Tag Archives: PBS

MR. SELFRIDGE Series Preview; Good Old-Fashioned Entertainment

 

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Mr. Selfridge, the latest PBS and ITV collaboration, chronicles the exploits of the man who founded the famous high-end Selfridges department store in London, and in doing so, changed our understanding of modern merchandizing.  The series ran at the first of the year in the U.K. to mixed, though generally favorable reviews, and having personally consumed the entire ten-episode series in a matter of days I can say unequivocally that it’s worth watching.  Mr. Selfridge doesn’t ask much of its viewers, but it’s a sprawling drama adapted by Andrew Davies (who has adapted pretty much every British miniseries you can think of) from a novel, and the series’ sumptuous costume designs and whirling stories are greatly entertaining.

Hit the jump for what Mr. Selfridge, starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage) has to offer, and why the women of the series end up stealing the show. … READ MORE

DOWNTON ABBEY Season 4 Casting News: O’Brien Out, Jazz Musicians and Handsome Aristocrats In

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In more shocking Downton Abbey cast news (of the exiting kind), Siobhan Finneran has recently told the press that she will not reprise her role as the dastardly Mrs. O’Brien, the lady’s maid everyone loves to hate, in the show’s fourth season.  The announcement comes on the heels of two other major cast departures this season, and it looks like Julian Fellowes‘ Edwardian drama, the reins of which he’s handing over next year, is going to need to start casting quickly.  A few new characters have already been revealed:

  • Tom Cullen will appear as Lord Gillingham, described as an old family friend of the Crawleys (aren’t they all?) who may or may not be helpful in mending Lady Mary’s heart.
  • Nigel Harman will play a valet named Green.
  • Harriet Walter plays Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager Countess (Shirley Maclaine as also been said to be rumored to return, but seeing the Dowager with someone she actually likes will be a treat).

Hit the jump for my speculation on the future of O’Brien and a few more casting updates … READ MORE

“Downton Abbey” Season 3, Episode 9 Recap

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There are a few things to discuss before we get to That Thing, mainly how good the Christmas Special (which is what this episode originally aired as in the U.K.) always is. We went somewhere new (Duneagle Castle), had a few opportunities to see everyone let their hair down (the fair, the Gilly Ball), witnessed a few misguided near-romances (Patmore and Mr. Tufton, Isobel and Clarkson, Edna and Branson), and got a major redemptive finish for the Thomas and Jimmy saga. Cutting the last five minutes out would have made for a very satisfying finale, both in its regular season and this Christmas Special, and worth the slog of getting through Season Two. It was gorgeously filmed, emotionally rendered, and even despite a few mistakes (the advent of Edna, the worst of a long line of terrible maids that include Ethel and Jane), it gave us everything we wanted. Until That Thing. … READ MORE

“Downton Abbey” Season 3, Episode 8 Recap

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What a marvelous ending for what was a truly great third season. True, the season is not technically over – there’s still next week’s grand finale, which finished up as the Christmas Special episode in England – but even if it had ended right here with that slow-motion bounding and bounding, I would have been completely satisfied.

To air these two episodes together was a strange choice, as I mentioned in my recap of the first hour, because while that first hour spent a lot of time on setup, the second hour was like a freight train of plot. The oddest abutment of the two would have to be Mary’s sudden announcement that she had just been to London. When did that happen? In the last fifteen minutes? It’s easy to forgive those weird bits of editing, though, when the finale gave everyone (save Edith, of course) a more or less happy ending … READ MORE

“Downton Abbey” Season 3, Episode 7 Recap

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A trusted friend and TV advisor informed me this week that PBS is combining (and therefore editing down) so many episodes of “Downton Abbey” for February sweeps, but I still can’t see why they would want to burn off so many episodes so quickly when there are, in the end, so few. Even during last year’s embarrassment of a season, the world that series creator Julian Fellowes has conceived is one that should be lingered in and appreciated for its resplendent beauty (if not always for its storytelling). On that note, every hour of the series is so jam-packed with plot that to run two hours together is really overwhelming. How is one to process all of the Dowager Countess’ one-liners before the next episode is shoehorned in?? … READ MORE

“Downton Abbey” Season 3, Episode 6 Recap

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I continue to be impressed by how much “Downton Abbey” has settled down this year and returned to what made its first season so great: family moments. Family, in this case, extends Upstairs and Down. Season Two seemed to fashion itself as a sweeping war epic, and while itwas sweeping, in terms of epic or having much to do with war … not so much. This current season has slowed down, both narratively and with its crazy time jumps (where no one ages – they should all be about 10 years older now, and yet…), and has benefitted immensely … READ MORE

“Downton Abbey” Season 3, Episode 5 Recap

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Well, after my jolly assertions about “Downton Abbey” last week, we were given an exceptionally sad follow-up. But, to keep spoilers hidden, I will instead talk about some of the other things this jam-packed hour gave us.

There were a lot of subplots scattered throughout the episode that portend interesting things to come, from Edith’s column to Isobel taking on Ethel as her latest do-gooder project, to the love triangles (squares? hexagons?) forming in the Downstairs kitchen as well as Sherlock, Jr Anna getting her big break on the case … READ MORE

‘Downton Abbey,’ Season 3, Episode 4 Recap

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Many TV shows make the mistake of thinking that their series need to be packed full of plot points (“Downton Abbey” being among them – I refer you to Season Two for all the evidence you need). But when you’ve created a rich world populated by characters we have grown to care about, sometimes there’s pleasure to be found in the simplest of things. This week, conversations between Matthew and Violet, Mrs. Hughes and Isobel, Matthew and Carson, were a few examples of how something so seemingly non-dramatic as an exchange can be great, rich storytelling … READ MORE

‘Downton Abbey’ Season 3, Episode 3 Recap

Does any other show burn through plots as quickly as “Downton Abbey?” There was the good, the better and the worst at the manor this week, and while the episode was high on drama, it lacked any real risk. This was our third hour spent contemplating Downton’s ruin because, without Bates around, somebody has to fall on their sword unnecessarily, so it might as well be Matthew. No one ever really thought Downton would be sold though, did they? After all, the servants didn’t even know that it was a possibility, and the show isn’t called The Crawleys … READ MORE

‘Downton Abbey’ Season 3, Episode 2 Recap

Hardly a pause for breath, was there? The second hour of “Downton” swept through with as many swirling plots as the first, spending far more time Downstairs than Up this time (or so it seemed), and culling a few stories (Branson and Sybil) while cultivate some new, heartbreaking ones (Mrs. Hughes). Still, the night belonged to Mrs. Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), and her saving the day, but not the estate.

As I mentioned in my review of the first hour, though Mary and Matthew are no longer a “will they / won’t they” couple, their uses have not been diminished. For one thing, they make a much better couple in bed than Bates and Anna (and I am very sorry to bring that image back to your mind). How perfectly adorable for Matthew to worry about being caught in Mary’s bed (at least he survived it!) and for her to turn his “shut up and kiss me” entreaty from before to wedding to the even more delightful “now stop talking and kiss me before I get cross.” Oh, you two! … READ MORE