October 2012

Britwatch: Benedict Cumberbatch to Star in Biopic of Beatles Manager

A mini-Sherlock reunion is coming soon to multiplexes around the world, as star Benedict Cumberbatch is set to team up with the series' main director Paul McGuigan on a biography of iconic Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

Epstein, who managed the band from 1961-1967 had a colorful personal life. He was a closet homosexual, suffered from a gambling addiction and died from a drug overdose. (So, you know, if anyone was concerned about Cumberbatch possibly playing an upbeat or happy role ever then, hey, crisis averted.) According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers describe the film as the story of a “man who threw the biggest party of the 1960s but ultimately forgot to invite himself.”

Cumberbatch seems to have a knack for playing real people - he’s already done Stephen Hawking and William Pitt and is rumored to be lined up for a crack at Julian Assange – so I expect this, as everything else he generally does, will be pretty flawless. If Sherlock is the only directorial work of McGuigan’s you’ve seen, I’d recommend at least checking out Gangster No. 1 – which, incidentally, is also set in the 1960s and shows off how skillful McGuigan is at both creating an atmosphere and just generally being interesting in the way he frames his shots.

Awkwardly, this particular Epstein film doesn’t have the rights to actually use any Beatles songs. (There’s another similarly themed biopic in the works, only that one’s being produced by Sony, which owns the Lenon/McCartney catalogue.) But, hey, in my opinion, Cumberbatch in the lead role makes up for a lot of shortcomings and if the movie isn’t actually about the band, do we really need to hear She Loves You for the millionth time? Surely not.

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: “All the Things You Are”

Apologies for the fact that our Upstairs Downstairs recap is a smidge late – blame Hurricane Sandy! We hope that all of you in our area – and points north and west of us as well – are safe, warm and dry today, and have come through the storm successfully. Sending good thoughts your way!

The second series of Upstairs Downstairs continues along its jampacked way with its fourth episode, which includes all manner of eminently watchable strangeness, including servant boxing, illicit romance, marital woes, racial tension and Hallam being a huge jerk. It’s another entertaining episode even if it occasionally seems only tangentially connected to what we’ve seen before. Personally I’ve decided to accept that I just can’t get too emotionally invested in this show – Alex Kingston’s fantastic Lady Blanche aside – and am committed to just enjoying the ride for what it is And it’s super fun to watch, even if for about fifty percent of the time, the fun comes from hoping certain characters get punched in the face.

Click through and let’s dish everything important that happened this week, such as Harry the Driver’s sudden development of a meaningful past and Hallam’s new status as one of my most hated characters on TV. Leave your thoughts in the comments – should be fun to discuss!

The News Roundup: Hurricane Sandy Edition

Happy weekend, Telly Visions readers! For those of us who are East Coasters preparing to hunker down for Hurricane Sandy – everyone be safe and take care of yourselves and your neighbors! This seems like an extremely serious storm, so let's all treat it as such! (Though really, this feeling that I'm just sitting around waitng for the power to go out is the worst!)

And, you know, if you’re busy bookmarking things to read once your power goes out, here is a handy dandy pile of fun things to read, courtesy of our News Roundup. Click through for a bunch of goodies from all around the world of British entertainment, including Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Parade’s End, Miranda, Doctor Who, The Hour, The Great British Bakeoff, Made in Chelsea and lots more.

Amazing Internet Things: Doctor Who Credits Done Sherlock Style

We are currently smack in the middle of the Darkest Timeline - shoutout to NBC’s comedy Community for that incredibly apt concept – wherein there are no new episodes of either of my two favorite shows airing anytime in the near future. I mean, only one of them is even filming at the moment. Despair! Even in the best of best case scenarios, Doctor Who will return next Spring and Sherlock looks likely for next Fall (though that’s if we’re lucky). It’s a difficult time, to put it mildly.

Consequently, I am currently suffering massive withdrawal and, sadly, there is barely even any new news on either series to keep my spirits up. And, no, pictures of Who filming randomly around London don’t count. (Mostly because I am not there to stalk watch.) So, as always, I end up trolling around the internet looking for interesting tidbits about either property – and my best finds are generally when I stumble across something that takes the two things I love the most and smooshes them together, like this excellent credits sequence.

Some enterprising YouTube fan has managed to recreate the Doctor Who credits in the style of Sherlock opening titles and you might be surprised by how well it actually works like this. (Though I suppose after having just had two season finales in a row where people jump off buildings, well, I think these shows have a bit more in common than you’d think.) It’s worth a look!

Sherlock Holmes Series Elementary Gets a Full-Season Order From CBS: Four Things to Work On

CBS announced yesterday that it’s giving a full-season order to its freshman drama series Elementary. This news isn’t a huge surprise - the modern-day Sherlock Holmes adaptation has been performing admirably for the network on Thursday nights. It’s the second most popular new series of the season and averages somewhere in the 11-14 million viewers per episode range, even if their demos do skew rather on the older side. (This is CBS though, so I’m sure that fact wasn’t terribly unexpected, either.)

For many Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, this is probably very welcome news – and I agree that more Holmes in any incarnation is almost always excellent. While Elementary did not turn out to be quite the trainwreck I had originally envisioned and I mostly enjoyed the pilot, personally, I’ve found its subsequent episodes to be somewhat mediocre. Since it’s now confirmed that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu for the rest of the year – American seasons run for 22 episodes after all – there’s plenty of time for the show to work out its kinks. Here are a few suggestions.

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: “A Perfect Specimen of Womanhood”

The second series of Upstairs Downstairs continues with its third episode, which is quite action packed and exciting to watch, though it does manage to cram virtually every sort of scandal possible into a sixty minute timeframe. We’ve got an unwanted pregnancy, a scandalous secret relationship, an abortion, loads of downstairs drama once two servants have their jobs switched, a really weird women’s equality group, and the return of Jean Marsh as Rose. Despite the fact that it’s occasionally (often?) ridiculously over the top, it’s also easily the most watchable hour the show’s produced to date. There’s not a lot of tremendously in-character behavior here (save for probably Blanche), but if you can ignore that, this episode sure is entertaining.

Click through and let’s dish the many, many ridiculous things that happened this week – including Hallam’s poor life decisions, Blanche’s general awesomeness, the hot mess that is Persie’s life, Agnes actually being fantastic for once and lots more.

Returning Cast Members, Storylines Revealed for Final Series of Skins

E4 has confirmed which cast members will return for the final series of its groundbreaking teen drama Skins. The show will bow out with three two-part specials, each focused on a different character and their journey into adulthood.

The finale specials will primarily feature Kaya Scodelario’s Effy, Jack O’Connell’s Cook and Hannah Murray’s Cassie, though it’s looking likely that several of the other regular Skins cast members will make appearances in each of these episodes. For example, Lily Loveless and Kat Prescott are set to appear as fan favorites Naomi and Emily, though none of the specials will technically be centered on their characters.

The episodes – titled Skins Pure, Skins Rise and Skins Fire - will be written by series creators Brian Elsley and Jamie Brittain, with some help from Jess Brittain. Series 7 is described by producers as being “more adult” and “more uncompromising” than previous installments, since the teens are now young adults facing real-world problems. Well, well, well, huh? Click through some for some plot details about each of these new episodes and my thoughts on all this madness. (Spoiler: It’s a mixed bag.)

Test Your Knowledge of London’s Famous East End with Our New Quiz!

London’s East End neighborhood has developed quite a reputation over the years – this area has been famous (infamous?) for everything from being the location of the gruesome Jack the Ripper murders to the setting for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It’s also faced bombings, economic depression and social upheaval for much of its history. In short, it’s one of the most interesting areas in the city from a historical perspective.

And, since this is ostensibly a British entertainment blog, it’s worth mentioning just how many times the East End has shown up as the setting for all sorts of television shows, from the classic Till Death Do Us Part to current hit Call the Midwife. But, fellow Anglophiles, for all the times you’ve probably seen or read about this area, how much do you really know about London's East End? Try your hand at our trivia quiz and find out!

First Look at Misfits Series 4, New Episodes to Stream in America on Hulu

UK network E4 has released the first trailer for Series 4 of its teen superhero drama Misfits, a show that’s returning after its most successful season to date, but that’s also in for a lot of changes this season after the departure of three key cast members.

The brief teaser features our first look at returning characters Rudy (Joseph Gilgun) and Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) alongside newcomers Jess and Finn (played by Karla Crome and Nathan McMullen, respectively). We also see enough to get an idea of what the newbies powers are going to be – Finn’s telekinesis and Jess’ x-ray vision. This is certainly a step up from last season when Curtis’ superpower was to turn into a girl. But the only place to to go from there was up, really, I’d say.

At any rate, take a look at the first teaser for Series 4 after the jump and get some details about when we can expect to see the new season for ourselves. (Spoiler: It’s really good news for every stripe of British TV fan.)

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: "The Love That Pays The Price"

Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 rolled right along over the weekend with some domestic drama, international intrigue, creepy flirting and a surprise appearance by the Kennedy family. (No, I’m not making that last bit up.) While most of the episode was just fine, most of it didn’t really move the plot along to any particularly large degree, and I found myself curious more about the things that are sure to go down next week (the Hallam/Persie mess and Blanche’s mysterious letter particularly) than the things that actually happened this time out. So, while The Love That Pays the Price (guess we’re done with bird episode titles now?) was still more entertaining than the bulk of Series 1, this episode felt like a placeholder in a lot of ways.

What say you, Telly Visions readers? How’d you feel about Episode 2? Come dish the twists and turns of this latest installment of life at Eaton Place, including Hallam’s poor life choices, Blanche’s general awesomeness and why Harry the Driver even continues to exist – and then let’s discuss in the comments!

Storyboard Clip Shows What Happened to Rory’s Dad and the Ponds on Doctor Who

The BBC has released a special “unshot” scene from the Doctor Who mid-season finale, The Angels Take Manhattan. Called simply “P.S.,” this special four-and-a-half minute scene was written by Chris Chibnall and features only storyboard images and some voiceover work from Mark Williams and Arthur Darvill as Brian and Rory.

The attempts to answer the question voiced by many fans after the episode ended – what happened to Rory’s father after the departure of the Ponds and did anyone ever get any closure? It does a remarkably good job at it, too.

It will also probably make you cry so, you know, get some tissues handy.

Seven Sherlock Videos to Help Cure Your Hiatus Blues

Here’s a secret: Sherlock withdrawal is horrible. And we’re still several months from the start of filming, let alone whenever Series 3 will actually arrive on our screens. I mean, it’s cool, I’m sure we are all quite enjoying wallowing in our emotional devastation hangover from The Reichenbach Fall. Really, I’m fine it’s fine.

Still, in the totally unlikely case you might need some talking down from the emotional ledge a distraction something else to do with your time while we wait, here is a handy list of things to watch to take your mind off the fact that it’s barely October at the moment. Click through for seven Sherlock-related videos to help ease your consulting detective withdrawal – under the cut you’ll find everything from a Doctor Who crossover to Blues Clues parody to an animated cartoon to a Holmes series from the 1950s. Did I miss something awesome? Leave a link in the comments.

Watch: Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren in the Trailer for Hitchcock

Who knew British director Sir Alfred Hitchcock would be such a big deal in 2012? BBC Two drama The Girl which chronicles the making of his classic film The Birds (and Hitchcock’s obsession with actress Tippi Hedren) is already set to premiere later this month on HBO, and now a feature film version of his struggle to get horror masterpiece Psycho filmed is due in theaters this November.

Hitchcock stars Oscar winner Sir Anthony Hopkins as the famous director, alongside the equally formidable Dame Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville. Avengers star Scarlett Johansson plays the infamous Janet Leigh, destined to be knifed to death in the shower of the Bates Motel (a.k.a that scene from Psycho everyone knows even if they’ve never seen Psycho). Click through to watch the trailer for Hitchcock, and tell us how you think Hopkins stacks up against The Girl’s Toby Jones.

Amazing Internet Things: The Boyfriend’s Guide to Downton Abbey

Apparently, the internet will never stop creating amazing Downton Abbey-related things for my our enjoyment. Not quite sure how I’ve missed out on seeing this one so far, but better late than never I suppose!

Ladies, in case you need to explain Downton to your significant other so that they can understand what you’re talking about while you’re dealing with the variety of emotions we all must face while waiting for Series 3 to come to America – well, this is for you. “The Boyfriend’s Guide to Downton Abbey” is a six-minute recap of everything that happens in Series 1,complete with a voiceover of cynical boyfriend-provided commentary about what’s going on. It’s actually pretty hilarious – especially the bits about Edith really being Meg from Family Guy and Mr. Bates being Batman. Click through and have a look for yourself.

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: What You Need to Know About the Series 2 Premiere

The reboot of popular drama Upstairs Downstairs kicked off its second season on Masterpiece Classic with new characters, new relationships and a lot of drama both within Eaton Place and the wider world, as the prospect of war looms for England.

While I may have had some misgivings following my whirlwind trip through Series 1 last week about how this new season might shake out, this first episode actually shows a lot of promise and I’m intrigued to see where things are going to go next week. Yes, there are some plot holes , several irritating character and one twist I just cannot comprehend, but on the whole, the pacing has improved and the episode feels more balanced storyline-wise. Click through and let’s chat about it.

Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 Premieres on Masterpiece Tonight!

We’re heading back to Eaton Place as the second season of the BBC’s continuation of beloved series Upstairs Downstairs arrives in America at last on Masterpiece Classic tonight.

Series 2 comprises six episodes, doubling the size of Series 1 and leaving plenty of room to pack in a lot of romance, political intrigue and social upheaval for residents both the upstairs and down in the year leading up to World War I. Per the official series description, Lady Agnes and Sir Hallam’s family is now complete with the addition of two small children, but Sir Hallam is drawn into dangerous waters by his preoccupation with the threat of Nazi Germany and the return of troubled Lady Persie. Lady Agnes catches the eye of charismatic American multi-millionaire Casper Landry, and Sir Hallam’s aunt, Dr. Blanche Mottershead. Meanwhile, life downstairs adjusts to the absence of Rose and the addition of the spirited new nursery maid, Beryl. With upstairs and downstairs harboring life-changing secrets, and the menace of war creeping ever closer, the smooth running of Eaton Place threatens to come to a halt. Dun dun dunnnnn. Click through for a preview of Series 2 of Upstairs Downstairs - are you looking forward to another season of this show?

The Great Upstairs Downstairs Series 1 Rewatch: “The Cuckoo”

Our whirlwind trip through the first series of Upstairs Downstairs concludes with the finale, The Cuckoo. (I’m really not sure to make of the episodes’ bird titles – especially this one, where no one is actually the victim of infidelity, though I suppose Hallam is the victim of a devastating lie of a different sort? Seem exceptionally odd, particularly considering that it’s not a pattern I think they continue in Series 2.) Anyway, having sped through these three episodes, it seems best to say that this first series is a mixed bag. On the plus side, there are strong performances and some charming storylines, but the series does sufffer from disjointed pacing and an uneven tone. Series 2 – which begins October 7 on Masterpiece Classic – is six episodes and I wonder if a bit more length might have helped smooth over some of the bumps in the road for this series. As it is, the show seems so determined to pack as much as possible into each episode that the story doesn’t get a tremendous amount of room to breathe. It will certainly be interesting to compare the two, and see how Series 2 turns out with the benefit of more room to run, as it were.

Anyway, onward! Click through for a rewatch of the Series 1 finale, The Cuckoo and join me for a chat in the comments, as well as some speculation about where Series 2 might be headed.

Get a Longer Look at Series 5 of Merlin with a Dramatic New Trailer

Fantasy drama Merlin returns to BBC One today for its fifth season and for those of us who have to wait a few months for the new episodes here in America, well at least we can get a longer look at what the new series has in store for us with this new extended trailer.

There’s some footage here that we saw in the series’ first teaser earlier this Fall, but there’s a ton of new scenes featured, with every main character and quite a few secondary ones popping up all over the place. There’s also lots of sword fighting, prophecy, knights, chases, magic and more - it’s a very exciting couple of minutes. It’s certainly more than enough to get you excited for the series’ return. Click through and take a look for yourself!

Listen to Adele’s New Bond Theme for Skyfall

Adele, eight-time Grammy winner and artist that generally everyone appears to be obsessed with at the moment, has released her brand new single, which also happens to be the theme to the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. (By the way, if you weren’t aware, it’s also Global James Bond Day today, so the timing on this is pretty perfect.)

A snippet of the new theme appeared online last week, but you can listen to the full track now. It sounds very much like some of the classic Bond themes from the sixties, which I suppose is appropriate not only for the sort of singer Adele is but also because it’s the fiftieth anniversary of the Bond franchise. Click through to take a listen for yourself!

The Great Upstairs Downstairs Series 1 Rewatch: “The Ladybird”

Our weeklong trip through Series 1 of Upstairs Downstairs continues with Episode 2, “The Ladybird.” This episode is much more interesting than the series’ pilot if you ask me – while there are some clunky moments and some characters that exist more to serve as symbols than be actual people, the general sense is one of vast improvement. The pacing has evened out considerably, we’re allowed to get to know most of the characters a bit better (except, as always, Hallam) and there’s a lot of drama going on. It’s very entertaining and should be fun to discuss.

Click through for a rewatch of “The Ladybird” and come chat about it with me in the comments.

A Tiny, Tiny Tease for Doctor Who’s Christmas Special

Doctor Who just wrapped an emotional – if, in my opinion, uneven – first half of its seventh series with the departures of companions Amy and Rory, played Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. Gillan and Darvill now hold the title of longest-running companions in the “New Who” era (i.e. post-2005) and no matter how you may have felt about the particulars of their characters – some people (coughmecough) may have loved Rory and not been wild about Amy, who knows – their exit was handled well and very affecting.

But, this is Doctor Who, which thrives on change and (dare I say it) regeneration – so we won’t have too much time to be sad about the Ponds’ exit before a new companion will arrive on the scene. This time around, it’s Jenna-Louise Coleman stepping into the TARDIS to play a character that is pretty shrouded in mystery (particularly if you take Asylum of the Daleks into consideration. Timey wimey!)

Following the conclusion of The Angels Take Manhattan on Saturday, the tiniest of tiny teaser trailers aired for the upcoming Christmas special, in which Coleman makes her debut, in what appears to be (very, very interesting) Victorian dress. Click through to take a look for yourself and let the speculation as to who this character might be commence!

The Great Upstairs Downstairs Series 1 Rewatch: “The Fledgling”

I know, I know I said that the Great Doctor Who Rewatch was next up – and it IS coming, I *promise* – but I would also like to write about Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 once that’s under way next weekend, and to be honest I feel like I’ve forgotten a lot about Series 1. So, you know, best of both worlds, I guess? And maybe having another Edwardian drama to chat about will help us all take our minds off missing Downton Abbey, to boot!

The BBC’s reboot of classic drama Upstairs Downstairs first premiered in 2010 and, despite its famous pedigree, never seemed to quite escape the shadow of another Edwardian costume drama that would go on to worldwide acclaim called Downton Abbey. Whether it was timing, general preference or a combination of the two, Upstairs never seemed to quite catch on the way that the ITV drama did. It was, of course, hampered by the fact that the first series was only comprised of three episodes, and seemed to come to a close just as things finally started getting good. With the six-episode second series set to premiere on Masterpiece Classic starting October 7, now seems as good a time as any to revisit all the drama from Series 1, and give ourselves a little reminder about everything that happened the first time 'round.

Click through for a rewatch of the first episode, “The Fledgling,” and come chat about it with me in the comments. How did you enjoy Upstairs, Downstairs as a series, especially as compared to Downton Abbey? Are you looking forward to Series 2?

Rumor Has It: Julian Fellows Planning a Downton Abbey Prequel?

A particularly exciting rumor surfaced last week – first reported by the Daily Mail, but subsequently picked up by BBC News, so I feel less like this story’s pulling my leg – we may have more Downton Abbey to look forward to! Well, sort of.

Downton writer/creator Julian Fellowes told a BAFTA Screenwriters Lecture that he’s been thinking about writing a prequel to the popular costume drama, which would focus on the courtship and early relationship of the Earl of Grantham and Lady Cora.

"I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London,” Fellowes said. "They had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money."

The series would cast a pair of younger actors in the roles made famous by Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, and Fellowes insist that any prequel will have to wait until after Downton Abbey itself concludes. But just the possibility of this is intriguing! Click through and let’s chat about it – is the idea of a prequel interesting to you? Who would you cast as the leads?