The New British Invasion
January 02, 2013
Are you a Downton devotee? As the new season gets ready to debut, there are a lot of Americans who are waiting anxiously for the next twists and turns in this historical soap opera. The popularity of this British import should come as no surprise to those of us who have admired the quality of their television for years. But this is one of the first times that a show made by our cousins across the Atlantic has garnered the amount of attention that Downton Abbey has. Is this the beginning of a new British Invasion?
When I was a little girl, I remember my parents watching a show called Upstairs, Downstairs. I was way too young to appreciate something as sophisticated as that, but I remember being intrigued by the accents. One Sunday afternoon, I turned on PBS and saw a science fiction show with characters speaking with the same accent. Being a huge sci-fi fan, I was immediately hooked. The show was called Doctor Who, and seeing that series made me a lifelong British television fan.
Until recently, the only place that many people could see Brit TV was on PBS. Now, many other channels, like BBC America, are showing loads of British drama and comedy. Fans are also flocking to mystery shows like Sherlock and Wallander. And for the first time in my life, when I mention Doctor Who, more than a handful of people know what I am talking about (for nearly 25 years, I would get mostly blank looks when I mentioned The Doctor).
If you do not have cable, PBS remains your primary source for this type of television. However, there are many great series available on DVD here at the Library. Some are new and some are very old, but they are all worth checking out. In fact, you may be surprised at how many classic American shows were actually based on British originals (All in the Family and Who’s the Boss are just two examples). With the advent of the Internet and home video, we now have the opportunity to experience much more from all around the world. That has led to many shows, Americans might never have had the chance to see, becoming part of our own popular culture.
So as Downton Abbey gets ready to start up again, it might be a good time check out MCPL’s collection of British television. You might find another show you love just as much. And why not try something from another country as well. You never know what the Aussies and Canadians might be up to.