How does Martin Clunes pass the time between the end of one Doc Martin series and the beginning of another? Elementary, my dear Watson. He signs on to play Sherlock Holmes creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’ novel Arthur & George, the ITV drama will tell the story of Conan Doyle’s real-life attempts to clear George Edalji, a half-Indian solicitor who was imprisoned for a series of attacks on livestock in the Staffordshire community of Great Wyrley.
Interestingly, it was the Sherlock creator’s expert evaluation of the evidence in the case that not only cleared Edalji of any wrongdoing, but it helped establish the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1907. At that time, there was no concept as of yet for the procedure of a retrial. It was Conan Doyle’s analysis of the facts in a series of articles published in the Daily Telegraph that caught both the public’s attention and that of the British government also. The committee decided that Edalji was innocent of the livestock mutilations and The Law Society readmitted him allowing him to return to practice as a solicitor.
Filming is set to begin this Autumn with a targeted transmission of 2015 on ITV.
It will be all David Tennant on both sides of the pond beginning this Fall when Gracepoint, Fox’s American remake of Broadchurch, premieres Thursdays at 9/8c. On the west side of the Atlantic, Tennant, sans Olivia Colman, will play Detective Emmett Carver opposite Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn as Detective Ellie Miller. Written by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, the American series also stars Michael Peña, Nick Nolte and Jackie Weaver.
Broadchurch fans on the east side of the Atlantic woke up this week to the brilliant news that Tennant will return to the original British crime drama joining partner Olivia Colman for series 2. Filming begins soon in Dorset with Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who also returning. ITV’s director of drama, Steve November, remains understandably secretive about any storyline for series 2 but did offer up something for fans of the series left hanging following last seasons finale and the words Broadchurch will return. “Suffice to say Chris Chibnall has delivered as always and the scripts are just as exciting as the first series, said November. This exclusive online clip followed the broadcast series finale, which aired on ITV last April.
Given the skyrocketing popularity of the current careers of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, we may have to be satisfied for the foreseeable future with an upcoming ITV revival of Inspector Maigret, who is frequently referred to as the Sherlock Holmes of France given his trademark pipe, fondness of fine alcohol and reliance on godlike intuition in solving cases. Furthering the comparison, both Holmes and Maigret had sidekicks and nemeses, but while it was Holmes that was known for his wit and charm, Maigret was more famous for his serious devotion to each case.
Unconfirmed reports cite an ‘unnamed ITV executive’ telling the Daily Mail that: “…The Maigret stories feel perfectly suited to television’s continuing obsession with atmospheric foreign crime“. Based on Belgian writer Georges Simenon’s novels centered around the Parisian detective, the Inspector Maigret stories are not new to television audiences. As early as 1959, Jules Maigret hit the small screen in a major way with Rupert Davies starring as the fictional detective. The most recent and, perhaps, the more famous adaptation was the 1992-93 ITV series starring Michael Gambon which lasted 12 episodes and ran on PBS as part of the Mystery! series.
Also unconfirmed but well worth mentioning has Rowan Atkinson, the star of Blackadder and Mr. Bean, linked to the possible ITV reboot. As much as I love Atkinson’s work, this will definitely be his biggest challenge. I hope we get a chance to see how it plays out.
Hyacinth Bucket, played brilliantly by Patricia Routledge, has spent a lifetime in our collective homes over the years insisting her surname is pronounced Bouquet. She is pretty much a pompous social-climbing snob. Unbeknownst to most neighbor residents of Blossom Lane, Hyacinth originally came from a very poor working-class background. Her main mission in life is to impress others with her lifestyle and perceived affluence and refinement. Hyacinth likes to spend her days visiting stately homes convinced she will meet and strike up a friendship with the owners, especially if they are nobility and hosting candlelight suppers with her Royal Worcester double-glazed Avignon china and Royal Doulton china with ‘the hand-painted periwinkles’. She is also the proud owner of a white slimline telephone with automatic redial whose main callers include either Hyacinth and Richard’s son, Sheridan, or those trying to find the nearby Chinese take-away.
Sheridan Bucket, who goes totally unseen for the entire series, is Hyacinth and Richard’s spoiled son. He is away at college a poly which Hyacinth insists is ‘university standard’, and is known to audiences primarily through Hyacinth’s phone conversations with him. Most of the time, instead of ‘talking to his mummy’, Sheridan needs money for some crazy things that his ‘friend’ Tarquin has or has suggested, including a walking holiday in Iceland.
Whether it’s to just ‘talk to his mummy’ or ‘ask for money’, let’s hope Hyacinth hears from Sheridan today. Happy Mother’s Day, Hyacinth.
If anyone still questions whether or not British situation comedy is better than its’ American counterpart, one only has to look to the list of pilot comedies coming from American broadcast networks this Fall for verification. In a pitch that must have sounded like it came directly from the lips of Buck Henry in The Player, ABC has picked up Selfie for full series starring former Doctor Who companion, Karen Gillan.
Described as a modern take on My Fair Lady with Gillan playing Eliza Dooley, Selfie sounds more like a documentary than a comedy as it tells the story of a 20-something somewhat narcissistic social media obsessive. Co-starring John Cho (Star Trek) and Homeland‘s David Harewood, the pilot sees Eliza (Gillan) “suffering a very public and humiliating breakup” before becoming the subject of a viral video that lands her more social media followers than she could ever have imagined, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Enter Henry (Cho), an arrogant marketing expert, who is tasked with overhauling Eliza’s tarnished image.
Gillan has had a string of big screen efforts since leaving her role as Amy Pond and will be seen this summer in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Comics blockbuster superhero film from Disney Studios. I know the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for many British actors seems to be to make it in American television, but Selfie just doesn’t scream ‘hit’ to me. It is titled “Selfie”, after all, which after several months is already the most overused word in the English language. But, I’ve been wrong before…
With recent word out of London that the BBC is “thrilled” and “delighted” with their initial looks at the early completed episodes with Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, let’s all put the Downton Abbey countdown calendar on the back burner for the moment, resign ourselves to the fact that Sherlock probably isn’t happening in the near future and start the Doctor Who countdown to Autumn 2014.
According to RadioTimes.com, the storylines have started from “the bottom up” with Capaldi’s Doctor having a clean slate with little reference to his predecessors. In addition, the chemistry between Capaldi and Coleman is said to be ‘sizzling’. The source said: “He is the oldest Doctor and there is a sense he is more distanced from his assistant, more of a mystery. He is perhaps less a mate, and someone she looks up to. She has to try and gauge him – but dramatically it’s very satisfying and onscreen they work very well together.”
While a lot of the buzz has been centering around the monsters and the on-screen chemistry between Capaldi and Coleman, there seems to be a great deal of attention being paid, as usual, to the incoming Doctor’s attire. As we’ve seen from earlier postings, Capaldi will don a dark blue Crombie coat with red lining, dark blue trousers, a white shirt as well as stylish black Dr Marten shoes. No bow tie, no Chuck Taylor’s, no long scarf. Capaldi’s take on the costume? He loves it. “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord.”
For those that can’t get enough and are willing to risk spoilers, here’s some video we found trolling around on the Internets from the early series 8 filming on the set of Doctor Who. The sucker that I am for any kind of ‘making-of’ video was more than I could deal with so I just had to watch, spoilers or no spoilers. I know…I’m weak. How long until Fall?
Unfortunately, I thought we had closed the book on this debate but given the fact that Jack is back and 24 is again part of the television landscape, it bears repeating…again. And, since there will be a Spooks feature film in the not-too-distant future, why not be ahead of the curve and end the debate before it begins.
Instead of creating yet another troubling argument that goes on only in my head, I have to open this debate to everyone since it’s that time again when 24 fans are putting the show on a pedestal while describing MI5 (Spooks in the UK) as the British 24. Must I verbalize the laundry list of reasons as to why there is no comparison between the two? MI5 was, IMHO, one of the best shows on television, if not the best. MI5 out-distances 24 in writing, acting, storyline, believability, editing, use of music and more. AND, it has Harry Pearce.
Jack Bauer won’t (or can’t) die
The fact that you watch every episode of 24 knowing full well that Jack Bauer won’t die no matter what happens is enough to place it well below the realistic nature of MI5. 24‘s only “bit” is that each season takes place in 24 hours. Having seen all 10 seasons of MI5, I’ve often wondered why the writers have never shied away from killing off characters or banishing them to Siberia, both major and minor, during a season. I finally came to the conclusion that as frustrating and as mind-numbing as it is to invest emotional effort into the characters only to have them “disappear” or actually die by an assassin’s bullet or explosion adds the realism that is lacking in 24.
It’s tough enough for any series to last a decade in today’s television landscape as both 24 and MI5 have. With MI5, it has to be a brain rush to write a series of this nature that gives you the freedom to be real, to be fresh and also keep the audience as tense as humanly possible with every explosion or every bullet leaving the chamber because we truly don’t know who is coming back each week. On 24, Jack Bauer always heals by the next week (or next hour since it all takes place in 24 hours).
Someone, talk me down from the ledge
Tell me there are others out there that can’t wait to binge watch MI5 again. Or, if you’re a 24 fan, it’s your turn. I know the newest incarnation of 24: Live Another Day is shot in London so that helps me a bit. But, I’m willing to listen. Well, sort of. You have 23:59:45.
Full disclosure up front. I’ve never seen an episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, this goes in the stack of DVD boxed sets of series television gold such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad and West Wing that I have never seen in their entirety. Before you get up and leave the room, I have seen every episode of Spooks, Hustle, Doc Martin, House of Cards, the original, Doctor Who, Death in Paradise, Father Brown, New Tricks, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes and, of course, Downton Abbey and Sherlock. So, I do have the ability to either binge watch or hang with something weekly from an appointment television standpoint. It’s just that there are only so many hours in the day, unfortunately. That said, I am watching Fargo currently so I’m not a total lost cause.
For the millions of Game of Thrones fans out there, I’m well aware that there are a few spoilers in the upcoming promo which gives us our first look at Sherlock co-creator/writer, Mark Gatiss, who plays Tycho Nestoris in this coming Sundays episode. So, if you’re not up-to-speed with series 4 as of yet, you may not want to watch or read on just yet.
Danaerys’s dragons are back…
In this week’s episode, titled “The Laws of Gods and Men”, Gatiss plays Tycho Nestoris, a representative of the Iron Bank of Bravos who, as you can see, is having a lovely chat with Stannis Baratheon about…money. Also in Sundays episode, there is Yara Greyjoy’s attempted rescue of her brother Theon (Reek) from the Dreadfort and the clutches of Ramsay Snow, the “Bastard of Bolton”, Tyrion’s trial for the murder of King Joffrey and some seriously pretty cool looking dragons.
I may have to rethink putting this on the ‘I’ll get to this someday’ stack. Game of Thrones, series 4 episode 6, airs this Sunday (Mother’s Day) on HBO and Monday at 9p on Sky Atlantic in the UK. Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like a boxed set of the first three seasons of Game of Thrones…just a thought.
Much like death and taxes, the only thing that anyone can truly count on to happen these days is that right around this time of year, two months into filming of the new series marks that it’s open season on the annual Downton Abbey rumor mill. For the past four years, like clockwork, official production stills and/or video mixed with the customary rampant storyline speculation starts to leak out to viewers via the Internets. The first ‘unofficial’ photo to appear within the last several weeks was from the twitter feed of a beaming Richard E. Grant, which looked like it was taken straight out of his days on another Julian Fellowes project, Gosford Park. As we head into series 5, which will premiere this Autumn on ITV1 in the UK and on Sunday, January 4, 2015 on PBS’Masterpiece series, the rumors are beginning to fly….
The first rumor to step up to the plate involves the free-spirited, jazz-loving Lady Rose, played by Lily James. According to ‘reports’, James will be the latest high-profile departure from the show at the end of the upcoming season, following in the footsteps of Jessica Brown Findlay (Lady Sybil), Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) and Siobhan Finneran, who played the great Mrs. O’Brien. We won’t even mention last year’s departure of the evil Nanny West after only one episode. On the upside, James will not be killed off in a shocking car accident or die in childbirth according to the ever-popular ‘unnamed Downton source’ but will merely leave the show (maybe she’ll head to America in search of Jack Ross) with the possibility of returning for the Christmas special next series.
As we mentioned last Summer, James will be heading the cast of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. With the Disney film is set to release nationally around Easter 2015, it is being rumored that series 5 of Downton Abbey will be her last given the commitments necessary for her to be available to promote the film during what should be the timeframe for the filming of series 6 of Downton Abbey to begin. Before anyone thinks we’re floating the rumor out there that there will be a series 6, that has NOT been confirmed as to yet so, yes, it is just that…a rumor.
As we reported last Fall, Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, are headed to BBC Two and PBS in 2015. Filming has begun on Wolf Hall, the small screen adaptation of Mantel’s historical Tudor novels which follow the atmospheric rise to power of Cromwell, the powerful minister, within Henry VIII’s court. The eventual chief minister to the King was born to a blacksmith in Putney and initially came to prominence when he served under Cardinal Wolsey before rising through the ranks to become Henry’s most trusted advisor.
In addition to Tony and Olivier award-winning actor, Mark Rylance, who will play Thomas Cromwell, recent additions include Homeland star Damian Lewis who will play the King, Saskia Reeves (Lewis, Page Eight, Wallander, Vera) has been cast as Cromwell’s sister-in-law Johane with Charity Wakefield (Any Human Heart, Agatha Christie’s Marple) starring as Mary Boleyn, the royal mistress and sister to Henry VIII’s second wife Anne, who will be played by Claire Foy (Little Dorrit, Upstairs Downstairs). Joanne Whalley (Jamaica Inn) will play Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, with the powerful, but ill-fated, Cardinal Wolsey to be played by Jonathan Pryce, Sherlock co-creator/writer, Mark Gatiss, playing a civil servant and Game of Thrones’ Anton Lesser will play Thomas More.
Set for a 2015 premiere, Wolf Hall will be directed by BAFTA-winning director Peter Kosminsky (White Oleander, Warriors, No Child of Mine, The Promise) and written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Straughan (The Men Who Stare at Goats, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).
The long-awaited return of Downton Abbey on PBS’ Masterpiece series is so close you can almost reach out and touch it. We are in countdown calendar mode, folks. The Crawley family returns a mere 6 weeks from today or 42 days if that makes it seem even closer. Or, how about the fact that there are approximately 1000 hours until January 4, 2015! While I’m still a bit upset that Nanny West and all the drama that she would bring to the table will not be around for series 5, there are a number of new characters that will be joining the Crawley’s both upstairs and down when January 4 rolls around. It will truly be a ‘you can’t tell the players without a scorecard’ scenario this season. There are new ladies, lords, and maids this season, all bringing there own special drama and all that that entails to Downton.
While the main cast remains from last series (sans Michael Gregson, at this point in time), as you can see, there are a number of new faces with Richard E. Grant, Sue Johnston and Anna Chancellor all arriving at Downton this year. New faces aside, I so can’t wait to see the storyline that emerges that suggests Violet really ought not to be the one to throw stones while living in a glass house….Are you ready for some Downton?