THE 6 SHOWS YOU
(and the food and drinks to go with them)
Let’s set the scene.
Gray, rainy weekend. Check.
Heated throw. Check.
Junk and snack food stash. Check.
Television all to yourself. Check.
You, my friend, are ready to binge your little heart out.
Not going to lie, this is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend, whether planned down to the letter, or a delightful surprise. It’s rejuvenating and restoring and can help to refocus your energies for the upcoming week.
‘Me’ time is so important, particularly in these strange days, although finding ways to take care of yourself isn’t always easy. They can be expensive, not readily available, and inflexible. I’d hop a plane to Paris every weekend for a little rest and relaxation, if I could, but that’s not feasible for me on any front. I would head to Austin, but the issues are the same (money, time, flexibility), albeit on a smaller scale. A weekend of binge watching solves all of those problems.
I used to do this in a slightly different capacity when I lived out of state. I was in a small town in Northeast Oklahoma when I’d first gotten out of law school, and my girlfriends and I would ensconce ourselves at someone’s house/apartment and have a Girls Weekend, as we called it. Either separately before we got there, or together once we did, we’d make a trip to the store and stock up on snacks, drinks (sometimes alcoholic, sometimes not), movies, and occasionally, we’d even grab some jigsaw puzzles. It was an entire two days of not caring how you looked, bonding with friends, and not doing anything more strenuous than getting up to refill your glass.
These days, I’m more likely to bundle down on my own, as I treasure the time to just be. Hopefully, I’ll soon feel like having another furry kiddo so I can include them, but until then, I’m content on my own.
If you haven’t ever done this, you should. I’m going to give you some ideas about what bingewatching looks like for me, and then you can adapt for your own purposes, of course.
We’re going to start with what’s on the schedule. The featured shows, movies, or series are going to depend on your mood, of course, but with all of the avenues for content these days, finding something to suit your taste at that moment shouldn’t be a problem.
Here are some of my favorite bingeworthy programs or movies, coupled with inspired beverages and snacks:
1. The Thin Man
This series of six movies released from 1934 to 1947 is based on the novel The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett and follows the adventures of suave detective, Nick Charles, and his glamorous wife Nora, played by William Powell and Myrna Loy, respectively. Aside from the main characters, there are plenty of guest appearances by industry royalty, including: Jimmy Stewart, Maureen O’Sullivan, Marjorie Main, Dean Stockwell, Jayne Meadows, Cesar Romero, and Donna Reed. They have a darling wire haired terrier, Asta, with them throughout the entire series, and although they begin the films as a jet set couple without children, their family grows as the movies progress.
You’ll particularly enjoy these if you like: black and white movies, well-written, moody mysteries, vintage clothes (her wardrobe is fantastic), and/or old Hollywood glam. They aren’t terribly long, ranging from 1h 26m to 1h 52m, but they’re entertaining, fun, interesting mystery stories, and Powell and Loy have phenomenal chemistry. The way the stories are laid out, it’s probably best to watch these in order, but it’s not critical, as each one is complete within itself.
Each of the titles above is a link to buy or rent (as digital downloads) the individual films at Amazon. I have the entire collection on DVD which includes a bonus disc of shorts and bios which you can get at eBay (search for The Thin Man Complete Collection and you’ll find 40-50 new and used options ranging from $60 to almost $360), or at Amazon here.
Obviously, the answer here is martini, but I’m not a huge classic martini fan. Flavored martinis, I can do, so I’m going with a French Kiss Martini. It’s sweet, but has a rather nice kick to it. I talk all about it here, recipe included.
Whip up a quick batch of egg salad (my favorite and super easy recipe is hard boiled eggs, enough Hellmann’s mayonnaise to bind everything together, salt and pepper to taste), spread it between two pieces of bread, cut the crusts off and quarter the sandwich. Add regular original Lay’s potato chips and you’re good to go.
Want something even less…nutritional?
salty – popcorn, peanuts, Fritos, pretzels, crackers
sweet – Cracker Jacks, Twinkies, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar
2. The Good Witch
The Good Witch started out as a series of movies on the Hallmark Channel, one released every year, or so, around Halloween. They star Catherine Bell as the title character, Cassie Nightingale, and are nice little stories, many with a fun holiday theme. After seven movies, they started producing a series that is still in production. I like and have watched both, but I prefer the movies, so that’s what I’m going to focus on for this post.
Nightingale arrives in the fictional town of Middleton and moves into her ancestral home, Grey House, a spooky, abandoned mansion with a bad reputation among the locals. She opens a boutique and gift shop near the downtown area, and cleans up and renovates Grey House into a bed and breakfast. Befriended by the widowed chief of police, Cassie quickly becomes close with his children and father-in-law, who take on the roles of matchmakers for their dad and the new neighbor. Cassie’s family is somewhat mysterious and that ties in with legends surrounding the house that are revealed during the course of the movies.
These movies were two hours when originally aired, but because of the copious amount of commercials on The Hallmark Channel, they range between 1h 22m and 1h 29m commercial-free. The movies build on each other and really should be watched in order for them to make sense.
Amazon Prime Video has digital downloads of all seven movies to rent or buy individually:
If you prefer DVDs, you can buy The Good Witch and The Good Witch’s Garden at Amazon, individually, and then a set of movies three through seven here. It’s a little bit cheaper to buy the DVDs, but if physical storage space and a device to watch them are of concern, digital copies might be better for you.
There are two drinks I think would work for this, Russian Devil or the Little Black Spell. I found other options for the Eristoff Black vodka, since you can’t get it in the U.S. If you use one of them in the Little Black Spell recipe, comment and let me know how it tastes.
salty – cheese ball puffs, Rotel dip and chips (Here’s a tip to making my favorite version of Rotel dip: while you’re melting the Velveeta in the microwave, dump the can of Rotel in your blender and puree on high speed until completely smooth. This not only makes the dip perfectly smooth, but it also breaks up the peppers, making the dip a little bit spicier.), hummus and pita bread wedges
sweet – apple cider doughnuts (I’ve never seen apple cider doughnuts for sale outside of the orchards in the upper Northeast, so if you’re not in that part of the country, you’re going to have to make your own. I cannot vouch for this recipe, but it appears to be spot on. Apple Cider Doughnuts), pumpkin cream cheese cakepops (here’s a link to my post about making these delicious treats, recipe included),
witch fingers (here’s a recipe, again I can’t vouch for it, but it sounds right)
Enjoy the paranormal genre? Take True Blood or The Vampire Diaries, throw in Hawaii Five-0’s Alex O’Loughlin, add some super cheesy dialog, and you have 16 episodes of Moonlight, originally aired in 2007-2008.
The main character, Mick St. James (the name alone is eye roll inducing) is a private detective who also happens to be a vampire. He meets investigative reporter Beth, his love interest played by British actress Sophia Myles, when working on a case. It follows the usual and expected story lines in these types of shows, with Beth finding out about Mick’s dead/undead status, her protecting him, him protecting her, lather, rinse, repeat. But here’s the thing: they have some crazy chemistry, Myles’ character is very likable, and, honestly, Alex O’Loughlin is no hardship to look at. It’s a good show with a semi-satisfying final episode, in spite of the fact that it shouldn’t have been cancelled.
The show ran for an hour, including commercials, so it might take more than one day to finish it. You can get the complete series DVD set from Amazon here, or buy digital copies from Amazon Prime Video here by the episode, or get the entire series for a decent discount.
What drink could be more perfect to get in the spirit of this series than a Bloody Mary?
You could always do a full-on spaghetti dinner for this. Don’t forget the garlic bread!
salty – garlic knots and marina sauce, deviled eggs, tortilla chips and salsa
sweet – Red Velvet cupcakes, Cherry Mash, chocolate covered cherries (I’m not a fan, but they just go so well with the vampire theme), strawberry cheesecake trifle (an idea I’m mulling over, I’ll do a post and link once I’ve worked out a recipe)
This series is unique for a number of reasons. First, it takes one of the most famous fictional detectives in the world, Sherlock Holmes, and brings him and his techniques into modern times. The drug addicted disagreeable genius solved his first case in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, written in 1886, but Sherlock’s producers have managed to translate this troubled character into a more than palatable, completely contemporary protagonist.
Second, British born Benedict Cumberbatch portrays the flawed sleuth with just the right amount of animosity a complex role such as this would take, he’s not exactly likable, but you’re definitely on his side. The story lines are quite true to their originals, for those Conan Doyle fans concerned about the authenticity, and the shows are well done in terms of filming, supporting cast, and dialog.
To date this series consists of four seasons of three hour and a half episodes, each, with one additional “special” episode. It began airing in 2010 and is still in production. You can get a new copy of the complete series on eBay here, or search for ‘Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch DVD complete series’ and it should pull up several options for you. You can watch all of the episodes on Netflix or you can get the DVDs on Amazon individually by season, although they don’t sell a copy of the complete collection on DVD for play in the US or Canada. (Please note: Amazon does have the complete collection on DVD but only in formats for Zone 2 (UK and other parts of Europe) and Zone 4 (Australia). If you’d like to go ahead and buy the DVDs through Amazon, here are links for you:
includes: A Study in Pink (episode 1)
The Blind Banker (episode 2)
The Great Game (episode 3)
includes: A Scandal in Belgravia (episode 4)
The Hounds of Baskerville (episode 5)
The Reichenbach Fall (episode 6)
includes: The Empty Hearse (episode 7)
The Sign of Three (episode 8)
His Last Vow (episode 9)
Special: The Abominable Bride (DVD) (episode 10)
includes: The Six Thatchers (episode 11)
The Lying Detective (episode 12)
The Final Problem (episode 13)
If you prefer digital copies, you can find them on Amazon Prime Video by the individual episode or by the season. Here are the links for those:
With approximately 19.5 hours of content, this is likely going to be an all weekend endeavor, but well worth it.
Gin and Tonic (AmIright?)
salty – cheese straws, tiny quiches (I have a fantastic recipe for the perfect tiny quiches that you can easily customize. I’ll do a post and come back here and link it when I get it up), soft pretzels with lots of spicy mustard
sweet – Walker’s Shortbread,
Carmello Bars, Scones and clotted cream, Banoffee tartlets
5. The Vicar of Dibley
If you’ve never heard of The Vicar of Dibley, boy are you missing out! They run this delightful comedy on PBS stations from time to time, but it’s also a fantastic show to binge watch. British actress Dawn French heads up the cast as the vicar of the fictional small English village of Dibley. Her parishioners are eccentric, to say the least, making for some hilarious shenanigans both related to the church, and in general.
This is the perfect choice if you’re in the mood for a cute, lighthearted comedy. You’ll fall in love with the quirky characters and the charming setting, and find yourself zipping through these in no time.
This show originally aired from 1994-1998 on BBC One, but since ceasing regular production, consistently puts out specials and special series, as recently as 2015. There are 20 episodes spread out over two regular seasons and four special seasons. They also aired six “shorts” (anywhere from nine to 14 minutes) for the British Comic Relief, a charity organization created to combat famine worldwide.
Strangely, the viewing choices are rather limited for this series. If you’re looking for DVDs, you can find all but the two most recent shorts in The Immaculate Collection on Amazon. Britbox currently has it, as well, but only the first 16 episodes.
A nice bottle of Pinot Noir or Côtes du Rhône for the Vicar.
Authentic fish and chips would be out of this world! Flaky white fish and crisp fries with lots of malt vinegar. Yum!
salty – salt and vinegar potato chips, tiny hash brown cakes with plenty of ketchup (No really, I’m serious. And they are fantastic.)
sweet – Maltesers, Aero Mint Bars, Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Bounty Chocolate Bars, The British have a treat called a 99 where they take a Cadbury’s Flake Bar and stick it in soft serve ice cream. I’ve not tried it, but it sounds fantastic. You can get all of the candy mentioned in this paragraph at World Market with the exception of the Flake Bar, because Hershey’s Chocolate is a big bully and won’t allow British made Cadbury’s candy to be sold in the U.S. Here are ways to get around the ban, if you’re so inclined.
6. Miss Fisher Mysteries
This series is set in Australia in the roaring ‘20s, just after World War I, and centers on the adventures of gorgeous flapper extraordinaire Phryne Fisher. As the title character, Phryne returns to Australia from Europe with a free spirit and just enough family money to get her in trouble. She happens into the mysterious death of her cousin’s husband, and decides she likes the life of an accidental detective, and fully embraces the sleuth life.
Miss Fisher wears fabulous clothes, lives in a fabulous house, drives a fabulous car, and lives a generally fabulous life. Along the way, she collects people and charms everyone along the way. She’s an advocate for women’s rights, a supporter of worker’s rights, and vocal about welfare reform through both financial and actual means.
This has a great supporting cast from love interest police detective Jack Robinson, companion and assistant Dorothy “Dot” Williams, and prim and proper society matron Aunt Prudence, to Mr. Butler, Hugh, Burt, Cec, Mac, and Jane, and the mysteries are extremely well written. It’s one of my favorite series, ever, and even though it was cancelled in 2015 after 34 episodes making up three seasons, word is they’re gearing up to film a new trilogy of Miss Fisher movies in 2018.
Season 1 had 13 episodes approximate an hour long each, without commercials, as does Season 2. The final season, only has eight, but wraps things up, nicely, while still leaving the door open for future shows.
You can buy the complete DVD set on Amazon here. If you’d rather have a digital version, you can get it by the episode or by the season at Amazon Prime Video.
Here are the links:
You can also watch the series in its entirety at Netflix or seasons 1 and 2 only at Acorn.tv.
One of my favorite drinks for one of my favorite series, the French 75 will bring you right into Phryne’s world. It’s a deceptively simple drink that packs a heck of a punch, but at least you’ll feel elegant doing it.
If you’re looking for something more substantial than snack food, I talked about a lighter fare dinner, which would go nicely with Miss Fisher.
salty – olives, cheese, bread, smoked almonds
sweet – Chick-o-Stick, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Milk Duds, Necco wafers
Well, that ought to give you plenty to work with. I’m putting together a list for Netflix shows to binge for next time.
Let me know about your bingworthy shows, drinks and snacks in the comments.