by Kathleen Costa
BritBox Is My Option
In my experience, it is akin to going from albums to 8-track, from cassettes to CDs, and now downloading your favorite tunes to your iPod. Don’t get me started on radios to record players to tape decks to…I still have my Walkman! And, for visual entertainment we may be seeing television networks as obsolete and online streaming the way of the future. There are several online streaming options for fans of a particular genre with sitcoms, dramas, documentaries, and movies to fulfill any interest. I am an eager Anglophile, therefore I have joined two streaming communities of U.K. productions. One membership is to BritBox, and I am extremely satisfied with their programming of old favorites and “new-to-me” shows with excellent video/audio quality, and the $6.99 monthly membership is easily absorbed into my budget…I just forego a Starbuck’s treat or two. Check out the 7-day free trial at BritBox/US.
I have a serious passion for detective, courtroom, and forensic dramadies (drama with a bit of humor), and like U.S. personal favorites Psych, Monk, and all things Hallmark Mysteries & Movies, I have found several shows to satisfy my Anglophilia on BritBox. Currently running are two bittersweet favorites: The Coroner (two seasons; twenty 45-minute episodes) and a new-to-me favorite Gil Mayo Mysteries (one season, eight 60-minute episodes). Each episode in these two series deal with a specific suspicious death, witnesses and suspects, and a satisfying conclusion, but more engaging are the interactions and connections between the main characters. My only complaint is that both shows were not renewed, but BritBox has provided the complete series for both giving me a delightful binging opportunity.
The Coroner Takes the Lead!
For two seasons (2015-2016), paraphrasing BritBox statements, “Jane Kennedy is a high-flying solicitor who returns to the small town she escaped as a teenager. As the coroner, she is the advocate for the dead investigating intriguing cases of sudden, violent, or unexplained deaths against the stunning backdrop of the English seaside.” That’s for me! I was absolutely intrigued and delighted to find that The Coroner is a light-hearted, cozy-style program combining detective and forensic perspectives. It definitely treads gently on the grisly nature of crime with rare “in your face” corpses or autopsies. The investigations deal primarily with the impact to the family and community, hunting down clues, informal and formal interrogations, and a close connection between the coroner and local law enforcement. Entertaining! Engaging! Clever! Well-worth the Time!
Along with clever mysteries being investigated with her assistant Clint Holman (Oliver Gemma), Jane Kennedy (Claire Goose) is raising teenager Beth (Grace Hogg-Robinson) who wants independence and purple streaks in her hair, living with her mother Judith (Beatie Edney) whose intimate affair with the local pub owner Mick Sturrock (Ivan Kaye) can at times be noisy, and navigating the past, possibly rekindling, relationship with her law enforcement partner DS Davey Higgins (Matt Bardock). The main and episodic characters are realistic with some dysfunction that only makes the group fun to watch. The setting from the sea to the shore to the hills and woods that surround the fictional town in South Devon is bucket list-worthy. High praise from this Anglophile Cozy fan!
I’ll Have a Murder With “Mayo”!
For Season 1 (2006), BritBox states, “Detective Gil Mayo wise-cracks his way through murder mysteries while…surprise! He discovers that his new colleague is also his ex-love interest. Meanwhile, he must raise his precocious teenage daughter on his own.” Sounds great…and it certainly is. Adapted from the Gil Mayo Mystery novels by Marjorie Eccles, Detective Inspector Gil Mayo (Alistair McGowan) leads the Wistern Valley Police Incident Unit comprised of Detective Sergeant Alex Jones (Jessica Oyelowo), crime scene Officer Harriett Tate (Loo Brealey), and Detective Constable Martin Kite (Huw Rhys). Traveling from one crime scene to another in their mobile lab, the quartet use their own expertise and quirks to collaborate to uncover the truth behind some light and clever murders. But, watch out, Mayo will correct your grammar and punctuation faux pas (Of course, if it’s wrong!), ply you with a plethora of facts and tidbits about…everything (Fascinating facts I enjoyed), and display the crime scene with dolls, mini structures, and Scrabble titles (a clever strategy). Fun! Entertaining! Clever! The cliffhanger phone call won’t be addressed…Disappointing, but I knew the series wasn’t renewed.
I was very entertained by DI Mayo’s manner as he is also raising daughter/teenager Julie (Lucy Evans) which adds an endearing look at a positive father/daughter dynamic. The mother has up and left the two on their own, and it appears she may not return. So, the return of past girlfriend DS Jones is a nice budding, if contentiously fun, relationship. The filming locations in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, have a myriad of bucket-list destinations. Do you love Agatha Raisin? I see so many similarities that could make this a favorite, too. It may be a short series, but not short on enjoyment.
Other BritBox “Must See” Gems
Rosemary and Thyme (2003-2005; 24 episodes)
The Doctor Blake Mysteries (2016-2017; 16 episodes)
Father Brown (Original series 1974; 13 episodes)
Jonathan Creek (1997-1999, 2003, 2009, 2014, 2016; 32 episodes)
Life on Mars (2006-2007; 16 episodes)
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