Hot days invite binge-watching of great TV series

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2016

By Laurie Lyda

Rowan Public Library

Hot summer weather offers the perfect excuse for binge-watching television, and I always enjoy queuing up a good series and working my way through, episode-by-episode.

While my most recent binge was Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” I always circle back to British series, a staple in my viewing repository. Luckily, Rowan Public Library’s collection houses many of these titles, and the 10 DVD checkout limit per patron account, combined with the two-week checkout period, offers everyone a chance to catch up on some good television.

Based on Winston Graham’s novels, the series “Poldark” stars Aidan Turner (“Being Human,” “The Hobbit” trilogy). Turner’s Ross Poldark is a broody hero who returns home to Cornwall after serving in the American War of Independence.

Believed dead by family and friends, his return is met with mixed reactions, and drama ensues as Poldark works to restore his father’s lands and his own reputation. The beautiful landscape accents the compelling performances and storylines, and I’ve been anxious for new episodes since finishing my season one binge.

With the news that season two is (finally!) filming and will air later this year, you’ve got just enough time to catch up on Poldark’s adventures so far. “Poldark” and Graham’s novels are part of RPL’s collection.

“Call The Midwife” is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a former nurse who worked in London’s East End after World War II. The series captures the changes wrought in daily lives and attitudes by technological and medical advances, as well as shifting cultural ideals and values.

Jenny’s perspective anchors the first three seasons, and I worried that the departure of her character (played by Jessica Raine) would leave a gaping hole in the show’s tapestry. My worry was needless; season four brings the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus House into the 1960s and fleshes out the ensemble cast. Vanessa Redgrave, as an older Jenny, continues to provide voiceovers, which helps build continuity with the earlier, Jenny-focused seasons.

Renewed for a sixth season, the show continues to be inspired by Worth’s writings. All five released seasons of “Call The Midwife” and Worth’s memoirs are part of RPL’s collection.

Martin Clunes stars in “Doc Martin” as Dr. Martin Ellingham, a famed vascular surgeon who develops a sudden onset of haemophobia, the fear of blood. Unable to perform surgery, he becomes general practitioner for the small village of Portwenn, where his aunt Joan (Stephanie Cole) lives.

Ellingham is not, however, used to village life, and he has little patience for his patients and their quirks – though he learns to work on that. The cast of characters is quirky and memorable, and the picturesque backdrop of Port Isaac, Cornwall, lends itself well to the fictional Portwenn. The villagers accept their “Doc Martin” before he fully accepts them, and Clunes deftly portrays his character’s cantankerous, yet often sympathetic persona.

The series is based, in part, upon “Doc Martin: The Movies,” though the series departs significantly from the films’ narrative. Recently renewed for an eighth and final season that will air in 2017, all seven released seasons of “Doc Martin,” as well as “Doc Martin: The Movies,” are part of RPL’s collection.

Cartoon festival: Aug. 27, Saturday Morning Cartoon Festival, 10:30 a.m.-noon, East branch, Rockwell, featuring Donald Duck. Light refreshments.

Friend of RPL Concert Series: Headquarters, Aug. 30, 7 p.m.; doors open 6:30. Bob Carlin, one of the best-known clawhammer banjo players. He has traveled through the country and the world with his Southern banjo style. He is also a music producer and traditional music researcher. Free.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Tuesday, Aug. 30, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “Peter Pan.” Need a copy? Call 704-216-7731. Sept. 27, “The Graveyard Book.”

Weekly events for children, Sept. 12-Nov. 18

Baby Time: A loosely interactive program of simple stories and songs for infants up to 23 month with parent or guardian. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.

Toddler Time: Sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills for children 18-35 months with parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Reading Rumpus, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Tammie’s Tot Time, Mondays at 11; South, Toddler Time, Tuesdays, 10:30.

Tiny Tumblers: Introducing simple stories, musical scarves and instruments for ages 6-23 months. Same program is offered twice a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays at South, 10:30 a.m.

Preschool Time: Encourages the exploration of books and builds reading readiness skills for children 3- to 5-years-old with parent or caregiver. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Noodle Head Story Times: Children of all ages can listen to silly books and tales together. 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays at 4 p.m.; East, Mondays, 4 p.m.

Art programs: Activities and instruction based on various themes and media vary by branch. Pre-kindergarten through fifth grade; 30-45 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Bethany’s Brushes, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, art class, 4.

Tail Waggin’ Tutors: Children 7-9 can practice their reading skills in a relaxed, dog-friendly atmosphere. Reading therapy dogs registered through Therapy Dogs International are available for beginning and struggling readers to read aloud to them. Reservations recommended, not required. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Mondays, 3:30 p.m., Sept. 12 and 26, Oct. 10 and 24.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at East branch meeting room, Tuesdays, 5 p.m., Sept. 13-May 2017.

Lego Free Play: Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., East, 110 Broad St., Rockwell. Legos are a toy that has been cited for developing creativity, imagination, systematic reasoning and problem solving The library’s collection will be available for free play, or bring your own.

Anime club: For teens, Sept. 6, 4:30-5:30 p.m., headquarters, all things Anime.

Teen Advisory Board: Teens who join provide input on teen programming and book selection, as well as discussing current events and issues. Meets once a month at each library location from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Members can count hours of participation toward school community service requirements. Sept. 8, South, China Grove; Sept. 12, East, Rockwell; Sept 27, headquarters.

Dr. Who’s Days: Sept. 13, 4:30-6 p.m., headquarters, Travel through time and space with screenings of the classic BBC program, “Dr. Who.”

Displays: Headquarters, Communities in Schools and Anime; East, pottery collection by Lennie Cooper; South, dolls, by Rowan County Doll Society.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.