. There are the locations, from Cornwall, spectacularly showcased in “Doc Martin,” to the most consistent character of “Monarch of the Glen,” the Scottish Highlands. There are the storylines, often tight, nearly always concluded.

And then there are the actors. In the U.S., actors seem to be chosen for their appearance, primarily. An ability to act is often a bonus feature. British actors tend to look like people, not burnished Plasticine, and seem to get the roles not because they look the part, but because they can transform the part.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some amazing shows here, but unlike “Breaking Bad,” “Luther” is no anomaly in the British TV landscape.

Also, it’s where we get “Doctor Who.” So there’s that.