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Friday Question of the Day – What’s Your Favorite Foreign, Old or Lesser Known Television Series?

by Prince Of Petworth November 29, 2012 at 10:22 pm 184 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user johnmcochran2012

Time for another fun Friday question of the day – a friend of mine recently recommended the show Prisoners of War, an Israeli series that Homeland is based on. I’m freaking loving it (though parts can be extremely difficult to watch.)

So for today’s FQotD I’m wondering if folks have other favorite foreign, old, or lesser known TV series that they recommend? Bonus points if it’s free on Hulu.

  • brooklander


  • Eckingtonite

    Clearly betraying my age here, but there was a Saturday morning show on for one season in the very late ’70s called “Hot Hero Sandwich” (network — NBC — not local) that was damned funny, and in an extraordinarily sophisticated way given its intended audience (early teens). My theory is that it was NBC trying to capitalize on the recent success of SNL (then only four years old), that somebody pitched a show that was, basically, SNL for the teen set, and the suits bought it. I wasn’t watching much Saturday morning programming at the time, but I always caught this (on during the later morning/afternoon). Unfortunately, I must have been the only one watching, since it only ran one season. I often wish someone would re-release on DVD, Netflix, because my guess is that it would still kind of hold up. I know that some of the sketches (because that’s all it was, really) and recurring characters are still with me, many many years later. Frankie Faison, later of “The Wire” was a regular cast member. So, no extra points for Hulu, but I do get points for obscurity. Don’t I?

  • EM

    Borgen, a Danish series.
    It’s actually free to watch online in the US for the next week: http://www.linktv.org/borgen

    • I was hoping that “Borgen” was the title of the original Danish version of “The Killing” (my British friends spoke very highly of it), but no such luck.

    • AC

      Thank you SO much for the tip! I’d been wanting to see Borgen and never thought I’d see it in the US. Short nights this week!

  • George West

    Check Out FM on ITV British radio show with starring Chris O’Dowd http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_(TV_series)

  • Anonymous

    Lancelot Link, Secret CHIMP.

    • monkeyrotica


    • PG

      Me and my brother used to run home from school to watch it! Jeff Krulik, who also made Heavy Metal Parking Lot, made a documentary about LL.

      • Lori

        I love Lancelot Link and the Jeff Krulik documentary about it is excellent!

    • +1
      That and the “Hanker for a Hunk O’ Cheese” commercials made my childhood a happy one.

      • PG

        Time for Timer! Hopefully Count Gore De Vol will contribute to this discussion.

        • monkeyrotica

          Dick Dyszel also did Captain 20. I still have my Captain 20 Club Card somewheres. That thing has gotten me laid SO many times. Dude is still working. I’m probably gonna hire him for my next birthday party.


      • hanker for a hunk of, a slab, a slice, a chunk of, as a snack it is a winner, and yet won’t spoil my dinner…

        Aaagh, what have you done to me??? I’m going to be singing this all day! Look, a wagon wheel!

        • Anonymous

          Sunshine on a stick!

    • Thank you

  • chrisineckington

    The Prisoner

    • The Prisoner was must-watch in my house in the 70s. Such a good show. I netflixed a couple, and they were as good as I remembered.

  • Brodey

    Peep Show!

    • Anonymous

      Another vote for peep show! Also spaced and IT crowd are good UK series.

      Kids in the hall. Canadian is foreign, right? According to kids in the hall cast member, Dave foley, they’re like Americans, but without guns.

    • Anonanonanon

      Another for Peep Show! And The Prisoner!

    • Me

      Plus one for peep show. Can’t wait to see the new season when it gets released in the us.

      “That Mitchell and Webb look” also

      • Anonymous

        Mitchell and Webb look is also good, all their stuff is. I can’t get enough of the Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Skits.

        • Me


        • nonnymrs

          Number Wang!

    • +1 on Peep Show!! One of my favorites

    • yunkstahn

      A thousand times yessssss for Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look!!!

  • Anonymous

    Ballykissangel (especially the first several seasons), a show set in Ireland, currently being shown here on PBS:UK.

  • you plonker!!

    ‘only fools and horses’ – greatest sitcom ever!!!!

  • Shelby

    Not foreign or old, but definitely lesser known: Frisky Dingo, made by the same guys who created Archer. It’s a cartoon, but definitely not a kid’s show.

    Also, I’d have to recommend Look Around You, which is a British send-up of old-school educational films. They’re short (8-10 minutes), extremely funny episodes, and it’s available on YouTube. Definitely worth a look.

    • BOOSH. Frisky Dingo is a favorite of mine as well.

      • nonnymrs

        Frisky Dingo was a nice reprieve from the election.

  • RozCat

    In the old category: It’s before my time, but a few years ago I learned about and saw a couple of episodes of a 60s urban drama series called “Eastside/Westside” and loved it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Side/West_Side). Compared to the “gritty realism” of today, it might seem tame and almost campy, but’s it’s amazing to watch it in historical context, since so many of its contemporaries were fantasy/action oriented or far removed from the social issues of the day (Beaver, Jeannie, Bewitched, Andy Griffin, westerns, etc. )

  • RJS

    Red Dwarf – British Sci-Fi/Comedy. Except for the last season. I’d say Doctor Who, but it’s become pretty well known in the US the last several years.

    • Anonymous

      Red Dwarf is my absolute fave, we used to have the entire old series on VHS!

    • anon

      I love Red Dwarf. Watched the first 3 season on PBS growing up. Saturday nights were Red Dwarf followed by Dr. Who.

      I got into the early seasons of East Enders also through PBS…

  • Anonymous

    The UK version of Life on Mars.

  • Anonymous

    Never heard of these…I’mm more of a “Cheers” kinda guy

  • Anonymous

    Eerie, Indiana.

    • Anonymous

      I love the Tupperware episode

      • Anonymous

        A short-lived, but great weird show.

  • PG

    Get a Life. Chris Elliott’s a genius. Around the same time he did the cable (maybe on HBO) specials, Action Family and FDR: A One Man Show. Brilliant stuff.

    Buffalo Bill. I vaguely remember seeing this when I was 12 or 13 and not really getting into it now. I’m watching the first season on dvd now and it’s hilarious. Long before Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dabney Coleman played a funny character who’s completely self-centered and kind of a jerk.

    Mr. Show. Some of the best sketch comedy ever on tv.

  • Anonymous

    Keeping up Appearances

    • Anonymous

      The Bucket lady!

      • “It’s Bouquueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!”

    • Anon

      Lady of the house speaking!

    • Ha! Great show. I love Onslow.

      • DC20009

        Agreed – Onslow is on my list of potential dog names….

    • chln

      MY FAVORITE! That, and “Are You Being Served?” Fantastic.

  • Anonymous

    Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld. It’s the only talk show worth watching. It’s obscure because it’s on at 3 AM, but that’s what dvr’s are for. Most of you won’t even give it a chance because it’s on Fox News, but it’s a really hilarious show. Reminds me of early Lettermen and early Howard Stern (back when both of them used to be funny and edgy.)

  • Anonymous

    The Young Ones. I really need to buy the dvd box set. Or I could watch vhs tapes of it on my video. Yes, we HAVE a video!!!

    • +1,00,000 for The Young Ones!

      To live! (clap clap clap) love! (clap clap clap) there’s a song to be sung! ‘Cause we may not be the young ones very long!!!

      I still have them all on VHS. My favorite Neil quote from when they ran out of money to buy food: “What do you expect me to do… photSYNTHESIZE?”

      • +1 for The Young Ones

      • Neil teaches urban sustainable agriculture. “We sow the seed. Nature grows the seed. Then, we eat the seed!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X2GD5C_wHY

      • Anonymous

        I loved watching it on MTV in the 80s. I appreciated it even more when I was a study abroad student in England. The university I went to had an Anarchist Society!

        • Anonymous

          120 Minutes

    • sinequinnon

      I was just reminded of a YOUNG ONES episode again today. I ordered a bunch of pairs of socks with stripes or (arguably) fun patterns. Today I am wearing a pair with little knomes all over. I am reminded of the episode wher a garden knome comes to life and I think Adrian might whack it in the head? Was it the episode where Neil is in a dress? Who knows. Great show, poor memory.

  • Anonymous

    Eastern Europe’s favorite cat and mouse team, Worker & Parasite!

  • senie

    I like UK shows. All the costume dramas, but for modern shows right now I’m loving:

    Luther: A supercool detective series starring Idris Elba. {swoon}

    Mistfits: a vulgar, crass, and often filthy show about young dumb 20-ish a-holes doing community service for minor crimes. There is freaky storm that gives them super and not-so-super powers and awesome wackiness ensues. It’s on hulu.

  • Anonymous

    Da Ali G Show.

    • TG

      Yep. It gave us both Borat and Bruno. Had more people watched it they would have had less of a chance of falling prey to his schtick. Respect.

    • “So, like, you killed Marge?”
      – Ali G to OJ Simpson

      One of the greatest lines in the history of television.

  • Foreign:
    1. Come Fly with Me – I hope they do more seasons as it freaking hilarious!
    2. Foyle’s War – good period detective series
    3. Top Gear – the American version SUX!
    4. MI-5 – a little cheesy but adicting

    1. Wonder Years – thank you Netflix for bringing it back.
    2. Rosanne

    • I love MI-5 because you never know when they are going to suddenly kill off or disappear a main character. Keeps the audience on their toes.

  • anonymous

    The Catherine Tate Show (BBC). It only ran for two or three seasons, but it was a brilliant show. Plus, Catherine Tate herself is incredibly gifted at comedic acting. If you’re into British humour, give it a try. Some of it is on YouTube, but you can get the whole thing on Netflix.

    • I love Catherine Tate!

      • DC20009

        Agreed! I am happy to see her on “The Office” though they hardly use her at all. Hopefully they’re paying tons of cash though.

  • Anonymous

    The Krofft Supershow. If you grew up in the 70s, you know what I’m talking about!

  • Anonymous

    Police Squad!, Sledge Hammer, the original Hawaii 5-0, Hee Haw (goofy show, but it featured some amazing musical performances, the Ernest Angley Show (me and my brother always loved watching him “heal” people.)

  • MaryMay

    Ab Fab- the first three seasons esp.

    Footballers’ Wives- I love an over the top soap. So trashy!

    • Oh God, Footballers’ Wives is the BEST. Bless that Tanya Turner and her devious ways.

  • Anonymous

    The 4400.

  • Anonymous

    Freaks and Geeks.

    • CODEL


  • Skins (UK version) because I love me some teen drama.

    Kingdom because Stephen Fry rocks and I can be a grown-up sometimes.

    7 up series: talks to group of kids at age 7, then every 7 years after.

    The Riches: Eddie Izzard FTW.

    • I love the 7 Up series!

      • Anonymous

        Isn’t it a series of movies? Or were the movies originally broadcast on the BBC?

        • They were broadcast on TV. They’ve done other countries too, Netflix has them.

        • Also, because I’m anal about this sort of thing, they weren’t originally on BBC they were on ITV. Though BBC has them now as far as I know.

    • opalescent

      Love the Riches! I was so sad when it just ended, no resolution to the story lines.

  • TG

    For foreign I will go with the original Office. Ricky Gervais was great. Also, let’s not forget Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It kind of set the stage for every great irreverant and smart bit of comedy that has come after it.

    Old School domestic – there were so many sit coms i enjoyed as a kid. Different Strokes, Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, …. Dramas were A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Magnum PI … and on and on.

    • Yes! The original “Office” with Ricky Gervais is brilliant. Also “Extras.”

  • ShawGuy

    No love for Fawlty Towers?

    • PG

      Lots of love for it here!

    • Anonymous

      I love Fawlty Towers! John Cleese at his best, and I am counting Monty Python.


  • Anonymous

    Ultra Man, Johnny Socko, Star Blazers.

  • pru

    Little Britain is so funny. My hairdresser, who’s not the most cheerful guy, told me it was the funniest show, and he was right.

    I miss Rude Awakening, a sitcom about a few people in AA, with Sherilyn Fenn. She pretty.
    Three whole seasons, and impossible to view it anywhere.

  • Anonymous

    Pop Ràpid. It’s a Catalan series (filmed in Barcelona) that uses humor and hyperbole to make fun of the hipster (moderno) culture. It also show cases Catalan bands every episode. It’s funny, clever, very Catalan, and very hipster. Portlandia would be very proud. Without subtitles I only understand about 60% of the actual dialogue… it’s almost completely in Catalan with a tiny bit of English when the situation allows. Está molt be! Season 2 is about to start : http://www.tv3.cat/pop-rapid

    • pru

      Wow, moltes mercès for that link! I will take a look and see how much Catalan I still understand. I hope it shows a lot of the city and a lot of the tapas too…

  • Super Rookie Ranger, on the Arirang Korean channel. Ridiculous dramedy about a young guy who gets accidentally drafted to Korea’s secret service agency. Facial closeups of people crying dramatically or looking suspicious abound!

  • Anonymous

    The Dana Carvey Show.

  • maria

    Hélène et les Garçons!!! Probably no one knows about this one. A 90s sitcom about college students in Paris.

    As for current one: Pramface on BBC.

    • pru

      With all due respect, not!! Helene et les Garcons still sucks, a lot, twenty years later! Saw piece of a rerun a few months ago, so awful!

      • maria

        You have to be a 13 year old girl to appreciate. ;P

  • So, Just Sayin’

    Here’s an old one from the U.S. — The Edge of Night.

    It was a daytime serial (a soap opera, if you must) that focused on crime, mystery, and suspense. It was originally proposed to be the TV version of the Perry Mason radio serial, but Gardner nixed the proposal and so Procter & Gamble went on anyway with the same concept, but giving different names to the characters.

    They had all sorts of creepy stories — the Puppet Killer, a crazy lady chasing a newswoman in the studio at night with ridiculously big scissors, cultists, a “haunted” movie set, and tons of stories with organized crime.

    Here’s an example – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9sVm_Wmdtc&playnext=1&list=PL3A15BAEB7D61CF35&feature=results_main

    • oh my gosh, the Edge of Night! I went to after school day care for a year or so, and the lady who ran it scheduled our naptime to coincide with Edge of Night. I never slept – I would watch along with her out of the corner of my eye. Do you know if it’s on netflix?

      • So, Just Sayin’

        I don’t know anything about DVD, but for a while AOL was re-airing episodes, and people have downloaded them and put them up on YouTube, going back at least to 1979.

        Speaking of, I just looked up and found one that was burned into my childhood brain — one with a crazy lady and some really really big scissors chasing a heroine around a studio at night — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gl2TjV92H0

        Funny the things that stick in your head all these years later!

  • Anonymous

    Schoolhouse Rock

  • Florista

    Suzy, Private Secretary (“Oh, Mr. Sands!!”) On every weeknight at 2:30 a.m. when I went to Georgetown. Yes, I’m old, but not as old as that series!

    • DC20009

      Yes! Susan Camille McNamara and also Cagey Calhoun.

    • Anonymous

      Ann Sothern was fantastic in Private Sec, what a figure in those days.

  • Anonymous

    The Red/Green Show
    Kids in the Hall

    Gavin and Stacy
    Top Gear

    Spanish Language:
    “Los Plateados” telenovela

  • Florista

    Let’s not forget The Twilight Zone…used to give me nightmares!!

  • Anonymous

    Are You Being Server.

  • The Marchioness of Londonderry

    Foreign: “Outnumbered” ….too funny.


    • Jill

      love outnumbered!!!! super funny!

    • DC20009

      I like the show, but really sometimes those kids are just too much – it’s a total wall of sound! I get to wishing the parents would just put them all in time out.

    • Anonymous

      Oh yeah, and Saxondale, too.

  • Anonymous

    What’s Happening! I wish more than season 1 was available on dvd.

  • Eckington

    Outnumbered is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. I finally figured out why it works, the kids behave and talk like kids and not like mini adults.

    Second is “Coupling” love it, love it.

    Third, Hogan Heroes dubbed in German, lived in Germany for a while and would laugh like crazy.

  • Better Off Ted was a short-lived ABC sitcom and represents perhaps the greatest office-based-sitcom to never feature Steve Carell. Portia de Rossi steals the show as the protagonist’s (Ted, played by Jay Harrington) ladder-climbing heartless and singularly-motivated corporate bitch of a boss. She is spectacular. Equally phenomenal was supporting cast-member Jonathan Slavin, who played a super nerdy lab type with butt-buddy Malcolm Barrett. Their childish awkward man-child interactions are only surpassed by rare exchanges between Slavin and de Rossi, whom he cherishes and adores more than life itself, in her presence instantly becoming a determined but surprisingly lucid nerd man on a mission. Better Off Ted is streaming on Netflix, last I checked. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_Off_Ted

    • Wow. I thought I was the only person in the world who watched that show! It was pretty brilliant.

    • RJS

      For a network sitcom that actually ran for two (short) seasons, this show got no attention from anyone anywhere. Just really puzzling. I could see the cancellation coming a mile away, but it was still a bummer.

    • DC20009

      Yes yes! I admit I still am a little afraid of Portia diRossi and still have a little crush on Jay Harrington.

  • Any show with Lucha Libre. I love it so much that I’ve often asked my wife to buy me one of the Lucha Libre paintings hanging in El Tamarindo as gift to hang in the spare bedroom that doubles as my study.

    • Oh, and Dukes of Hazzard. I have the entire show on DVD (even the bad ones with Cousins Coy and Vance.

      • dcd

        +1. Perhaps the best theme song ever.

  • Tony Newman
  • Anonymous

    For sentimental reasons, a bunch of the old Nick at Nite reruns that I used to watch with my grandfather when I was a kid: Bewitched, Dobie Gillis, Green Acres, Dragnet, The Patty Duke Show; and in later years, Wings reruns on USA (pretty silly show, but for some reason, it left me with a lingering soft spot for Tim Daly.)

    (For those with cable, I’ve noticed Logo’s been airing a ton of Bewitched reruns lately.)

  • Florista

    The Twilight Zone. Used to give me nightmares!

  • 75 responses and no one has mentioned “Trailer Park Boys” or “The Mighty Boosh!” And of course the tragically short-lived “Firefly.” I also wound up liking “Farscape,” though it took a little while to get into.

    • James

      +1 to victoria for The Mighty Boosh. I came here just to recommend that show. I got in to it while working in the UK for a while, though it eventually ran at 2 am on Adult Swim for some period of time. The humor (humour?) is absolutely fantastic.

    • +1000 for Firefly


    I love British comedies. My favorites are:

    Spaced – Simon Pegg before Shaun of the Dead
    Father Ted – Hilarious show about three Catholic Priests
    The Thick of It – Political Satire at its best with the great Malcolm Tucker

  • dcd

    For the win – Magnum, P.I.

    Liked Airwolf, too.

  • jen

    Qi – a British panel quiz show that’s actually interesting, but also frequently hilarious. All the episodes can be found on youTube for free.

    Kingdom – also British, about a lawyer in a small town, a drama but has some funny moments as well. It ran for 2 or 3 seasons, and was all available on hulu last I checked.

  • KenyonDweller

    Star Trek, the original. It’s not lesser known, but it is certainly old.

  • Anonther

    Slings and Arrows.
    Canadian show about a Shakespeare Company’s foibles.

  • Lori

    Anyone remember Prisoner Cell Block H?

  • Anonymous

    Welcome Back Kotter

  • Anonymous

    Party Down. Are we having fun yet?

    • I forgot about that one! Great show.

      • maria

        THE BEST.

  • H.R. Pufnstuf anyone? I still remember all the words to the theme song.

    • KenyonDweller

      You are apparently my little sister’s age.

    • Anonymous

      It was part of Krofft Supershow, mentioned above.

  • anon

    WKRP in Cincinnati.


    • Anonymous

      loved Square Pegs
      also The Paper Chase

  • KenyonDweller

    Liquid Television.

  • Has anyone said Eastenders yet? Old episodes run on WETA on weekend mornings. I was totally hooked on that, and another British soap called Doctors I think, when I lived in foreign climes.

  • Dougal

    Father Ted!

  • The Thick of It. It’s like a cross between The Offfice and The West Wing with lots of swearing. Armando Ianucci is a genius.

    Boys from the Black Stuff. When American tv was showing us Dallas and Dynasty the BBC was portraying the lives of real people living under Thatcher.

    The Scheme. It’s sort of like The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virigina but set in a housing scheme in Scotland. kind of liking watching a car wreck.

  • Anonymous

    Sleeper Cell

  • Modern: The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. One of the funniest shows I watched in a long time.

  • Sir Douchy

    Top Gear (UK) – the most popular tv show in the world (yes it is, look it up!).

  • Anonymous

    Small Wonder

  • park

    Like many have said, TOP GEAR! (UK)

  • Snarky

    Another vote for Top Gear (UK). Has to be the best show on the planet, hands down, no contest, it just is so don’t argue.

  • anotheranon

    Father Ted.

    Green Wing.

    • I LOVE GREEN WING. Seriously, when it became available on Hulu one of the girls I studied abroad with in London emailed me to let me know, because I wouldn’t shut up about it while we were there.

  • Anonymous

    Lucky Louie (Louis CK’s first sitcom)


    The Corner (do mini-series count?)

  • BBC addict:
    Cold Feet
    The Office
    Doc Martin
    Monarch of the Glen

    • Gee

      Born and Bred

  • Anonymous


    If you’re from Washington, Almost Live was truly amazing. A regional Saturday Night Live is probably the best way to describe it.

    High-fiving white guys!
    Billy Quan!
    Uncle Fran’s Musical Forest!

    • DC20009

      I lived in Seattle for a few years in the early 1990s, and Almost Live was like a Pacific Northwest orientation class for me. The Ballard jokes still kill me – Swedes vs. Nowegians? Who knew there was a difference?

  • ha haha these are some great ones.
    i second Eastenders, also Sanford and Son!

  • Pcat

    Robin Hood with Richard Greene.

  • I almost forget The Critic! Any other fans?

    • I. Rex

      Love that show! Incredibly funny. The only weak parts of the show were the movie parodies.

    • Great show.

    • BitterElitist

      hatchi matchi!! Duke’s Chicken and Waffles!

  • Kvatch

    UFO … the cheesiest of cheesy Sci-fi series from the 70’s. It was an ITN show–the same production company that put out Space 1999 a few years later. The latter wasn’t nearly as much fun.

  • The Red Green Show, anyone?

  • Anonymous

    This is a great thread, thanks PoP, I have so much TV to watch!

  • Mission Hill
    Father Ted
    Invader Zim

    • Anonymous



      Strangers With Candy

  • Austin

    The Saint
    Roger Moore was super in this pre Bond Secret Agent series. Was very fab at the time, might seem to corny compared to Daniel Craig. Was addicted to late night reruns when I was in grad school.

  • Anonymous
  • Anon

    Austin Stories on MTV was a pretty good but short lived show.

  • Emily

    Summer Heights High – it is an Australian mockumentary series that was on HBO back in 2007. AMAZING!

  • Griffinsis

    Nobody for Black Books? By far my favorite BBC comedy. Dylan Moran is brilliant and it really strikes a cord if your an antisocial introvert who has ever worked in retail. And though it weird and campy, Hamish Macbeth is worth a watch if you like Scotland, westies, and Robert Carlyle.

  • Ooh, I’m a fan of British television–lots of good series. Some of my (obscure) favorites:

    The Sandbaggers. British intelligence service (clearly meant to be MI6), Cold War politics, bureaucrats, and some wide ties. Not an action series.

    Testament of Youth. Adaptation of Vera Brittain’s memoir of WWI.

    Tenko. British women in Japanese POW camp during WWII.

  • Coupling! it’s a 90’s or early aught BBC sitcom. Basically a funnier, raunchier version of Friends.

  • Mito Komon, a samurai drama (gekijo!) from Japan.

  • Lor

    Brass Eye.

  • BitterElitist

    Mexican telenovelas…especially the teen-oriented ones like Son~adoras!

  • BitterElitist

    The PJs (produced by Eddie Murphy).

  • jt

    Maybe I just skipped over it, but has NO ONE mentioned “Trailer Park Boys”?? Beyond that, I second/fiftieth/whatever “Peep Show” and Top Gear (UK, not US)


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