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Downton’s Lily James to star in ‘War and Peace’?

August 2, 2014

Paul Dano and Downton Abbey's Lily James rumored for BBC One's War and PeaceLooks like Downton Abbey‘s Lily James is getting dangerously close to Benedict Cumberbatch waters these days when it comes to her name being rumored for parts in virtually everything that is slated for production. Having just finished her lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, the actress who plays Lady Rose in Downton Abbey is, according to Deadline, now said to be up for the lead role of Natasha Rostova in the BBC’s forthcoming adaptation of War And Peace. Scripted for the small screen by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House, House of Cards), the series will be a co-production of BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Company and Look Out Point (Ripper Street).

Rostova, one of the central characters in the 1869 Leo Tolstoy novel, ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov (rumored to be played by Prisoners’ Paul Dano), the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature film adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda. An early 70′s BBC adaptation starred Anthony Hopkins as Pierre.

Set in 1805 Russia and revolving around five aristocratic families, War and Peace is set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. The new, 6-part, adaptation for BBC One and PBS’ Masterpiece series will air in 2015, a year which already can boast a drama line-up of the likes of Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, Poldark and, cross your fingers, Sherlock. Hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?


Ever wonder what David Tennant does on holiday?

August 1, 2014

Unfortunately, this might be as close as you get to an answer. In What We Did On Our Holiday, Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability. Creators Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, who had originally collaborated on Drop the Dead Donkey and were also responsible for the groundbreaking British comedy series, Outnumbered, have again found a new generation of youngsters that are talented, hilarious and exasperating all at the same time. I say ‘groundbreaking’ because Hamilton and Jenkin used improvisation in order to achieve convincing performances from the child actors in Outnumbered as opposed to a rigid scripted approach.

With the kids’ world soon to facing an upside down life with the impending divorce of their parents, the entire family takes one last trip together to the Scottish highlands to celebrate the birthday of their terminally-ill granddad Gordie, played by Billy Connolly). But can the children keep their parents’ split a secret? Thinking back to Karen, Ben and Jake from Outnumbered, I’m guessing not. Wonder what the over/under is in Vegas on how deep into the movie we’ll get before the secret’s out?

As if having David Tennant, Billie Connolly and Rosamund Pike wasn’t enough, add Celia Imrie and Ben Miller to the cast mix, I think I’ll go ahead an contact Fandango for tickets. What We Did On Our Holiday is scheduled to be released in UK cinemas on 26 September 2014 with no confirmed U.S. date as of yet.

‘Downton Abbey’ heads to Hogwarts for S5

July 31, 2014

Platform 9 & 3/4, magically concealed behind the barrier between Muggle Platform Nine and Platform Ten, at King’s Cross Station in London will be a bit crowded this week as cast and crew of Downton Abbey headed to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. Filming at Alnwick Castle, which doubled as Hogwarts School of Witchery and Wizardry and the background of the dramatic Quidditch games in the first two Harry Potter movies, will continue through August 8.
Downton Abbey heads to Hogwarts

Alnwick Castle is no rookie when it comes to on-screen credits. The 14th century home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland was also used in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman, Becket, which starred Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, and Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

For those that are desperately in need of something to minimize their ever-growing separation anxiety until series 5 begins, here’s a recent production still taking from filming at Highclere during series 5 production.
Downton Abbey S5 on PBS Masterpiece

War comes to Middle Earth as Benedict and Martin square off

July 30, 2014

With a release date of mid-December in both the U.S. and the UK, the recently released at Comic-Con trailer for the final chapter in Peter Jackson’s trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, is about as close you can get to trailer gold. It’s WWE at it’s finest as Middle Earth’s favorite dragon, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), breaths fire and wreaks havoc across Lake Town reducing villages to a smouldering rubble in a matter of seconds while Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the dwarves battle to reclaim Erebor and the treasure.

Watching the battle sequence which pits Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch against one another, I couldn’t help but think that this has the potential to have all the intensity of the restaurant scene in Sherlock when the supposed-to-be-deceased Sherlock Holmes re-enters John Watson’s life. Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly and Cate Blanchett also star. Swords will be drawn for the final time beginning December 12 in the U.S. and UK.

Answer to the Sherlock/Moriarty riddle is in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Mind Palace

July 29, 2014

Unfortunately, this might be one time that Sherlock doesn’t want to access his mind palace. While it might be unbearable for viewers of Sherlock to have to wait until what now looks like Christmas 2015 for the return of the world’s most famous consulting detective, it must be worse for Benedict Cumberbatch to have a pretty good idea as to the particulars surrounding the distinct possibility of Moriarity’s return and have to keep silent for that length of time.
Sherlock's Mind Palace

The Sherlock star admits that he is aware of the “very good idea” behind the reappearance of Sherlock’s arch-villain Moriarty at the end of series 3, but says he’s tried to put it out of his mind in order to add to the surprise when he first reads the script. Cumberbatch said that both he and Martin Freeman (Dr. John Watson) like to come fresh to the scripts so they can get a similar thrill to that viewers experience when they first watch the episodes.

Appearing at the San Diego Comic-Con to promote Penguins of Madagascar, Cumberbatch told MTV, “We get a rough idea of where it’s going to go before we get the script. But I like casually forgetting, not least because there’s a lot of other traffic between then and now but also because it’s more fun because it’s slightly more fresh. But it’s a very good idea, I do remember that detail. I’m just trying not to remember it so I don’t blurt it out.

The Sherlock band gets back together in January 2015 with filming to begin on a Christmas 2015 special and four additional episodes to air as part of series 4. So, when Moriarty says “Miss Me, my answer is, without question, YES. How about you?

Doctor Who to debut in cinemas around the world Aug 23

July 28, 2014

The beginning of the Peter Capaldi era as the Twelfth Doctor just got a bit more awesome with the announcement that series 8 opening episode on 23 August is scheduled not just on a TV screen near you, but will air in approximately 1500 cinemas around the globe. Following the success of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode “The Day of the Doctor”, which was screened in 3D in the same number of cinemas last November, “Deep Breath” the series 8 opener for Peter Capaldi is expected to be shown in cinemas in a simulcast with the television airing.

Last November the Doctor didn’t just conquer the world on television, he did it in the cinemas too,” said Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat. “And like the show-off he is, he can’t resist another go, one taste of the silver screen is never enough. Movie-land beware – Capaldi is coming to get you!.”

As if the first several teases released by the BBC weren’t enough to whip fans into an August 23 countdown frenzy already, a new teaser trailer has been released maximizing the use of the English language by using only one word in the :15 tease.

Looking quite the self-described rebel Time Lord that he is, sitting atop the TARDIS, Capaldi also confirmed that there would be no romantic story lines between the Doctor and his companion Clara, played by Jenna Coleman. “There’ll be no flirting, that’s for sure, said the Twelfth Doctor. It’s not what the Doctor is concerned with.” There are Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels to deal with, after all.

David Suchet’s final days as Poirot begins tonight on PBS

July 27, 2014

It all began in January of 1989. Probably not even David Suchet himself knew that some 25+ years later he would have portrayed the world’s most notable Belgian detective for the entire Agatha Christie catalog that featured Hercule Poirot. Tonight’s premiere of “The Big Four” on PBS’ Masterpiecemarks the return of Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) and Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran) as Poirot plunges into a world of global espionage, set against the backdrop of the impending World War II.

Adapted by Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), tonight’s episode marks the beginning of the end of an era for Poirot. “The Big Four” airs tonight at 9pET/8pCT with “Dead Man’s Folly” following next Sunday, August 3 at the same time. The final three episodes will air in November on public television stations across America.

Should you need even more reason to watch Poirot

Make Monsieur Poirot proud and keep an eye out for Being Poirot which will air in August on public television. In this behind-the-scenes special, David Suchet unravels the mysterious appeal of the great detective Hercule Poirot – and reveals what it has been like to play one of fiction’s most enduring and enigmatic creations. In this entertaining and revealing documentary. Suchet allows the camera crew to follow him as he prepares for the emotional final days’ filming on set. Suchet returns to Agatha Christie’s Summer home in Devon, where he first met the author’s family after taking on the role a quarter of a century ago, and travels to Belgium as he attempts to find Poirot’s roots and discover what the Belgians think of one of their most famous sons.

Karen Gillan joins ‘A Touch of Cloth’ for series 3

July 26, 2014

Suranne Jones (DI Anne Oldman) and John Hannah (DI Jack Cloth) are back for a third installment of Charlie Brooker’s police procedural spoof, A Touch of Cloth! Reminiscent of the greatness of Police Squad, this brilliant parody of British detective and crime dramas will also feature some new blood this time around. Kerry Newblood, to be exact. Karen Gillan (Doctor Who will cross paths with drink-addled copper Jack Cloth when series 3 returns to Sky1 on Saturday, August 9.

If you are unfamiliar with A Touch of Cloth, it’s a series that, through the first four episodes, has been jointly criticized and praised for its relentless jokes. My two cents is that, like Police Squad, it’s a spot-on wind up of the more gritty police procedural programs such as Scott and Bailey, DCI Banks, Prey and Happy Valley. It also sports a crack cast of regulars headed by Jones and Hannah along with a who’s who list of great guest stars including Anna Chancellor (Spooks, The Hour, Downton Abbey) and Raquel Cassidy (Lead Balloon, Downton Abbey). To explain more about the series…
Interview with Suranne Jones

Interview with John Hannah

‘Doctor Who’ meets The Nerd on ‘Robot Chicken’

July 25, 2014

Robot Chicken, created from the mind palaces of Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, got just a bit cooler recently as, at long last, The Doctor finally meets The Nerd. Airing as part of the Adult Swim block on The Cartoon Network, Robot Chicken is a sketch comedy series that parodies a number of pop culture conventions using stop motion animation of toys, action figures, claymation, and various other objects. While the comparisons between the TARDIS and Snoopy’s doghouse are probably a bit over the top for The Doctor, The Nerd does last long enough to travel back to the stone age in the TARDIS before quickly wearing out his welcome.

True fans of Doctor Who will, no doubt, take exception with the Robot Chicken parody because as we all know, “a real Dalek could never be subdued by a mere kick” and “The Doctor doesn’t simply confront total strangers with the proposal of becoming his next companion“. That said, this is a cross between brilliant and greatness and definitely well worth the 2+ minutes to watch.

Downton Abbey 5 — What we know so far…

July 24, 2014

With the return of Downton Abbey only mere months away on ITV in the UK, it was officially announced at the Television Critic’s Association gathering in Los Angeles that series 5 will premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece series beginning Sunday, January 4, 2015. Regardless of where you are, the great thing now is that both cast and crew are beginning to have some loose lips with regards to storylines even with creator/writer Julian Fellowes hanging in the wings to ensure a complete lockdown when it comes to information.

No real revelation here but Gareth Neame, the show’s executive producer, has revealed that the upcoming run will contain “high-stakes drama, laugh-out-loud comedy and… romance” as well as “…a few really nice twists and turns” for the characters we know and love. Unfortunately, you pretty much could have said that at any time about any of the previous series the past four years. Here’s what’s in store for…

Isn’t it about time for Anna to have a good day?

— Speaking to TVLine, Neame did say that Anna will still be dealing with the repercussions of series four, a storyline that Joanna Froggart confirmed at the TCA meeting telling critics, “It’s something that sort of haunts her in Season 5. It’s this added anxiety on top of what else she’s going through.”

Will Lady Mary finally make a decision?

— Surprise, surprise. Lady Mary is still on the look out for a man. “She’s still not quite sure, and I think there’s a good hook for the audience in the fifth season to see which decision she’s going to make,” says Neame.

Romance in the air for Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes?

— The real kicker came with regards to the teaser that there really could be romance on the cards for Carson and Mrs Hughes: “Downton is about romantic love and companionship, and in that sense, they are one of the Downton relationships, even if they’re not married. Obviously that was a lovely tease at the end of last season, so we’ll see what happens to them.”

According to Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, the introduction of a new character, Lady Anstruther, played by Anna Chancellor, will create “havoc” down at the Abbey. “She’s a troublemaker. She comes to the house and she creates havoc,” Dockery said.

Saving the best for last, Julian Fellowes has strongly hinted that there will be a series 6 in Downton Abbey‘s future. That alone is all I will need going in to this season. No need for any more teasers until September premiere. You?