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‘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?

Monty Python, 1969-2014

July 23, 2014

Dressed in white suit jackets befitting the occasion, the five surviving members of Monty Python, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, closed out their run of reunion shows Sunday evening by bidding farewell with the 1979 song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“. Considered by many to be the most influential group of individuals on ‘what we call’ comedy today, this would be the musical equivalent of the Beatles getting back together. Joining them onstage Sunday (and for the entire reunion ‘tour’) was Carol Cleveland, the only woman to have made regular appearances in the 1960s iconic show.

Since announcing the tour, of which the opening night on July 1 sold out in 44 seconds, the troupe has repeatedly said that this would be the final time they would perform together. At 45, (1969-2014), they felt it was time. They would cease to be. They had run down the curtain and would be meeting the choir invisible. They would be no more. Bereft of life, it was time for Python to rest in peace. They are an ex-comedy troupe.

While it has been 45 years since they first appeared on the BBC with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the group’s 40th anniversary of their U.S. television premiere on KERA (PBS/Dallas) is coming up this October. It was Sunday, October 6, 1974 at 10:00pm that Dallas’ public television station and program director, Ron Devillier, changed the television comedy landscape forever. It was March of 1975 that Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman appeared in studio at KERA in Dallas for “Festival ’75″, part of the stations fundraising drive. With no U.S. distributor for their newest venture, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the group seemed a bit oblivious as to the world-wide Python madness that was getting ready to be unleashed. Unfortunately, as you will see, only 15 minutes of a nearly 3-hour night on KERA in 1975 remains.

On behalf of public television in America and fans of Python worldwide, thanks for 45 years of laughter and here’s to 45 more.

Endeavour takes you back to the 60′s

July 22, 2014

Having just spent a week in the 50′s on the set of the filming of series 3 of Father Brown in the Cotswolds, you get a crash course on the complexities of the overall transformation that has to take place to create the reality for both the actors involved and the viewers at home. The incredible attention to detail from the costume designers and the art departments were on display this week as they kicked into high gear to ensure complete accuracy down to the last detail.

As PBS Masterpiece viewers have experienced time and time again, British drama has taken us to virtually every time period from Victorian England through Edwardian England and right up until today. With Endeavour, of which series 2 ended on Sunday on PBS, the task was to re-create the magical time of 60′s. After seeing first hand, I can only sit at home and marvel at the incredible talent that goes to great lengths on both of these series.

The extent to which the actors go to transport themselves into the time period is a complicated one, if not fascinating. With the daunting task of ‘becoming’ an young Morse in front of him, Shaun Evans, who brilliantly plays the young Inspector Morse, looked for inspiration no further than Monty Python. “I listened a lot to Michael Palin, who was from the north, went to Oxford and who was alive in the 60s,” he said. “That’s how I imagine Morse’s voice to be.” He also said that Scandinavian crime dramas such as The Killing and The Bridge had also left their mark on Endeavour.

Asked whether viewers could expect to see the drama move into the 1970s, Evans said: “Listen, never say never. It would be a great life for me, I suppose. But is it something you’d want, creatively? I’m not so sure.” Author Colin Dexter has insisted there can be no remakes of the Inspector Morse episodes starring John Thaw. Evans added: “I know that Colin has it in his will that no one else can play the part, which is as it should be.

No word yet as to the future of Endeavour and whether or not a series 3 is in the works and/or commissioned, but given how series 2 ended on Sunday and the fates of DI Thursday and DC Morse so up in the air, how can there not be?