January 20, 2021

The need to escape

OK. Here we go again. I’ve found a new program to binge on television.

“Escape to the Chateau.”

It’s no secret I love most everything produced for television in the United Kingdom. I could completely do away with my satellite programming if only my husband would agree with me. I could probably just subscribe to Discovery, Disney and Peacock, continue my current subscription to Acorn TV and get my fix of about anything that would pique my interest.

A few of the shows we’ve found ourselves most frequently watching in the evenings include “Life Below Zero,” “Alaska, the Last Frontier,” “Trafficked,” “The Last Alaskan” and of course “Escape to the Chateau.”

The Chateau may sound a little foo-foo, but it ticks every requirement needed to keep me seated in front of the telly for hours on end.

It follows the Strawbridge family (Dick, his wife Angela and their two small kids) as they leave England and purchase a 19th century, 47-room chateau in France in dire need of restoration and renovation.

Dick, an engineer and retired Army lieutenant colonel, has the skill to solve any challenge he encounters — and I mean ANY challenge. His wife Angela has a style all her own — imagine Lucille Ball’s hair and Lauren Bacall or Katharine Hepburn’s wardrobe on a 42-year-old woman with an English accent broad enough I often find myself translating her dialogue for Mick. It’s not only her personal style but her choices for bringing the old castle back to life that intrigues me. Definitely not something you would ever see at my house, but I think that’s part of what makes it fun.

The couple intends — and succeeds — turning the 12-acre estate into a wedding venue as well as their family home. I don’t think you even need be interested in fixer-upper shows to find this one interesting.

Our other evening go-to is “Life Below Zero,” a BBC production found on National Geographic. Cameras accompany several individuals/families living subsistence lifestyles off-grid in the wilds of Alaska. There are two families of native Alaskans, one woman who owns a fueling station near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and two homesteaders with teams of sled dogs, one of whom competes in the Iditarod.

There are several spin-offs of “Life Below Zero” including “Life Below Zero: The Next Generation” and “Port Protection — Alaska” (another of my favorites).

Then there’s “Trafficked with Mariana van Zeller” also on National Geographic. Van Zeller is an investigative reporter with nerves of steel. She finds her way into the inner circle of drug traffickers, human traffickers, fentanyl dealers and even the scammers making those annoying international calls to most of us numerous times a day. She is bad-a**!

There hasn’t been a single episode we’ve watched when Mick hasn’t said, “I don’t know how she hasn’t been killed yet!”

So anyway ...

I guess what draws me into these programs is the people on the shows live such different lifestyles than my own. I can’t imagine myself being in a location and opening the door to the view of the aurora borealis or living in a castle in the French countryside or even schlepping through the jungle to meet up with a drug lord (admittedly one I have no desire to do).

It touches on my imagination and during the winter in the midst of a pandemic, it gives me a place to escape.

Contact Dana King at dking@shawmedia.com

Dana King

Multitasking duties between the Newton News, PCM Explorer and the Jasper County Tribune.