June 2012

Category:Comedy

The Great Doc Martin Watch Does Doc Martin: The Movie

Housekeeping note: Technical issues waylaid the Friday News Roundup yesterday. (Hurray, storms!) It’ll be back next week. Hope everyone in the DC metro area is safe and sound – and staying cool!

Before Doc Martin the series existed, the character that would become Martin Ellingham made his first appearance in a 2000 film called Saving Grace. Thanks to the success of this film, two made-for-TV prequels were made, both featuring Martin Clunes playing the doctor who was then known as Martin Bamford. The character is a bit (lot?) different, the villagers aren’t the same, and the town’s called something else, but you can still see a few similarities to the show we all enjoy so much.

We just aired the first of these – called, simply, Doc Martin: The Movie –last weekend, and I thought it might be fun to try and dig into a little bit – both on its own merits and how it stacks up against Doc Martin: The Series. Plus, I’ll be honest, I’m missing the Great Doc Martin Rewatch and its fabulous discussion threads, and I’m already feeling cranky about the fact that they don’t even start filming Series 6 until next year. (Why does being a TV fan involve so much waiting?)  So, please, indulge me.

Click through and come chat with me about Doc Martin: The Movie and, as always, feel free to leave your thoughts, favorite moments, funny lines, general rants, whatever, in the comments.

Category:Drama

Time for a Sherlock Post: What Do We Know About Series 3 So Far?

Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m already having serious Sherlock withdrawal. (Ha, just kidding - I totally know about the rest of you, and I am willing to bet that you are too!) So I figured, since I desperately need an excuse to talk about it we have to do something to entertain ourselves during the Great Hiatus, why not have a semi-regular feature that rounds up all the news of importance and mildly tangential interest to Holmesians in one place?

Over the last month or so the first tidbits about Sherlock Series 3 have begun to make their way into the news – and though there’s not a ton to work with here in terms of official announcements, well, it’s still water in the desert people. Let’s cling to it.

Click through for the latest official word on Series 3 filming, what the first episode will be, whether we could be seeing Sherlock continue past the third series, and general series-related flailing. (I know it's nothing y'all hardcore types haven't seen already, but, indulge me, okay?)

Category:Documentary

Four-Part Series Queen and Country Starts This Sunday Night on WETA!

Since this is pretty much the Summer of London – thanks to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee festivities earlier this month and the Summer Olympics right around the corner – we’re airing some great British and British-themed programming to celebrate, as part of PBS’ British Summer Holiday event.

New four-part series Queen and Country will premiere this Sunday, July 1. Veteran newsman Sir Trevor McDonald offers viewers a look at the traditions and institutions surrounding the monarchy, from Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace through the Queen's royal visits to some of the greatest historic royal palaces, and more. 

Click through for a preview and an episode-by-episode guide to what’s coming up on the series.

Category:Comedy

Hugh Bonneville’s Olympic Mockumentary Twenty Twelve Comes to BBC America This Week

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville returns to American televisions this week with Twenty Twelve, a very contemporary, exceptionally dry comedy about the organizing committee charged with putting on the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Bonneville stars as Ian Fletcher, the harried Head of Deliverance for the London Games. He is joined by a strong ensemble cast, including Peep Show’s Olivia Coleman, Spaced’s Jessica Hynes, I’m Alan Patridge’s Amelia Bullmore, The Thick of It’s Vincent Franklin and Green Wing’s Karl Theobald. It’s also narrated by David Tennant, a guy you may have seen once or twice on Doctor Who.

Twenty Twelve premieres this Thursday, June 28th at 9pm on BBC America with three back-to-back episodes – but here’s where the scheduling gets tricky. The comedy will be moving to its regular timeslot of Saturdays at midnight, where it will join the network’s Ministry of Laughs comedy block starting June 30. BBC America will air both series of the show (13 episodes in total) over the next few weeks.

Click through to take a look at two trailers that ought to give you a pretty good feel for the comedy and its style of humor, as well as an interview with Bonneville in which he tells American audiences what they can expect from the show.

Category:Drama

Downton Abbey Series 3 First Look: Shirley MacLaine Faces Off with Maggie Smith

Everyone's eager for Downton Abbey to return to our televisions in January – but let’s face it, what we’re really all looking forward to in Series 3 is seeing Dame Maggie Smith’s indomitable Dowager Countess go head-to-head with new addition Shirley MacLaine’s Martha Levinson. Right? Luckily, we can now get our first tiny sneak peek at what the confrontations between these two veteran actresses will be like!

The American Film Institute honored MacLaine with their 40th “AFI Life Achievement Award” last night and various celebrities paid tribute to the accomplished actress during the ceremony. One of the presenters was Downton’s Elizabeth McGovern, who introduced a brand new clip from Series 3, featuring MacLaine and Smith indulging in the sort of verbal sparring that makes you want to cry because we’re still over six months away from seeing this for ourselves.

When faced with Lady Violet upon her arrival at Downton, Maclaine’s Martha snarks, “Oh, dear. I’m afraid the war has made old women of us both.”

Yup, it’s pretty much exactly how you pictured it in your head, and exactly how we all wanted their interactions to turn out. She called the Dowager Countess old, y’all. Get the popcorn ready. It's on.

Click through to get your first look at MacLaine in action, and leave your initial impressions of Lady Cora’s mother in the comments.

Category:Drama

Tune-In Alert: Wallander Series 1 Marathon on WETA Tonight!

Heads up for Masterpiece Mystery lovers! We’ll be re-airing Series 1 of gritty crime drama Wallander in full tonight starting at 8pm, running all three episodes back-to-back-to-back.

If you’ve not seen this before, Wallander is based on a popular series of novels by Swedish author Henning Mankell. The series stars Kennth Branagh as titular inspector Kurt Wallander, who has been solving heinous crimes for his entire career while watching his personal life increasingly spiral out of control.

The series is a strange combination of dark, existential, complicated and gripping. Wallander is not exactly what I would call happy viewing, necessarily, but it’s certainly compelling and the mysteries that the Swedish detective must solve are all extremely well done and will keep you guessing through most of the episodes. That the show is a bit bleak is, in some ways, appealing – it’s very unlike most procedurals and mysteries currently on-air and that, in its way, is very refreshing. Plus, it’s a fantastic performance from Branagh in the lead role, and the supporting cast – including Sarah Smart, Tom Beard, Jeany Spark, Tom Hiddleston and more – is top-notch.

Click through for a preview and some details about tonight’s marathon. Enjoy!

Category:Drama

Andrew Scott, Martin Clunes and More to Star in ITV’s New Drama The Town

Sherlock star Andrew Scott is set to headline a new three-part contemporary drama for ITV called The Town. Scott will star alongside what looks to be a truly outstanding ensemble cast, which includes many names you’ll recognize, including Martin Clunes (Doc Martin), Julia McKenzie (Miss Marple), Charlotte Riley (DCI Banks), Gerard Kearns (Shameless) and Kelly Adams (Holby City).

Scott, who recently won a BAFTA for his portrayal of Holmes’ nemesis Moriarty, will play Mark Nicholas, a man who returns to his hometown after ten years away and struggles to reconnect with those he left behind – including his family, friends and former sweetheart, who is now married with a child. MacKenzie plays his grandmother Betty, Riley is his first love Alice, and Clunes is the town’s alcohol-soaked mayor, Len. 

The Town is being written by Laurence Olivier award-winning playwright Mike Bartlett and produced by Big Talk Productions, the company behind Rev, Friday Night Dinner and Him & Her. (All of which are outstanding programs, so this bodes well!)

“We’re thrilled to be making our first original drama series for the fantastic team at ITV. At the heart of The Town will be a family struggling to come to terms with change,” said Big Talk’s CEO and The Town’s co-executive producer Kenton Allen. “It’s also our hope to paint a picture of contemporary Britain through the magnifying glass of an ordinary market town.”            

“These communities are desperate for a sense of purpose and direction. They face the same challenges we all do. A shrinking economy, under-employment, crime and a struggle to educate our children. Mike's real skill is to craft a compelling and entertaining drama at the heart of such a world,” added co-executive producer Simon Curtis.

Filming on the three-part series began this week. No word yet on possible screening dates in the UK, nor whether this series will be broadcast internationally. Here’s hoping that US Sherlock-mania will help bring this drama across the pond!

Category:General

The Friday News Roundup: Heatwave Edition

Happy Friday Telly Visions readers! Hope that wherever you are as we get the weekend underway, it’s someplace with air conditioning!

For those of you not in the DC local area, just an FYI, the heat has been brutal here the past few days. Sympathies to my fellow East Coasters, I know a lot of y’all have had things just as warm as we have!

Obviously, this means you should take a few minutes, kick back and stay cool by reading all the latest and greatest in this week’s News Roundup! Click through for bits and bobs on Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, Doc Martin, Copper, that upcoming American remake of The Inbetweeners, a new series starring David Tennant called The Politician’s Wife and more!

Category:Drama

New Series of Inspector Lewis Coming This July – Watch Four New Trailers!

Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox are returning to Masterpiece Mystery this summer a new series of the popular detective drama Inspector Lewis.  The Inspector Morse spinoff will screen four new feature-length episodes on Sunday nights, beginning July 8.

Whatley – who played Morse’s Sergeant in the original Inspector Morse mysteries - returns as Robert “Robbie” Lewis to once again tackle murder and mayhem around Oxford with his partner DS Hathaway (Fox).  Guest stars for the new series include Jane Eyre’s Toby Stephens, Little Dorrit’s James Fleet and Cranford’s Celia Imrie. 

Click through for a look at four just-released previews – one for each of the new Lewis episodes.  The new mysteries are called The Soul of Genius, Generation of Vipers, Faithful Symmetry, and The Indelible Stain (that’s also the order in which they’ll air, by the way). And they look pretty good!

Watch the four sneak peeks below for yourselves and let us know which of the set you think looks like it will be the most interesting mystery. And dont' forget to mark your calendars for the premiere on July 8!

Category:Drama

Watch the First Ten Minutes of Inside Men, Premiering Wednesday on BBC America

BBC America will begin airing Inside Men, BBC One’s popular thriller from earlier this year, starting tomorrow,  Wednesday, June 20. This cleverly plotted drama tells the story of three security company employees who plan a multi-million dollar heist from their own employer. Think Ocean's Eleven, but without the casinos and Vegas.

The four-part drama is the story of their armed robbery of a cash counting house and the events that lead up to it, as well as the psychological study of the motivations and morals of  three simple, everyday men who become criminals.

Inside Men stars Luther’s Steven Mackintosh as John, manager of the counting house who has become fed up with his humdrum lifestyle. His two accomplices include depot security guard Chris, played by Hustle’s Ashley Walters  and forklift driver Marcus, played by another familiar face from Luther, Warren Brown. It looks really good!

Want to see for yourself? Click through for a look at the series trailer, as well as a sneak peek at the first ten minutes of the first episode.

Category:Comedy

Tune-In Alert: Doc Martin: The Movie Airs This Weekend on WETA!

Did you know that before Martin Clunes played Martin Ellingham in the series Doc Martin, he actually starred in a made-for-television movie of the same name?  (This was news to me when I found out a couple months back, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t.)

Doc  Martin: The Movie  was conceived as a prequel to the 2000 film Saving Grace with Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson, in which Clunes also appears. In the TV film, he plays the successful but unhappy Dr. Martin Bamford, who discovers that his wife has been sleeping with three of his friends. His world in tatters, Bamford flees London and heads for the small fishing village of Port Isaac, on the north coast of Cornwall, to try and work out the big questions in his life.

Some of that probably sounds pretty familiar, though some of the names and particulars have changed from this early version of the story to the series that we know.  Obviously Martin’s last name is different, and the village he ends up in isn’t the same (though, oddly enough “Port Isaac” is the actual name of the real village that stands in for Portwenn in the seires!). This early version of Martin is also not nearly as curmudgeonly or grumpy as the man we’re used to seeing every week, those character traits were added in at Clunes’ suggestion to help sell the series to ITV. 

Click through for a brief preview, airdate details for this Saturday and another (kiiiind of hilarious) promo photo.

 

Category:General

The Friday News Roundup: The Out of Town Edition

Happy Friday Telly Visions readers! And welcome to our first News Roundup brought to you from out of town! (Hi from North Carolina, everyone! It’s very windy here, in case you were curious.)

 Hopefully , your weeks have all been lovely!  Apologies in advance for the short and sweet news update this week, but there’s still some good tidbits about a variety of fun things to be had!. Click through for the latest news on Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Bedlam, Blackout, and more!

Category:Culture

Why Americans Love British TV: Our First Guest Post at British Council USA!

Many thanks to the lovely folks at British Council USA for letting me natter on about Americans and our current love affair with British television on their blog. Thoughts? Head over and let me know what I left out!

Americans can’t seem to get enough of all things British.  On US television networks in the past year or so, we’ve seen the debut of several remakes of British television series, some successful (Showtime’s Shameless, Syfy’s Being Human) and some less so (MTV’s Skins).  Twenty-three million Americans got up exceptionally early to watch the Royal Wedding last spring and several million more got up not quite so early this past weekend to watch coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations from London.

Americans seem ravenous for imported British television. PBS stations nationwide have been achieving record-breaking ratings with hits from across the pond like Downton Abbey and Sherlock (5.4 and 3.2 million viewers, respectively). I think we’ve all probably experienced a friend (or possibly ourselves) under the influence of some form of Downton mania – the viewing marathons, the lack of sleep, the sudden obsession with Dan Stevens or interest in watching every film Dame Maggie Smith’s ever made. At a Sherlock premiere event for the show’s second series in New York, the cheers and screams for star Benedict Cumberbatch and creator Steven Moffat sounded like those at rock concert.  It was pretty incredible.

Masterpiece (and Masterpiece Theatre before it) has always been fairly successful at captivating America with British programming. But lately, it seems that more people than ever are seeking these sorts of shows out. But, why? And why now?

[Insert cruel Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss-style cliffhanger here, mwhahahaha]!

Want to read the rest? Click here to visit this post over at the British Council’s site and let me know what you think!

Category:Drama

Watch the First PBS Preview for Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour

Coming this July to Masterpiece Mystery, Shaun Evans stars in Endeavour, a detective drama that serves as a prequel to the beloved, long-running Inspector Morse series.   

Set in 1965, Evans plays a much-younger Constable Endeavour Morse at the very beginning of his career on the force in Oxford, when he is given the career making opportunity to investigate the murder of a fifteen year-old girl. 

Have to say, the photo of Evans leaning on a car that exactly mirrors an earlier image of John Thaw and his red Jaguar? Pretty awesome. Click through for a look at the first PBS promo for the mystery special, as well as an update on what we might expect to see after Endeavour’s conclusion.

Category:Sci-Fi

First Look at Doctor’s Matt Smith and New Companion Jenna-Louise Coleman

The BBC has released the first official photos of Doctor Who star Matt Smith on location with brand new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Now we can actually get a look at Smith and Coleman together – if not strictly in action –and, I have to admit, this did sort of stoke my excitement for the series’ return. Shooting is well under way on the Doctor’s latest adventure and the second read-through featuring Coleman’s character took place this week at the BBC’s Roath Lock Studios, according to the network.

Doctor Who Series 7 is set to premiere this Fall, with Coleman taking over as the new companion in the TARDIS starting from the Christmas special. It’s been previously revealed that current companions Amy and Rory Pond (played by the fabulous Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill) will be departing the show during a “heartbreaking” storyline in the season’s fifth episode.  For me, the jury’s out on Coleman until we see some actual footage. She looks adorable, but I can’t get anything about her character from a couple of pictures (other than the fact that I seriously covet that red bag she’s sporting). She looks awfully young, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it even particularly new ground for this show as far as casting goes. We’ll all have to wait and see.

One snap judgment I do have to share though: I love Eleven's new outfit! Click through and take a look for yourself!

Category:General

Friday News Roundup: Hello, Summer Edition

Happy Friday, Telly Visions readers! Welcome to summer – well, only sort of, I suppose, as summer technically, doesn’t officially begin for a couple weeks according to the calendar, but I know most of us in the States tend to track it with the passing of Memorial Day weekend. And I don’t know about your part of the world, but it’s been stunningly lovely in the DC area – a few freak/sudden storms aside. Everyone get outside and enjoy it, before it gets too hot!

Friday also means that it’s News Roundup time around here! Click through for loads of updates from around the world of British entertainment, including Sherlock, Doc Martin, Downton Abbey, Misfits, Bedlam, Red Dwarf, last weekend’s Diamond Jubilee festivities and more!

Category:Drama

Benedict Cumberbatch Alert: The Last Enemy” is the WETA UK Movie This Saturday!

While we're waiting (ever so patiently and apparently for such a very long time) for Series 3 of Sherlock to both get filmed and appear on our TVs, why don't we take some time to appreciate the extensive back catalogs of the series’ stars? Luckily, we can all get started this weekend on this obviously very important project.

This Saturday on the WETA UK Movie, get your Benedict Cumberbatch fix - we’re airing The Last Enemy, a thriller set in the not-too-distant future which explores how technology and fear can create a dystopian society. It also stars Once Upon a Time’s Robert Carlyle, as well as Annamaria Marina and Hotel Babylon’s Max Beesley, but let’s face it, aren’t we really all most interested in the Cumberbatch Connection? (I may be projecting a bit, but still. I don’t think I’m too far off the mark.)

In The Last Enemy, Cumberbatch plays Stephen Ezard, a reclusive and brilliant mathematician who returns home to England to attend the funeral of his brother Michael, an aid-worker who was killed by a landmine in Afghanistan. Stephen’s kind of spent a lot of time on his own in China, and struggles to reconcile the isolated world he left behind with the brother he barely knew, a London that is now practically a police state and a government seriously obsessed with being able to monitor its citizens’ every move. Creepy!

It’s hard to explain a lot more about this without giving to much away, but the gist is that while trying to make sense of his brother’s death, Stephen starts to uncover a lot of secrets – about his brother’s life and the work he was doing, as well as some government secrets and the kind of society that its trying to create. Conspiracy theories and lots of plot twists ensue. Click through to check out a promo for yourself!

Category:Online

Amazing Internet Things: What if Sherlock Were an Animated Series?

Now that the Endless Sherlock Hiatus is upon us, it’s time to start stockpiling random fun and/or interesting things to keep us all occupied until Series 3. So, bless the internet for constantly providing gems like this creative bit of genius and I hope you guys are ready to watch me work out my separation issues through application of interesting and/or funny videos. (I’m already twitchy with waiting, and we’ve got a loooong way to go still.)

Anyway, in case you’ve ever wondered what Sherlock might look like as a cartoon, well, now you have an answer. And one that’s way, way better looking than that creepy cartoon where John Watson was a robot even if it is less than a minute long. (See, guys, I did finally find out the answer from my query on this subject ages ago!)

Some industrious fan has created an animated opening credits sequence for Sherlock that imagines the cast as fairly amazing Japanese anime characters, complete with voiceovers and Sherlock’s dramatic coat swooshing about.

Click through and have a look for yourself – it’s brief, but the cartoon will probably leave you wishing that we could see a little bit more of it. (Animated!John Watson is adorable!)

Category:Sci-Fi

Five Reasons You Should Watch Doctor Who Tonight

There’s a little science fiction program premiering tonight on WETA UK that some of you might have heard of at some point or other. It’s a show about an alien, some humans, a blue police box and their adventures through time and space called Doctor Who. It’s the best show in the world, in my obviously not at all biased opinion, and I desperately want each and every one of you to give it a try.

Doctor Who’s set to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. It’s basically a national treasure in Britain. Half the country’s grown up watching it. And right now, tonight, is the absolute perfect time for you to jump into this show if you’ve never seen it. WETA UK begins Doctor Who with the first episode of what is *technically* Series 28 (I think?), but that doesn’t matter, because this is also the episode that marks the series’ return after a 16 year hiatus.  Referred to by fans as the “reboot,” the series was reinvented and restarted for a new audience in 2005 with the introduction of the Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston. Its initial episode, Rose, basically serves as a second pilot of sorts and explains all the history you’ll need to know to feel completely up to speed on the show’s premise and the Doctor’s backstory.

I promise this system works. Nine is “my” Doctor – fan code for the particular incarnation of the character that gets you hooked on Who – so I didn’t go back and start watching earlier installments (like those featuring Tom Baker, William Hartnell and Peter Davison’s Doctors) until well after I was already a die-hard Whovian. This is a perfect entry point to the series and to the “Whoniverse” as a whole. 

But why should you bother? Well, I thought you’d never ask. Doctor Who is not only my favorite television series – of any type, genre or era – it’s a wonderful example of how television can remain smart and interesting and brave and relevant over an extended time frame, without condescending to its audience. It is, quite simply, one of the best television series ever made, and certainly one of the best things airing on any network right now. Great writing, fun adventures, scary monsters and characters that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. TV doesn’t really get a lot better than this.

Click through for some specifics about why, if you’re a person that loves quality television programming, you should give the WETA UK premiere of Doctor Who a chance tonight. And I promise I won’t even say I told you so afterward.

Category:General

WETA UK Is Here!

After months of planning, WETA UK, our brand-new, all British TV all the time channel launched last night at midnight. We’re so excited to present quality British programming 24/7 for the Washington, DC area, and we really hope you guys enjoy it.

Our Premiere Weekend Marathon continues today and tomorrow with pilots from 28 of the series which comprise the initial WETA UK line-up. Plus, our first installment of the WETA UK movie airs tonight, Place of Execution. (Watch a preview for that right here if you’ve never seen it.)

The regular WETA UK line-up starts tomorrow afternoon.  Keep an eye out this week for more as series settle into their standard timeslots.

We’re so pleased to be able offer this channel to everyone. We hope you like it! Let us know what you think – and if you try any new shows you’ve never seen before. (I saw Monarch of the Glen earlier! It was so sweet! I may be a little embarrassingly flaily about this for a bit everyone. Sorry I'm not sorry?)

Category:General

Friday News Roundup: Diamond Jubilee Edition

Happy Friday, Telly Visions readers! It’s a big weekend for anglophiles, as the UK gears up to officially celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Sixty years on the throne! So, if you see a bit more Britishness around the internet this weekend, it’s because we all want to celebrate with her. I know I plan to get up very early on Sunday to watch the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames and I imagine many of you may be doing something similar. (You can find details how how/where to watch all the pomp and pageantry in today’s roundup. Just FYI.)

So, today’s News Roundup is in honor of Her Majesty, long may she continue to reign. (She’s a bit under four years away from becoming England’s longest reigning monarch!)  Click through for the best tidbits from around the world of British entertainment this week, including Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Black Mirror, Doctor Who, the always amazing Eurovision song contest, a sprinkling of early Diamond Jubilee coverage and more!

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