Drama

‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 7

Racetrack chic looks super great on Lady Mary. (Photo:  Courtesy of Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Downton Abbey: The Board of Governors decides to turn the village hospital over to the larger institution in York, and proceeds to nominate Cora to replace Violet as President of the local board. Violet is furious and feels betrayed, and everyone around her decides that the best plan of action is just to act like she’s a doddering idiot. Daisy, who is jealous of the attention Mr. Mason’s paying Mrs. Patmore, decides to continue her new role as The Ultimate Worst, by acting out towards both of them and sabotaging their friendship. Carson is something of a disappointment as a husband, Mary and Henry Talbot finally kiss and Robert decides that it’s time to finally start cutting the staff, so Thomas is basically fired. Thomas cries about this, because somehow the writers think that we feel bad for him, despite them doing nothing to show us how the character has changed or grown in the past three years. And the Crawleys open Downton Abbey to the public for a day to raise money for the hospital, and are quite surprised to learn that a lot of people are super (grossly) curious about how the other half lives.  

(If you need a more in-depth refresher, last week's recap is right this way.)

‘Ballykissangel’: Where Are They Now?

The cat of "Ballykissangel" in Season 2 Photo: BBC)

Twenty years ago this week, the BBC aired the first episode of the popular dramedy Ballykissangel. Set in a picturesque yet quirky Irish village, the show began with the arrival of Father Peter Clifford, a new Catholic priest sent by the diocese to Ireland from Manchester. Through his eyes we get acquainted with all the characters of the town, the first one being the strong-willed landlady of the local pub, Assumpta Fitzgerald.

Ballykissangel carried on for six series. Through it actors like James Nesbitt who played Assumpta’s husband Leo and Colin Farrell who joined the cast in series four to play Dublin bad boy (and farmer Eamon’s nephew) Danny Byrne were introduced to a larger audience. The program was picked up by a large number of PBS affiliates and, as far as I know, reruns are still being aired in the US to this day. However, significant turnover in cast members over the years eventually led to lower ratings and the show was finally canceled in 2001.

‘White Queen’ Sequel ‘The White Princess’ is Really Happening in 2017

Rebecca Ferguson as the original "White Queen". Who will star in the sequel series? (Photo: BBC/Starz)

Finally! After nearly three years of rumors, waffling and vague executive statements at press and promotional events, the sequel to The White Queen is actually happening!

Premium cable network Starz has officially commissioned The White Princess, based on best-selling author Philippa Gregory’s novel of the same name. The novel follows the story of Princess Elizabeth of York, daughter of White Queen Elizabeth Woodville, and focuses on her marriage to Henry Tudor (King Henry VII), which included the birth of multiple children, several rebellions and various other dramatic incidents.

Final Season of ‘Mr. Selfridge’ to Begin in March on PBS Masterpiece

Mr. Selfridge will suit up for one last season. (Photo: Courtesy of © ITV Studios Limited 2016 for MASTERPIECE)

Selfridges Department Store will open in America one last time this March.  The fourth and final season of popular period drama Mr. Selfridge will premiere on Masterpiece beginning Sunday, March 27 and will run through May 22.

The final season of Mr. Selfridge follows the unpredictable arc of flamboyant American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge’s career to its thrilling climax, charting the fate of the showman with the big heart, shaky morals, and dogged belief that the dice roll will save him – and the store – every time.

‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Season 6, Episode 6

So Lady Mary and Henry Talbot are kind of adorable together, yeah? (Photo: Courtesy of Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Downton Abbey: The Dowager Countess manages to invite the Minister of Health to dinner at Downton, ostensibly to get him to crush the hospital takeover plan by means of government interference. Unfortunately before Violet can make her case, Robert’s ulcer bursts and he spews blood all over the table and guests in a violent and disgusting fashion vaguely reminiscent of that creature bursting out of people’s chests in Alien. It’s nasty. Robert survives, but the entire Crawley clan is shaken.

In other news, Mary goes to watch Henry Talbot try out racing cars, and Tom comes along, because he has a mancrush on Henry and turns into a huge cheerleader for his relationship with Mary. Edith goes on a date with Bertie Pelham while she’ s in London, and they kiss and it’s all very sweet, particularly because he actually seems to like her and doesn’t have any deep dark secrets (that we are aware of, anyway.) Oh and Thomas promises to help Andy learn to read, because he’s suddenly decided he wants to be a pig farmer for some reason, and they both need storylines for the series’ final four episodes.

 (If you need a more in-depth refresher, last week's recap is right this way.)

'Downton Abbey' Recap: Season 6, Episode 5

Maggie Smith, looking appropriately judgy as the Dowager Countess. (Photo: Courtesy of Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Downton Abbey: Tom returns home to Downton, but finds that he doesn’t quite know what to do with himself now he’s back. The cops want Baxter to testify against the man who helped turn her into a jewel thief and got her arrested years ago and she’s kind of anxious about it.  Gwen Dawson – now married and on a mission to improve the working lives of middle class women – returns to Downton for a surprise lunch visit and she tells the family how Sybil changed her life. (We all cried.) Despite Daisy’s increasingly terrible behavior over everything concerning Mr. Mason, the Crawleys decide to give him the tenancy at Yew Tree Farm anyway. Anna has a pregnancy scare, but ultimately the baby is saved and her prognosis looks good for the moment. She tells Mr. Bates they’re going to be parents, and he’s perfectly adorable about it, reminding us all why we used to love these two so much.

Oh and the never-ending debate over the future of the hospital continues, but the upside is that at least it brings the dishy Henry Talbot to Downton (he’s Lady Shackleton’s nephew), and back into Mary’s life. (If you need a more in-depth refresher, last week's recap is right this way.)

Martin Clunes and a very cute co-star in "Doc Martin". (Photo: American Public Television)

It Sounds as if ‘Doc Martin’ Will Likely Continue Beyond Season 7

The seventh season of megapopular British comedy Doc Martin is currently airing around the US on PBS stations, and fans everywhere are curious about what the future of the show will be.

Each installment of Doc Martin has been rumored to be its last since sometime around Season 5 or so, and since the show only films every other year, there’s plenty of time for fans to fill talking and/or worrying about its future. Happily it looks like viewers can spend this particular hiatus in a slightly more zen state of mind, because from all indications it looks pretty likely the show will continue into Season 8, and possibly beyond that.

While no official announcement has come from the folks at ITV, the UK network that produces the show, it’s hard to imagine them not greenlighting an eighth season if all the major parties involved are amenable to it. And, according to Current, the media outlet that covers public and nonprofit media in the US, Season 8 sure seems to be happening. 

Period Drama ‘Victoria’ to Air in Masterpiece ‘Downton Abbey’ Timeslot in 2017

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria in "Victoria", coming in January 2017. (Photo: Courtesy of Des Willie/ITV Plc)

Rest easy, Downton Abbey fans – there will still be another prestige period drama to watch on Sunday nights in January come 2017.

Victoria, a lavish new series starring Doctor Who alum Jenna Coleman as the titular nineteenth century queen, will be making its American debut on PBS stations nationwide next winter on Masterpiece.

The eight-part drama will focus on the early life of the Queen, from her ascension to the throne at the age of 18, through her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert. Victoria went on to rule for 63 years, – Queen Elizabeth II just broke her record as longest-serving British monarch in September of 2015 – had nine children, and experienced both incredible triumph and agonizing heartbreak. 

The British Are Coming…to American Telly

The cast of "The Night Manager", airing on AMC. (Photo: Mitch Jenkins/The Ink Factory/AMC)

You may say that the title of this post is old news and, in a way, it is. British shows and actors have been making their way across the pond for quite some time with their main gateway being our favorite network, PBS.  In fact Masterpiece’s executive producer Rebecca Eaton estimates that since the early 1970’s, they have “put half a billion dollars into British drama. Either via financing it, acquiring rights or publicity, by flying over the casts to meet the American press.”

With the rise in popularity of British programming, premium pay channels have been following suit with collaborations on series such Rome and Extras for HBO, The Tudors and Episodes for Showtime and The Missing and The White Queen for Starz. It’s too complicated to tease the national origins of the money, locations and creative-types on any of the shows referenced above. Suffice it to say, American TV execs have sussed that their audiences like British stuff in general and they are doing all they can to cash in on that trend.

And if the beginning of 2016 is any indication, it appears it will be a banner year for British fare on American network and basic cable channels. 

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