Tune In Tonight

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!

Obvious: Five Reasons You Should Watch Sherlock’s “A Study in Pink” Tonight [RE-POST]

This post originally went up in early November 2011 – the last time we re-aired Sherlock Series 1 (it’s been tweaked this time, but not much.) As we gear up for the Series 2 premiere in just a few short weeks, WETA is rebroadcasting the first series one more time to give people the chance to refresh their memories before the new episodes begin or see what all the fuss is about. If you haven’t seen Sherlock yet, please let me convince you to give it a try?

For those who’ve yet to experience the excellence that is the BBC's modern re-imagining of Holmes, you’re in luck, because we’re re-broadcasting all three episodes from the brilliant first series of Masterpiece Mystery's Sherlock on WETA over the next three weeks. The first installment, “A Study in Pink,” airs tonight at 9pm, and its two subsequent episodes will air on April 19 and 26, respectively.

If you haven’t seen this show yet, click through and get ready – I’m about to do my best to convince you to give it a go. Honestly, it’s one of the best things on television right now – maybe one of the best things ever –and, I promise, it is of an ultimate benefit to your life to park yourself in front of the television tonight.

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.

Tune In Tonight: The Best Things About Sherlock's "The Blind Banker"

Our rebroadcast of Masterpiece Mystery’s Sherlock continues tonight with the second episode, “The Blind Banker” at 8pm. Loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Dancing Men,” the premise involves a mysterious break-in at a major London bank, possible suicides that turn out to be murders, an unintelligible code left in graffiti, a Chinese traveling circus, and an underground smuggling ring. Just go with it – it ends up being a pretty great ride. This episode also really cements the wonderfulness that is this new Holmes-Watson partnership; Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are just gangbusters together onscreen and I would like to applaud the casting director who was genius enough to come up with this pair.

But, to be fair, “The Blind Banker” is my least favorite of the three episodes of Sherlock’s first series. That statement is also kind of like saying, Oh, yes, that’s the Van Gogh painting I enjoy the least, but nevertheless. Whether it’s because its lacking the really great villain of the other two episodes, whether the mystery is just a teensy bit less compelling and more convoluted than the other two offerings, whether it’s the absence of Lestrade, Mycroft or the other interesting supporting characters from “A Study in Pink” while we’re stuck with the truly dreadful Sebastian, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that “Pink” is a really hard act to follow. All that said, there’s not a lot that’s truly “wrong” with this episode – most of its problems really are more missteps than outright failures – and while it may not reach the heights of the pilot, it’s still loads better than pretty much anything else you could be watching on a Tuesday night.

Click on through for some of my favorite things about this episode – mostly a lot of small moments that add up to a pretty great whole. One thing this episode does do very well is character moments and relationship development – and these are so strong and well done that the centerpiece mystery matters less.

Preview The Song of Lunch

Let’s spend a Sunday night watching a film dramatization of a narrative poem! You’re forgiven if an eyebrow went up at reading that sentence –it’s almost a little too painfully highbrow, even for me, and I live for stuff like this. But The Song of Lunch is a unique, occasionally painful depiction of a lunch date between two ex-lovers over a decade after their relationship ended is definitely worth a look. It’s rare that something on television nowadays is willing to take a risk and be original – and this has that in spades.

Take a minute to watch a scene from the film, then click through for a few of my (spoiler-free) thoughts!

Preview Tonight’s Masterpiece Contemporary: Page Eight

The new season of Masterpiece Contemporary kicks off tonight at 9pm with a star-studded, twisty spy drama called Page Eight. The cast list is impressive – Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis, Michael Gambon and more – and reason enough on its own for you to tune-in, but Page Eight is also a cracking good drama that’s much more focused on character than it is about the traditional trappings of spy films. (Nothing blows up and no one waves a gun at anything.)

Page Eight has a similar feel to some of the other conspiracy-themed dramas that have been popping up in recent years. If you’ve enjoyed Homeland, Rubicon, State of Play, or any of their ilk, you’ll like Page Eight. It’s familiar enough to fall into easily, but the story still feels fresh, despite the fact that “Higher Ups in Government Hide Information From General Public” is not exactly a new tale.

Watch a preview to get a feel for the film, and then click through for some (spoiler-free!) thoughts!

New William & Mary Tonight! Martin Clunes Sure Looks Different, Huh?

Starting at 10pm tonight on WETA, we've go two more back-to-back episodes of romantic drama William & Mary. (For those of you keeping track at home, these are episodes three and four of the series’ first season.) In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that despite my vast personal knowledge of all sorts of British TV, I’m a relative newcomer to Doc Martin and the acting of Martin Clunes. In the interest of really full disclosure, I’ll even admit that I’m only on the first season! But, all that said, I can already tell why so many people love it, and I’m looking forward to catching up to the rest of you.

Anyway, despite my relative ignorance of Clunes’ acting resume, I still have to say that his performance in William & Mary is really charming, displaying a sort of quiet (even adorable) everyman appeal that’s almost a complete 180 degree shift from his role as the prickly, grumpy Doc Martin. He even plays the guitar in a band! I mean, just compare the two pictures after the jump, and that should kind of tell you all you need to know about just how far apart these performances are. (Plus, I had to come up with SOME way to share that - I just get a tremendous kick out of that William & Mary episode photo. It’s just so unlike every other image I’ve ever seen of Clunes. It’s awesome.)