Drama

Will Julian Fellowes Give America Our Own Downton Abbey? And Will Americans Watch It?

Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes is currently developing an American period drama for NBC, focused on New York City in the 19th century. Tentatively known as The Gilded Age, it would appear that the drama is set to give Manhattan society in the 1880s the American version of the Downton treatment.

Per the press release, the series is described as “an epic tale of the princes of the American Renaissance, and the vast fortunes they made—and spent—in late nineteenth-century New York.” The Gilded Age will doubtless present the many professional challenges and personal tribulations of America’s first millionaires who helped shaped the city and pioneered innovations in business, transportation and industry.

"This was a vivid time," Fellowes said,"with dizzying, brilliant ascents and calamitous falls, of record-breaking ostentation and savage rivalry; a time when money was king." Per the Daily Mail online (which, as always take with a grain of salt), The Gilded Age could screen as early as Fall 2013. The Mail further speculates that Fellowes’ new drama could include fictionalized versions of famous figures like J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie or Cornelius Vanderbilt.

The concept sounds intriguing – but is it something that Americans will watch?

Get Your First Look at Call the Midwife’s Christmas Special

Hit drama Call the Midwife will return with a special holiday episode on Christmas Day in the UK.

The 1950s period drama’s Christmas special will feature a storyline about an abandoned baby left on the steps of the convent and the midwives’ desperate search for the child’s mother. Among other things, obviously – though I must confess I’m most interested in seeing how married life is treating Chummy, simply because she’s my favorite. The trailer looks very sweet and just generally seems perfectly Christmassy (though the BBC appears to be touting the drama as a “grittier” alternative to fluffier holiday fare like Downton Abbey).

No, there’s no hint yet as to when we might see the Christmas installment here in America, though it seems safe to assume that it will probably be packaged in somehow with the import of the drama’s Series 2 run, which starts early next year in the UK. (Though again, that's just a best guess. Keep an eye out for future updates.) Take a look at the trailer for yourselves below.

The Game is Not Yet On: Production Delayed on Sherlock Series 3

Sad news for Sherlock fans everywhere – we’re going to have to wait a bit longer than we originally thought for production on the highly anticipated third series of the hit drama to get started.

Entertainment Weekly is reporting that filming on Series 3 – originally slated to get under way this January – has been pushed back until March. Considering filming was originally supposed to wrap by the end of March, we’re probably now looking at something like June before principal production finishes up.

Since stars Benedict Cumberbatch (who’s apparently starring in every movie ever) and Martin Freeman (who’s now got to make a third Hobbit film) are basically the definition of superbusy, this news isn’t terribly surprising, even if it does make those of us who are waiting for a resolution to the Reichenbach Fall cliffhanger crazy.

Seriously, guys, we’re like the television viewer equivalents of Doctor Who’s Amy Pond: The Fans that Waited.

Merlin to End with a Two-Part Special This Christmas

 

Sadly, the current series of fantasy drama Merlin is going to be the show’s last. After five series, the BBC’s youthful retelling of the Arthurian legend will wrap things up with what the producers call a “natural and dramatic” ending in a two-part Christmas special finale.

Creators Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy insist that the plan was always for Merlin’s story to wrap up in five series, but multiple factors – including the drama's ratings success and the fact that we’re four and a half series into it and Arthur still doesn’t know about the stupid magic – made it appear as though there was certainly more life to be had in the franchise. (At one point there were talks about a possible Series 6, as well.) Series 5 of Merlin doesn’t even air here in America until January on Syfy (preview); I hope that the Christmas finale will be tacked on to the end of the US broadcast so we’ll at least get to see everything up to the end in one go.

Confirmed: Downton Abbey Renewed for Series 4!

Great news for fans of British costume dramas, great television generally and the Crawley family particularly: megahit Downton Abbey has been renewed for a fourth series by ITV!

While this news isn’t terribly surprising – Series 3 scored Downton’s highest ratings to date in the UK, and both Series 1 and 2 have done extremely well in America – it’s still nice to have official confirmation of the series renewal only three weeks after the UK finale aired and six weeks prior to its premiere in America.

Filming is expected to begin at Highclere Castle and Ealing Studios in early 2013 (likely February), with the new episodes slated to be broadcast on ITV next Fall. The new season will once again be comprised of eight episodes, with an extended Christmas special in 2013. The opening and closing episodes of Series 4 will also once again be feature-length and the saga of the Crawley clan will continue on into the early 1920s.

Watch the First Episode of The Hour Series 2 Online Before It Premieres!

Series 2 of The Hour officially kicks off on BBC America starting November 28 (it’s already airing in the UK, but we’ll only be a couple of weeks behind, woohoo!). However, there’s no reason to wait that long if you’re really dying to see where the story of Hector, Bel and Freddie goes in the new season. (Or just really like Ben Whishaw in suits. I won’t judge.)

BBC America has made the full first episode of Series 2 available online prior to its official broadcast start date, so you can settle down this weekend and dig right in.

Watch the Trailer for Restless, Starring Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery

Downton Abbey star Michelle Dockery will be stepping off the Crawley estate and into the world of international espionage this December in the new mini-series Restless, which is set to screen on the Sundance Channel here in the States in just a couple weeks.

Dockery plays Ruth, a young woman who discovers that her mother Ruth was once a spy for the British Secret Service in World War II and has been living a double life ever since. The two-part series also stars some other notable British talent, including Charlotte Rampling, Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon. It’s based on a novel by William Boyd who, incidentally, will be penning the next James Bond novel.

The trailer looks quite interesting – and the material actually seems rich enough to support the level of talent involved.

The Curious Case of Spy Drama Hunted: Canceled by the BBC, Saved By American Network

Contemporary spy thriller Hunted starring Melissa George was purported to be a replacement for the BBC’s long-running MI-5 before its premiere earlier this Fall. However, despite fairly strong ratings for its first episode, the series lost half of its audience over its six episode UK run. By the time a BBC spokesperson confirmed that the drama would not return for a second series, claiming, “"It hasn't found the mainstream audience it was hoped,” the news didn’t really seem that surprising.

Pretty open and shut case of a fledging drama failing to live up to its expectations, right? Not so fast. Hunted has an American co-producer, which means that the drama is surprisingly going to get a second chance at life. Hunted airs on Cinemax here in the States, and the network is apparently very happy with the show and its performance in the American market – enough to give it a second series in some as yet to be determined form. Talk about a last minute stay of execution!

Downton Abbey Behind-the-Scenes Special Coming This November

For everyone who’s marking off days on a countdown calendar until Downton Abbey Series 3 arrives Stateside on January 6, there is a little bright spot coming up over Thanksgiving weekend to give you a bit of a Crawley fix while we wait. (Our countdown stands at 53 days, just in case you were keeping track.)

PBS stations nationwide are set to air Downton Abbey Revisited, a behind-the scenes preview special that will refresh everyone’s memory about the events of the series’ first two seasons, as well as offer some hints at what’s to come for all our favorite characters in the new episodes.

Hosted by Angela Lansbury, the 90-minute special will premiere on November 25. It will feature clips recapping all the major plot points from the first two seasons – but, let’s be honest, us loyal Downtonistas already know all that stuff (hands up if you can recite most episodes?). Don’t worry, there will be goodies includedfor us too, such as behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with creator Julian Fellowes and his Emmy-nominated cast and, most importantly, a few new clips and tidbits about the twists and turns waiting for us all in Series 3.

Click through and watch the promo for this special clip show - and let us know what potential Series 3 storylines you're most interested in finding out more about!

Get Your First Look at Series 2 of The Hour, Premiering on BBC America November 28

The Hour, the series that many called Britain’s answer to Mad Men last year, is back for a second series this month. If you’ve never seen The Hour, well, it’s sort of what would happen if you crossed Mad Men with HBO’s The Newsroom and also you were given the extra bonus present of Ben Whishaw in snazzy 1950s suits as the icing on top. (Yes, newly swoony geek girls everywhere, this is your new Q from the latest Bond film, Skyfall. He’s also quite a good actor. Enjoy.)

Series 1 ran here in America in the summer of 2011 and was one of my surprise favorite dramas last year –extremely well-acted, very suspenseful, and the sort of intelligent television that respects it viewers enough to assume that they’re going to keep up with it.

The news drama returns to BBC Two tomorrow night in the UK, but we won’t have to wait very long to see Series 2 for ourselves here in the States, as The Hour will premiere as part of BBC America’s Dramaville block on November 28, so we’ve only got a couple of weeks to wait! Huzzah!

Click through for all the latest on the return of this fabulous – two trailers, some cast interviews, and a quick way to catch yourself up on Series 1 in 90 seconds.

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