Television gems that’ll keep you up all night

Contributing WriterJune 15, 2013 

TV gems all through the night

There’s a new way of abusing friends. It’s the television version of losing sleep on a book you can’t put down.

A friend tells you about a book that is so intriguing in its plot and characters that you’ve just got to read one more chapter, no matter how late the hour. You just have to find out what the queen is going to do with that soldier. Just a few more pages and then you’ll stop and get some sleep. But still you read onward.

The next morning, red-eyed and grumpy, you encounter the so-called friend who recommended the book you can’t put down. You do not thank him for telling you about such wicked temptation.

Fortunately, there are few books so fascinating that you would sacrifice a night’s sleep to find out how the book ends. Nearly all books have an opposite virtue: You can’t stay awake while reading them.

Today, the same thing is happening with television series. We enter an age in which we can stream movies and old television programs into our homes on command at any hour of the night or day. The sleep you miss from addictive books will be compounded by addictive television series.

Some are calling it series binging. Television series that were originally broadcast one week at a time over a year or two or more are now available instantly, all at once, on your television screen.

Make no mistake about it; while the bulk of the series can be pretty ordinary, there are some astonishing gems. Some series are as captivating and as well-made as the best of the movies you have seen in your lifetime.

On-demand television is, for weaklings like me, not unlike those other poor wretches who sit up deep into the night sipping one stiff drink after another.

And just as with drinking, it often takes a good woman to save a man from his weaknesses. I am a night person. My good woman is a day person who, by about 9 p.m., could not stay awake to watch World War III. So I follow her lead in turning off the TV for the night. I don’t mind because it would be difficult anyway to enjoy a great television series with a woman snoring nearby.

But we have married friends who are both night owls. They cannot always escape the clutches of these modern-day productions that resemble the old movie serials, the cliffhangers of yesteryear.

When Sharon and I encounter a series that is so enjoyable and fascinating that we could barely turn it off and get some sleep, we do what is natural. We recommend it to our friends. And they do what is even more natural. They watch it on through the night. And then, bleary eyed and cranky, they assault us verbally for giving them so much irresistible pleasure.

Of course, I would never do anything so rude as to recommend a television series so wonderful that it would cost you a night’s sleep. But if I were that sort of person , for starters, I would probably recommend “Downton Abby,” and “Breaking Bad,” not to mention some Scandinavian gems like “The Protectors” and “Arn: The Knight Templar”

Best of all, try “Foyle’s War,” set in Britain during World War II. It features an extraordinarily competent and likable British detective and his feisty young driver. The two of them make Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson look like boring amateurs.

But fear not, my sleepy friends; those 25 episodes will be over before you know it.

Bill Hall can be contacted at wilberth@cableone.net or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501

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