We’re in the Golden Age of television dramas

Screen shot from Broadchurch, Season 2, with David Tennant and Olivia Colman.

Screen shot from Broadchurch, Season 2, with David Tennant and Olivia Colman

On Wednesday, after teaching an evening class and heating up some leftover Chinese food for a late dinner, I wanted to watch something halfway decent on television for an hour. Fortunately, I had recorded the evening’s episode of Broadchurch (BBC America), a British crime drama set in a small coastal community, full of complicated relationships and interesting, intense, edgy characters. The show co-stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman as detectives dealing with a murder case that has shaken them and the local citizenry.

Broadchurch is an excellent show, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. With all the choices available to us, I am reminded once again: We are in the Golden Age of TV dramas. There is so much good stuff on the small screen right now! Between network fare, cable offerings, public television, DVDs, and streaming services. the options seem endless. Even someone on a tight budget can squeeze a lot of good TV dramas out of a Netflix subscription and the Internet.

I especially enjoy crime and suspense dramas, so right now I’ve also got The Americans, Gotham, Scorpion, and Blue Bloods on my DVR list. I’m a big fan of Mad Men, and I’m already lamenting the series conclusion in a few weeks. As I wrote a few weeks ago, Downton Abbey has become a big favorite as well. I’ve saved the first three episodes of PBS’s Wolf Hall, and I anticipate doing a binge view when time allows.

The variety on TV is such that I’m pretty selective about what I watch. I don’t mean that in a snobby sense — there are plenty of shows that get better reviews than, say, Major Crimes, which I happen to enjoy — so it’s more about what strikes my fancy than what’s getting raves from the critics. Even a cultural Golden Age needs its middlebrow followers.

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