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Team Coco’s take on Downton Abbey 3 finale

May 24, 2013

It’s been awhile since we’ve mentioned the series that cannot be named when on hiatus. You know, the series that has now been officially tagged as the highest rated PBS drama of all-time and the network’s most-watched series in more than 20 years. Admittedly, Downton Abbey 3 has been in our collective rear view mirror’s for some time, but it is definitely not forgotten. There are too many calendar reminders on too many refrigerators across the U.S. with the date January 5, 2014 circled in red to for that to happen.

As much as humanly possible, fans of Downton Abbey have tried as best they could to put the tragic season finale of series 3 into the deep recesses of their individual mind palaces since that fateful day of 25 December when ITV1 transmitted in the UK and February 17 in the US with the PBS Masterpiece broadcast.

Leave it to TeamCoco to get us through the dark times

Not long after the series 3 finale, Conan O’Brien took things to the next level by sharing his own, exclusive, never-before-seen clip from the PBS drama. Like 99.9% of the viewers of the series, he didn’t see this coming. For Downton Abbey detractors who say the series doesn’t have enough action, think again…and get ready for series 4 in September 2013 in the UK and January 2014 in the U.S.

The merging of Sherlock and Star Trek

May 23, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Whether it was 1911, when the expression “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words” appeared in a newspaper article quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane discussing journalism and publicity, a similar phrase in 1913 “One Look Is Worth A Thousand Words” that appeared in a newspaper advertisement for the Piqua Auto Supply House in Ohio or the earliest recorded use of the exact phrase appearing in an 1918 newspaper advertisement for the San Antonio Light, its meaning could never be more relevant that the image taken on the final day of filming of the second episode of the third series of Sherlock. Principal filming has wrapped for the moment with the first two episodes, “The Empty House” and “The Sign of Three”, now in the can, with shooting on the series three finale due to start later in the year, most likely August.

Given his most recent efforts in both Sherlock and Star Trek Into Darkness, it seems fitting to see Benedict Cumberbatch giving the Vulcan ‘Live Long and Prosper‘ hand gesture while dressed as the detective. Flanked by Sherlock director of photography, Steve Lawes, the man responsible for tweeting out the pic and production designer Arwel Wyn Jones, also of particular note in the image is Sherlock co-star Martin Freeman’s reference to the show’s third series with his own pose.

Personally, I think the underlying message in the photo is crystal clear. Sherlock must ‘live long and prosper’ for years to come.

Post 50th, Doctor Who 8 confirmed for 2014!

May 22, 2013

Doctor Who 7 is now in everyone’s rear view mirror with the finale airing on BBC One and BBC America this past Saturday. If you haven’t seen last weeks finale to DW7, do not hit play on the video below. That said, once you have, this is so brilliant. Feel free replay over and over between now and 23 November, the day on the calendar that you have a big red circle drawn on….

With fans worldwide laser-focused on the highly anticipated 50th anniversary celebration, word comes from the BBC that there Doctor Who will live on after 23 November 2013. The BBC has issued an official statement the Doctor’s journey will continue into Series 8 with a new Christmas episode in 2013 that will bring its usual brilliance designed to kick-off the Doctor’s next half century.

The official release states that the show’s lead writer and executive producer, Steven Moffat, has revealed that he’s already plotting a brand new run of adventures for the Doctor. The 50th special will celebrate half a century of Doctor Who. The 3D special will feature Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman along with with 10th Doctor, David Tennant, and John Hurt, who was seen briefly at the end of last week’s series 7 finale, ‘The Name of the Doctor’. Billie Piper (Rose Tyler) will also return alongside Jemma Redgrave, Joanna Page… and the Zygons!

In the meantime, here’s a brief report on the upcoming plans for the Doctor Who 50th with a bit of behind-the-scenes filming…


Benedict Cumberbatch talks Sherlock – the early days.

May 21, 2013

In what seems like a lifetime ago, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, both of Doctor Who fame, discussed plans for a Sherlock Holmes adaptation during numerous train journeys to Cardiff where Doctor Who production was taking place. Huge Arthur Conan Doyle fanboys, both Moffat and Gatiss were encouraged to develop the idea of introducing a television audience to a 21st century Sherlock Holmes despite the existence of several mediocre efforts attempting to do the same. Along with Steve Thompson, Gatiss and Moffat have created some of the best television that has appeared on television in recent memory.

A little over two years ago, October 2010 to be exact, we had the great good fortune to interview Benedict Cumberbatch while in the UK just prior to the first series of Sherlock airing on PBS as part of the Masterpiece Mystery series. In these never before segments from the interview, Cumberbatch talked, early on, about what immediately attracted him to Sherlock, the BBC/PBS series from Moffat and Gatiss.

Next, in answering Sherlock purists who couldn’t bare to see the world’s most famous consulting detective have a smart phone, he talked about the challenges of incorporating new technology into the 21st century Sherlock while attempting to remain true to the classic nature of the story.

Finally, it was quite evident even in the early days of Sherlock, that he and co-star Martin Freeman had already developed a great friendship and on-screen chemistry that has been clearly apparent since day one.

Bearing out what Cumberbatch alluded to in the 2010 interview, Paul McGuigan, who directed two episodes of Sherlock, continued the defense of the adaptations from Sherlock purists saying that this is in keeping with Conan Doyle’s character, pointing out that “In the books, he would use any device possible and he was always in the lab doing experiments. It’s just a modern-day version of it. He will use the tools that are available to him today in order to find things out.

Matt Groening spoofs Downton Abbey in Simpsons season finale!

May 20, 2013

The town of Springfield has long been ‘on the map’ as a destination city because of its’ most famous family, the Simpsons. Springfield, however, is also known as the home of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, owned by Montgomery Burns, the Kwik-E-Mart, run by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Barney’s Bowl-A-Rama and The Leftorium in Springfield Mall.
The Simpsons

Visitors can also take a tour of Krustylu Studios (where the Krusty the Klown Show is filmed) or stop off at the likes of Moe’s Tavern, The Guilded Truffle and Krusty Burger.

In the day and age of ‘what have you done for me lately’, Springfield continues to be on the cutting edge with an attraction that will solidfy Homer’s hometown as the tourist destination. With its name sppropriately changed to Simpton Abbey, who knew that Downton Abbey was actually set in Springfield?

Matt Groening’s Simpton Abbey

The Simpsons became the latest TV show to spoof ITV/PBS period drama hit Downton Abbey with last nights season finale on Fox. It not only featured Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane, but the episode, titled ‘Dangers on a Train’, featured MacFarlane’s character Ben falling in love with Marge Simpson and bonding with her over their shared love of a Downton-esque period drama called Upton Rectory.


Get out your anaglyph red/cyan glasses, it’s 3D for Doctor Who 50th!

May 19, 2013

The Doctor turns 50!

More news coming out daily regarding the upcoming November 2013 50th anniversary special that resides in Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat’s mind palace. According to BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, Ben Stephenson, the centerpiece of the BBC’s blockbuster celebrations to mark the Doctor turning 50 will be such that the Time Lord and current companion, Clara Oswald will be seen like never before – in 3D!

Moffat added: “It’s about time. Technology has finally caught up with Doctor Who. It’s the only show with a box that’s bigger on the inside, so if you have the ability to make your television bigger on the inside, it goes with Doctor Who, surely?”.

To give you a sense of what the Doctor might be like in 3D, here’s a season five trailer featuring the Doctor and new companion, Amy Pond. FYI, you’ll need those 3D anaglyph red/cyan glasses for this one that you’ve been saving since the premiere of Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder waiting for just the right time to get them out of the vault. Unless you are one of the handful of those on the planet that possesses a 3D telly, the rest of the planet will have to wait for the home Blu-ray video release down the line to fully experience The Doctor in 3D.

P1 Doctor Who fans will remember that during the Doctor Who 30th anniversary in 1993, “Dimensions In Time” was shown in 3D – using the anaglyph glasses. This time around, however, given advances in technology, you might be able to leave those glasses at home.
3D at it's finest

‘Foyle’s War’ returns to PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! on September 15

May 18, 2013

Christopher Foyle enters the world of MI-5

Confirmed at the PBS Annual Meeting this past week in Miami Beach is the return to Foyle’s War to the PBS schedule this Fall as part of the Masterpiece Mystery! series. Beginning Sunday, September 15, Michael Kitchen will return in his new role as Senior Intelligence Officer for a new series of Foyle’s War which will be comprised of 3, two-hour programs set during the early period following World War II. Foyle will now focus his attention on the world of espionage as he transitions from World War to Cold War. It’s a rather big adjustment for Foyle as he is now faced with a British establishment that is rife with communist sympathizers and traitors.

As Foyle now spends his time gathering secret intelligence in support of Britain’s security, defense and the Government’s foreign and economic policies, the first of three mysteries, “The Eternity Ring”, begins in New Mexico in 1945 before switching to London a year later.

Originally part of PBS’ Mystery series in 2004 and running on ITV in the UK since 2002, it’s been three years since we last crossed paths with Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle. According to novelist and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz, who wrote episodes 1 and 3, the new Foyle’s War will begin in a post-war era Britain. Besides Kitchen returning as Foyle, Honeysuckle Weeks returns as Samantha Stewart, Foyle’s driver who provided valuable assistance over the years. You may remember that Sam’s love interest, former Bletchley Park codebreaker and local MP Adam Wainwright, proposed to her in the final episode of the last series. Well, Sam is now happily married and finding her feet as a wife with a daunting role in local politics. Reunited with Foyle, however, also offers a surprising new working role.

While it has seemed like an eternity since we last spent time with Christoper Foyle (3 years to be exact), remember that Foyle ‘retired’ at the end of series 7 (series 6 in the U.S.). Retirement is short-lived, however, as someone is stealing documents from the Soviet Embassy. Folks over at MI-5 (not Harry Pearce) want him to investigate the suspected Russian who defected with the documents and the possible passing of secrets to the Commies. Doing her best to convince Foyle to join the ranks of MI-5 is Ellie Haddington (The Cafe, Spies of Warsaw).

Why Foyle, you’re asking at this point? Because his former driver, Samantha, has been photographed with a suspected Russian agent.

No Downton in Diddy’s future

May 17, 2013

The Twitter universe lit up on Wednesday with the ‘announcement’ that Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs would be joining the cast of Downton Abbey, as the first black cast member.

Diddy had issued teasers throughout Wednesday, with a post saying: “How many of y’all out there are Downton Abbey fans?”, followed by “I’m going to be making a big announcement in the next hour – im excited for yall to hear!” The rapper then wrote: “I have to admit that Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows – and thats why Im so excited today @DowntonAbbey”.

Having already appeared in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the most recent incarnation of Hawaii Five-0 one would immediately think that the Julian Fellowes creation would be the next logical step in Diddy’s career on the small screen.

Sadly, Diddy will not be starring in Downton Abbey, in spite of apparently claiming he would be taking a recurring role in the hit costume drama. He furthered the idea by teasing that a 12mid sneak peek would be available showing some of his work as he is introduced to a somewhat bewildered Downton staff. The US rapper turned out to have been promoting a skit on Will Ferrell’s Funny Or Die website. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, there are some strong language issues that prevent putting the clip here, but it’s well worth a look if you want at the Funny or Die website.

Quick to respond, US co-producer, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), was quick to put an end to the rumor with a very simple: “It’s not true.

Case Histories returns to BBC One this Sunday, 19 May

May 16, 2013

The excrutiatingly long wait for the return of Case Histories ends this Sunday, 19 May as BBC One has set the transmission date for the premiere. Jason Isaacs, probably best known for his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, is back as the dashing, yet troubled private investigator, Jackson Brodie, with three new 90-minute cold cases based on the novels by Kate Atkinson. Even though Isaacs is about 18 months removed from the role since filming ended on series one, he relishes the thought of jumping back into Isaac’s tough-guy exterior who possesses a deeply empathetic heart who never resists the temptation to ‘come to the rescue’ along with some significant emotional scar tissue.

Jason Isaacs reprises Jackson Brodie role for BBC One's Case HistoriesHe seems to be everything a women would want in a man, including how horribly messed up he is,” says Isaacs.”He’s one of those guys who women think they should be able to save. They don’t really want him – if they actually came across someone like Jackson it would be a nightmare. He’s a fantasy figure.

It’s been just this side of two years since series one transmitted in the UK. At that time, Brodie finally had seemed to be coming to terms with the childhood death of his sister. He was resigned to the fact his young daughter and estranged wife were moving to the other side of the world. Romance was blossoming with DC Louise Munroe, played by Amanda Abbington. Or so it seemed.

While very little is known about the storylines for series 2 other than Victoria Wood will join the cast for the first story, which is adapted from Atkinson’s novel ‘Started Early, Took My Dog’, let’s hope that producers keep the hauntingly great soundtrack as an integral part of Isaac’s life. No word yet as to a possible broadcast premiere on PBS in the States, but as soon as we know something, you’ll be the first to read it here…

PBS sets Downton Abbey 4 airdate for Jan 5, 2014…and more

May 15, 2013

With a majority of the commercial networks setting their Fall schedules this week with their respective upfront presentations to advertisers, PBS announced Tuesday at their annual meeting in Miami Beach the date of January 5, 2014 for the long-awaited return of Downton Abbey and the premiere of series 4.

Approximately 8 million viewers tuned in last January for the premiere of series 3 on PBS, which aired a full three months after the UK premiere on ITV1. With a double digit increase in audience for series 3 over series 2, there seemed little reason to break something that isn’t broken and premiere the program closer to the UK premiere which should, again, be in September of 2013.

With the series set for a 2-hour premiere on January 5, it will run for 8 weeks, ending on February 23. With the Oscars now pushed back a week to avoid the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics, the final episode of Downton Abbey will take its chances against the Olympics rather than taking on the Academy Awards.

Other announcements made Tuesday that would be of interest to readers of Tellyspotting were almost too numerous to mention. In a nutshell…

  • Masterpiece Mystery! “Foyle’s War” - new episodes of the highly anticipated detective series will premiere on Sunday, September 15 with three episodes set in post-war 1946-47. Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks return for more secrets, intelligence and security.
  • Masterpiece Classic “The Paradise” - Emile Zola’s rags to riches story of seduction and the dangerous charms of the modern world set against the Victorian splendor of a British department store (sound familiar?) premieres Sunday, October 6 through November 17.
  • How Sherlock Changed the World - airing Tuesdays, November 19 and 26, this two-part series follows forensic scientists, crime historians and Sherlock experts as the reveal some astonishing insight into the impact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting detective creation had on the development of real-life criminal investigations and forensic techniques. Of particular interest, obviously, will be comments from Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Still on the table is what to do with the upcoming third series of Sherlock. Of particular note, however, is the expressed desire to get the PBS broadcast to align as closely as possible to the UK premiere which is still yet to be determined. That news made the entire trip worthwhile for the some 950+ people in attendance, including Tellyspotting.