Box sets to watch over the summer

From zombies to magic here’s a few of my favourite TV series that are well worth a watch.

Summer is the perfect chance to watch the box sets that you had to set aside amidst the increasing deadlines and impending sense of doom as exam season approached.

The Walking Dead

Sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes wakes from a coma to find the world a very different place, with a virus capable of turning people into flesh eating ‘walkers’ having taken over the US. The Walking Dead is primarily a show about survival and how Rick and his group deal with the harrowing situation that they have found themselves in.

As the stakes are always so high, the show keeps you rooted to the screen as the often heartbreaking events unfold. The body count is as high as Game of Thrones and you learn to expect the unexpected.

The make-up on the walkers is very impressive as they look satisfyingly gruesome, but people turn out to be as great of a threat, if not more so, than the roaming zombies, as groups of survivors that Rick and co come into contact with provides a commentary on the inability of people to work together even in desperate situations.

With no end to the show in sight, The Walking Dead is a great series to get yourself invested in.

Gilmore Girls

With 157 episodes over seven seasons and a four-episode revival in 2016, you’ll need to set aside a good chunk of your summer to get through this classic. But when a series is packed with a well-crafted sense of humour, interesting plot lines and a delightful mother/daughter relationship, that’s unquestionably time well spent. A running theme throughout Gilmore Girls is the many problems that intense family dynamics can cause, as the relationship between Lorelai and her mother Emily highlights. For students at Oxford it is easy to identify with the pressures Rory faces as she sets her sights on achieving admission into a top American university.

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Even though the cast are all excellent throughout the show, the revival left me slightly disappointed compared to the main series, but I would still recommend watching it to see how the characters fare after ten years. Sean Gunn provides a particularly stand out performance as Kirk Gleason, whose character never fails to delight when he turns up in an episode attempting a new business venture.

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey is a much-loved historical drama set in the early 20th century splendour of Highclere castle, dramatising the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants. Head Writer Julian Fellowes expertly weaves real world events into the troubles of Downton’s inhabitants including the sinking of the Titanic and the First World War, as well as important themes like the difficulties of being gay at that time and the erosion of the aristocratic way of life. A strength of the show is that it deals with life for both the upper class and ‘downstairs’ as we are offered a scintillating insight into the life of a servant on one of England’s vast country estates.

Even forgetting the fantastic sets and lavish costumes, Downton Abbey is one of those shows where it’s very difficult to criticise the acting as the show is filled with some of Britain’s greatest actors, including Maggie Smith who delights as the Dowager Countess with her wry sense of humour and sassy one liners. My favourite performance though is given by Rob-James Collier as Thomas Barrow who begins life at Downton as a footman and has a satisfying character arc over the course of the six seasons.

This is simply one of those British historical dramas that you can’t miss; even if you’ve watched the series before it’s well worth a re-watch as it’s been announced that the long-awaited film will begin shooting this summer!

Merlin

Merlin is one of my childhood favourites and a series that you can go back to again and again. Loosely based on the Arthurian legends, Merlin features the adventures of a young Arthur and Merlin who work to save Camelot from its many enemies. The chief source of tension lies in the fact that Merlin is forced to hide his magical abilities from Arthur, saving him time and again without being able to take any of the credit.

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Despite their position as master and servant, the rapport between Arthur and Merlin is one of the most delightful tenets of the show. Bradley James and Colin Morgan are great as Arthur and Merlin respectively, and being the dominant focus of the action, their performances largely carry the show.

The show is poorly served by a rushed finale due to its premature cancellation, squeezing conclusions to important storylines into a two-part finale, which left many viewers at the time a little disappointed. Despite the rushed ending, Merlin is a brilliant watch, especially if you’re a fan of Harry Potter.

 

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