Currently Streaming: Acorn TV's Top 10 Shows

There's a certain calm that comes from watching international TV. Netflix isn't aimed at a global audience. No PBS viewers from other countries Fans of obscure comedies and/or science fiction from around the world Simply, shows that aren't created with American viewers (or critics, or the latest buzz on a topic) in mind. The pressure to join in on hashtag watercooler discussions about a foreign-made TV show is nullified, and the experience is free of the baggage that comes with watching TV made for a native audience. Having an intellectual and ideological investment in the art created for my American eyes is wonderful, but sometimes it's nice to just relax and enjoy a good serial story.

For international viewers interested in British programming, Acorn TV is one of two major subscription streaming services* to choose from. Acorn TV distributes content from all over the world, including the English-speaking world (Australia, New Zealand, Canada) and Europe (Sweden, Spain, France), not just Ireland and the United Kingdom.

(*BritBox is profiled here; it's the international streamer officially from BBC and ITV.)

With deeper ties to this side of the Atlantic (i.e. e Acorn TV is less comprehensive than its BBC/ITV-backed competitor, and its slightly lower monthly subscription price reflects this. Acorn TV is owned by AMC Networks, whose portfolio also includes BBC America, IFC, and Sundance Now. What it lacks in quantity, in-depth vault access, and next-day soap/news/panel show content, it makes up for in its international reach, the precision with which it curates its quirky comedies and cozy mysteries, and in the rapid development of its slate of Acorn Originals. Everyone who has ever loved British(ish) television will find something to their liking on Acorn TV, which features everything from complex longform murder mysteries to short, sharp sitcoms.

Cost: 99 per month (or per 99 yearly, with a free trial for the first 7 days (And, you guessed it, yearly subscriptions make great presents.) )

If you live in the United States, you should visit the digital services section of your public library's website. S make RBdigital's streaming of Acorn TV available to your patrons at no cost. Please inquire if your library is not listed. Put your library to work for you and witness its enchantment.

You can watch it on Roku, iTunes, Google Play, Android TV, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV (on compatible devices), or you can go to to watch it online or subscribe to it as an Amazon add-on (only available to Amazon Prime members).

What Sets It Apart: Attention, all Anglophiles In addition to anglophiles, this book will appeal to canadianophiles, kiwiphiles, and people looking for a good Scandi-inspired crime drama. Scripted dramas, particularly mysteries and cozies, reign supreme, but modern comedies, foreign language thrillers, and meandering, arty reality fare also do well.

What You'll Find Here: Acorn is one of the specialty streaming services that is regularly used in the homes of Paste's writers, and we have enough absolute favorites to make this list a traditional Top 10. Acorn TV, like many other niche streaming services, organizes its content into a small number of distinct (albeit densely populated) categories. As such, we hope you enjoy the lightning round we've included as an afterthought; it features selections from across Acorn's major categories that just missed our Top 10 cut. In addition, mystery fans can peruse our roster of plucky Acorn Television female detectives.


Strange Highway

Acorn TV Original Mysteries, Exclusive to Acorn TV
Originates down under

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Mystery Road is billed by Acorn as "Australia's answer to True Detective," but the multiple award-winning series is actually more similar in tone to Bosch. shot with a cinematically breathtaking sense of sun-baked noir, it follows a stoic detective (Aaron Pedersen) who is so driven by a sense of moral righteousness that he ends up a lone wolf in a sea of institutional and cultural corruption.

Regardless, we think you should watch Mystery Road because it contains some of the most stunningly beautiful shots we've ever seen in a television program. Cinematographer Mark Wareham has received numerous nominations for his work on this series. However, the fact that Pedersen and the detective he plays, Jay Swan, are both Aboriginal only adds to the show's popularity. ...and that the rural crimes he ends up investigating are shaped by generations of institutional racism and injustice. The murders in the first season revolve around the question of who has (or should have) rights to access a cattle station's sole natural water source, which, not incidentally, is located on land that was once owned by a white family. is a holy place for the indigenous population, and the upcoming second season will explore the brutal legacy of colonialism in a remote northern fishing village when it premieres on October 12 and continues on a weekly basis through the fall. Anyone browsing Acorn TV's library will quickly realize that it's overwhelmingly populated by white people. The availability of a show like Mystery Road, which depicts the Aboriginal people of Australia with nuance and respect, is therefore all the more impressive. is crucial, but serving as a template for future shows that will feature similarly rich diversity and complexity is even more so.

Hidden Path: The Beginning

Mystery, Exclusive to Acorn TV, First-Run on Acorn TV Original
Originating in Australia

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Mark Coles Smith stars as a younger, greener version of the role Pedersen originated, giving the canonically laconic solo investigator more than just emotional depth in Mystery Road: Origin, which is set just before Y2K in the abandoned streets of Detective Jay Swan's tiny mining hometown. but a tangle of complicated ties to family and wounds from early life Facts about Pedersen's Jay, such as when and how he meets Mary (Tuuli Narkle), when and how he loses his father (Kelton Pell), when and how (and where) he becomes a father, don't fit in with any of this. where he actually grew up before starting his career as a detective e , where his "country" is) --but that's beside the point With a focus on the most visually arresting vistas of the Australian Outback and the kind of season-long mystery rooted in baked-in racism and the unquestioned legacy of settler colonialist abuse that have long put Mystery Road in a genre class of its own. When it comes to international mystery series, Americans are missing out, but Mystery Road: Origin is more than capable of picking up where the original left off.

Mr./Ms./Ms. Volpe

Classification: Acorn Original Mysteries
British (via Umbria) origin.

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The fact that Signore Volpe even exists is its greatest strength. As a former spy turned private investigator, Emilia Fox's character travels to Umbria to visit her sister before deciding to stay. Does she sneak around trying to solve mysteries from the past and the present? She does Does she begin an adult romantic relationship with the respected head of the neighborhood police force? She does How does she manage it all while being so far away from her oil-slick MI5 ex (Jamie Bamber)? She does

The fact that there are only three episodes of Signora Volpe is, therefore, its most glaring flaw. True, each of the three episodes is over 80 minutes long, but even so: Emilia Fox stars as a former spy turned private investigator. Where the hills of Umbria are warm and full of wine And only three episodes are provided. Un orrore


Mystery, Acorn Original Series
Originates: United Kingdom

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Dalgliesh is a new detective show set in the past and starring Bertie Carvel as DCI Adam Dalgliesh. He was written by the acclaimed English author P D James, who acted as his counterpart for the better part of four decades (1962–2008), Dalgliesh is portrayed by James as something of a paradox; he is a highly respected poet and a quiet, competent detective working for London's New Scotland Yard. When you consider that he is also a recently widowed man, it's easy to see why he would be a prestige casting dream for any TV detective show.

The show requires more effort than your typical British cozy mystery. And I'd argue that, despite having a ton of great early-'70s era details and none of the gore and grim-dark elements typical of the snow noir or prestige anti-hero models that have been the cozy mystery's most popular foils in recent years, it's still one of the best. Dalgliesh is not going for a warm and fuzzy effect. Columbo, another shining example of police work in the 1970s, is the only other television detective series I can think of to compare this to. Both detectives—and thus the audience—are on the solution before Dalgliesh even arrives on the scene, and he plays the scruffy, meddlesome clown to trick his main suspect into revealing all. both shows are completely committed to the characters' lives and deaths. Dalgliesh's enduring, preternatural stillness makes Bertie Carvel's almost meditative, while Columbo's persistent cleverness makes Peter Falk's series a study in catharsis. If you're going to watch Dalgliesh, I'm saying, put down your phone, activate the subtitles, and prepare to be enchanted by television that actually believes you'll pay attention. [Read the whole review] ]

Winds from the southwest

Original Acorn Theater Productions Drama
Originating in Ireland

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It's unusual to find a drama from across the pond with an original premise these days, and even more unusual to find one that doesn't involve at least one (and preferably more) heinous crime in a sleepy town or a jaded police officer assigned to solve it. The South Westerlies, Acorn's upcoming original series set in Carrigeen, will arrive on Netflix in 2020, and we cannot wait. Orla Brady (Into the Badlands, Star Trek: Picard) plays Kate Ryan, and her role in The South Westerlies is anything but murderous. a Norwegian wind energy company has sent an environmental consultant to infiltrate the town of her small Irish hometown as an undercover lobbyist for a wind farm that the locals are fiercely opposing. Despite the fact that she got pregnant by her free-spirited ex-husband Baz (Steve Wall) and he wanted to start a pro-surfing career in Hawaii, she left Carrigeen nearly two decades ago. Besides, she alienated herself from everyone she knew by leaving. NorskVentus thinks she's perfect for this covert (albeit environmentally positive) role.

Conor, Kate's now-adult son, plays by Sam Barrett, immediately befriends his absentee father, and the lies Kate must maintain to pull off this job begin to unravel almost immediately. The South Westerlies' short, six-episode first season is built on a familiar, familial drama, but what really makes the show interesting is how the town as a whole deals with its mixed feelings about the proposed wind farm. The town has a very Gilmore Girls feel to it, with residents regularly getting together to voice their support for universal broadband through NorskVentus or their disapproval of the nearby wind farm while simultaneously rallying behind the local youth camogie team. The South Westerlies, in contrast to Gilmore Girls, places greater emphasis on the idea that genuine community buy-in is required for any change in the status quo, even good ones like a new wind farm in the midst of a global climate crisis. which entails engaging in one-on-one conversation and giving people's worries due attention.

The Counterpart

Comedy Original from Acorn Television
Originates: Great Britain

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You hardly need to mess with the formula of an odd couple pairing in order to get something funny. Even so, writers Holly Walsh (a regular panelist on QI) and Pippa Brown took the idea of "a pair of diametrically opposed twentysomething women with the same name discover they're secret half-sisters at their shared dad's funeral" and ran with it, and it worked out wonderfully. Cathy, played by Ellie White, is the uptight middle-class sibling who had a privileged upbringing (think: private school, rowing team, music lessons, etc.). The Other Ones does a good job of avoiding the most obvious traps set by its premise—blood-curdling resentment—thanks in large part to the performances of Lauren Socha as Cat, the cheerfully chill'secret' sister who grew up lower class, has a 'chavvy' accent, and delivers Postmates. between the two Catherines and their mothers, and gives its characters plenty of shared goals and motivations for cooperation. Cat and Cathy's budding friendship is the show's highlight, but there's a big twist in the season one finale that changes everything. No one would have guessed from the trailer alone how closely it resembles the kinds of mysteries shelved next to it in Acorn's digital library. Now that Season 2 has been completed, and because the episodes are only half an hour long, this is one of the most easily bingeable shows on this list over the course of a weekend. A good starting point could be found here.

Ms Fisher's Contemporary Mysteries of Murder

Mystery, an Acorn Original, and exclusive to Acorn TV.
Origin: Down Under

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Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries was the first of a certain subset of plucky lady detective procedurals to hit television, having premiered in Australia in early 2012 and reaching the American market via Acorn TV and PBS the following year. The series, which takes place in late 1920s Melbourne and stars Essie Davis as Miss Phryne Fisher, an international woman of intrigue, adventure, and investigative nerve, quickly became a cult hit and proved how successful a specifically feminine take on the private detective business could be.

Ms Acorn TV's Fisher's Modern Mysteries, an Original spin-off series, has taken that cult hit energy and run with it in its second season. Peregrine, played by Geraldine Hakewill, is Phryne's long-lost niece who, after Phryne disappears in a plane crash in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, inherits more than just her aunt's estate. Ms. Marlowe is a private investigator by trade, and she and her own handsome local detective (Joel Jackson, charmingly filling Page's more serious shoes) are destined to come to romantic blows. While Fisher's Modern Mysteries aren't exactly like Phryne's, they're still delightful enough for Acorn to air them. I mean, Miss Phryne Fisher, who was both a lady detective in old Melbourne and the star of a cozy mystery series on Acorn TV, raised the bar incredibly high. Then it's just our luck that her made-up niece, Ms. Peregrine Fisher, with the help of his newfound leg strength (and go-go boots), can now leap to the same height.

Raisin, Agatha

Cozy Mystery; Acorn Original Series
The United Kingdom

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Slapstick comedy à la Miss Marple, but with a sexier twist Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is as accidental a detective as Jean White, but with the sharp bob and keen fashion sense of Phryne Fisher, and she is both bright and bold and brazenly unconcerned about how big a mismatch her lifestyle is for the tiny Cotswolds village she decamps to at the start of the series. She may not have the training of a professional detective, but Agatha is your woman if you prefer your mysteries solved without the aid of such things as training or decorum. Agatha Raisin's goofy pluck is a breath of fresh air, combining elements of a Cotswolds cozy with those of Scooby-Doo.


Comedy, exclusive to Acorn TV
Origin: the United Kingdom

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The wonderfully atypical Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones play two regular blokes who discover happiness and purpose in their sleepy English village through metal detecting in Detectorists, one of the kindest series on television. As it turns out, business is fierce, and Crook does an outstanding job of elevating even the most minute details, victories, and skirmishes to the level of the epic. Detectorists is a relaxed show that enjoys depicting the men's search for ancient treasure in the countryside (before they give up and head to the pub). In an objective sense, not much happens over the course of the show's three seasons, and yet, it is utterly captivating and heartbreakingly beautiful. Maybe the most evocative line comes from Johnny Flynn's theme song: "Will you search through the lonely earth for me?" Bramble and briar up your way. I am your prize... come and get me, I've been waiting for you. There are only 19 episodes spread across three seasons, but they're all gems. A. Keene, Allison

The Mysterious Queens

Cozy Mystery; Acorn Original Series
The United Kingdom

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Queens of Mystery returned for its long-awaited second season this past January, starring newcomer Florence Hall as the platinum-fringed Detective Sergeant Matilda Stone, the series' reticent young investigative lead who has recently taken a job back in her idyllic hometown.

Queens of Mystery, one of Acorn's most tonally specific Originals to date, is narrated by the ever-charming Juliet Stevenson and features idiosyncratic, almost Pushing Daisies-like aesthetics (a comparison only helped by the occasional break from reality). Matilda's three astute as a stiletto crime writer aunts, Cat (Julie Graham), Jane (Siobhan Redmond), and Beth (Sarah Woodward), give Queens of Mystery its verve and the power to solve mysteries, making it both a family mystery and a "case of the week" procedural. who took care of Matilda after her mother vanished when she was a child (And as Season 1 hinted and Season 2 brought into sharper relief, the aunts' knowledge about Mattie's mom's disappearance runs deeper than they've been letting on.)

Despite the fact that there are only three 2-part mysteries in each of the two seasons of Queens of Mystery, the show makes good use of the time it has. Of course we hope you'll watch the entire series, but if you have to pick just one episode, let it be the first two parts of Season 1's "Death by Vinyl," in which we learn more about ex-rocker Volcanic Youth through their fictitious reunion album. Aunt Cat (Graham), who is bisexual, writes graphic novels. Bonus The songs "Strangled" and "Death by Vinyl" were written specifically for "Death by Vinyl" and are both excellent. Added compensation times two The recording studio the band is terrorized in is located in the most underrated building in all of Britain. Of course, no work of fiction is without flaws, but, in terms of updated versions of the classic British cozy, Almost as good as it gets is Queens of Mystery.

After this, we'll proceed to...
Instant Replay on Acorn TV

Last season of "Doc Martin" has just been released on DVD.
Copy and paste this logline: Martin Clunes is back for one last season of grumpy country GP. Apologies to Dr. Martin, a hemophobic, but blood is almost certainly going to be involved.

Ten Percent Is The Most Common
Logline: The nervously awkward mind behind W1A's comedy adapts the French hit Call My Agent. British actors such as Hamish Patel, David Oyelowo, and Helena Bonham Carter continue the list.

The Whitstable Pearl, a Gritty Crime Drama
Don't let the seemingly cozy tone of this seaside sleuther fool you; Acorn TV is taking a serious swing at British Nordic noir, grit and pearls and all. Review of the Entire First Season] ]

Suspense: My Daily Life Is a Killing
Lucy Lawless bakes bread and solves crimes in a big city in the Antipodes on the reg. (Currently, New Zealand) )

Recipes for Love and Murder: An Escapade to South Africa
Maria Doyle Kennedy bakes everything under the sun and solves crimes in her small South African town like a compulsion.

Darby and Joan, the Australian Drama
Copy and paste this logline about a British widowed retired nurse who meets an Australian widowed retired detective and his possibly indestructible Australian sheepdog and spends the summer in the Australian Outback solving mysteries and maturing as a result of her loss.

Historical Mystery Series: Murdoch Files
Copy logline: A dashing Canadian detective from the Victorian era invents forensic science.

Slings and Arrows, a Dramatic Play
Copy and paste this logline: North American audiences can now stream the hilariously exaggerated and blackly comic events at the fictitious New Burbage Shakespearean Festival.

Highly Recommendable: Foyle's War
A pasted logline: Anthony Horowitz boldly suggests that British citizens back home continued committing crimes as World War II raged. [Read the entire TV retrospective] ]

The lightning round has ended. Exactly why are you stalling? It's too late to save the American experiment. While you still can, binge on the cultural products of post-imperial Britain.

Alexis Gunderson is an audiophile and critic for television. Follow her on Twitter at @AlexisKG.

Follow @Paste_TV for the latest TV-related news, reviews, lists, and features.

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