Drama

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!

The Song of Lunch This Sunday on Masterpiece Contemporary

Coming this Sunday night to Masterpiece Contemporary, The Song of Lunch is an innovatively presented drama starring the always awesome duo of Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. While writing about Bill Nighy’s role in Page Eight last weekend, I was reminded of how very much I adore the film Love Actually and apparently all roads lead back to that film for me this week, because it’s the Rickman/Thompson storyline that’s my favorite bit there. They’re just incredible together. (It’s also the only storyline that I wish they’d continued a few minutes further on at the end of that film, but that’s a rant for another day.) So, I am especially looking forward to watching this, if only because it’s always a pleasure to see two people who are such excellent actors on their own work together.

The interesting thing is that The Song of Lunch is a narrative poem. Written by Christopher Reid, it’s the story of ex-lovers who meet for lunch at an old favorite restaurant. The film is largely a dramatic reenactment of the poem and uses minimal dialogue other than the text itself being read. I think this is a tremendously intriguing concept, so watch this space for an early review towards the end of the week. For now, take a look at the preview to get a feel for it, and marvel how both of these actors just keep aging so darn well.

Obvious: Five Reasons You Should Watch Sherlock’s “A Study in Pink” Tonight

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 8pm, and its two subsequent episodes will air on November 15 and 22, respectively.

So do click through to read the rest of this article, and I’ll try my best to convince you why it will be of an ultimate benefit to your life to park yourself in front of the TV this evening.

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!

News of the Day: Downton Abbey Renewed!

 

Exciting news for Downton Abbey fans – the period drama was picked up for a third series yesterday by ITV! [Pause for happy dancing and various forms of enthusiastic celebration. A long pause.]

Downton’s second season, which wraps in the UK this weekend and will air in America starting January 8, has been doing fairly gangbusters ratings for ITV, so this isn’t exactly shocking news, though it’s certainly very welcome. Downton Series 3 will be comprised of eight episodes, set over the two year period of 1920 and 1921. Crowleys in the Roaring Twenties? Yes, please!

Obviously, as this news was just announced yesterday, there’s no indication of when Series 3 will debut, either abroad or here in America, and it's highly likely no one involved has given any thought to any of that just yet. I wouldn't expect to hear anything on that front for quite a while, actually, but stay tuned for updates as news becomes available.

New Downton Abbey Series 2 Promo!

We’re now 66 days from the premiere of the new series of Downton Abbey on January 8, 2012. Just over two months to go!

To help get through the wait, here’s a brand new promo just released for the new season, with a few superquick scenes which should probably get everyone chomping at the bit for Christmas to just get over with already. (Personally, I’m definitely looking forward to a visit from the Dowager Countess way more than I am from Santa, that’s for sure.)

If you need more ideas on things to do while you’re waiting for new episodes to return, why not let Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton offer her suggestions on how to survive the hiatus, including several great ideas for the history buffs in our crowd.

All Things Sherlock: Series 1 Rebroadcast and Series 2 Gossip

All of you who’ve been wondering what the big deal is about Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern retelling of the famous Sherlock Holmes story are going to get another chance to see what all the fuss is about.

Starting a week from today, we’ll be re-broadcasting the entire first series of my current obsession Sherlock, every Tuesday night for three weeks. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (♥) and Martin Freeman, Sherlock is a 21st century version of the world’s most famous detective (thankfully, minus deerstalker thus far), set in an exceptionally nice-to-look-at modern London. The first episode “A Study in Pink,” a retelling (mostly) of the story “A Study in Scarlet,” will re-air next Tuesday, November 8, at 8pm.

And, as I am always looking for an excuse to watch the trailer again, have a look at the Series 1 promo and get in the mood for a trip back to 221B Baker Street.

If that’s not enough Sherlock for you, click through and after the jump we’ve got some casting tidbits and Series 2 gossip that those of you seeking to remain entirely spoiler-free for the new episodes might want to avoid.

Tune-In Tonight: William & Mary at 10:30pm!

Heads-up for all our fans of William & Mary - tonight's episode will be starting a little later than the past few weeks, so make sure you've updated your calendars accordingly.

Due to the slightly extended run time of the special Mark Twain Prize ceremony broadcast, there'll only be one episode of William & Mary tonight, and it'll be starting at 10:30pm on TV 26 and WETA HD. Wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of this slight shift and didn't miss anything - and don't worry, we'll be back to showing two episodes of the series on Monday nights next week!

The Final Episode of Case Histories Airs Tomorrow Night

One of the most disappointing parts about Case Histories is simply that there’s not more of it. It’s an interesting and largely charming series, and there are definitely worse things that could happen to television than having Jason Isaacs’ Jackson Brodie around more often.

So, make sure you enjoy the ride through the last episode of this season of Masterpiece Mystery! tomorrow night at 9. Someone gets hit by a train, we sort of meet Jackson’s dead sister, and he acquires a rather fun new sidekick, the Kevin Costner to his Morgan Freeman, if you will. (And that joke will actually make sense once you see it, I promise.) Fair warning though, this last installment is a bit heavier on the drama than the comedy, compared to the first two episodes, and the end is a bit bittersweet. But it also feels just right, by the end.

And I have still never seen a better advertisement for vacationing in Edinburgh, immediately. Gorgeous!

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