Unfortunately, most telly watchers who reside in the U.S. today know House of Cards as the more recent, critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated, Netflix original series. Good as it was in season one, I’m still over-the-top more of a fan of the 1990 political thriller by the BBC which was set after the end of Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The original story was adapted by Andrew Davies (Bleak House, Mr. Selfridge, War & Peace) from a novel written by Michael Dobbs who was a former Chief of Staff at Conservative Party headquarters. You be the judge…
1990 House of Cards with Ian Richardson
Francis Urquhart, the fictional Chief Whip of the Conservative Party, played by Ian Richardson, lacks, shall we say, some of the traditional heroic qualities that would be expected of a leading character in a drama. The plot follows his amoral and manipulative scheme to become leader of the governing party following the resignation of Margaret Thatcher which leads the way to becoming the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
2013 House of Cards with Kevin Spacey
Season 1 of the 2013 Netflix adaptation is set in present day Washington, D.C. and begins to tell the story of Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District and House Majority Whip who, after getting passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him.
Netflix just announced that season two of the 2013 reboot will premiere on Friday, February 14, 2014. Nothing screams Valentines Day like a series that involves scheming, deception and cheating. Here’s a just released really cool film noir-style promo for season 2, coming in February 2014.
The original BBC version will return to public television stations nationwide beginning in February. Might be a great time for those that only remember the original to check out the new one and vice versa. Would love to know what you think. While I will continue to believe the original BBC version will forever be superior, what makes them both worth your telly time is that they examine the issues of power, ambition and corruption to the nth degree.
Two major Christmas presents coming your way if you’re in the UK…
#SherlockLives. #Sherlock is Not Dead. “Sherlock Holmes has been gone for two years. But someone isn’t quite convinced that he’s dead…“, so says the cryptic synopsis. Many Happy Returns, a mini-episode of Sherlock has been scheduled to become available via the BBC’s interactive Red Button service beginning Christmas Day. According to the BBC, Many Happy Returns will be available to watch at various intervals between 25 of December and New Year’s Day, when the long-awaited return of the Sherlock S3 proper begins.
According to ITV, the air date and time for Downton Abbey’s Christmas Special has been confirmed. The Crawleys will be back on our TV screens on Christmas Day at 8:30pm on ITV1. The traditional Christmas episode will be broadcast on PBS in the U.S. as the final episode of series 4 on Sunday, February 23 at 9:00p ET/8:00p CT. Word is, that unlike last years Christmas episode, which had the Crawleys leaving Downton on holiday to Scotland, this years episode will focus on Lady Rose’s coming out ball. Rumors that viewers will see the return of Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) and the arrival of Cora’s playboy brother (Paul Giamatti). I so can’t wait for this…
Reason #50 (yes, I’m up to 50 and counting) why I absolutely love British television and think it is the best television on Planet Earth. Ok, # 1 & #2 have to be the writing and the acting (or acting and writing depending on the day), but when it comes to the actual production, besides being the absolute best, they just have fun with it. Case in point. Ripper Street, the BBC crime drama series set in the Whitechapel area of London’s East End in the post-Jack the Ripper late 1800′s and starring Matthew MacFadyen (Spooks, Pride & Prejudice), added their own bit of fun to their stellar series.
In the current series, the three fictitious street names, Hartnell Street, Troughton Street and Cushing Road, appear on a list of UK Incorporated Companies being pored over by Matthew Macfadyen’s Detective Inspector Edmund Reid in episode four, and are a nano-second tribute to Doctor Who for its 50th anniversary celebration. #TOH to Radio Times reader Colin Mcneil who spotted them in a recent episode of Ripper Street. Needless to say, if you wander aimlessly around London, you aren’t going to come across a Hartnell Street, Troughton Street or Cushing Road on a tour of London. There is a Troughton Road but that’s another issue for another day.
A spokesman for Tiger Aspect productions, producers of Ripper Street for the BBC, confirmed the sighting. “From this week’s episode, our little tribute for the eagle-eyed viewers… HAPPY 50th BIRTHDAY DOCTOR WHO!! To you, we doff our bowlers – all at Ripper Street.”
Now, off to find reason #51…
How do you pass the time between when the broadcast of Sherlock 3 is in our rearview mirror and preliminary production filming begins on Sherlock 4? If you’re Sherlock director, Paul McGuigan, you take on the newest adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, obviously. McGuigan directed four episodes during the first two series of the runaway BBC/PBS hit series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
The most recent adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic was the 2011 National Theatre presentation that starred future dueling Sherlocks, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, who alternated roles of Victor Frankenstein and The Creature during the stage run. For the forthcoming adaptation, which began principal filming this past week in the UK, James McAvoy (State of Play, Atonement, Shameless and X-Men: First Class) will portray Victor Von Frankenstein while Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, in what is being reported as taking a ‘new twist’ on the classic story, will tell the story through the eyes of his shuffling helper, Igor.
Just added to the cast, although no word yet on what role he’ll play, is the brilliant Andrew Scott, whom many of us were introduced to with his stellar portrayal of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty in the BBC/PBS Sherlock ‘masterpiece’. While we’ll have to wait a bit to see what’s in store for Scott in Frankenstein, here’s hoping that come January, we’ll see a bit more of Scott as he is rumored to be featured in the resolution to ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ mystery when Sherlock returns.
While the jury is still out on this one and it’s way too early to even begin to formulate any thoughts on the production, you certainly can’t argue with the cast and crew assembled in front of and behind the camera.
As UK viewers will soon find out, Sir David Jason is set to return to the small screen and revive his character Granville in the revival of the classic sitcom Open All Hours. The one-off special, Still Open All Hours, is set to air this Christmas on BBC One. Jason originally starred with the late comic Ronnie Barker – who played stammering Albert Arkwright – in the much-loved show which ran from 1973 to 1985 and was set in a corner shop.
Sir David will be reunited with actress Lynda Baron, who played unlikely sex symbol nurse Gladys Emmanuel, in the half-hour Christmas special. Viewers will see Granville has taken over from his uncle Albert when Still Open All Hours is screened. Granville now runs the business with his son Leroy (James Baxter), a cheerful and good-looking lad who attracts many female admirers.
The special has been written by Roy Clarke, who also penned the original series. Remembering back to our 2010 PBS special, Behind the Britcom: From Script to Screen, and traveling to Yorkshire to interview a then 80-year old Roy Clarke to get his thoughts on writing, we were in awe of one of most accommodating individuals on the planet who just happened to have written every episode of not only Open All Hours but also Last of the Summer Wine AND Keeping Up Appearances. Here, he gives his thoughts on how he approaches a sitcom from character to story arc. It’s easy to see why LOTSW, KUA and OAH were so successful.
According to producer Gareth Edwards, there are plans to follow the one-off special with a full series. He said: “I can’t say too much about the plot, but it does involve anchovy paste – that’s all I’m saying.”
Sherlock 3 – One mystery solved!
The BBC confirmed Friday the premiere airdate for Sherlock 3 on the BBC in the form of a hearse driving through the streets of London. Along for the ride were the appropriate flowers for the occasion announcing the date that the world’s most famous consulting detective will return to life on 1 January 2014. Happy 2014 to the UK from the BBC and Hartswood Films. Can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year! And, can’t think of a more appropriate place to stop along the route as THE place to pay your #r3spects…
While the BBC did also confirm the airdates for the complete series, in the ‘be careful what you ask for department‘, even the untrained detective eye could count up the hours and rejoice or lament that UK viewers will see two episodes within 4 days. In less than two weeks, the the entire series 3 will be history with the countdown calendar set to begin for 2016 and, I’m guessing, series 4 of Sherlock.
Almost immediately following, one week after the conclusion of series 3 in the UK, PBS in the States will premiere episode 1 of series 3 on Sunday, January 19. While a three week wait seems like light years in the Age of the Internet, beats the heck out of a 5 month delay that we all had to deal with for series 2.
Sherlock 3 trailer
Beginning tomorrow on a number of public television stations across the U.S., a new Doc Martin behind-the-scenes special will begin airing throughout December.
DOC MARTIN: REVEALED features behind-the-scenes footage from the newest Doc Martin series (Season 6) shot on location in Port Isaac, Cornwall, England. Fans of Doc Martin will get inside access to the actors and crew as they film sequences on the balcony at Large’s Restaurant and in the nearby pub that doubles for the Crab & Lobster. Instrumental in the making of the special by lending their support and talents were Simon the head audio tech along with Ian MacNeice and Joe Absolom (Bert and Al Large). Both actors recently paid a visit to the American Public Television Fall Marketplace in Boston earlier this month to meet public television programmers from around the U.S. and talk up the special and upcoming new series. I know, it’s the sacrifices we must make on your behalf…
Regular Tellyspotting readers may remember a late Spring, early Summer trip to Port Isaac by public television colleagues David Rubinsohn and Eric Luskin as they produced the upcoming Doc Martin: Revealed special. David recounted his trip and told of his hard-working efforts on the behalf of Doc Martin fans everywhere forcing himself to find the only pub in Port Isaac to ‘get acclimated to the local culture’.
Series 6 of everyone’s favorite curmudgeonly doctor begins this February on your local public television station. If you’re in the North Texas area, KERA Channel 13 will premiere Doc Martin: Revealed on Saturday, December 14 at 7:00pm. Doc Martin series 6 will premiere Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 7:00pm. Cheers!
Maybe it’s because I just can’t let go or maybe it’s because today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and I’m waxing nostalgic about what I’m thankful for. Not quite at the top of the list, but pretty darn high up on the food chain is the last 50 years of Doctor Who. So, thank you to William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Peter McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and…Peter Capaldi. Thanks also to the BBC, Sydney Newman, Verity Lambert, Terry Nation and John Nation Turner for giving me endless hours of entertainment growing up.
Finally, thanks to Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat for the reboot and keeping the dream alive so we could get to the 50th and beyond. How could I not be thankful today for something that noted director, Steven Spielberg said: “…the world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who“.
So, days after the brilliant conclusion to the 50th anniversary celebration with the worldwide broadcasts of Mark Gatiss’ Adventure in Space and Time and Steven Moffat’s gift to fans with The Day of the Doctor last Saturday, comes this gem of a gift to Doctor Who fans worldwide written, directed, and initiated by Peter Davison and The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to all. Let Zygons be Zygons, after all, it’s Thanksgiving.
What was your favorite Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration moment?
Sadly, what was a half-century in the making was over in a short span of one late-November weekend. The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration came to a close with Saturdays broadcast of “The Day of the Doctor”.
Saturday’s mega-broadcast received a Guinness Book of World Records nod for the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama after being broadcast in 94 countries across six continents. This is the second record setting mention in the GBofWR, with Doctor Who receiving its first Guinness Book recognition when it was named the most successful and longest running science fiction series on television in 2007. In addition to the TV broadcast, the long-awaited episode was screened in more than 1,500 cinemas worldwide, including in the UK, U.S., Canada, Latin America, Germany, Russia and Scandinavia.
An Adventure in Space and Time BTS
This past weekend began with Mark Gatiss’ brilliant drama, An Adventure in Space and Time. Because we can’t let go of the fact that the 50th is now squarely in our rear-view mirror, here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes greatness to keep the celebration alive.
So as to not be forever pegged as someone that holds on to the past too long, let’s look ahead to the forthcoming Christmas special..short as it is, it is pure Doctor Who greatness. Take a look, then discuss amongst yourselves.
America’s Test Kitchen meets Downton Abbey as Chris Kimball takes on Mrs. Patmore.
Last year, Chris Kimball, host/founder/editor of public televisions signature culinary series, America’s Test Kitchen, and a card-carrying fan of Downton Abbey, created a menu inspired by the 1920s. He says the kitchen scenes in particular always catch his eye, as food was such an important part of Edwardian society. While declaring to being old enough to remember the first run of Upstairs, Downstairs as well as the incomparable The Duchess of Duke Street, he readily admits, in his own words, to “…the appeal of an enormous manor house with a kitchen harboring a coal stove the size of a small locomotive is undeniably appealing. Food was, indeed, the center of high-end Victorian and Edwardian living and a first-rate cook was in high demand.”
To get you ready for the premiere of series 4 on PBS, Kimball has put together a menu inspired by the time period of the series. Start the night off with Shrimp cocktail, followed by Crown Roast of Pork with Smashed Minty Peas and Parker House Rolls. Top it off with Tipsy Squire, a brilliant sponge cake trifle. Click here for the complete menu and accompanying recipes with traditional ATK tips and suggestions.
He promises that this menu is quite approachable, adding that you won’t need a staff of 10 to clarify stock, make elaborate pastries, or pull feathers from a pheasant! So, it’s time to channel your inner-most Mrs. Patmore and get to work planning that Downton Abbey season 4 premiere party. I’m betting you won’t hear Lady Grantham saying: “Oh, is her cooking so precisely timed? You couldn’t tell.”
If you need a few hints from the these are professionals, do not try this at home folks over at Downton Abbey, take a look behind-the-scenes at ‘dining at Downton’.