good tv you’re not watching

We all know about Game of Thrones, Orange Is The New Black, Mad Men, Downton Abbey, Homeland. .  .The breakout hits of this new television landscape in recent years. But there are some shows that are every bit as good and don’t get the same buzz for whatever reason. Whenever I mention them to friends I simply get blank stares back. Huh?  Let’s face it, in this landscape it’s hard to find shows amongst all the competition. But here are two to watch:

The Americans (FX):  I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this show in its very first episode. I don’t know if it is because I was a huge fan of Keri Russell since her Felicity days or had an instant kinship with the 80’s cold war setting (the days of my youth perfectly recreated down to the nth detail) that hooked me but boy, hook me it did. And four seasons in, the show has only gotten more intriguing, more surprising, more nail biting, more better and simply irresistible.

 

Outlander (Starz):  I’d never heard of the books that have been around for 25 years. I like many others don’t know if they qualify as romance novels, science fiction, historical fiction or what. But wow, do they make for good TV. Another period drama, this time set partially in the 1940’s but mostly in the late 1700’s (that’s the sci-fi element you’ll have to watch to understand) the show is a mix of romance novel casting (down to the beefcake hunk with a mop of curly hair playing opposite the fair skinned, dark haired beauty and a swashbuckling, uniformed villain), painstakingly accurate historical detail and riveting story that can be as sexy as it is disturbing and everything in between, that defies easy categorization. Don’t be fooled, however, this show is fearlessly acted, thought-provokingly produced and well worth a binge watch to catch up for the season two finale next Saturday (July 9) evening.

Want a little more unexpected good TV from days gone by?  Here are a few more shows that have garnered that same blank stare reaction that I promise are worth a download:

Warehouse 13:  Long ago, I stumbled upon a little known TV show on the Syfy Network. It was a crazy leap of faith time travel dramedy rooted in history with just enough Moonlighting thrown in to make the show oddly romantic and zany. I loved its twist on historical objects and watched faithfully to the very last episode.

 

The Tudors:  The first of the period cable dramas I ever binged watched, chronicling the reign of Henry VIII in full technicolor glory. Not only did I watch, but i became so fascinated by the history I went on to read every book about Henry VIII I could get my hands on stumbling upon one of my favorite reads of all time, The Autobiography of Henry VIII.

Mistresses:  This original British series following friends who live an unabashedly modern and adulterous lifestyle was disappointingly short lived and had the most ingenious 9/11 plot turn of all time — something that was perfectly timed and only to be pulled off in another country.  Puts any Real Housewives show to shame as only a scripted drama can.

passion for food

mind of a chef graphicThe number one thing I admire in a person is passion. It’s so sexy to see somebody completely enthralled by the doing of something that turns them on.

The Mind of A Chef, a superb television show produced and narrated by Anthony Bourdain celebrates the passion of some of the world’s most talented chefs. They are nothing if not passionate about what they do. And all completely different from one another.

Every time I watch the show, done is a series format with several episodes concentrating on one chef cooking with friends, highlighting the foods that are special to them and if we’re lucky, seeing into the heart of their kitchens, I am convinced that each featured chef is my new favorite. April Bloomfield goes without saying. I’ve been eating in her restaurants for years. I was completely blown away by the quiet demeanor and expansive knowledge of Kentuckian Ed Lee. And now I am obsessed with dining at the Swedish restaurant of Chef Magnus Nilsson — a 12  seat, 20+ course tasting menu affair choreographed down to the minutest detail, served in a barn some 375 miles north of Stockholm. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there but watch and you’ll see why it sounds like a must do experience.

The Mind of a Chef airs on PBS. Check your local listings for showtimes or catch past seasons on Netflix. And don’t miss the bonus scene after the credits roll.