April 2013

Amazing Internet Things: The Dowager Countess Faces Off with Game of Thrones’ Queen of Thorns

This particular Amazing Internet Thing will be of special interest to those of you are Game of Thrones fans in addition to being British television lovers. And, really, there’s so much Awesome British Talent appearing in the HBO series on a weekly basis that it’s practically got honorary Brit TV status anyway.

For those of you who don’t know, Game of Thrones tells the story of several warring families/factions battling for control of a kingdom called Westeros in a time period that sort of looks like the Middle Ages, but isn’t quite. It’s very high fantasy and it’s also very enjoyable, if a bit violent and life ruining because basically every character you ever care about will have something extremely horrible happen to them.

Anyway, Thrones recently introduced the matriarch of House Tyrell, a sassy grandmother named Lady Olenna (also known as the Queen of Thorns) who bears a more than passing resemblance to another acid-tongued head of household from a slightly different time period. Yes, this is basically what Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess might look like if she were transported back in time to lead her family during violent times of political backstabbing and war. And, much like her Edwardian counterpart, Lady Olenna is also played by another British luminary, Dame Diana Rigg. They’re pretty much the same character, and it’s kind of amazing.

Recapping Mr. Selfridge: Episode 5

Previously, on Mr. Selfridge: The store gets a car for a window display and Mr. Crab wants us all to know IT IS NOT INSURED. Agnes and Victor are sort of going out but maybe not really we don’t know. Roddy brings Rose her painting and they kiss. Selfridge bribes/beats up Agnes’ father and gives her her job back. Ellen tells Rose about her affair with her husband and then tries to kill herself. Lady Mae flirts with Victor. Henri is not around enough. Selfridge and Rose finally have a huge row about their marital issues and it’s awesome. Except then Selfridge goes off on a bender and crashes Chekov’s car from the store display. Whoops.

So much going on in this week’s episode! Let’s talk about it.

Random Photo Time: Cute Behind-the-Scenes Shot From Sherlock Series 3 Filming

Speedy’s Café is the real life restaurant that resides next door to the fictional 221b Baker Street on Sherlock. The folks that work there are quite active on Twitter, are very friendly and seem to have loved the explosion of popularity that the worldwide success of the show has brought to the doorstep of their shop. As is evidenced by the photo they shared last week from the first round of London location filming on Series 3.

Yeah, that’s star Benedict Cumberbatch and new (recurring?) cast member Amanda Abbington hanging out having a morning cuppa (though I suspect that’s actually coffee, she said, applying the deductive skills learned from watching too many hours of this show) in the real life version of the shop that’s been on the show already as itself. It’s a bit extra meta, maybe, but the picture’s still cute.

Best Parody Ever? Watch Downton Abbey: The Musical

Downton Abbey parodies are basically a dime a dozen on the internet these days, and most of them are actually pretty awesome, but there are some that are just on another level of amazing. This is one of those things.

This ten-minute parody imagines creator Julian Fellowes finally cutting us Americans a break and putting on a stage version of the first episode of Series 4, to stop us complaining about being behind the UK broadcast. The twist? It’s a musical episode.

Yes, this is as close as we’re ever going to get to the real Downton: The Musical, so just enjoy every perfect second you can.

Missing Matthew Crawley? Keep an Eye Out for Dan Stevens’ New Movie

Are you missing Downton Abbey’s Matthew Crawley? Has the fact that star Dan Stevens changed his hair dramatically upset your day? Well, then, do I have the movie for you – Stevens' latest upcoming project is a film called Summer in February, and it’s a period drama set on the eve of World War I, in which Stevens plays a character who is agonizing over his feelings regarding a woman he can’t have.

Sound familiar, Matthew fans?

The film is based on the Jonathan Smith novel of the same name and tells the story of the dramatic real-life love triangle between painter Alfred Munnings (Dominc Cooper), his best friend Gilbert Evans (Stevens) and fellow artist Florence Carter-Wood (Emily Browning). As you can see from the trailer below, Summer in February appears to feature a lot of angst and drama and crossed romantic signals and everything that we’re all missing in a world without Downton at the moment.

Take a look for yourself below.

Amazing Internet Things: Harry Potter The Honest Trailer

The Honest Trailer guys have struck again and if you’re a Harry Potter fan who has ever seen any of the movies based on J.K. Rowling’s beloved books, you are absolutely going to want to watch this.

If you’ve never seen any of the Honest Trailers, here’s how it works: YouTube users screenjunkies regular send up popular major motion pictures by describing the general plot of the film in the most straightforward of terms. (The best example of this is probably the one that they did for Twilight, which is a tiny bit NSFW, but is absolutely hysterical.)

Anyway, the Honest Trailer folks have finally gotten around to immortalizing the beloved Harry Potter films in an extended trailer that encompasses all eight of them in one go. And it’s amazing.

Sherlock Series 3 Update: Filming Begins on Episode 2

Time for another update for us Sherlock fans who are currently existing on the crumbs of information slowly being revealed as filming continues on the drama’s highly-anticipated third series. Production on the second episode of Series 3, called The Sign of Three, began this morning, and, naturally, we're all excited about it.

Dun dun dunnnn! Of course, just because filming is now officially under way doesn’t mean we know anything more concrete about this episode than we did last week. But, thanks to the magic of social media, we’re gotten enough new tidbits to get the wheels of speculation turning properly.

Here’s what we do know.

Recapping Mr. Selfridge: Episode 4

Previously, on Mr. Selfridge: Miss Bunting gets fired for stealing from the store and is replaced by the very modern Miss Ravilious, whose forward thinking notions upset Miss Mardle. Prima ballerina Anna Pavlova comes to town and everyone falls all over themselves to pretend they love ballet. Agnes’ drunk dad shows up at the store and embarrasses everyone. Rose is forced to tell Edwardian Hipster her true identity as Selfridge’s wife. Ellen Love has a series of increasingly dramatic and elaborate breakdowns over the fact that Selfridge has decided to break up with her by way of simply never calling her back.

Mr. Selfridge brings some serious drama this week in its fourth episode, complete with illicit kissing, a long-awaited confrontation, personal revelations and fancy motor cars. Click through for a play-by-play and come dish the latest drama in the comments. There’s a lot to talk about (and, let’s be real, mock a little bit). So come chat.

Elementary Gets Its Own Irene Adler: Natalie Dormer Set for Guest Role

Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.

That’s been largely my experience with CBS’ Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary – the two of us have certainly had a yo-yo sort of relationship. I expected to hate it. I did not. I love Jonny Lee Miller’s performance as Holmes. I don’t really believe in Lucy Liu’s Watson. I like some of the secondary characters. The generic mysteries of the week are dreadful, but on the rare occasions the show has actually attempted to use the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle cases as inspiration – the episode featuring the introduction of Sebastian Moran, for example – it’s actually quite interesting. The show rarely uses the Conan Doyle stories as inspiration.

My internal back-and-forth on this issue is rather extensive. But, Elementary’s managed to hook me at least through the end of their first season, now that they’ve cast one of my favorite actresses as Holmes’s former flame Irene Adler. British actress Natalie Dormer has officially joined the cast for a three episode guest run – you’ve probably seen her as Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones or Anne Boleyn on The Tudorsand she is basically perfect for this part. Well, played show. I (reluctantly) tip my hat to you.

Brit TV Preview: Watch David Tennant in The Politician's Husband

After what felt like a decades long absence from our screens following his decision to hang up his sonic screwdriver as the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who a few years ago, David Tennant suddenly appears to be basically everywhere at once, and it’s awesome.

Between The Spies of Warsaw, Broadchurch, upcoming drama The Escape Artist and his return to Who for the sci-fi series’ 50th anniversary special, we’re in the midst of something of a Tennant tsunami. And I think we’re all okay with that.

This time around, he’s starring opposite War Horse’s Emily Watson – and sporting some very dramatic hair – in BBC2’s The Politician’s Husband. The three-part drama is a companion piece to the BAFTA-winning The Politician’s Wife (both were written by Paula Milne), and follows the shifting balance of power in a marriage when a wife becomes more successful than her husband.

Tennant plays career politician Aiden Hoynes, a Senior Cabinet Minister whose political fortunes begin to wane just as the career of his wife Freya – a junior minister – starts to take off. Drama ensues.

The Bletchley Circle Premieres April 21 on PBS!

Critically acclaimed mystery series The Bletchley Circle is making its way to PBS stations around the country (ours included!) starting Sunday, April 21. The three-part series follows the lives of several women who were code-breakers at decryption facility Bletchley Park during World War II. The four returned to civilian life following the war, but are reunited when a string of ghastly murders baffles the police and presents the ladies with a different sort of deadly pattern to solve.

The drama stars South Riding’s Anna Maxwell Martin alongside Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle and SurvivorsJulie Graham (though I expect a lot of you will really recognize her from her guest appearance on Doc Martin).

Sound interesting? Watch the PBS preview for the new series below – which shows you a bit more about what the series is like.

Your First Look at Vicious with Sirs Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi

Some days you come across news about upcoming programming that literally makes the rest of your week better. This happens to me quite often with things like Sherlock or Downton Abbey, but this is one of the only times in memory that same sort of flaily excitement has come over me about a comedy. Which I suppose is okay, because just the existence of this comedy is that exciting.

British acting legends Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi are joining forces to star in the gay sitcom Vicious for ITV. The comedy follows the lives of an elderly gay couple, as they (sarcastically) navigate their way into their golden years. Freddie (McKellen) and Stuart (Jacob) have lived together in the same Covent Garden apartment for nearly 50 years and apparently spend most of their time on what appears to be snarking at each other and just being generally awesome. (If I were going to make up a comedy for these two to be in together, I don’t know that my idea would look terribly different from this.)

Thus, imagine my intense joy upon learning that ITV has released the first trailer for Vicious. (Spoiler: I might have squealed.)

Superhero Drama Misfits Renewed for Fifth and Final Series

For fans of teen superhero drama Misfits, there’s some good news and there’s some bad news. Channel 4 has confirmed that the popular sci-fi series will return for a fifth season. But, as often happens, networks giveth with one hand and taketh away with the other – because Series 5 is also apparently going to be its last.

The show, which chronicles the adventures of a group of teenagers who develop superpowers in the aftermath of a freak lightning storm, had been a cult hit for the network and wrapped its fourth season late last year. Series 4 introduced an almost entirely new cast and suffered a few growing pains as a result, including going a bit heavy on the teen relationship drama, so in some ways the network’s decision to wrap things up seems logical. Series 4 was occasionally quite the slog to get through, no matter how much you loved it and Misfits seemed to struggle a bit to find its footing with all the new faces.

As always, there is a good and bad side to this situation – it’s a shame to see Misifts bow out as, on the whole, it’s one of the more innovative programs to come along in the past few years. And, despite some growing pains with all the newbies, it felt like things were back on track again by the end of this season. But, on the flip side, at least the decision was made early enough that they should be able to wrap the show up well and fans won’t be left hanging with one of those endings that doesn’t provide any closure for characters they cared about.

An Extended Look at the First Full Series of Endeavour

Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour is back this year with its first proper full length series. (The first episode actually premiered last night in the UK, so let’s try and not be too jealous of our British friends, difficult as that is.) The four new feature-length episodes will follow the ongoing escapades of a young Endeavour Morse in the early days of his career, after leaving his Oxford college without taking a degree and joining the police.

The original one-off film aired early last year, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the original Morse mysteries. It was picked up for a full series before the original film even aired in America, thanks to some impressive ratings across the pond.

The series’ four new episodes – entitled Girl, Fugue, Rocket and Home – will continue to explore Endeavour Morse’s life back before he became the famous Inspector we all know and love. All four new installments have been written by Inspector Lewis creator and former Morse writer Russell Lewis, who also penned last year’s pilot film.

Shaun Evans is back as young Morse, accompanied once again by the always awesome Roger Allam as Morse’s senior partner Fred Thursday, and James Bradshaw as Dr. Max Debryn. They’ll be joined by Sean Rigby as a young PC Strange – the character played by James Grout in the original Morse series.

ITV has released an extended trailer promoting Endeavour’s UK premiere and it’s really quite fantastic. The show looks excellent!

Recapping Mr. Selfridge: Episode 3

Previously, on Mr. Selfridge: Selfridge and Ellen’s affair continues apace, sparking gossip around town and forcing us to suffer through another horrible “musical” bit. There’s an inter-staff debate about whether it’s appropriate to sell Sekrit Ladies Items such as perfume on the ground floor of the store. Henri Leclair and his amazing reactions to things are maybe the best part of this show. Mrs. Selfridge finds out some specifics about her husband’s affair with Ellen and decides maybe she does want to be friends with Edwardian Hipster the painter after all. Henri sets Ellen up with a scandalous photoshoot, which somehow seems to make Selfridge like her less, though it’s not really clear why. Agnes gets punched in the face by her dad and gets to flirt with Henri.

Mr. Selfridge rolls on this week with its third episode, complete with an appearance by a prima ballerina, an emotional meltdown, some eavesdropping, an embarrassing public scene and more. Click through for a play-by-play and come dish the latest drama in the comments. It’ll be fun. Promise.

Life After Downton Abbey: Dan Stevens Heads to the Big Screen

Many Downton Abbey fans around the world are processing the fact that star Dan Stevens will not be returning to the megahit costume drama for Series 4. We’re all dealing with that in different ways. For some of us, it involves eating a lot of ice cream, or indulging in embarrassing late night Series 1 marathons, or obsessively stalking tracking the actor’s every post-Crawley family move. Sometimes all three. (Not that I know anything about this personally. Cough.)

And Stevens has certainly been busy since departing Downton, with a variety of different projects, some of which sound quite interesting. Want to know what he’s been up to since leaving hunting dogs and period costumes behind? Click through for more – but if you still haven’t seen the Downton Abbey Series 3 finale for some reason , you’ll probably want to bookmark this post for later, because it’s got SPOILERS in it.

Sherlock Series 3: And The Second Episode Is…

News about the highly anticipated third series of Sherlock has started coming fast and furious now that production has finally kicked off on the new episodes. Yesterday, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss officially revealed the title for the second episode of the series it is [drumroll, please] The Sign of Three.

Steve Thompson – of “Yes, I’ll Be Stomping All Over Your Heart Now” Reichenbach Fall fame – will be penning the second episode. The first episode has already been revealed as The Empty Hearse and is written by Gatiss. (This of course leaves Moffat as the writer for the third season finale so probably you just ought to start stocking up on tissues now as a precautionary measure.)

The Sign of Three continues the Moffat/Gatiss tradition of referencing classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories from the Sherlock Holmes canon in (most of) their episode names. In this particular episode, it looks like we’re redoing the novel The Sign of Four, which involves, among other things, a missing father, secret criminal pacts, corrupt prison guards, and the introduction of Holmes’ drug habit. How this episode fits in to the “three words” that producers teased as alleged clues to Series 3’s content is anyone’s guess.

Let’s engage in some wild speculation, shall we?

BAFTA TV Nominations 2013: The Good, the Bad, the What Were They Thinking?

Nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs) TV Awards were announced this morning and, for the second year in a row, the list of nominees features a combination of great performances and truly bizarre omissions that makes one wonder whether the nomination process boils down to drawing names from a hat.

Leading the field this year were Olympic-themed comedy Twenty Twelve, Alfred Hitchcock biopic The Girl and drama Last Tango in Halifax, which all picked up four nominations apiece. The 2012 London Olympics also fared well, taking 3 out of 4 nominations in the “Sporting and Live Event” category, and Danny Boyle’s Isles of Wonder Opening Ceremonies will also compete for the Audience Award.

Some of these nominations are spot-on: it’s lovely to see Last Tango in Halifax getting nominated; both because of its unconventional love story and the fact that stars Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid are fantastic. Twenty Twelve was hysterical. Ben Whishaw did amazing things with a traditionally under-performed Richard II in The Hollow Crown. Boyle surely deserves every award he’s about to win for his stunning work on the Olympics. Even though I thought The Girl was boring, Toby Jones is always a capable performer.

And yet, much like 2012, there are just some really weird picks and obvious snubs. Click through for a look at the full list of nominations, and then let's discuss what they got right and what they got wrong in the comments. The awards ceremony is scheduled for May 12.

Starz and the BBC Give Us a First Glimpse of The White Queen

Men Go to Battle; Women Wage War.

Or at least so says the tagline for the upcoming ten-part drama series The White Queen, which is set to retell the story of the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of the women caught up in the conflict over the English throne.

Based on a series of novels by best-selling author Philippa Gregory, the drama will follow the ongoing struggles between the Lancasters and the Plantagenets, beginning with Edward Plantagenet’s victory over Margaret of Anjou, which brought the crown and the throne under the control of the House of York.

Three particularly powerful ladies are at the center will be at the center of this adaptation – Elizabeth Woodville, the titular White Queen and wife of King Edward IV, Margaret Beaufort, mother of the man who would become King Henry VII, and Ann Neville, the daughter of Warwick the Kingmaker and eventual wife of King Richard III. In addition to a strong female focus, expect a lot of romance, betrayal, double crossing, bribery and murder in this story. Several of these women were gossiped about as witches. One of these men was probably a regicide and history accuses another of child murder. These families are not exactly nice people, but, man, their story is great.

Recapping Mr. Selfridge: Episode 2

Previously, on Mr. Selfridge: American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge is bound and determined to open the greatest department store the world has ever seen in London. This process is a dramatic one. He gets a shopgirl (Agnes) fired, joins forces with a semi-scandalous society lady (Lady Mae), develops a crush on an actress (Ellen), has the most awesome staff ever (Mr. Crab, Fraser, Henri Leclair) and hires about a billion random workers who all have varied storylines intersecting with each other (Kitty, Victor, George, Miss Mardle, Mr. Grove, etc.). It’s a lot of plot – and a lot of character names – to remember, and I didn’t even mention the actual members of the Selfridge family yet. Whew.

Anyway. Mr. Selfridge rolls on this week with its second episode, complete with debates over beauty products, scandalous affairs, flirting and all manner of drama. Click through for a play-by-play and come dish the latest developments in the comments.

Surprise (Not Really): Sherlock Star Benedict Cumberbatch is Making Even More Movies

Because we haven’t done this in a while, let us consider: What movies is Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch busy signing up to star in right now?

You might think that we’ve got enough Cumberbatch films (Cumberfilms?) to be going on with for a bit, what with his upcoming roles in Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Fifth Estate, Twelve Years a Slave and August: Osage County. Oh, and also that highly-anticipated third series of Sherlock that he's currently filming at the moment. But you would be wrong about that, because apparently Mr. Cumberbatch is either magical or an animatronic Cylon who doesn’t sleep, because he’s lined up even more films in what must now be considered his personal campaign to take over the multiplexes of America. (I’m still okay with it, though.)

The First Full Series of Endeavour: Coming in 2013

Excellent news for mystery fans – you can now get your first official look at the upcoming full series of Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour. Shawn Ryan is back as a young Endeavour Morse, who is now just a new constable cutting his teeth on solving crimes in Oxford in 1965.

Endeavour premiered as a one-off film last year and was given the greenlight for a full series before it even reached our TV screens here in America (Which is always a relief!). This time around, young Morse will be back for four feature-length episodes, dealing with a variety of cases and hopefully featuring many more of those lovely in-episode nods to longtime fans that popped up all over the film. Want a look at the new series? The first trailer's under the jump.

Heads Up Sherlock Holmes Fans: Elementary Renewed For Season 2

CBS renewed their Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary for a second season this week, guaranteeing that Holmes enthusiasts everywhere will get at least one more year of the network’s genderbending adventures featuring stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.

The CBS drama picked up considerable buzz at the beginning of the US Fall TV season for their decision to turn John Watson into Joan in their interpretation of the stories featuring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective. While the actual series hasn’t done what could be called a terribly stringent job in adhering to the Conan Doyle canon, the detective drama has nevertheless managed to gather a sizeable audience on Thursday nights.

David Tennant and Billie Piper Set to Return for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special!

You probably don’t need to read this blog post, given the fact that it’s likely you have already seen the massive online celebration or heard my tremendously loud shrieks of joy, but just in case, here we go. It’s officially official – we’ve got our first bit of absolutely true and confirmed news regarding the upcoming Doctor Who 50th anniversary and it couldn’t be more exciting for Whovians everywhere.

The BBC announced over the weekend that Tenth Doctor David Tennant and former companion Billie Piper are both set to join current stars Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman for the celebrations surrounding the show’s fiftieth year on the air. Tennant played the Doctor for three full seasons and several specials, and was last seen on the show in early 2010. Piper was the original companion when Doctor Who returned to televisions for its 2005 reboot and starred alongside both Tennant and Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston for two series. To say I am over the moon with joy about this news is possibly the understatement of the year. (The only thing that could possibly make me happier is an announcement that Eccleston is also returning, but I’m trying not to get my hopes up about that.) More after the jump.