Dark Days — Dark Horse

As the dark days of December continue it made me think of dark horses. Do you have a favorite book/TV show/movie that you loved that you don’t think enough people know about?

Julie: This is such a great question, and I’ll bet the readers are going to get a great list out of the Wickeds. Some of my “more people should know about this” delights of late include S.G. Wong’s Lola Starke series, a 30’s noir alternate reality mystery. Another dark horse is the Australian TV series Mr. and Mrs. Murder, which only lasted one season. The crime scene cleaners solve cases with Nick and Nora Charles banter.

Liz: Fun question, Sherry! I really have become obsessed with British crime dramas, and Broadchurch was hands down one of the best. There were three seasons, but the first one was my favorite – hard subject matter, but riveting.

Edith/Maddie: We LOVED Broadchurch, Liz. Unforgotten is another fabulous British crime series, with the amazing Nicola Walker (and Sanjeev Bhaskar) working on one cold case per season. And if folks haven’t watched Shetland yet – based on the Ann Cleeves’s novels by the same name – you should!

Jessie: I love this question too! I absolutely adore the Emma Graham novels by Martha Grimes and have yet to meet anyone else who read them. As for television, I really enjoyed the single season of Battle Creek, a cop show set in the city of the same name in which I lived as a kindergartener. I still wonder what would have happened to those characters if the show had continued.

Barb: For books that didn’t get their due, I loved Rebecca Pawel’s Carlos Tejada Investigation series, which begins with The Death of a Nationalist in 1939 in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. There are four books in the series, which ends in 1945, each taking place in a different region of Spain. For television series, I recommend Borgen, about a fictional, female Danish prime minister, which was recommended to us by Lucy Burdette and her husband. While not normally a fan of subtitles, I was all in on this one. And, I think I have finally internalized how parliamentary government works. I mean I get it intellectually, but this is a wonderful inside look. There are three seasons on Netflix with a fourth coming soon.

Sherry: I didn’t realize how much I’d be adding to my TBR and TBW list with this question. I swear every TV show I like gets canceled. I loved Timeless but there were only two seasons and a movie to wrap it up. NBC.com has episodes available. Another fun show was Take Two about a actress who played a cop on TV and then works for a PI.

Readers: How about you?

28 Thoughts

  1. When I was in early grade school, our “reader” book had a story in it called Dark Horse. It was near the end of the book and we were all very excited about reading it. The anticipation was contagious to us all! This title today caught my eye specifically for that reason and I am very far past grade school. and so are my grandchildren! I have to agree that the British show, “Unforgotten” has to be one of my favorites but, alas, there is little on tv that is very exciting nowadays. Good reason for reading!

  2. I share the enthusiasm from Edith and Doris A. Clegg about Unforgotten. You can download Chris Lang’s scripts at https://www.chrislang.co.uk/scripts/. Excellent way to see how he crafted the pitches and storylines.

    Scripts provide examples of breakout techniques. For example, I have a free subscription to The Script Lab (https://thescriptlab.com). Dozens of downloads available, and the posts give writing tips.

    If you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan, check out the film The 39 Steps.

  3. With streaming services, are there really any unknown tv shows/movies anymore? A few years ago only Canadians knew about Schitt’s Creek. Once it went to Netflix, the rest of the world did.

    Covid also brought shows to people’s attention. Since no shows were being produced, networks bought shows from other countries.

    But if I had to pick a show, it would be Wentworth, an Australian show (can be seen on Netflix) about women prisoners. It’s a remake of another Australian show (Prisoner or Prisoner: Cell Block H or Caged Women – depending on where it was being shown). The original has close to 700 episodes so it would take a lifetime to binge. Wentworth has 100 episodes.

  4. There was a show we saw on Netflix – the Diplomats, maybe. It was about the US embassy staff, including the ambassador, it some fictional Middle East country, very small, not a prestigious post. It was funny as heck, but I think it was canceled after one season.

  5. I thought I was the only one who watched Battle Creek and Take Two. I loved those shows.

  6. We have watched Death In Paradise through all the lead character changes…and it is still good and in production. The BBC and Australian Networks always seem to come up with interesting mysteries: My Life is Murder; Mr and Mrs Murder (we liked that one, too Julie); Brokenwood; New Tricks; Inspector Lewis…oh, so many more. And, we liked the show Unforgettable with Poppy Montgomery in the lead as a person who could recreate a crime scene in her mind.

  7. OMG, I loved Timeless as well. That show actually was educational for me. I would find out about an event in history portrayed in that particular episode and look it up online and find out about it .

  8. I LOVED Mr. And Mrs. Murder! It’s an absolute crime it lasted only that single season. And Broadchurch? David Tennant and Olivia Colman at their absolute best!
    It also a fan of My Life is Murder, starring Lucy Lawless. For reality-based crime fiction, Manhunter, starring Martin Clines, is excellent.

  9. We enjoyed New Tricks, a British police show which lasted about 6 or 7 seasons. We stumbled on the dvds at our library.

  10. Well, there goes the book budget!

    I love to read series and immerse myself in the world of the book. For this reason, I tend to come late to books rather than be on the cutting edge. My biggest fear is picking up and loving a book only to discover that is the first and last from that writer. As for television, again, I come late to the series so I am able to binge the shows. Definitely not a trendsetter!

  11. I’m going to go with my usual answer – Babylon 5. Yes, it is scifi, but there are some big mysteries as part of the main story. It’s 90’s scifi with very early computer graphics and low budget. But the writing and acting more than make up for it. You do need to go through the first season, which has the highest cheese factor, but that season is important to introduce the characters and alien cultures that will drive much of the rest of the show.

    The huge thing about it? It did a five year story arc back when story arcs weren’t a thing on TV at all. Not only that, but it was a five year story arc. Things that were introduced in the first season come back into play in seasons 4 and 5.

    A potential reboot is underway, so more people might hear about it. Not sure how I feel about that since I love the original so much. It is available on HBO Max. Not sure if it is included with Amazon Prime any more or not. (I have neither and have owned the show on DVD since it was released on DVD.)

    As much as I love the story and the characters, I think one reason I love it so much is that I have never watched the show alone. I’ve always watched it with people who have become some of my closest friends. So the show is tied to all those good memories. That includes the friends I went to Hawaii with back in September.

  12. Mystery Road. Two seasons stream on Acorn TV and Amazon Prime. This is an Australian crime drama set in the outback starring Aaron Pedersen. Superb production, great scenery, very atmospheric.

  13. T’is the season and although I am a book fiend, I will bring up the movie “Christmas in the Clouds”, which few people know., but I adore!
    It is about a resort built and staffed by Indians,(Native American). The old chief, who is quite a character, has had a long-distance pen-pal romance with a widow. He does not know that she is a young and beautiful widow. She goes to see him under an assumed name and falls for his young, handsome son, who she thinks is her pen pal. He, in turn, thinks she is from a prestigious travel guide and tried to make a good impression. The actual rep from the guide is a real hapless curmudgeon. The movie a great comedy of errors, with good acting, including the fantastic Graham Greene, as the resort’s vegetarian chef who makes the guests feel guilty about their meal choices. There is also a running gag about all of the staff there reading the same Indian bodice-ripper, but there are touching moments as well. I wish more people could see it.
    Merry Christmas, my Friends!

  14. I enjoy Rizzoli and Isles. It is now on cable stations. I also enjoy the Murder She Baked/Hannah Swenson mysteries. Thank you so much. Merry Christmas.

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