I've been slowly working my way through HG Wells' 'The Outline Of History'. Although the last revised edition from 1971, there are things in the opening chapters, on life before humanity, human evolution and prehistoric life that have been superseded by later research (for instance, he probably relied more on Frazier for his theories on sacrifice and early religion than a later writer would have). Still, much of it is still very sound. It was the first major history to be based on an evolutionary, psychoanalytical and rational view of our story on this planet, and there is indeed grandeur in this view of life.
I recently finished watching all 4 seasons of Blackadder. I think it may be the best comedy series ever. There's an undercurrent of snotty-nosed social and historical commentary, or just plain snarkiness, which is a good substitute, running through it all, great running jokes and at all points a superb ensemble cast to carry out the comedic hi-jinks. A cunning plan, indeed.
Now nursing my sweet tooth for British comedy with the first season of Jeeves & Wooster and stray episodes of Mind Your Language, which relies considerably on national stereotypes for its humour but pleases with its essentially good-natured style and the large, somewhat demented cast.