This film is what I wanted the film Under the Tuscan Sun to be…a true experience of the culture, people and general “soul” of the place. The region of Provence in France is a beautiful region…similar to Italy’s Tuscany in the way people rave of its beauty and its scents and its postcard images. This series is based on the book of the same title by Peter Mayle, a former ad man in London who, along with his wife, decide to retires early in a farmhouse in Provence’s Luberon region. Mayle’s book became a sensation (mostly because it is about someone who actually does something that most people just dream of) just like Frances Mayes’ book about “escaping” to Italy…Under the Tuscan Sun. Unfortunately, the film version of Mayes’ book was changed into more of an exploration of romance instead of a study of Tuscany and its people. This TV version of Mayle’s book, on the other hand, is exactly what the book is…and more! When I say more, I do not mean to criticize Mayle’s beautiful book in any way. I just mean that SEEING Provence in its full glory surpasses the written word some. And what sights you see here! A Year in Provence is filled with the “air” of Provence…the images, the language, the smells, the culture, etc. This is a FUN time…there is something for everybody: scenery, humor, culture, beauty. How can you miss!

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Dr. Tony Hill is a psychologist. A pretty dang quirky one. He talks to himself. He tries to work out his cases by posing as both the criminal and the doctor. He’s a little strange…but boy is he clever. He plods and thinks and analyzes and examines and will not stop until he has solved the puzzle…always one step ahead of both the criminal and the police. Working with him is Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan who has a pretty major crush on Dr. Hill (and vice-versa) but neither will ever let anything happen. They are both too professional for that. But, as a crime-solving duo, they work together flawlessly. DCI Jordan calls Dr. Hill in on special cases…stumpers — mostly multiple murder cases or serial killings. Hill can almost “get inside” or see inside the brain of the killer. In the first case, Dr. Hill gets more than he bargains for when he helps DCI Jordan on a serial killing case and he gets targeted by the killer and captured and tortured. Does Jordan save him in time? Well, let’s just say that the series goes on.

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Ray Winstone embodies what all police want to be. He’s good at what he does. He’s great with the ladies. And he looks cool while doing it all. Vincent is an excellent show that really gets into the persona of the detective. Many cop shows brush on it…but this one gets inside. Winstone is an appeal, loveable yet slightly worn character that makes you wonder why he does what he does. But, when he starts solving crime, it all makes sense, since the puzzle pieces fall into place for him with such ease. A great show!

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A well-made British show about a vice cop who just cannot leave his work at the office. His passion for getting girls off of the streets consumes him…ruining every aspect of his personal and private life. Well-written and extremely well-acted by Ken Stott, who is best known for his work in another British show, Rebus. A must see for anyone crime TV aficionado!

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I’m only vaguely interested in history, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get into this one. I’m on season two and boy, am I hooked. It is riveting TV, even though much of the plot is known already. Henry is played with charm, charisma and a touch of evilness that makes it impossible to love him completely, but also impossible to turn away. His quest for power is addictive and the men (and women) around him seem to feed off of his need for world domination. Sexy and biting, this show is much more than just history. Now, whether it’s accurate in its historical tellings, that is something I will leave to the experts.

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What a wonderful, eccentric detective Detective Inspector Frost is. He’s a whip-smart guy who never lacks that witty comeback or that well-timed pun. He loathes paper-work and patronizes his boss whenever he has the chance. All in all, a perfect British crime solver. The seasons I watched were (1 and 2, I believe) filled with good mysteries. Ones where you don’t see the outcome right from the beginning, which is good because with those predictable ones, you’re bored a third of the way through. But, regardless of the crimes, Frost would be entertainment on his own. In season one, his wife is ill and eventually passes away. But, during even this tragedy, Frost holds onto his famed “edge” never leaving a missed opportunity for a quick, snappy remark. Some would call that in bad taste. I just call it funny. I mean the character is set-up so you never really do take him THAT seriously. Why would he let us down by getting all serious when his wife is ill. He is serious, though, as a crime solver. That is when he shapes up and means business. But, then again, he does find ample chance to “stick” quips to the criminals. Don’t you worry….

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Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison is one tough lady. She does not give up…no matter what the odds. She stands by her convictions and her beliefs no matter who tells her she is wrong or that she “can’t” do something. Basically, police do not come any stronger than she. In Prime Suspect 1, Tennison has been passed over several times for big cases, something she believes has to do with her being a woman. So, after a male counterpart dies at the beginning of a big murder investigation, Tennison insists on taking over the case. Once she gets what she wants, most of the men under her are quite a bit upset. But, she does not in anyway let that discourage the ferocity at which she handles the case. I mean, she gets discourage and even loses a live-in relationship because of her long hours and stress level. But, for the most part, she is able to keep it together enough to get her suspect, so to speak. If you like British detective shows, this one is a must.

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For a light, relaxing time in the Scottish Highlands, look no further than Monarch. But, sometimes, relaxing can be far from accurate…especially for new Laird of Glenbogle…Archie MacDonald. Archie was just another unassuming business owner in London…his girlfriend was also his business partner and they had a good, yet unadventurous relationship. Enter a sudden trip to the Highlands, where he finds out his family’s home and land is in threat of foreclosure…and Archie is forced (begrudgingly, at first) to become more of a Scotsman than a Londoner. The show is sweet and innocent…filled with colorful characters and breathtaking scenery of the Scottish landscape. A great show for all ages.

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A fast-paced, exciting show that keeps the audience on their edge of their seats; this show is about the British organization MI:5…which is the spy agency that handles all activities WITHIN Great Britain (MI:6, where James Bond works, is responsible for the activities OUTSIDE Britain). If this show is even 10% accurate on what a spy goes through and what spies have to deal with, it is frightening. Taking spying into the 21st Century, this show does a great job of utilizing all of the new technological gadgetry and true-life terror threats as background in their episodes. A great cast helps push this show over the top…it’s provocative, insightful, very topical and fascinating.

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First of all, I’m not a rough and outdoorsy type. I love (LOVE) to travel but the thought of heading to a place where the food consist of things I couldn’t even look at or the thought of being without modern (and sadly, essential) conveniences (like a coffee maker, laundry machine, etc.) or having to sleep outside among the dirt and animals and bugs (THE HORROR!) is just unthinkable to me. But, of course, my idea of travel is not the only one out there. Movie star Ewan McGregor and his pal Charley Boorman come up with a plan to drive motorcycles from London to New York eastbound, meaning the long way around. And, at over 20,000 miles, long is an understatement. In a trip that they estimated would take them three and a half months, they started several months before the departure getting financial backing for their worldwide quest. They accepted an offer to do an ongoing documentary for British TV, they organized a crew of producers and camera people who would be accompanying them (only one cameraperson rode with Ewan and Charley…the other crew members drove different routes in SUVs), they scouted out the best roads, they talked with officials of each of the countries, they exercised to get in shape, and on and on and on. The DVD set (two DVDs at approx. five hours) is the resulting documentary they produced and is simply fascinating to watch. There is a good hour of pre-trek information, but most of the documentary is spent with Ewan and Charley on the road….in Britain, France, Germany, Croatia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, and finally North America. Each country they go to and each minute they ride gets more and more captivating. It is a story of adventure, survival and most of all, friendship.

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