Don’t tell anyone, but it looks like Downton Abbey is headed to a 4th series in 2013 (insert deep sigh of relief here). As the U.S. eagerly awaits the initial crossing of the paths of Shirley MacLaine and Dame Maggie Smith, the thought that there will, most likely, be a series 4 allows everyone west of the Atlantic to breathe a bit easier as we move ever so close to the January 6 premiere of series 3 on PBS’ Masterpiece.
Writer Julian Fellowes lent his support to this notion when he told The Telegraph his thoughts on his creation coming back for more, “I would hope there will be more because of the response to this series, but you know ITV are always pretty close to their chest in terms of an actual commission. I’d be surprised if there was not a fourth series,”.
For those that have seen series 3, you know that some people go and new characters have been introduced which suggests another series is in the offing. Personally, I don’t think anyone involved on the production side are ready to walk away just yet. I’m guessing that neither is anyone on the viewing end either.
In response to the critics of Downton Abbey who have expressed concern that the series does not contain any black characters, the writer said it would be “rather nice to open it up ethnically a bit”. He further explained in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, “Oh I think that’s rather a good idea. You have to work it in in a way that is historically believable, but I am sure we could do that. The show certainly ought to have an Indian character from that period.”
***Spoiler Alert Warning*** For those that just can’t wait for January 6, here’s quick look at what’s in store on PBS’ Masterpiece beginning January 6, 2013 in this BBC Breakfast report.
While it is usually the evil “Black Friday” retailers that will forever shower you with the thought that it’s never to early to think about Christmas, true believers (you know who you are) know full well that it’s time to think about Christmas when the prequel for the annual Doctor Who Christmas Special appears during the BBC’s Children in Need broadcast.
Doctor Who “The Snowman” prequel – Christmas 2012
As it has been from the beginning with Sherlock, Steven Moffat’s other bit of brilliance, the Doctor Who showrunner brings to the table the thoughts and passion of the uber-fan. “The Doctor at Christmas is one of my favourite things – but this year it’s different,” said the writer shortly after the release of a prequel mini-episode for the upcoming Christmas Day special, ‘The Snowmen’. Different in the sense that the Time Lord is not going to be full of happy-time festive cheer this Christmas.
“He’s lost Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels, and he’s not in a good place: in fact, he’s Scrooge. He’s withdrawn from the world and no longer cares what happens to it. So when all of humanity hangs in the balance, can anyone persuade a tired and heartbroken Doctor that it’s time to return to the good fight? Enter Jenna-Louise Coleman…“. Moffat want on to explain that this years special will see the introduction of a new monster that “will have families shivering behind the sofa”. Somehow, after hearing Moffat’s comments, all I could think of was the infamous line from the film, Jerry MacGuire, “…You had me at hello“.
If this isn’t enough, this year’s episode will feature The Doctor and his new companion, Clara (Coleman), doing battle with the villainous Doctor Simeon (the great, Richard E Grant) and his army of evil snowmen. The Traveling Time Lord couldn’t have said it any better during Friday night’s Children in Need broadcast when he said, “I hope everyone enjoys it!“.
Doctor Who “The Snowman” trailer – Christmas 2012
With his most recent memorable performance coming at the 2012 London Olympics before an audience of roughly 75 million viewers between the U.S. and the UK, it looks as though Mr. Bean will soon get in to his classic Mini and drive away, hopefully not in a recliner strapped on the roof. Rowan Atkinson, the actor who brought Mr. Bean to life, recently admitted that he plans to abandon the comic character in favor of more cerebral roles on the stage. Atkinson has been preparing to debut as the lead in a West End revival of Quartermaine’s Terms by Simon Gray. He first returned to the theatre in 2009 playing Fagin in Oliver! in the West End.
“Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their fifties being childlike becomes a little sad. You’ve got to be careful“, Atkinson commented recently.
Back in 2010 for the PBS special, Behind the Britcom: From Script to Screen, we interviewed Mr. Bean creator/writer, Richard Curtis, in his Notting Hill office, where he briefly talked about how incredibly rewarding it was to both write for and collaborate with his long-time friend, Rowan Atkinson, for Mr. Bean.
There are so many great Mr. Bean moments from the turkey on the head to meeting the queen to the diving platform to the taking of a test being totally unprepared and feeling the need to cheat. While millions will be sad to see Mr. Bean retire, millions more for years to come will be left with some comic genius from the brilliant minds of Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis.
At the risk of alienating a number of Tellyspotting readers and the throngs Sherlock fans around the globe, I am here to admit that I’m coming around a bit (accent on ‘a bit’) to CBS’ Elementary series. There are two reasons for my momentary lapse of cynicism. Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Overall, while it’s not something that I have been setting the DVR for each week, I do find myself watching with interest ever since it premiered back in September. And, apparently, as it is CBS’ second highest rated new show, their are others out there that agree with me. So much so that CBS has upped the original commission of 13 episodes to a full 24-episode season. Not only that, but the network has bestowed the coveted post-Super Bowl broadcast slot on the modern-day American adaptation of the world’s most famous consulting detective.
You may remember the before broadcast drama that had Sherlock fans in a fizz thinking that the series was a direct rip-off of the brilliant Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Other than the fact that, as with the BBC series, this Sherlock adaptation was given a contemporary feel by transporting the stories to the 21st century, that’s about where the similarities end. While it doesn’t have anywhere near the feel of the passion that uber-Sherlock fans, Moffat and Gatiss, have put into the the BBC version, the freneticism of Jonny Lee Miller’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes is worth a look and Lucy Liu follows up some really great work in Southland with a strong performance as Dr. Joan Watson, complementing Miller very well.
So, if you were on the fence initially and had to be drug kicking and screaming as I was to view the CBS version, it’s worth the time, if only for the performances by Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. No one, however, can touch the writing and production quality of the BBC version so, when the day is done, I’ll still put both the BBC Sherlock version and Jeremy Brett’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes far above Elementary. That said, Elementary is far above much of what you find on broadcast television these days…
A pre-House Hugh Laurie confirms he’s British!
For those in the States that think Hugh Laurie is as American as his Dr. Gregory House character, not so fast. Back in pre-House 2003, who knew that Laurie was honing his soon-to-be sought after anxiety-ridden doctor skills in 6-part series, Fortysomething? While it’s enough just to see Hugh Laurie is the series, the ensemble cast is equally as amazing. The series also stars Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Suburban Shootout, Spooks), Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, Torchwood: Children of Earth) and a very young, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Parade’s End, The Hobbit). If that’s not enough to get you to hunt this down for a bit of a marathon viewing, Stephen Fry appears as a fishmonger. How can you possibly resist with that knowledge?
Directed by Hugh Laurie, this one-season gem of a series written by Nigel Williams, stars Laurie as Paul Slippery, a British doctor in the deep throws of a mid-life crisis. His wife Estelle (Anna Chancellor) is starting a new career as a headhunter. His three sons, Rory (Benedict Cumberbatch), a student at the University of Reigate, Daniel (Neil Henry) and Edwin (Joe Van Moyland), are sex-obsessed. Unfortunately, Paul, while in denial of his mid-life crisis, appears to now hear the inner thoughts of others. He can’t really remember where Estelle works, or if she even works at all, and has severe angst daily over the fact that it’s quite possible that his children have a more active sex life that he does. Children that do nothing but torment him with this fact without mercy.
All-in-all, a great series on all fronts and one that is well-worth checking out for no other reason than to prove Hugh Laurie is actually British, see a young Benedict Cumberbatch and witness a bit of Anna Chancellor greatness.
Great news on the New Tricks front. After 9 seasons of greatness from the likes of Amanda Redman, Dennis Waterman, Alun Armstrong and James Bolam, the old dogs at the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad will be adding a ‘new’ old dog come series 10. Nicholas Lyndhurst (Butterflies, Only Fools and Horses, Goodnight Sweetheart, After You’ve Gone, Rock & Chips) will join Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman’s (Amanda Redman) team of retired ex-coppers reinvestigating the Met’s unsolved crimes.
Lyndhurst says: “I am thrilled to have been asked to join New Tricks. I have always admired the clever mixture of charm, wit, and intelligence the show brings to its audience, and feel very flattered to be part of the BBC’s top drama series.” The most recent series averaged 8.3 million viewers when broadcast on BBC1. Not bad for a bunch of ‘old dogs’.
Richard Burrell, Executive Producer Wall To Wall added his sentiments: “We are very excited to have Nicholas joining the cast of New Tricks. I think that the audience are going to have great fun watching him as a new member of the anarchic UCOS team ensuring that solving cases for the Met is never dull. We can’t wait to start working with him.”
If you’re one of the few on either side of the pond that haven’t seen New Tricks, you have a bit of time, but not much, to catch up. Maybe this will help get you started.
Series 10 of New Tricks begins filming in Gibraltar later this month with a special two-part opening episode, then continues filming on location in London and is due for transmission on BBC One next year. Look for both the recently completed 9th series and the upcoming 10th series on public television stations in the States in the coming year.
A bit of New Tricks trivia for your holiday season parties. The theme tune of the program is a song called “It’s Alright”, written by Mike Moran and sung by cast member Dennis Waterman. Happy partying.
According to The Independent, talks are underway to bring the classic Jimmy Perry, David Croft comedy, Dad’s Army, to the big screen, with a new cast and…the possibility of Captain Mainwaring being played by a woman. The iconic series placed 13th overall in a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programs drawn up by the British Film Institute in 2000 and placed fourth in a 2004 BBC poll to find Britain’s Best Sitcom. Co-creator/writer, Jimmy Perry, confirmed the reports by revealing plans to members of the show’s official fan club that a new film version is in the early stages of development.
The series, which ran for 9 seasons between 1968 and 1977, was based partly on Perry’s real-life experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers, later to become known as the Home Guard. Perry, appearing last month before the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society delivered the blockbuster announcement that the studio interested in the film adaptation hinted to Perry that they wanted the lead role of Captain Mainwaring, played by Arthur Lowe in the series, to go to a woman. While women were allowed into the Home Guard after 1943, the concept of a female Captain Mainwaring was met with a few groans from the audience. Before anyone gets their kickers in a twist over this, one has to only be reminded of the classic Lance Corporal Jones catchphrase, Don’t Panic. Clive Dunn, who played the bungling Corporal, died 7 November at the age of 92.
Midge Gillies, author of Waiting for Hitler, a history of British preparations for invasion in 1940, said that it was very unlikely that a woman would have served as a captain in the Home Guard. “A female Captain Mainwaring sounds pretty unlikely to me,” she said. “It sounds like the film-makers are trying to update the series. The humour of it was originally about class and this would confuse things.”
So, in the words of both Lance Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with the words Don’t Panic written in large, friendly letters on the cover, I’m guessing this, too, will pass. Thoughts anyone?
What can you possibly say when Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, writes to you and says, ‘Will you make the Cybermen scary again?‘ If you happen to be the greatness that is Neil Gaiman, the answer is a no-brainer. The award-winning writer recently told the French website, Reviewer.fr, “…I thought back to when I was 6 or 7 years old – ‘The Moonbase’, ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’… I saw these when they were first broadcast. The Cybermen were created by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis and first appeared on Doctor Who in 1966.
Gaiman, who wrote the Hugo award-winning episode, “The Doctor’s Wife”, for Doctor Who in 2011, claimed that the Cybermen’s near-silent, creeping nature made them scarier than the more pompous Daleks. “Daleks went around going, ‘Exterminate’, and blowing things up. Cybermen were just… You look up and there’s a Cyberman. I thought, ‘Let me see what I can do when I take the 1960s Cybermen and incorporate everything that’s happened since. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t know if it will work.”
According to io9 and Digital Spy, Gaiman’s 2013 series 7 episode, “The Last Cybermen”, will feature the Doctor (Matt Smith) and his new companion (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and their encounter with the ‘new-look’ Cybermen and a band of misfits – played by Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short), Jason Watkins (Being Human) and Tamzin Outhwaite (EastEnders) – on a mysterious planet.
With the U.S. is a mere eight weeks away from the premiere of the next installment of Downton Abbey, to many, it still seems to be a lifetime away. For the millions of fans that are longtime members of the Downton Abbey Separation Anxiety Society, there is hope on the horizon with the release of the newest ‘Downton’ book, Chronicles of Downton Abbey – A New Era. For any Downton fan, this is a must read before January 6, 2013. Matthew Sturgiss and Jessica Fellowes, the niece of series creator/writer, Julian Fellowes, have created the most thorough companion book of the series to date.
Written in period style, not only are there a number of insights from individuals who experienced the 1920′s firsthand, there are some brilliant ads for products that paint a distinct picture of the times such as for the first pop-up toaster, made by Hotpoint, which appeared on the scene in 1919. This is a great read, mainly because it’s more of a character-driven structure rather than a simple chronology of the series from the beginning when the two heirs to Downton died on the Titanic and a distant third cousin, Matthew, suddenly becomes the heir apparent.
According to a recent review in the Telegraph, the book also features a really interesting forward by Julian Fellowes giving devoted fans a bit of the Downton backstory that isn’t widely known. Fellowes explains that many of the characters were based on either family, friends or acquaintances. For example, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith), was inspired by great aunt Isie while the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) resembled his dear departed father; the maid of a cousin was the blueprint for ladies’ maid O’Brien and, most amusingly, Carson shares many similarities with his ‘dear friend‘ retired butler Arthur Inch.
The coffee-table sized book also features some brilliant photographs from series 3 detailing the long-awaited encounters between the Dowager Countess and the ‘newest American Dowager’, Shirley MacLaine, along with what look decidedly like ***SPOILER ALERT*** wedding photos.
The book releases tomorrow (Tuesday, 13 November) so if you have a Downton Abbey fan in the family, I think you’ve just solved your Christmas gift dilemma. Happy reading….
While this may be old news to some, it’s bound to be new and/or odd news to at least a few out there in telly-land. American broadcast network, NBC, announced at this summer’s Television Critics Association gathering that it was green-lighting an adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic, Dracula, for a 10-part series starring The Tudors’ Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
Originally described by Deadline as Dangerous Liaisons meets The Tudors, Dracula is set to begin production in the not-too-distant future for 2013 broadcast on NBC in the States and the UK’s Sky Living Channel. Dracula comes from the producers behind the critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning ITV/PBS hit, Downton Abbey, Carnival Films & Television (NBC Universal) and the U.K.’s British Sky Broadcasting.
According to NBC press material, the series will introduce Dracula as he arrives in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who maintains that he wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. In reality, (insert surprised look here) he’s seeking revenge on the people who cursed his life centuries earlier. There’s only one circumstance that can potentially thwart his plan: Dracula falls hopelessly in love with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. Thankfully, no modern day Twilight or True Blood-type treatment for this one but it does sound a bit like one you need to see before passing judgment. Period pieces don’t necessarily have a good track record on American commercial networks. Hopefully, they’ll take one look at Downton Abbey and leave this one to the professionals at Carnival.
From Downton Abbey to Dracula…sounds like a logical progression, don’t you think?