Sci-Fi and Brit Wit

If you’re a science fiction fan, you probably know about Amazon Prime’s “The Expanse” — the best SF show on television ever. But you may not have heard of “Dark,” a German show running on Netflix.

Complete in three seasons, “Dark” is a time-travel story so full of plot twists you’ll need a map, or at least a family tree. Fortunately, each episode rewards multiple viewings. The acting is good, the directing great, and the casting and makeup work are astonishing.

Don’t want to commit to a series right now? Check out “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” the film Taika Waititi made in between “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” It’s more like the former than the latter: a small, sweet, New Zealandish movie. 

Personally, I have little patience for films that wear their hearts on their sleeves, and 10 minutes in I was thinking, “OK, so the young boy is going to forge a bond with the crusty old man yadda yadda yadda.” But dang if I wasn’t misting up at the end all the same. And don’t worry, the laughs outweigh the touchy-feely stuff.

Switching gears now, those of us who enjoy British humor but don’t subscribe to Acorn or BritBox can find plenty to enjoy on, believe it or not, YouTube. My personal favorite is a genre that’s very popular in Britain and nonexistent in this country: the panel show.

A panel show looks like a quiz show: Groups of celebrities, mostly comedians, are asked questions by a host. But the point isn’t getting the answer; the point is being funny.  And they can be insanely hilarious … although I probably should mention that none of the comics are censored.

The two best panel shows available on YouTube are “The Big Fat Quiz of the Year” (or “Decade)” and “QI” — which, if you need help remembering it, stands for “quite interesting.” 

“QI” is more about little-known facts of history and science and such, while “Big Fat Quiz” features questions about pop culture. And yes, there are a lot of questions — and a few jokes — that you won’t get because you don’t live in the UK. But there will be enough laughs to keep you sailing through … especially if you look for episodes featuring Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade (teamed together, if possible), Aishling Bee, David Mitchell, Holly Walsh or Sarah Millican.

If you want a straight-up quiz show with civilian contestants, try the amusingly pompous “Mastermind,” which has roughly “Jeopardy!”-level questions, or the insanely difficult but awesomely clever “Only Connect.” Many episodes of both can be found on YouTube, too.

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