It's August already, which means that the vast wasteland of summer television is about to turn into a flurry of new shows, and finally our favorites will be back on the air with new episodes. (I barely even remember where Heroes and Pushing Daisies left off, it's been so long!) So before your TiVo gets overstuffed with Knight Rider episodes, here are some things you should make a point to do ASAP. This way, you'll have something good to put in your mandatory "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" blog. Don't panic, people -- none of these ideas involve going outdoors. Heaven forbid. All you need is your computer, maybe Netflix and a DVD player to get started!
With the notable exceptions of The Office and American Idol, American translations of British TV shows do not have the best luck. U.S. remakes of Coupling and Life on Mars didn't last long on the air, and it seems like many attempts at do-overs don't even make it past the pilot stage. Still, NBC has announced that they will remake the British series Prime Suspect, a crime drama about a female police detective played by Academy Award-winner Helen Mirren. Now, it may turn out to be really good, but we don't have high hopes because, without the talented Mirren (who earned two Emmys for the role), it'll just be another murder investigation series, of which there are plenty on American TV already. No, we think it's time the networks followed NBC's lead with Merlin and started broadcasting all of the British series that they're so excited to remake -- after all, most of the lead actors on TV this fall are British, faking American accents, so why not show them in their natural habitats? We've got a list of British shows that deserve wider American viewership, whether it's on the networks or just from the DVDs. It's a small fraction of what's out there, but it's what we like right now. (Disclaimer: Some of these have aired on U.S. cable networks in the past, but hey, so was Prime Suspect, on PBS's Mystery and Masterpiece Theatre.)
The new Spaced DVD comes out today, and director Edgar Wright and writers/stars Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes are signing in New York as I write this, but they actually hit the Big Apple last night to host a screening and Q&A, and the event was a resounding success. There was a line of hopeful attendees stretching from 2nd Avenue all the way to 3rd Avenue (that's far, for you non-New Yorkers), and while not everyone in line was able to make it into the event (which was held at the small but pretty Village East Cinemas), Hynes, Pegg and Wright walked the length of the queue, shaking hands and posing for pictures with everyone who was waiting.
If you're a fan of the films of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) -- and who isn't, really? -- then you've probably heard of the British TV show they collaborated on from 1999-2001, called Spaced, starring Pegg as a comic book artist and Jessica Hynes (nee Stevenson) as his roommate-of-necessity. If you've seen it at all, it's likely on a region-free DVD player, a VHS tape, YouTube or (gasp!) a bootleg DVD -- but no longer. Spaced will come out on a Region 1 DVD on July 22!