Fantastic New Downton Abbey Promo for Series 2

If for some reason you've yet to hit Maximum Anticipatory Excitement over the new series of Downton Abbey that's premiering in just 38 days, this new promo will get you there pretty quick. It's that awesome.

Is it embarrassing if I admit I got a little bit emotional watching this? Oh, and if you're curious, the truly excellent U2 cover song used here is by Scala and Kolacny Brothers.

Scotsman Ewan McGregor Joins HBO's The Corrections

Scottish film star Ewan McGregor is officially set for his first major television role. He’ll be starring in HBO’s upcoming adaptation of the 2001 Jonathan Franzen novel The Corrections, which tells the story of three decades in the lives of the highly dysfunctional Lambert family – a Midwestern couple and their three children. The novel culminates in a final Christmas visit in which the children learn that their father is losing his mind to dementia.

McGregor is known primarily for his performaces in popular film roles, including the Star Wars prequels, Moulin Rouge, Velvet Goldmine, and more. He will play middle child Chip, an academic who has an affair with a student, to disastrous results (he ends up working for a crime boss). The Lambert parents will be played by Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest, so this is already shaping up to be an all-star cast with at least two big roles still left to be filled - eldest son Gary, a depressed banker, and Denise, an unlucky-in-love chef.

Admittedly, I’m curious about how Franzen’s story will adapt to the small screen. The Corrections is an exceptionally dense novel, so it should definitely work better as a series than a one-shot feature film, but I also don’t know how long I think it’s necessarily viable, in terms of multiple TV seasons, without going a bit past the parameters of the story.

The project is still in the pilot stage, which means it may never actually see the light of day as a full series, but with a cast already full of “names” (with likely more to come), it seems to have a pretty good shot.

Happy Birthday Martin Clunes!

Happy birthday to Doc Martin star Martin Clunes, who turns 50 today! Best known for his portrayal of the curmudgeonly, cranky Doctor Martin Ellingham in the ITV comedy/drama, Clunes has also starred in Men Behaving Badly, William and Mary, and Reggin Perrin, among other things. He was seen most recently in the fifth series of Doc Martin, which just wrapped up its run across the pond a few weeks ago and will be airing here in the States in 2012 – most likely in the spring. (WETA viewers who love this show to pieces: the minute we know a confirmed airdate, we’ll share it. Pinky swear. But it’s coming, promise!)

Clunes is one of the few British television actors where virtually everyone seems to absolutely love him to bits – so he must be doing something right. We’ll be doing our best here at Telly Visions to make the wait for new episodes interesting for you – join me in the coming weeks as I confront a rather significant personal lapse (embarrassing Anglophile confession alert), namely that I’ve never really seen Doc Martin. Well, an episode or two, here or there. But, still. Most of the series = complete, unforgiveable gap in my British TV knowledge base. Obviously, this means it’s time for a viewing party.

So, whether you’d like to take a walk down memory lane in Portwenn with me while we’re waiting for the new series, or just laugh at my reaction to a surprise character or storyline that everyone knows about except yours truly – stick around! Feel free to leave a rundown of your favorite episodes in the comments, just to give a sense of which you all might have the most interest in revisiting.

Tonight on Masterpiece Contemporary: The Thoroughly Charming “Framed”

Tonight at 9pm, catch Framed on Masterpiece Contemporary, starring Waking the Dead’s Trevor Eve and Torchwood’s Eve Myles and based on the book by Frank Cottrell Boyce. It’s a fanciful, lighthearted, thoroughly charming story, in which the National Gallery is forced to move its priceless collection of artworks to a remote Welsh village while a massive plumbing leak is fixed.

While this premise is an event that would probably never actually occur nowadays (though something similar did happen during World War II when Winston Churchill was concerned about the possibility that British treasures might be damaged in the Blitz), the story is fun enough that you won’t care so much that it’s not entirely plausible. The colorful array of local village residents – especially the children – are quirky and entertaining and the film strikes a perfect fun holiday tone to round off your long weekend.

This film also marks a bit of a personal first for me, as it’s the first time I’ve ever really loved Eve Myles in anything. Her character on Torchwood has always struck me as just this side of annoying, but she’s really quite charming and adorable in this, so perhaps I’m finally starting to see her appeal as an actress.

The News Roundup: Black Friday Edition

Happy (Black) Friday! Hope everyone had a great day yesterday, whether you were feasting on turkey or not. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday News Roundup, as we try to cover all things interesting in British entertainment news. Click through for news on Doctor Who, Absolutely Fabulous, Downton Abbey and the new Great Expectations, as well as celebrity updates on Colin Firth, Ben Whishaw, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adele, Ricky Gervais and more!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, Telly Visions readers! Thanksgiving is a quintessential American holiday, I know, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take the opportunity to just say thank you.

Thank you for reading, and commenting, and tweeting, and liking, and just being here in the early days of our blog’s life. We’re really excited about what’s ahead around here, and we’re thankful that you’re along for the ride with us.

Have a wonderful, thoroughly American day (or a just a really great Thursday, if you don't celebrate it), and we’ll be back to covering all things British tomorrow.

Happy 48th Birthday, Doctor Who!

On November 23, 1963 at 5:16pm, Doctor Who premiered on the BBC, starring William Hartnell as the very first Doctor in “The Unearthly Child.” With nary a Dalek in sight, mind, as those weren’t introduced to the series until a little bit later on. (I actually meant this post to go up right at 5:16. Missed it by that much.)

Forty-eight years later, the series is the longest-running science fiction television show in the world, according to the Guiness Book of World Records, and arguably is more popular now than it has ever been, on the Eleventh incarnation of the Doctor.

Want more Who trivia today? This list of 48 Facts for the 48th Anniversary over at the Radio Times is pretty fantastic. And if you’re feeling really nostalgic you can watch classic clips and a great many of the Doctor’s regenerations at the official BBC site. How many of you are big Who fans? And who’s “your” Doctor?

 

Reminder: Our Two-Day Inspector Morse Marathon Starts Tomorrow!

What says Happy Thanksgiving more than British mysteries? Nothing, that’s what! So, have some quality sleuthing along with your turkey and stuffing over the next two days!

We’ll be airing full-day marathons of Inspector Morse episodes both tomorrow and Friday, from 8am-6pm, and digging into some classic episodes from early in the series’ run. (And, remember WETA Mystery night will be happening as usual on Thanksgiving night, with Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Foyle’s War.)

Click through for a full list of all the episodes that will be playing on both days during our Morse Marathon and enjoy the long weekend!

Tune-In Tonight: Sherlock’s “Great Game” is Most Definitely On

We’re wrapping up our rebroadcast of Sherlock tonight at 8pm with “The Great Game,” which is the best and most exciting installment of the three episode lot, and other than the shock of its very last minutes is basically perfect television. Watch it tonight, even if you’ve never seen it – you really can jump right in, even if the extent of your Sir Arthur Conan Doyle knowledge is that you know Sherlock Holmes and John Watson exist. It’s absolutely worth it.

In the spirit of conducting appropriate Sherlockian levels of research I took it upon myself to watch the DVD commentary for this episode to try and come up with some impressive new insights into the way this particular story is put together, rather than just massive amounts of adoration. Alas, the only thing that appears to have stuck in my brain from it is that Benedict Cumberbatch loves clothes, and also the acting process, and does a mean impression of Alan Rickman. So, prepare for the adoration.

Click through for the best things about this particular episode, which are actually far more legion than could possibly have fit in this post, and then feel free to leave me reminders of the things I’ve left out in the comments.

Your Week in British TV on WETA

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! Hope you are all gearing up for a festival of delicious food and family time, with a splash of excellent British TV thrown in. We’ve got a lot of goodies coming up on-air for you this week!

Monday William and Mary, starring Martin Clunes and Julie Graham, continues tonight at a slightly shifted time of 10:30pm, due to the extended run length of our American Masters Woody Allen documentary.

Tuesday – We wrap up our rebroadcast of Masterpiece Mystery!’s Sherlock at 8pm with the pretty-much-flawless episode “The Great Game” at 8pm. This will also repeat on Wednesday at 2pm, if you happen to be home early in preparation for Turkey Day and need something to watch.

Thursday – Happy Thanksgiving! The first day of our Inspector Morse marathon kicks off at 8AM – we’ll be airing the entire ten-episode second season. Then, if that’s not enough British mystery for you, WETA Mystery night will also continue as usual! Watch Sherlock Holmes' “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” at 8pm, Agatha Christie’s Poirot in “The Chocolate Box” at 9pm, and Foyle’s War’s “The Funk Hole” at 10.

Friday – Welcome to Day Two of our Inspector Morse marathon! We’ll be airing the entirely of Series 3 all day today from 8am-6pm.

Saturday – Catch comedies As Time Goes By and Keeping Up Appearances starting at 7pm. These will be followed by Doc Martin at 8pm, with two episodes from Series 4, “The Departed” and “Midwife Crisis.”

SundayMasterpiece Contemporary returns at 9pm with Framed, starring Trevor Eve and Torchwood’s Eve Myles. Then stick around for back-to-back episodes of con-man drama Hustle, starting a bit earlier than usual this week, at 10:30pm.

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