12 British Mysteries to Binge-Watch

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? If you’re obsessed with murder mysteries, crime dramas, and detective stories like me, or if you’re just looking for your next series to binge-watch, try some of my favorite British mysteries listed below, most of which you can check out at the Library! While not all of them may be your cup of tea (get it? tea?), there’s something for everyone!


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Clever & Unique Stories
We’ll start with my personal favorites. These series are wonderfully written and wickedly smart and will keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to work out the characters and crimes. Bonus points to those who can figure out the twists and turns before the end!

  • Sherlock
    • The game is on! This version of Sherlock Holmes is unique to the rest, taking place in modern-day London with Sherlock, the frequently texting, self-proclaimed high-functioning sociopath, and John, the level-headed assisting crime blogger. It’s a fun watch with plenty of wit and humor!
  • Killing Eve
    • International espionage, deadly assassins, intelligence agencies, and a true arch-nemesis story. In an intense mind game that extends around the world, Eve, the security agent, hunts down the unhinged but eccentric hitwoman named Villanelle. 
  • Criminal UK (Available only on Netflix)
    • What makes this series interesting is that every episode takes place entirely in an interrogation room (and technically the hallway just outside the room). As investigators question suspects, your gears will start turning as you try to figure out if the suspect is guilty. With so many plot twists and slight clues, it’s no wonder you’ll never get bored when watching this one-room show.

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The Tortured Detective
Sometimes the character working the mystery is more interesting than the mystery itself. Typically a loner and dealing with dark secrets of their own, these detectives solve grisly crimes, not for the faint of heart.

  • River (Available only on Netflix)
    • Detective John River, played by Stellan Skarsgard, investigates the dark crimes of London while being haunted by the cases of his past. 
  • Luther
    • The rugged Detective Inspector John Luther, played by Idris Elba, hunts down murderers while trying to keep his own demons at bay. 
  • Happy Valley
    • Though not technically a detective, Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire, tries her best to protect her community while tracking down the man she blames for her daughter’s death. This series is an intense story with a fantastic cast. 

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Mysteries with Stunning Views
This may seem to be an odd category for mysteries but do not take a series’ scenery for granted! These shows have amazing casts and top-notch writing but the views take center stage. As strange as it sounds, the settings almost become characters themselves as they are extremely important to each storyline.

  • Shetland
    • Taking place on the Shetland Islands, an archipelago off the northern coast of Scotland, Detective Inspector Perez solves a variety of cases with a consistently wondrous view in the background. Although the series is a crime drama there is something quite soothing about it.
  • Broadchurch
    • Detective Inspector Alec Hardy finds himself in the beautiful seaside town of Broadchurch investigating the death of a young boy. This series has an all-star cast as well, including David Tennant (Doctor Who, Good Omens)  playing Hardy and Olivia Colman (The Crown, The Favourite) playing Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller. 

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Cozy Mysteries
These curious but delightful mysteries are perfect for viewers looking to keep their shows light and humorous. I won’t bother to describe each one because, to be quite honest, they all have very similar qualities; small town, a shocking murder, local detective or community member solves the crime and repeat. Completely formulaic but undoubtedly comforting! And don’t worry, you won’t be running out of episodes anytime soon. Midsomer Mysteries alone has over 100 and Father Brown has over 90!


 

Written by Emily Sexton
Public Relations Specialist

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch four – Hong Kong Phooey

Do you remember waaaaaay back when having a day off meant Saturday, and Saturday meant waking up at the crack of dawn to plop yourself in front of the television set with a bowl of sugar based cereal substitute to watch Saturday morning cartoons? Yeah, me neither. But that’s okay. Let’s get NOSTALGIC

Let’s go back to September 7, 1974. If you were born on this date: You’ve slept for 5,620 days or 15 years! Wow… I mean sometimes it’s fun to play with statistics but think about that. FIFTEEN of your FORTY-SIX years of life have been spent sleeping? That’s exhausting to even contemplate. So let’s not. If you were watching television on this date instead, you might have seen the first airing of Hong Kong Phooey


History

Hong Kong Phooey was a “spoof of live-action detective shows (not a spoof of Kung Fu, as has sometimes been suggested)” that was produced by Hanna-Barbera and ran for 16 episodes between September 7 and December 21, 1974. It featured the antics of mild mannered, but not overly bright, janitor Penrod Pooch and his feline side-kick, Spot, fighting crime with the aid of a different selection from “The Hong Kong Kung Fu Book of Tricks” and his shapeshifting pagoda mobile each episode. Hey! Scatman Crothers is the voice of Hong Kong Phooey! Evidently, Scatman Crothers did a lot of voice acting for cartoons, including Scooby-Doo, The Transformers, and The Aristocats


What I remember

I don’t remember watching individual episodes of Hong Kong Phooey as a kid, but I do recall the character being a part of a larger show that made a sort of shared universe out of other Hanna-Barbera cartoons. (It might have been Laff-A-Lympics.) I also remember there being a fairly catchy theme song. I’m at least halfway certain that some of the memories I have of watching Hong Kong Phooey should be attributed to having watched Underdog instead. 


Rewatch

The first episode, “Car Thieves/ Zoo Story,” has Penry transforming himself into Hong Kong Phooey with the aid of a file cabinet, a cat named Spot, and a quick once over of an instruction manual in order to stop a gang of car thieves. Specifically, he stops the car thieves after he assists one of them with stealing a car when he falls for their clever little-old-lady disguise. More specific than that, Hong Kong Phooey bumbles around until the thieves end up trapping themselves in red paint. In short, he’s not a particularly great martial artist, but the thieves don’t really require one to thwart them.


Final verdict

Honestly, one thing that I anticipated with a modern rewatch of something called Hong Kong Phooey was racial insensitivity. And yes, there’s some. The main character, Penrod “Penry” Pooch, gets his martial arts training from reading the “Hong Kong School of Kung Foo” manual. He also drives a pagoda. If you can look past those for the sake of watching cartoons, you can watch Hong Kong Phooey.


If you liked Hong Kong Phooey

Hong Kong Phooey – The Complete Series

Kung fu panda

Kung fu panda 2

Kung fu panda 3

Kung fu hustle

Kung fu – Seasons 1-3


Also check out

Old School by Danger Doom 


For more on Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch by Kevin

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch one – Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch two – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch three – The Herculoids

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch five – He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch six – Valley of the Dinosaurs


More to come (live from what I remember about the 80’s!) as this story continues. 

Kevin Wadlow is 100% a real human being and definitely not a murder of crows wearing a person suit. He is an avid reader of horror, tabletop gamer, and drinker of coffee who enjoys drawing things of strangeness along the way. When the zombie apocalypse comes, he will probably be eaten first after saying something about how he fully expected to go out like this.

10 Heartfelt Picture Books for Readers of All Ages

While adults may think picture books are typically just fun stories for kiddos, some know they can also be wonderful and emotional experiences. In the list below, BCPL staff members have come together to share their favorite heartfelt and touching stories that readers of all ages can enjoy. Prepare yourself for a bit of crying and a bit of smiling with this bundle of beautiful stories.

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The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros

Emily Cornett, Early Literary Specialist says: 
My current favorite heartfelt picture book is The Remember Balloons by Jessie Oliveros. I was not prepared for how deeply I would relate to the little boy watching his grandpa’s “remember balloons” float away into the sky. It is a beautiful and unique way of explaining dementia to children.


Tucky Jo and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco

Ginger Stapp, Early Literary Specialist says: 
Tucky Joe and Little Heart by Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite picture books for elementary school-age students. An American soldier helps a child during the Vietnam War and later in life sees the results of that kindness. This author’s work has always touched my heart because the characters she creates through her stories and art are vibrant, real, and good. The emotions she shows in her work are deep without being overdone. Adults and children will enjoy her work when they read it together and it is great for starting conversations and building a desire to know more about history. Like a lot of good children’s fiction and media, her work is for everyone, not just for children.


Ida, Always by Carson Levis
Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb

Emily Sexton, Public Relations Specialist says: 
Two books that have always stuck out to me as intensely heartfelt are Ida, Always and Paul Meets Bernadette. While Ida, Always tells the important story of two polar bears trying to grapple with the concept of loss, Paul Meets Bernadette tells the sweet story of what happens when you make a new friend. Both stories are subtle, poignant, and beautiful.


Floaty by John Himmelman

Jenny Plummer, Youth Services Librarian says: 
Floaty by John Himmelman is the story of an elderly man who hates everything and the very special puppy that appears in a basket on his doorstep. This silly story with heart is perfect for fans of the film Up!


How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

Wilanne Stangel, Youth Services Associate says: 
A heartfelt favorite is How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz. This is a fictionalized story of Shulevitz’s own childhood experiences as a refuge from war-torn Europe during WWII. Having lost everything, Uri’s father goes to the market to see what little bread he can find for his family. Finding that he can’t afford enough to satisfy his family’s hunger, he returns instead with a large, colorfully illustrated map. The map winds up “feeding” his son in many other ways; feeding Uri’s imagination, curiosity, and fostering his love of illustration which ultimately led Uri to his life’s work.

Another favorite is Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. Based on a family story that has been passed down through generations of Polacco’s family. It’s the story of one of her ancestors who goes off as a young boy to fight in the Civil War. He meets up with another young boy, who has escaped slavery to fight for the Union forces. It’s a beautiful story and quite a tearjerker!


The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Cindy Donaldson, Youth Services Associate says: 
My very favorite heartfelt book is The Velveteen Rabbit. Oh, yes, becoming real…it does, in fact, hurt sometimes. But it is worth it…


Love by Matt de la Peña
In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford

Krista King-Oaks, Youth Services Manager says:
I had been working in libraries and children’s literature for over a decade before I became a mother, and while it sounds cliché, when my daughter was born, it was as if I were seeing picture books with brand new eyes. There is the assumption that picture books are for children; however, there are many books created specifically with adults in mind. Two of my favorites – which were both gifted to me and are featured in her newborn photos – are Love by Matt de la Pena & Loren Long, and In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford and Brian Pinkney. While both books are created by acclaimed authors of color, the messages are universal for any parent. Two years later, I can’t open either book without tearing up.


Suggestions written by BCPL staff and complied by Emily Sexton, Public Relations Specialist

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch three – The Herculoids

Do you remember waaaaaay back when having a day off meant Saturday, and Saturday meant waking up at the crack of dawn to plop yourself in front of the television set with a bowl of sugar based cereal substitute to watch Saturday morning cartoons? Yeah, me neither. But that’s okay. Let’s get NOSTALGIC

On this day, September 9, 1967: It’s a Saturday. If you are a Virgo, you should avoid eating salads. A man in a tan jacket will hand you an equally tan briefcase.  Do not open it. Further instructions will follow. And, airing for the first time on this date is The Herculoids.

 


History

The Herculoids was an action adventure series (in SPACE!) produced by Hanna-Barbera featuring Zandor, his wife Tara, and their son Dorno, brave heroes who defend their alien home from invaders with the help of various creatures: Igoo, Tundro, Zok, Gloop, and Gleep. Although I can’t find anything to prove it, I would assume that “Herculoids” is meant to be a variation on “Hercules,” a Greek demi-god known for his superhuman strength, and “humanoid,” a term for anything that resembles a human. Together, it would mean “strong human-ish people”. The Herculoids ran for 18 episodes between 1967-1969 with 11 more produced for Space Stars in 1981. 


What I remember

Absolutely nothing! The Herculoids falls into the category of cartoons I could have watched as a kid, or any point between then and now, but didn’t. I think I’ve seen the show parodied on the Cartoon Network (maybe on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law), but I never watched any of its episodes before this. (And NOW I want to track down episodes of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.)


Rewatch

The Herculoids falls into the same sort of liminal space (a transitional space between one thing and another where you have left one thing behind but not fully embraced the other) as Thundarr the Barbarian in that it is not quite fantasy or science-fiction. Unlike many cartoons, or television shows in general, no backstory is given in the opening title sequence. This makes it difficult to describe the plot of the first episode (two titles in one episode: “The Pirates” and “Sarko the Arkman) because there is so little context given to what is happening. Why is there a ship full of pointy-eared aliens, and why are they trying to bury a literal treasure chest on what their leader refers to as Zandor’s planet? If they are aware of the presence of Zandor, why are they not better prepared for the giant stone ape, huge many-legged rhinoceros-dinosaur who shoots energy rocks out of its horn, and the dragon with eye beams that accompany him? Why does Zandor have his own planet when he appears to be just a guy in a kilt with no obvious powers or special abilities, other than being able to communicate with the ape, dinosaur, dragon, and two shape-shifting blobs that arrive later with Zandor’s wife after their son is captured by the space pirates? The only explanation that occurs to me is that maybe Zandor and his family are supposed to be kind of a “The Swiss Family Robinson” set in space. Which would make it a kind of Lost in Space with giant monsters instead of a robot.


Final verdict 

If you like the aesthetic of the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, you’ll like The Herculoids. It has aliens, robots, monsters, and… space barbarians? It’s also kid friendly, provided that you’re not looking for diversity or inclusion and you can accept that Zandor’s wife will be spending a lot of her screen time either kidnapped or being protected from being kidnapped instead of engaging in whatever is going on in any particular episode. If you watch the episodes out of order, I doubt that will have any impact. Warning: the screech of the dragon thing gets old REALLY quickly. 


If you liked The Herculoids

The Herculoids the complete series

Space Stars – the complete series

The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury, Ray

The Swiss Family Robinson by Wyss, Johann David

Hercules by Musker, John film director

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys


Also check out

The Herculoids History and Origins – It does a much better job of describing what the show was all about.


For more on Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch by Kevin

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch one – Voltron: Defender of the Universe

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch two – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch four – Hong Kong Phooey

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch five – He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Saturday Morning Cartoon Rewatch six – Valley of the Dinosaurs


More to come (live from what I remember about the 80’s!) as this story continues. 

Kevin Wadlow is 100% a real human being and definitely not a murder of crows wearing a person suit. He is an avid reader of horror, tabletop gamer, and drinker of coffee who enjoys drawing things of strangeness along the way. When the zombie apocalypse comes, he will probably be eaten first after saying something about how he fully expected to go out like this.

 

Make it the year of learning with The Great Courses

 

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to learn something new! At BCPL, we encourage a lifetime of learning, and it has never been easier than with the digital resource, The Great Courses.

Available through our website, The Great Courses allows you to dive into a variety of subjects such as history, science, music, literature, philosophy, travel, and more! If you’re unsure which topic to choose, trailer videos for each course are provided to give you a preview of what the course has to offer. Each course is separated into a multiple video lecture series making it convenient to start and stop when needed. And in addition to the video lectures, each course includes a downloadable guidebook to assist in the learning process and is taught by professionals of the field such as professors, explorers, photographers, scientists, etc. It’s simple to get started! Just follow these easy steps to begin learning:

  1. Go to bcpl.org and click on Digital Library.
  2. Scroll down and click on RB Digital. You will be taken to the RB Digital homepage.
  3. Click on The Great Courses.
  4. Click the Register button in the top right-hand corner, and create your account using your library card.

Once your account is created, you are ready to start learning! With your BCPL library card, you will be given unlimited access for 7 days. After your 7-day pass expires, you can check out another 7-day pass from the RB Digital homepage. Start the year off right by learning something new with The Great Courses!


 

Written by Emily Sexton
Public Relations Specialist