What I watched in January

Obviously, in lockdown, everything is watched on the small screen but apart from news and politics programmes I rarely watch anything at the time it’s aired. Catch-up services of various kinds are my friends. Absolute favourites last month were Spiral (cop drama), Whisky Galore (classic comedy) and the New Year concert. By the way, it appears neither Word nor WordPress approve of the Brit spelling of ‘favourite’ – I can assure them (and you) that it’s correct.

TV series:


Crime favourites

Spiral Season 8. *****
(ten one hour episodes shown 2 at a time on BBC4) My all time favourite cop show. I think it’s all currently available on iPlayer (UK) but be warned, there are 8 seasons, you need to watch them in sequence, and iPlayer sometimes removes things at the drop of a hat. I’m devastated that it’s all over. Because there was no filming some years, and the show started in 2006 so no wonder it felt like part of my life. For anyone who doesn’t already know, it’s a French cops’n’lawyers saga (with subtitles) with both groups trying to protect Paris from a very seedy underworld by sometimes rather shady means. Although there are various romance elements from time to time, the main focus is on the relationships between Laure and Gilou (cops) and Josephine and Edelman (lawyers). The brilliant judge, Roban, was written out of the final season. A few cops and lawyers were written out earlier. The complex characters and the gritty criminal cases made for compulsive viewing as did the brilliant acting and direction.

Traces****
We really enjoyed this six one hour episode Brit crime series on BBC1. Since watching, we’ve learnt that although ostensibly set in Dundee it was in fact filmed in North West England. It’s based on a book by acclaimed crime novelist Val McDermid, and the main focus is on the forensic teams rather than the police though Martin Compston from Line of Duty makes a good policeman character again. Available on iPlayer in UK. I read yesterday that another show based on a McDermid book set in Scotland is being filmed.

The Bay Season 2 ****
Another Brit series set in Morecambe Bay. I abandoned the first season because of unbelievably stupid policing, but husband liked it so I gave the second season a chance and quite enjoyed it. Available on ITV Hub (UK) and you don’t need to watch Season 1 to make sense of Season 2. Six  one hour episodes per season.

All the Sins Season 1 ****
Finnish detective drama on Channel 4 with very flawed detectives: a gay man who has been abusing his partner and a woman who shot her abusive husband then left their daughter to be brought up by her grandmother. Interesting serial killer case set in Finland’s ‘bible belt’ with lots of discussion about rights both re religious belief and re feminism. Nice shots of the apparently very flat Finnish countryside and some exploration of Finnish culture. Six 45minute episodes, in Finnish with subtitles, and there is another season but it seems it’s a kind of prequel, with a different detective pair so I haven’t decided yet whether to watch it. Both seasons are currently available on All4 (UK)

Drama favourites

Whisky Galore ***** (rewatch) The famous Brit comedy about a shipwreck off the Hebridean coast during WWII. Black and white, with lots of actors you’ll recognise including a young Gordon Jackson and a middle aged James Robertson Justice. Hilarious, beautifully timed comedy. This must have been the original inspiration for Dad’s Army. I thought it might not be as good the third time round but if anything it was better. Still available on iPlayer (UK) for about a fortnight but you can’t download, just stream. About 90minutes.

Revolution of the Daleks**** The New Year Special episode of Dr Who. I suppose it was all right. I like the current Doctor but find her surrounded by far too many extra companions. I’m not sure I wanted yet more daleks.

Comedy favourite 

The Vicar of Dibley in Lockdown**** Three ten minute episodes with the vicar trying to do everything via Zoom. Very funny and available on iPlayer for another 10 months.  

Music favourites

New Year Concert from Vienna***** Gorgeous. Previously reviewed separately in more detail. (No longer available to download or stream)

Dolly Parton: 50 years at the Opry**** I enjoy Country Music and I admire Dolly Parton. This was a nice way to spend an evening – 75 minutes on BBC 2 celebrating 50 years of Dolly and her music. However, I would have liked to hear more songs in full. The programme is available for another couple of months on iPlayer (UK)

The photograph is of January skies in Aachen from a friend’s house. No photoshopping other than cropping and resizing.    

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