1. Lost in Time - Britain’s Missing Television
Well - here we are. Finals are over and I am officially on Spring Break! That means that my obligation to this blog is no longer rewarded with good grades and praises and instead with my own pride and enjoyment in writing it!
The posting schedule is likely to shift by a few days, but I do have the full intentions of maintaining this blog for the foreseeable future! So where do we go from here? I vote we go back to the beginning - Doctor Who.
I know, I know. How many times can I possibly go on to you about Doctor Who, right? But the topic of this post is not Doctor Who itself - it’s part of the bizarre history of the good old BBC, a part that has resulted in devastation, frustration, and incredulity from its viewers.
As I’ve mentioned before, this year is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who's first airing on November 23, 1963. Naturally the BBC has been spending a lot of time recently trying to get people psyched for the 50th Anniversary special that will be airing later this year. Fair enough, right? The show has been on for fifty years, one would think there’s plenty of material.
Turns out that BBC’s past is coming to bite them in the ass. Out of the 790 episodes of Doctor Who that have been broadcast in the last half-decade, 106 of them are gone forever. The BBC is now desperately reaching out to fans, trying to locate these long-lost episodes which include such historic events as the First Doctor’s regeneration into the Second Doctor and the existence of a few companions. You may be wondering how - HOW?! - can one of the largest, oldest, most reputable television networks on this planet of ours could lose over a hundred episodes of a television show that many consider a British institution.
The sad reality is that Doctor Who is not alone. During the 1960s and 1970s, a staggering portion of classic British television was lost. Doctor Who's 106 missing episodes sounds bad, but there were entire programmes from this time period that are completely lost, only alive in stills and memory. There's no single culprit either - this tragedy can be blamed on everything from budget constraints, storage issues, and, in my opinion, a shocking lack of foresight.
Throughout this period, it was common practice to wipe original tapes and reuse them for new programmes as a cost-saving measure and poor storage conditions lead to significant degradation of BBC’s existing stores of film and video tapes. In fact, it wasn’t until 1978 that the BBC finally stopped their practices of wiping old tapes and destroying the copies!
As I mentioned earlier, this dark time in BBC’s history has long been a thorn in the side of fans of classic television. For years, fans and the BBC alike have been desperately searching for those programmes missing from their collection. It hasn’t been in vain - this search has turned up some gems from around the world. Unfortunately, these gems are pretty few and far between, so it seems pretty unlikely that all of these lost episodes will ever be found again.
At the end of the day, it’s pretty sad - historic episodes and entire programmes produced in the early days of British television are gone forever. The silver lining is that they’re not all gone, and if you do decide to delve into Classic Who, the remaining episodes are pretty easy to find. For us Whovians, it’s worth dealing with what’s missing to be able to embrace what’s left behind.
—————
Pictured above: the modern British Film Institute’s film storage facility. This level of storage is a far cry from the conditions that destroyed many tapes and film
    High Res

    Lost in Time - Britain’s Missing Television

    Well - here we are. Finals are over and I am officially on Spring Break! That means that my obligation to this blog is no longer rewarded with good grades and praises and instead with my own pride and enjoyment in writing it!

    The posting schedule is likely to shift by a few days, but I do have the full intentions of maintaining this blog for the foreseeable future! So where do we go from here? I vote we go back to the beginning - Doctor Who.

    I know, I know. How many times can I possibly go on to you about Doctor Who, right? But the topic of this post is not Doctor Who itself - it’s part of the bizarre history of the good old BBC, a part that has resulted in devastation, frustration, and incredulity from its viewers.

    As I’ve mentioned before, this year is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who's first airing on November 23, 1963. Naturally the BBC has been spending a lot of time recently trying to get people psyched for the 50th Anniversary special that will be airing later this year. Fair enough, right? The show has been on for fifty years, one would think there’s plenty of material.

    Turns out that BBC’s past is coming to bite them in the ass. Out of the 790 episodes of Doctor Who that have been broadcast in the last half-decade, 106 of them are gone forever. The BBC is now desperately reaching out to fans, trying to locate these long-lost episodes which include such historic events as the First Doctor’s regeneration into the Second Doctor and the existence of a few companions. You may be wondering how - HOW?! - can one of the largest, oldest, most reputable television networks on this planet of ours could lose over a hundred episodes of a television show that many consider a British institution.

    The sad reality is that Doctor Who is not alone. During the 1960s and 1970s, a staggering portion of classic British television was lost. Doctor Who's 106 missing episodes sounds bad, but there were entire programmes from this time period that are completely lost, only alive in stills and memory. There's no single culprit either - this tragedy can be blamed on everything from budget constraints, storage issues, and, in my opinion, a shocking lack of foresight.

    Throughout this period, it was common practice to wipe original tapes and reuse them for new programmes as a cost-saving measure and poor storage conditions lead to significant degradation of BBC’s existing stores of film and video tapes. In fact, it wasn’t until 1978 that the BBC finally stopped their practices of wiping old tapes and destroying the copies!

    As I mentioned earlier, this dark time in BBC’s history has long been a thorn in the side of fans of classic television. For years, fans and the BBC alike have been desperately searching for those programmes missing from their collection. It hasn’t been in vain - this search has turned up some gems from around the world. Unfortunately, these gems are pretty few and far between, so it seems pretty unlikely that all of these lost episodes will ever be found again.

    At the end of the day, it’s pretty sad - historic episodes and entire programmes produced in the early days of British television are gone forever. The silver lining is that they’re not all gone, and if you do decide to delve into Classic Who, the remaining episodes are pretty easy to find. For us Whovians, it’s worth dealing with what’s missing to be able to embrace what’s left behind.

    —————

    Pictured above: the modern British Film Institute’s film storage facility. This level of storage is a far cry from the conditions that destroyed many tapes and film

  2. The Brits* Talk Back
Most of the time, you get to listen to me ramble about how I, an American, feel about British television. This week I wanted to bring you something different, so this is when the Brits get their say. On Wednesday, you heard from my best friend Michelle as she filled you in on Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day. 
Today, I asked a few United Kingdom natives to give me some feedback about their own television. The responses are from Charlie of Nottingham, Michelle of Hartfordshire, and Rebecca of Northern Ireland.
When you think of British television, what’s the first thing that springs to mind and why?
Rebecca:Comedy. It’s the most unique aspect of British television’s identity and is very ‘silly’, just watch Monty Python, or Blackadder, which, despite its wit and sharpness still falls back on over the top characters or silly situations. There is also an almost obscurity to some of the humour that I imagine would be tricky to transfer to other cultures as it is a small island, so jokes from Doctor Who at ITV1’s expense may be lost on those in America, yet in an American sitcom a joke about Walmart would still be laughed at over here, despite the fact that there are no Walmarts in the UK, because American culture is well known. The goofy, almost in-jokes, of British humour is what makes British television unique.
Michelle:Doctor Who. It’s a practically a British institution! I don’t believe there’s a British person in the world that wouldn’t recognise the TARDIS call and be scared of a dalek! I was really too young for it first time round, but I watched a lot of reruns and mostly I remember being scared to death by the daleks! It being brought back and doing so well is just really exciting and shows how timeless and awesome british television can be.Charlie:The thing I think of immediately is Doctor Who, because it’s so iconic and tied to British history. In more general terms I think of the detail paid to British television, the intricacy and the amount of work put in to things most people (unless they’re super observant tumblr users) wouldn’t see. For example, in an episode of Sherlock, Cumberbatch is holding a newspaper and the article starts with the phrase ‘a tale worthy of Conan Doyle himself’.  I accept the many flaws in Sherlock but that really stood out to me, it shows how much work gets put into television that relies solely on the public for funding - the BBC gets its revenue from us paying our tv licence, not from adverts or faceless companies.
What is your opinion about American Television?Rebecca:I think it is widely accepted in British culture as a large part of our television and in a way it makes it harder to identify it by itself. I think that American TV takes more risks and when it pays off, just like British television, it really pays off; however, when it doesn’t you are more likely to get something bad to watch, whereas I think that when British television fails it is because it has created something boring with very few risks involves (with a few notable exceptions when it becomes laughably painful). American television is very notable for its larger scale which means that it takes more commitment to sit down and watch a series every week, especially when a lot of American drama has ongoing plot arcs. I think this is why box set culture has started over here, as of the people I know, and myself included, our DVD boxsets would contain many more American series such as Dexter, House or X Files than Doctor Whos, Torchwoods or Red Dwarfs. British tv with shorter series and often shorter episodes makes it easier for casual viewing. While a lot of American tv shows with long episodes and long series runs are really high quality, I sometimes feel that the short series and episode length gives some British tv shows a better quality and makes them snappy and memorable. 
The gap between series airing in America and those airing in Britain is often insanely large so I will sometimes follow American series as they are released in America and it very different to how shows are aired here. Once a series starts it will be on every week unless an important sporting event clashes with it, and this is very rare, whereas in America series gaps of a week or two appear to be fairly common. Finally as much as I hate to generalise I find American reality tv shows a little too hard to watch. I think the drama is exaggerated far beyond that of similar British reality tv shows and that the video log footage that is cut in with the ongoing action is done very poorly and comes across as cheesy.
Michelle:On the most part, I like it. I’m much more of a fan of American scripted television than unscripted as sometimes American reality TV shows tend to use the term “unscripted” very loosely (which you don’t get so much of on UK reality shows). I’m not always a fan of American comedy, but there are a few very good shows that appeal to my sense of humour (Scrubs being a big one). My all time favourite TV show (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is American, so I’m definitely a fan! It’s pretty cliche to say that America doesn’t get Britain’s sense of humour, but I think America at least attacks comedy different to the brits so very different shows come from each side of the pond.
Charlie:There are quite a few American shows I watch and I enjoy them for different reasons to British television. New Girl, The Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls…. they’re all funny and heart warming, not to mention how sucked into Suits and Hawaii Five-0 for the drama and excellent characters. I enjoy those and use them to switch off after a long day at uni, to veg out in front of my laptop and just have a laugh. That’s not to say American television is dumbed down, you only have to watch Elementary to realise that is definitely not the case, but I’m aware of the different reasons and circumstances in which I watch British and American television.
If you were only allowed to recommend one programme to an American interested in British TV, which programme would it be?
Rebecca: Doctor Who. It is such a large part of British Culture, has a very British feel to it but doesn’t exclude those of other cultures too much. It’s a high quality show and covers a lot of genres and, as it began back in 1963, it covers many different eras of British television and goes through many different styles.
Michelle:It would depend what genre really, but overall I’d probably recommend Doctor Who, it’s a great drama with lots of twists and heartstring pulls so it’ll definitely get you hooked. And it’ll also give you a bit of an insight into our silly sense of humour (stick with the terrible effects and costumes, it’s part of the charm!)
Charlie:I think I would like to recommend Outnumbered because it’s such a brilliant portrayal of family life and there are parts of that show I think I’ve broken ribs laughing at. The problem is it’s so dependent on British culture that I think a lot of the humour might be missed, the subtlety of Hugh Dennis might get overlooked and that would be a shame, so unless the American had previous knowledge of British humour and context, I would have to go with Mr Selfridge, my personal favourite at the moment. It’s full of drama and even centred around an American family, but does British 1900’s excellently. Period dramas done well are always pleasing (Gregory Fitoussi doesn’t hurt either, especially that French accent…) and when I’m not paying attention the multi layered storyline or clapping in delight at Lady Mae’s wit, I’m absorbed in the beauty of the set. The costumes, the insight into British culture/history, and the way each episode leaves you wanting more is nothing short of, well, as Nine would say, ‘fantastic!’.
—————-
So there you have it! Thank you so much to the Charlie, Rebecca, and Michelle. Especially thanks to all of you for recommending two of my favorite shows! 
What are your favorite British television shows? Is there one you just plain don’t get? Let me know in the comments! 
—————
*I’m using “Brits” here a bit liberally as one of the responders is from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom but not Great Britain. It is, however, part of the British Isles. So… close, I guess?
    High Res

    The Brits* Talk Back

    Most of the time, you get to listen to me ramble about how I, an American, feel about British television. This week I wanted to bring you something different, so this is when the Brits get their say. On Wednesday, you heard from my best friend Michelle as she filled you in on Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day.

    Today, I asked a few United Kingdom natives to give me some feedback about their own television. The responses are from Charlie of Nottingham, Michelle of Hartfordshire, and Rebecca of Northern Ireland.

    When you think of British television, what’s the first thing that springs to mind and why?

    Rebecca:
    Comedy. It’s the most unique aspect of British television’s identity and is very ‘silly’, just watch Monty Python, or Blackadder, which, despite its wit and sharpness still falls back on over the top characters or silly situations. There is also an almost obscurity to some of the humour that I imagine would be tricky to transfer to other cultures as it is a small island, so jokes from Doctor Who at ITV1’s expense may be lost on those in America, yet in an American sitcom a joke about Walmart would still be laughed at over here, despite the fact that there are no Walmarts in the UK, because American culture is well known. The goofy, almost in-jokes, of British humour is what makes British television unique.

    Michelle:
    Doctor Who. It’s a practically a British institution! I don’t believe there’s a British person in the world that wouldn’t recognise the TARDIS call and be scared of a dalek! I was really too young for it first time round, but I watched a lot of reruns and mostly I remember being scared to death by the daleks! It being brought back and doing so well is just really exciting and shows how timeless and awesome british television can be.

    Charlie:
    The thing I think of immediately is Doctor Who, because it’s so iconic and tied to British history. In more general terms I think of the detail paid to British television, the intricacy and the amount of work put in to things most people (unless they’re super observant tumblr users) wouldn’t see. For example, in an episode of Sherlock, Cumberbatch is holding a newspaper and the article starts with the phrase ‘a tale worthy of Conan Doyle himself’.  I accept the many flaws in Sherlock but that really stood out to me, it shows how much work gets put into television that relies solely on the public for funding - the BBC gets its revenue from us paying our tv licence, not from adverts or faceless companies.

    What is your opinion about American Television?

    Rebecca:
    I think it is widely accepted in British culture as a large part of our television and in a way it makes it harder to identify it by itself. I think that American TV takes more risks and when it pays off, just like British television, it really pays off; however, when it doesn’t you are more likely to get something bad to watch, whereas I think that when British television fails it is because it has created something boring with very few risks involves (with a few notable exceptions when it becomes laughably painful). American television is very notable for its larger scale which means that it takes more commitment to sit down and watch a series every week, especially when a lot of American drama has ongoing plot arcs. I think this is why box set culture has started over here, as of the people I know, and myself included, our DVD boxsets would contain many more American series such as Dexter, House or X Files than Doctor Whos, Torchwoods or Red Dwarfs. British tv with shorter series and often shorter episodes makes it easier for casual viewing. While a lot of American tv shows with long episodes and long series runs are really high quality, I sometimes feel that the short series and episode length gives some British tv shows a better quality and makes them snappy and memorable. 

    The gap between series airing in America and those airing in Britain is often insanely large so I will sometimes follow American series as they are released in America and it very different to how shows are aired here. Once a series starts it will be on every week unless an important sporting event clashes with it, and this is very rare, whereas in America series gaps of a week or two appear to be fairly common. Finally as much as I hate to generalise I find American reality tv shows a little too hard to watch. I think the drama is exaggerated far beyond that of similar British reality tv shows and that the video log footage that is cut in with the ongoing action is done very poorly and comes across as cheesy.

    Michelle:
    On the most part, I like it. I’m much more of a fan of American scripted television than unscripted as sometimes American reality TV shows tend to use the term “unscripted” very loosely (which you don’t get so much of on UK reality shows). I’m not always a fan of American comedy, but there are a few very good shows that appeal to my sense of humour (Scrubs being a big one). My all time favourite TV show (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is American, so I’m definitely a fan! It’s pretty cliche to say that America doesn’t get Britain’s sense of humour, but I think America at least attacks comedy different to the brits so very different shows come from each side of the pond.

    Charlie:
    There are quite a few American shows I watch and I enjoy them for different reasons to British television. New Girl, The Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls…. they’re all funny and heart warming, not to mention how sucked into Suits and Hawaii Five-0 for the drama and excellent characters. I enjoy those and use them to switch off after a long day at uni, to veg out in front of my laptop and just have a laugh. That’s not to say American television is dumbed down, you only have to watch Elementary to realise that is definitely not the case, but I’m aware of the different reasons and circumstances in which I watch British and American television.

    If you were only allowed to recommend one programme to an American interested in British TV, which programme would it be?

    Rebecca:
    Doctor Who. It is such a large part of British Culture, has a very British feel to it but doesn’t exclude those of other cultures too much. It’s a high quality show and covers a lot of genres and, as it began back in 1963, it covers many different eras of British television and goes through many different styles.

    Michelle:
    It would depend what genre really, but overall I’d probably recommend Doctor Who, it’s a great drama with lots of twists and heartstring pulls so it’ll definitely get you hooked. And it’ll also give you a bit of an insight into our silly sense of humour (stick with the terrible effects and costumes, it’s part of the charm!)

    Charlie:
    I think I would like to recommend Outnumbered because it’s such a brilliant portrayal of family life and there are parts of that show I think I’ve broken ribs laughing at. The problem is it’s so dependent on British culture that I think a lot of the humour might be missed, the subtlety of Hugh Dennis might get overlooked and that would be a shame, so unless the American had previous knowledge of British humour and context, I would have to go with Mr Selfridge, my personal favourite at the moment. It’s full of drama and even centred around an American family, but does British 1900’s excellently. Period dramas done well are always pleasing (Gregory Fitoussi doesn’t hurt either, especially that French accent…) and when I’m not paying attention the multi layered storyline or clapping in delight at Lady Mae’s wit, I’m absorbed in the beauty of the set. The costumes, the insight into British culture/history, and the way each episode leaves you wanting more is nothing short of, well, as Nine would say, ‘fantastic!’.

    —————-

    So there you have it! Thank you so much to the Charlie, Rebecca, and Michelle. Especially thanks to all of you for recommending two of my favorite shows!

    What are your favorite British television shows? Is there one you just plain don’t get? Let me know in the comments!

    —————

    *I’m using “Brits” here a bit liberally as one of the responders is from Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom but not Great Britain. It is, however, part of the British Isles. So… close, I guess?

  3. And Then There Were Two: the Second Doctor Revisited
As I mentioned in my Doctor Who introductory post, this is quite the year for the Whoniverse - it marks Doctor Who's 50th year on the air! That's right - Whovians have existed since 1963. The very first episode aired November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination. For even more perspective: fans were watching the Doctor fly his TARDIS to distant times and places before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.
The importance of this event is not lost on the Beeb - they have launched a new series titled Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited, a monthly programme commemorating each of the eleven Doctors. These specials are all building up to the premiere of the much-anticipated 50th Anniversary Special later this year, rumored to feature many fan favorites, including these previous incarnations of the Doctor.
I’ve mentioned before that the sheer breadth of Doctor Who's history can seem intimidating, so these specials are a really great place to start if you're curious about Old!Who but not quite ready to commit to the individual series. You can see an in-depth look at each of the individual incarnations of the Doctor, a character which varies hugely between actors and decades. This is a wonderful way to get a better idea of where the Doctor has been in his long history and enrich your experience with New!Who.  
The series began last month with a look back at the First Doctor, portrayed by William Hartnell. Don’t worry if you missed it - BBC America will be re-airing the First Doctor’s this Sunday at 5pm ET, immediately before the Second Doctor’s spotlight. Hartnell’s real-life illness was the catalyst that created Doctor Who's current format - he was unable to continue in his role but the creators didn't want to take the programme off the air. The solution: regeneration.
This month’s program will take a look at Patrick Troughton’s turn as the Second Doctor, and it should be interesting to see how the show dealt with that first upheaval. Following the special, you can catch a special airing of Old!Who's “Tomb of the Cyberman”! Trust me, you won't want to miss it - these specials are an important step towards getting to participate in my personal favorite rite of passage for Whovians: the passionate debate over who is the best Doctor of all time.
Tune in to BBC America this Sunday at 8pm ET for The Doctors Revisited: The Second Doctor!
—————
Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Sources: (1)(2)
    High Res

    And Then There Were Two: the Second Doctor Revisited

    As I mentioned in my Doctor Who introductory post, this is quite the year for the Whoniverse - it marks Doctor Who's 50th year on the air! That's right - Whovians have existed since 1963. The very first episode aired November 23, 1963, the day after John F. Kennedy's assassination. For even more perspective: fans were watching the Doctor fly his TARDIS to distant times and places before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

    The importance of this event is not lost on the Beeb - they have launched a new series titled Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited, a monthly programme commemorating each of the eleven Doctors. These specials are all building up to the premiere of the much-anticipated 50th Anniversary Special later this year, rumored to feature many fan favorites, including these previous incarnations of the Doctor.

    I’ve mentioned before that the sheer breadth of Doctor Who's history can seem intimidating, so these specials are a really great place to start if you're curious about Old!Who but not quite ready to commit to the individual series. You can see an in-depth look at each of the individual incarnations of the Doctor, a character which varies hugely between actors and decades. This is a wonderful way to get a better idea of where the Doctor has been in his long history and enrich your experience with New!Who

    The series began last month with a look back at the First Doctor, portrayed by William Hartnell. Don’t worry if you missed it - BBC America will be re-airing the First Doctor’s this Sunday at 5pm ET, immediately before the Second Doctor’s spotlight. Hartnell’s real-life illness was the catalyst that created Doctor Who's current format - he was unable to continue in his role but the creators didn't want to take the programme off the air. The solution: regeneration.

    This month’s program will take a look at Patrick Troughton’s turn as the Second Doctor, and it should be interesting to see how the show dealt with that first upheaval. Following the special, you can catch a special airing of Old!Who's “Tomb of the Cyberman”! Trust me, you won't want to miss it - these specials are an important step towards getting to participate in my personal favorite rite of passage for Whovians: the passionate debate over who is the best Doctor of all time.

    Tune in to BBC America this Sunday at 8pm ET for The Doctors Revisited: The Second Doctor!

    —————

    Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Sources: (1)(2)

  4. How to Watch and Why You Should Check Those Region Codes! 
While working on a post about the classic sitcom Black Books, I came to a pretty important realization: I can talk about all the super-amazing shows you should be watching all day but until you know how/where to watch them it’s really not going to do you much good! Any time I post about a new programme I will be sure to tell you all the ways that you can get your hands on them, but it’s a good idea to understand how these different ways work and what you should look out for.
A Bit of Background
As I mentioned in my inaugural post, the task of finding quality British television outside of the UK has gotten easier and easier in the past five years or so. For starters, social media has made it possible for you to easily meet people from the UK. There’s nothing better than the first-hand opinion of someone who lives there - the majority of the shows I watch only came to my attention because of my English best friend Michelle (who, by the way, I met through tumblr). Also, some of the British networks, particularly BBC, have been making a real effort to reach out into the international market.What does that mean for you? More British shows airing on American television, more DVD box sets being released in US stores and, even better for those of you also living on a college’s student’s budget: more options to watch instantly on sites like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. The increasing scope of the internet also means more and more opportunities to find pirated versions of these shows online, but we’ll get to that later.
DVDs
It’s sad and annoying and any other number of unhappy descriptors, but DVDs have regions. That means that DVDs are produced specifically for different areas of the world and the DVDs are actually coded for those regions and will not play on players that are programmed to read a different one. And guess what? Every DVD player you own is coded, even your computer.
I told you - annoying.The United States and Canada are Region 1, but the United Kingdom is Region 2. You need to be careful when purchasing DVDs of British shows online, because you might just be purchasing DVDs with the wrong region, and they won’t be good for much… unless you need new coasters.
If you’re purchasing the DVDs from a US-based online retailer like Amazon, nine times out of ten they’ll be Region 1. All the same, always give the product description a quick read and see if they mention the region code - just two days ago I saw Region 2 DVDs listed on the American Amazon page. If you’re shopping in a physical store like Target or Best Buy, they’ll always be the correct region.
Sometimes you’ll only be able to get your hands on Region 2 DVDs. I came across this issue a few years ago and I’ve just learned to adapt - my DVD collection now has a pretty healthy mixture of Region 1 and Region 2. If this is the case for you, you have a couple of options to work around the restriction which they require different levels of dedication and hardware! 
Look into purchasing a region-free DVD player. When I bought mine five years ago, it ran me almost $80. Now they’re closer to $30! The bonus of this option is that it can just replace your current DVD player - it will play any region you put into it, no fuss.
For more portability, look at buying an USB DVD drive for your computer. One thing to note is that DVD drives, unlike DVD players, do not come set to any particular region, but once you use it for a specific code you’re stuck with it. Of course this is still a great option if you watch a lot of TV on the go - these drives are cheap, portable, and don’t require an additional power source.
It is possible to watch Region 2 DVDs on your computer, even if it’s set to Region 1. When you put in the DVD, your computer will ask you if you would like to change the Region to that of the current DVD. Great, right? Well, there is one major stipulation to this, so pay attention: your computer will only allow you to change the region a total of 5 times. On the fifth change, it will lock and you will not be able to change it again. This is really not a great option in the long term, but you should be aware of it! 
Instant Streaming and Downloading
I’m going to assume that anyone reading this blog, on the internet, or… existing… is aware of Netflix. In the past, Netflix did not have the most extensive library of shows to watch instantly, but that has significantly changed in the past few years. The majority of the British television I watch is obtained through Netflix. For $7.99/month, you can watch an unlimited amount of streaming content (and, by the way, you can share your account with others). DVD subscriptions will run you more, but it’s worth considering depending on the specific content you want to watch!
Though it is the most extensive, Netflix is not the only one of its kind - you can also find many of these programmes on similar sites like Hulu. You can also sometimes find individual episodes for purchase on Amazon Instant or iTunes. In many cases, you will be able to find episodes of British programmes on your cable provider’s OnDemand feature, both through your TV and their website.
None of these services are free, but they are often significantly cheaper than buying DVD box sets (or having a cable subscription, for that matter) and they come a major bonus - they don’t require you to commit to a show before you really know if you love it. With a Netflix subscription, you can watch the entire history of a show like Doctor Whofor pennies an episode.
Pirated Streaming and Torrenting
With a 10-second Google search, you will be able to find streaming episodes of any of the programmes I talk about on this blog. I won’t pretend that I don’t take advantage of streaming sites and torrents myself, but bear in mind that not only are those sites illegal, they carry with them the risk of getting some pretty nasty stuff on your computer. Unfortunately in some cases you will not be able to find these programmes anywhere outside of a Region 2 DVD. 
Many shows, especially panel shows (to be discussed soon), are easy to find on YouTube, which is about as safe as it comes. For the purposes of this blog I won’t be posting links to any “alternative methods” for watching these programs. It is with “nudge nudge, wink wink" that I advise you that these programs are out there for you to find and it’s not particularly difficult.
Wrapping it Up
In the end, the methods that work best for you are going to be a matter of budget, availability, and taste. I’ll do my best to provide you with links to watch the programmes I recommend to you, but it’s up to you to decide which ones are the right fit for you. 
If you have any questions about anything I’ve covered in this post (or think I left anything out), simply shoot me a message or leave a comment. I’m here to help!
    High Res

    How to Watch and Why You Should Check Those Region Codes!

    While working on a post about the classic sitcom Black Books, I came to a pretty important realization: I can talk about all the super-amazing shows you should be watching all day but until you know how/where to watch them it’s really not going to do you much good! Any time I post about a new programme I will be sure to tell you all the ways that you can get your hands on them, but it’s a good idea to understand how these different ways work and what you should look out for.

    A Bit of Background

    As I mentioned in my inaugural post, the task of finding quality British television outside of the UK has gotten easier and easier in the past five years or so. For starters, social media has made it possible for you to easily meet people from the UK. There’s nothing better than the first-hand opinion of someone who lives there - the majority of the shows I watch only came to my attention because of my English best friend Michelle (who, by the way, I met through tumblr). Also, some of the British networks, particularly BBC, have been making a real effort to reach out into the international market.

    What does that mean for you? More British shows airing on American television, more DVD box sets being released in US stores and, even better for those of you also living on a college’s student’s budget: more options to watch instantly on sites like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. The increasing scope of the internet also means more and more opportunities to find pirated versions of these shows online, but we’ll get to that later.

    DVDs

    It’s sad and annoying and any other number of unhappy descriptors, but DVDs have regions. That means that DVDs are produced specifically for different areas of the world and the DVDs are actually coded for those regions and will not play on players that are programmed to read a different one. And guess what? Every DVD player you own is coded, even your computer.

    I told you - annoying.

    The United States and Canada are Region 1, but the United Kingdom is Region 2. You need to be careful when purchasing DVDs of British shows online, because you might just be purchasing DVDs with the wrong region, and they won’t be good for much… unless you need new coasters.

    If you’re purchasing the DVDs from a US-based online retailer like Amazon, nine times out of ten they’ll be Region 1. All the same, always give the product description a quick read and see if they mention the region code - just two days ago I saw Region 2 DVDs listed on the American Amazon page. If you’re shopping in a physical store like Target or Best Buy, they’ll always be the correct region.

    Sometimes you’ll only be able to get your hands on Region 2 DVDs. I came across this issue a few years ago and I’ve just learned to adapt - my DVD collection now has a pretty healthy mixture of Region 1 and Region 2. If this is the case for you, you have a couple of options to work around the restriction which they require different levels of dedication and hardware!

    • Look into purchasing a region-free DVD player. When I bought mine five years ago, it ran me almost $80. Now they’re closer to $30! The bonus of this option is that it can just replace your current DVD player - it will play any region you put into it, no fuss.
    • For more portability, look at buying an USB DVD drive for your computer. One thing to note is that DVD drives, unlike DVD players, do not come set to any particular region, but once you use it for a specific code you’re stuck with it. Of course this is still a great option if you watch a lot of TV on the go - these drives are cheap, portable, and don’t require an additional power source.
    • It is possible to watch Region 2 DVDs on your computer, even if it’s set to Region 1. When you put in the DVD, your computer will ask you if you would like to change the Region to that of the current DVD. Great, right? Well, there is one major stipulation to this, so pay attention: your computer will only allow you to change the region a total of 5 times. On the fifth change, it will lock and you will not be able to change it again. This is really not a great option in the long term, but you should be aware of it!

    Instant Streaming and Downloading

    I’m going to assume that anyone reading this blog, on the internet, or… existing… is aware of Netflix. In the past, Netflix did not have the most extensive library of shows to watch instantly, but that has significantly changed in the past few years. The majority of the British television I watch is obtained through Netflix. For $7.99/month, you can watch an unlimited amount of streaming content (and, by the way, you can share your account with others). DVD subscriptions will run you more, but it’s worth considering depending on the specific content you want to watch!

    Though it is the most extensive, Netflix is not the only one of its kind - you can also find many of these programmes on similar sites like Hulu. You can also sometimes find individual episodes for purchase on Amazon Instant or iTunes. In many cases, you will be able to find episodes of British programmes on your cable provider’s OnDemand feature, both through your TV and their website.

    None of these services are free, but they are often significantly cheaper than buying DVD box sets (or having a cable subscription, for that matter) and they come a major bonus - they don’t require you to commit to a show before you really know if you love it. With a Netflix subscription, you can watch the entire history of a show like Doctor Whofor pennies an episode.

    Pirated Streaming and Torrenting

    With a 10-second Google search, you will be able to find streaming episodes of any of the programmes I talk about on this blog. I won’t pretend that I don’t take advantage of streaming sites and torrents myself, but bear in mind that not only are those sites illegal, they carry with them the risk of getting some pretty nasty stuff on your computer. Unfortunately in some cases you will not be able to find these programmes anywhere outside of a Region 2 DVD.

    Many shows, especially panel shows (to be discussed soon), are easy to find on YouTube, which is about as safe as it comes. For the purposes of this blog I won’t be posting links to any “alternative methods” for watching these programs. It is with “nudge nudge, wink wink" that I advise you that these programs are out there for you to find and it’s not particularly difficult.

    Wrapping it Up

    In the end, the methods that work best for you are going to be a matter of budget, availability, and taste. I’ll do my best to provide you with links to watch the programmes I recommend to you, but it’s up to you to decide which ones are the right fit for you.

    If you have any questions about anything I’ve covered in this post (or think I left anything out), simply shoot me a message or leave a comment. I’m here to help!

  5. Doctor Who’s Series 7 Gets Mid-Season Premiere Date
Fresh on the heels of my Doctor Who introductory post comes exciting news for the Whoniverse (oh yeah, I went there)! Finally putting our hearts and minds at rest, the Beeb was kind enough to announce that part two of Doctor Who's seventh series will premiere on March 30th for both BBC One in the UK and BBC America stateside.
A Bit of Background
Assuming that you haven’t actually managed to plow through six and a half series of Doctor Who since I made my post on Friday (if you did, please go and take a nap immediately), let me catch you up on a few things you may not know about British television.
British series tend to be quite a bit shorter than American ones, a trend you’ll notice as I move through the catalog of British TV. This is especially true of sitcoms - where a season of a typical American sitcom (ie: Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Friends, etc.) typically contains something in the vicinity of 20 episodes, a series of a comparable British programme (The IT Crowd, Gavin & Stacey) will likely be between 6 and 10 episodes. 
While British series “tend” to be light on episodes, there are plenty (like Doctor Who) who break the mold with significantly more episodes per series. Programmes with higher episode counts tend to take a similar route to American shows and take mid-season breaks, beginning in the fall and returning in the new year.
Back to the Who (Mild Spoilers)
Doctor Who is kind enough to throw us fans a bone about halfway through the long, desolate radio silence and airs a Christmas special each year, which (when applicable) is often the platform for introducing a new companion for the Doctor. The culmination of the first half of season seven in September saw the departure of Eleven’s long-time and much beloved companion Amy Pond (yes, I do have a painting of her in my house and yes, I am currently holding back sobs as I type this) and the Christmas special was used as a vehicle for introducing Clara, Eleven’s mysterious new companion (pictured above).
2013 marks the beginning of Doctor Who's 50th year on the air, so I can only imagine that the second half of season seven is going to be quite exciting as it all builds up the the much anticipated 50th Anniversary Special later this year.
There’s a lot to look forward to: old friends (and foes), new adventures, and even a fancy new inside for the TARDIS, an event normally reserved for the introduction of a new Doctor. Even better, we’re going to see episodes penned by one of the major figures behind the 2005 reboot, Mark Gatiss, and the legendary Neil Gaiman, already much loved by Whovians for his 2011 episode “The Doctor’s Wife”.
So there you have it - it’s an exciting time to be a Whovian. For those of you who are just dipping your toes in the water, believe me when I say you’ve got a lot to look forward to.
—————
Pictured: Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, and his new companion Clara, portrayed by Jenna Louise Coleman.
Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Source (1) (2)
    High Res

    Doctor Who’s Series 7 Gets Mid-Season Premiere Date

    Fresh on the heels of my Doctor Who introductory post comes exciting news for the Whoniverse (oh yeah, I went there)! Finally putting our hearts and minds at rest, the Beeb was kind enough to announce that part two of Doctor Who's seventh series will premiere on March 30th for both BBC One in the UK and BBC America stateside.

    A Bit of Background

    Assuming that you haven’t actually managed to plow through six and a half series of Doctor Who since I made my post on Friday (if you did, please go and take a nap immediately), let me catch you up on a few things you may not know about British television.

    British series tend to be quite a bit shorter than American ones, a trend you’ll notice as I move through the catalog of British TV. This is especially true of sitcoms - where a season of a typical American sitcom (ie: Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Friends, etc.) typically contains something in the vicinity of 20 episodes, a series of a comparable British programme (The IT Crowd, Gavin & Stacey) will likely be between 6 and 10 episodes. 

    While British series “tend” to be light on episodes, there are plenty (like Doctor Who) who break the mold with significantly more episodes per series. Programmes with higher episode counts tend to take a similar route to American shows and take mid-season breaks, beginning in the fall and returning in the new year.

    Back to the Who (Mild Spoilers)

    Doctor Who is kind enough to throw us fans a bone about halfway through the long, desolate radio silence and airs a Christmas special each year, which (when applicable) is often the platform for introducing a new companion for the Doctor. The culmination of the first half of season seven in September saw the departure of Eleven’s long-time and much beloved companion Amy Pond (yes, I do have a painting of her in my house and yes, I am currently holding back sobs as I type this) and the Christmas special was used as a vehicle for introducing Clara, Eleven’s mysterious new companion (pictured above).

    2013 marks the beginning of Doctor Who's 50th year on the air, so I can only imagine that the second half of season seven is going to be quite exciting as it all builds up the the much anticipated 50th Anniversary Special later this year.

    There’s a lot to look forward to: old friends (and foes), new adventures, and even a fancy new inside for the TARDIS, an event normally reserved for the introduction of a new Doctor. Even better, we’re going to see episodes penned by one of the major figures behind the 2005 reboot, Mark Gatiss, and the legendary Neil Gaiman, already much loved by Whovians for his 2011 episode “The Doctor’s Wife”.

    So there you have it - it’s an exciting time to be a Whovian. For those of you who are just dipping your toes in the water, believe me when I say you’ve got a lot to look forward to.

    —————

    Pictured: Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, and his new companion Clara, portrayed by Jenna Louise Coleman.

    Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

    Source (1) (2)

  6. Doctor Who?
When you start out on a mission as ambitious as mine, you must take your first steps with care. I don’t want to scare you away by throwing the most British thing imaginable at you out of the gate, right? Yeah, wrong. We’re starting with what my very British best friend calls the “most British thing ever”: Doctor Who.
The Basics
Doctor Who is a science fiction programme that follows the adventures of the Doctor, an alien who travels throughout space and time in his spaceship/time machine/house, the TARDIS. Not content to travel alone, the Doctor (almost) always has a companion, typically a human he’s whisked away from their normal life and time. He spends about half his time saving the world and the other half being so tempting an adversary for the baddies that he puts it in danger again.
Why You Should Watch
Now that you know the gist, I will say this: though my endless attempts to force this show on my exasperated friends may not suggest this, I am aware that there are many reasons a new viewer may find Doctor Who intimidating. 
Doctor Who is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and I’m sure you know what 50 years means: a lot of episodes. And that’s not even counting the movie specials, radio broadcasts, and webisodes! On top of that, the actor playing the main character changes, his co-stars change, and there are so many villains that even I can’t recall them all off the top of my head.
Have I scared you away yet? I know, this show has a hefty history, and I know there’s nothing more frightening than back story. More than once, I’ve heard an awesome band on the radio, thought “hey, I should start listening to them!” and then, upon getting home and seeing their 11 albums, 7LPs, and 16 music videos, thought “you know, I’ll just listen to the same crap I’ve been listening to since I was 15”.
Playing catch up isn’t fun, but the good news is that Doctor Who doesn’t ask you to catch up, it just wants you to come along for the ride. Despite its long and storied past, it’s worth noting that traditionally the format of Doctor Who has been of the tried and true “Monster of the Week” variety. With a little bit of prior knowledge (basically what you know already from this post), you can jump into almost any episode and easily be able to figure out what’s going on.
I will let you in on a little secret: there’s no shame in starting with New Who. You see, when we Whovians say that the show has been on the air for 50 years, what we really mean is that it started in 1963 and we all developed selective amnesia in the 90s when it briefly went off the air. It was resurrected in 2005 by a group of producers, directors, and actors who had spent their entire life pretending to be the Doctor fighting his arch-nemeses, the Daleks, on the playground. As a result, it was made with so much love and care that it is a shining addition to Doctor Who’s legacy. There are plenty who will disagree with me on this and insist that someone has to watch Old Who to be a real fan, but to them I say “pshaw”.
First and foremost, due to a “junking” policy at the BBC in the 1970s, many of the original Doctor Who episodes are lost or only partially reconstructed. On top of that, the reboot deftly and cleverly introduces you to Who mythology, meaning that you only have to go back and watch those old episodes when you want to.
In a Nutshell
So why watch Doctor Who? For me, this answer isn’t a simple one. The visual effects can be cheesy, science fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and the writers like to torture you by pulling way too hard on your heartstrings. The easy answer is that it is a British institution and you cannot call yourself a fan of British television until you have done so. The more complicated answer is that it is funny, poignant, clever, scary, and you will never be bored. More so, these characters will become family and the TARDIS will become a second home (don’t worry, it’s bigger on the inside). The lessons found within are so universal, the commentaries on human nature and existence so clear and true, that you will look at people and your world in a different way. And you will always, always keep an ear out for the squeal of that magic blue box.
———————-
Best Place to Start (New Who):“Rose” - Series 1, Episode 1
Personal Favorites (New Who):“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” - Series 1, Episodes 9-10“Blink” - Series 3, Episode 10“Partners in Crime” - Series 4, Episode 1“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” - Series 4, Episodes 8-9“Vincent and the Doctor” - Series 5, Episode 10
Where to Watch:Netflix: Series 1-6Amazon Instant: Series 1-7BBC America (check local listings)Series 1-6 Available on DVD
———————-
Pictured: The Eleventh Doctor and his companion Amy Pond, portrayed by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. 
Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
    High Res

    Doctor Who?

    When you start out on a mission as ambitious as mine, you must take your first steps with care. I don’t want to scare you away by throwing the most British thing imaginable at you out of the gate, right? Yeah, wrong. We’re starting with what my very British best friend calls the “most British thing ever”: Doctor Who.

    The Basics

    Doctor Who is a science fiction programme that follows the adventures of the Doctor, an alien who travels throughout space and time in his spaceship/time machine/house, the TARDIS. Not content to travel alone, the Doctor (almost) always has a companion, typically a human he’s whisked away from their normal life and time. He spends about half his time saving the world and the other half being so tempting an adversary for the baddies that he puts it in danger again.

    Why You Should Watch

    Now that you know the gist, I will say this: though my endless attempts to force this show on my exasperated friends may not suggest this, I am aware that there are many reasons a new viewer may find Doctor Who intimidating. 

    Doctor Who is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and I’m sure you know what 50 years means: a lot of episodes. And that’s not even counting the movie specials, radio broadcasts, and webisodes! On top of that, the actor playing the main character changes, his co-stars change, and there are so many villains that even I can’t recall them all off the top of my head.

    Have I scared you away yet? I know, this show has a hefty history, and I know there’s nothing more frightening than back story. More than once, I’ve heard an awesome band on the radio, thought “hey, I should start listening to them!” and then, upon getting home and seeing their 11 albums, 7LPs, and 16 music videos, thought “you know, I’ll just listen to the same crap I’ve been listening to since I was 15”.

    Playing catch up isn’t fun, but the good news is that Doctor Who doesn’t ask you to catch up, it just wants you to come along for the ride. Despite its long and storied past, it’s worth noting that traditionally the format of Doctor Who has been of the tried and true “Monster of the Week” variety. With a little bit of prior knowledge (basically what you know already from this post), you can jump into almost any episode and easily be able to figure out what’s going on.

    I will let you in on a little secret: there’s no shame in starting with New Who. You see, when we Whovians say that the show has been on the air for 50 years, what we really mean is that it started in 1963 and we all developed selective amnesia in the 90s when it briefly went off the air. It was resurrected in 2005 by a group of producers, directors, and actors who had spent their entire life pretending to be the Doctor fighting his arch-nemeses, the Daleks, on the playground. As a result, it was made with so much love and care that it is a shining addition to Doctor Who’s legacy. There are plenty who will disagree with me on this and insist that someone has to watch Old Who to be a real fan, but to them I say “pshaw”.

    First and foremost, due to a “junking” policy at the BBC in the 1970s, many of the original Doctor Who episodes are lost or only partially reconstructed. On top of that, the reboot deftly and cleverly introduces you to Who mythology, meaning that you only have to go back and watch those old episodes when you want to.

    In a Nutshell

    So why watch Doctor Who? For me, this answer isn’t a simple one. The visual effects can be cheesy, science fiction isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and the writers like to torture you by pulling way too hard on your heartstrings. The easy answer is that it is a British institution and you cannot call yourself a fan of British television until you have done so. The more complicated answer is that it is funny, poignant, clever, scary, and you will never be bored. More so, these characters will become family and the TARDIS will become a second home (don’t worry, it’s bigger on the inside). The lessons found within are so universal, the commentaries on human nature and existence so clear and true, that you will look at people and your world in a different way. And you will always, always keep an ear out for the squeal of that magic blue box.

    ———————-

    Best Place to Start (New Who):
    “Rose” - Series 1, Episode 1

    Personal Favorites (New Who):
    “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” - Series 1, Episodes 9-10
    “Blink” - Series 3, Episode 10
    “Partners in Crime” - Series 4, Episode 1
    “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead” - Series 4, Episodes 8-9
    “Vincent and the Doctor” - Series 5, Episode 10

    Where to Watch:
    Netflix: Series 1-6
    Amazon Instant: Series 1-7
    BBC America (check local listings)
    Series 1-6 Available on DVD

    ———————-

    Pictured: The Eleventh Doctor and his companion Amy Pond, portrayed by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

    Image is the property of the British Broadcasting Corporation.