I agreed with a friend some months ago when he said, “This is the golden age of television.” It may get worse, but I’m not sure it can get much better, at least for those who like to stream fictional series.
My latest example of this abundance of quality is the spectacular World War II French series “A French Village,” telling the story of a small town in Southern France and how its people were affected by German occupation. We often get the mistaken impression that nearly all French citizens were members of the Resistance during the war. That is wildly wrong. Most simply tried to survive, to buy food and coal, to protect their children. They cooperated with the Nazis and many collaborated with them, especially those among the wealthier French citizens. They sold out the Jews, even as they learned the Nazis weren’t sending them to happy little camps in the Alps.
“A French Village” reflects the stories of those ordinary people who faced challenges daily from an oppressive, often violent and cruel government, often led by their own people, especially the French police who were as close as you can get to Nazis without wearing the armband.
The series has “great movie” written all over it from the period look to the wonderful ensemble cast, to precise direction, lighting and sound. The subtitles are not only legible but easy to follow, a rarity among TV series, which most often use small type that flashes quickly.
This ranks with series like “Deadwood,” “Madmen,” “Fringe,” “The Amazing Mrs. Maizel,” “Justified,” “Olive Kitteridge,” “Rectify,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Queen,” “Hinterlands,” “The Bletchley Circle,” “Endeavour,” “The Killing,” “Babylon Berlin,” “Black Earth Rising,” “Cable Girls,” “Broadchurch,” “Keeping Faith,” “A Place To Call Home,” “Rake,” “Renoir,” “Wallander” (either the Swedish or British versions), “Happy Valley,” and a whole bunch more.
The problem with streaming TV shows is that it will definitely cut into reading time. I went from two books a month to six a year just like that. But the simple fact is that some of these series are so long that they can capture the details of a good novel in a way movies never could. It’s a good choice to have.