Upstairs Downstairs Dish: "The Last Waltz"

The penultimate episode of Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 (and actually of this version of Upstairs Downstairs, period) decides to go all out with soapy drama this week, including an illicit affair, a sudden engagement, emigration plans, a posh Servants Ball and a seriously shocking – nay, almost unbelievable – plot twist at the end. Who even knows where we’re heading with all this for the finale next week, and while it’s unclear if/how the dangling plot threads will be resolved, it should certainly be quite a ride. (And, seriously, who isn’t counting down to the inevitable showdown between Agnes and Persie? Get the popcorn ready.)

Click through and let’s dish the latest craziness and Hallam’s continuing moral decline and get our speculation on for the finale!

New BBC America Teaser for Ripper Street, Series Set to Premiere January 2013

BBC America has released their first preview for upcoming period thriller Ripper Street starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothberg. Set in the Whitechapel neighborhood in the immediate aftermath of the Jack the Ripper murders, Ripper Street will focus on the infamous H Division of the London police department and their attempts to keep the peace in the East End following these grisly crimes.

The first (supertiny) teaser for this highly anticipated series aired following the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics, but this is the first clip in which we can actually see some real footage from the show. Well done, BBC America, for starting the promotional wheels for this series turning earlier rather than later – and not just because the BBC’s tendency to drop trailers two weeks before series premieres is often occasionally frustrating.

Anyway, this clip is well worth a look – Macfadyen is looking predictably dishy in period dress and his performance seems predictably solid, even in these brief snippets. What’s most interesting here, though, is the show’s surprisingly dark and grisly tone. This shouldn’t be a total surprise, given that the series is set right after the Ripper murders, but sense of atmosphere, of place and moment in history, is palpable. I’m intrigued! Hopefully, this won’t doesn’t turn out to be some sort of boring procedural cop drama that happens to feature detectives in period dress, because I quite like the feel of this thing so far. Take a look for yourselves below.

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: “All the Things You Are”

Apologies for the fact that our Upstairs Downstairs recap is a smidge late – blame Hurricane Sandy! We hope that all of you in our area – and points north and west of us as well – are safe, warm and dry today, and have come through the storm successfully. Sending good thoughts your way!

The second series of Upstairs Downstairs continues along its jampacked way with its fourth episode, which includes all manner of eminently watchable strangeness, including servant boxing, illicit romance, marital woes, racial tension and Hallam being a huge jerk. It’s another entertaining episode even if it occasionally seems only tangentially connected to what we’ve seen before. Personally I’ve decided to accept that I just can’t get too emotionally invested in this show – Alex Kingston’s fantastic Lady Blanche aside – and am committed to just enjoying the ride for what it is And it’s super fun to watch, even if for about fifty percent of the time, the fun comes from hoping certain characters get punched in the face.

Click through and let’s dish everything important that happened this week, such as Harry the Driver’s sudden development of a meaningful past and Hallam’s new status as one of my most hated characters on TV. Leave your thoughts in the comments – should be fun to discuss!

Sherlock Holmes Series Elementary Gets a Full-Season Order From CBS: Four Things to Work On

CBS announced yesterday that it’s giving a full-season order to its freshman drama series Elementary. This news isn’t a huge surprise - the modern-day Sherlock Holmes adaptation has been performing admirably for the network on Thursday nights. It’s the second most popular new series of the season and averages somewhere in the 11-14 million viewers per episode range, even if their demos do skew rather on the older side. (This is CBS though, so I’m sure that fact wasn’t terribly unexpected, either.)

For many Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, this is probably very welcome news – and I agree that more Holmes in any incarnation is almost always excellent. While Elementary did not turn out to be quite the trainwreck I had originally envisioned and I mostly enjoyed the pilot, personally, I’ve found its subsequent episodes to be somewhat mediocre. Since it’s now confirmed that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu for the rest of the year – American seasons run for 22 episodes after all – there’s plenty of time for the show to work out its kinks. Here are a few suggestions.

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: “A Perfect Specimen of Womanhood”

The second series of Upstairs Downstairs continues with its third episode, which is quite action packed and exciting to watch, though it does manage to cram virtually every sort of scandal possible into a sixty minute timeframe. We’ve got an unwanted pregnancy, a scandalous secret relationship, an abortion, loads of downstairs drama once two servants have their jobs switched, a really weird women’s equality group, and the return of Jean Marsh as Rose. Despite the fact that it’s occasionally (often?) ridiculously over the top, it’s also easily the most watchable hour the show’s produced to date. There’s not a lot of tremendously in-character behavior here (save for probably Blanche), but if you can ignore that, this episode sure is entertaining.

Click through and let’s dish the many, many ridiculous things that happened this week – including Hallam’s poor life decisions, Blanche’s general awesomeness, the hot mess that is Persie’s life, Agnes actually being fantastic for once and lots more.

Returning Cast Members, Storylines Revealed for Final Series of Skins

E4 has confirmed which cast members will return for the final series of its groundbreaking teen drama Skins. The show will bow out with three two-part specials, each focused on a different character and their journey into adulthood.

The finale specials will primarily feature Kaya Scodelario’s Effy, Jack O’Connell’s Cook and Hannah Murray’s Cassie, though it’s looking likely that several of the other regular Skins cast members will make appearances in each of these episodes. For example, Lily Loveless and Kat Prescott are set to appear as fan favorites Naomi and Emily, though none of the specials will technically be centered on their characters.

The episodes – titled Skins Pure, Skins Rise and Skins Fire - will be written by series creators Brian Elsley and Jamie Brittain, with some help from Jess Brittain. Series 7 is described by producers as being “more adult” and “more uncompromising” than previous installments, since the teens are now young adults facing real-world problems. Well, well, well, huh? Click through some for some plot details about each of these new episodes and my thoughts on all this madness. (Spoiler: It’s a mixed bag.)

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: "The Love That Pays The Price"

Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 rolled right along over the weekend with some domestic drama, international intrigue, creepy flirting and a surprise appearance by the Kennedy family. (No, I’m not making that last bit up.) While most of the episode was just fine, most of it didn’t really move the plot along to any particularly large degree, and I found myself curious more about the things that are sure to go down next week (the Hallam/Persie mess and Blanche’s mysterious letter particularly) than the things that actually happened this time out. So, while The Love That Pays the Price (guess we’re done with bird episode titles now?) was still more entertaining than the bulk of Series 1, this episode felt like a placeholder in a lot of ways.

What say you, Telly Visions readers? How’d you feel about Episode 2? Come dish the twists and turns of this latest installment of life at Eaton Place, including Hallam’s poor life choices, Blanche’s general awesomeness and why Harry the Driver even continues to exist – and then let’s discuss in the comments!

Upstairs Downstairs Dish: What You Need to Know About the Series 2 Premiere

The reboot of popular drama Upstairs Downstairs kicked off its second season on Masterpiece Classic with new characters, new relationships and a lot of drama both within Eaton Place and the wider world, as the prospect of war looms for England.

While I may have had some misgivings following my whirlwind trip through Series 1 last week about how this new season might shake out, this first episode actually shows a lot of promise and I’m intrigued to see where things are going to go next week. Yes, there are some plot holes , several irritating character and one twist I just cannot comprehend, but on the whole, the pacing has improved and the episode feels more balanced storyline-wise. Click through and let’s chat about it.

Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 Premieres on Masterpiece Tonight!

We’re heading back to Eaton Place as the second season of the BBC’s continuation of beloved series Upstairs Downstairs arrives in America at last on Masterpiece Classic tonight.

Series 2 comprises six episodes, doubling the size of Series 1 and leaving plenty of room to pack in a lot of romance, political intrigue and social upheaval for residents both the upstairs and down in the year leading up to World War I. Per the official series description, Lady Agnes and Sir Hallam’s family is now complete with the addition of two small children, but Sir Hallam is drawn into dangerous waters by his preoccupation with the threat of Nazi Germany and the return of troubled Lady Persie. Lady Agnes catches the eye of charismatic American multi-millionaire Casper Landry, and Sir Hallam’s aunt, Dr. Blanche Mottershead. Meanwhile, life downstairs adjusts to the absence of Rose and the addition of the spirited new nursery maid, Beryl. With upstairs and downstairs harboring life-changing secrets, and the menace of war creeping ever closer, the smooth running of Eaton Place threatens to come to a halt. Dun dun dunnnnn. Click through for a preview of Series 2 of Upstairs Downstairs - are you looking forward to another season of this show?

The Great Upstairs Downstairs Series 1 Rewatch: “The Cuckoo”

Our whirlwind trip through the first series of Upstairs Downstairs concludes with the finale, The Cuckoo. (I’m really not sure to make of the episodes’ bird titles – especially this one, where no one is actually the victim of infidelity, though I suppose Hallam is the victim of a devastating lie of a different sort? Seem exceptionally odd, particularly considering that it’s not a pattern I think they continue in Series 2.) Anyway, having sped through these three episodes, it seems best to say that this first series is a mixed bag. On the plus side, there are strong performances and some charming storylines, but the series does sufffer from disjointed pacing and an uneven tone. Series 2 – which begins October 7 on Masterpiece Classic – is six episodes and I wonder if a bit more length might have helped smooth over some of the bumps in the road for this series. As it is, the show seems so determined to pack as much as possible into each episode that the story doesn’t get a tremendous amount of room to breathe. It will certainly be interesting to compare the two, and see how Series 2 turns out with the benefit of more room to run, as it were.

Anyway, onward! Click through for a rewatch of the Series 1 finale, The Cuckoo and join me for a chat in the comments, as well as some speculation about where Series 2 might be headed.