Five Reasons ‘Happy Valley’ Is Worth Watching

This past spring all my social media feeds and the British entertainment websites I frequent were overflowing with praise for the BBC crime drama Happy Valley. I was intrigued and wondered when or if this word-of-mouth hit would reach our shores. Last week Netflix brought the most talked about British drama of the year to American audiences and I’m here to tell you it’s lived up to the hype.

Before we get started let me clarify that the title of the series is deceptive. Happy Valley is not a quaint and pleasant dale nor are many of its inhabitants very cheerful. In fact, it’s named for the area’s rampant drug problem. Happy Valley is not a cozy mystery program and can be graphically violent at times.

That being said let’s get on with the reasons you should want to give this series a go.

Revisiting ‘The Paradise’: Series 1, Episode 2

 

Previously, on The Paradise: Country girl Denise arrives in…some town that I don’t think they’ve named to seek fortune and a better life in the big city (or possibly a medium or small city - it’s unclear as they seem to only have this one street on the show). She gets a job at a posh department store modestly named The Paradise catches the eye of its owner, a dreamy, slightly smarmy dude named Moray who has A Big Vision for the future of the store. Moray also has some deep dark secret about his dead wife, a fairly horrible girlfriend (Katherine) and a staff bursting with the inept (Pauline), the forgettable (STILL don’t know his right-hand assistant’s name), the cruel (Clara) and the downright creepy (Jonas). How will she survive?

Let's find out, shall we?

Benedict Cumberbatch, Matt Smith and a Slew of Other Brits Take the Ice Bucket Challenge for Charity

As you’ve no doubt seen on some form of social media at some time over the last week, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral online campaign which encourages people to dump ice water over themselves to raise money and awareness for organizations supporting research into and treatment of the neurodegenerative disease ALS is the biggest thing going on the internet right now. (FYI, ALS is also known as Motor Neurone disease in Britain.) The idea is that you face down the bucket of ice water then nominate three friends to do the same within 24 hours and make a donation.

Pretty much every famous person you can think of has done this – from President George W. Bush to Oprah Winfrey to Bill Gates to Chris Pratt. And, of course, everyone’s favorite Brit of the moment, Benedict Cumberbatch. Who, quite frankly, may have done the most epic take on the challenge yet.

All-Star Cast Joins Benedict Cumberbatch for 'The Hollow Crown' Sequel 'Wars of the Roses'

Rejoice, there’s finally some official news about the upcoming sequel to award-winning Shakespeare mini-series The Hollow Crown!

The original four-part series adapted four of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – into a single chronological narrative, used the bulk of the same actors for the same roles across all the relevant plays, and starred Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons as three kings of England. The sequel is set to be subtitled War of the Roses and will adapt Shakespeare’s Henry VI (in two parts rather than three) and Richard III, the four plays that tell the story of the rise of the Tudor dynasty and the fall of the Plantagenets.

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has already been announced to play the ill-fated King Richard III across all three plays (though his character doesn’t appear much in the Henry VI trilogy to be honest), He will be joined by a star-studded ensemble, led by none other than the great Dame Judi Dench (yes, really) as Richard’s mother Cecily, the Duchess of York, Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville as Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Keeley Hawes as Queen Elizabeth and Tom Sturridge as King Henry VI. Sophie Okonedo was previously named to play Margaret of Anjou.

Um, wow. Wow.

Rumor Has It: Is Jenna Coleman Set to Leave ‘Doctor Who’?

Just as iconic sci-fi series Doctor Who is set to begin a new era with the arrival of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, rumor has it that more change may soon be in store for the megahit show: We might be in for a new companion by the end of the year.

The internet is buzzing with reports that current companion Jenna Coleman has decided to officially exit the TARDIS by the end of the year.

Back to School: The Memorable Teachers of British Film

As students everywhere return to the classroom, it seems only proper to examine the world of British academia. Last year I highlighted some humorously deficient sitcom teachers. This time around I thought I’d focus on the more serious educators, those erudite and inspirational mentors that light the fires of scholarship.

So if all the recent back to school activity has made you nostalgic for the noble pursuit of knowledge, you might want to take a look at these big screen professors and instructors. And if so inclined, you can find any of these films on Netflix DVD or Amazon Instant Video streaming.

Revisiting ‘The Paradise’: Series 1, Episode 1

Now that we know US viewers are finally going to get to see the second season of the popular, lavish period drama The Paradise for themselves – and we know that so many of YOU all out there love it – it’ll be joining the recap lineup here at Telly Visions later this Fall.

However, that would also be about the time that I realized that if I’m going to recap the new season, I need a refresher on the old one. And I bet some of you do too! So, welcome to another installment of our Retrospective Recap Series – because we’re gonna do Series 1 of The Paradise here on the blog over the next few weeks. I hope some of you out there love it (or me?) enough to stick around and chat about it. If you too need a refresher, or would like to watch along with me, the entire first season can be streamed online via both Netflix and Amazon Instant Video (though, sadly, not the Prime service).

On with the show, shall we? Let’s get to chatting about The Paradise Season 1, Episode 1. Enjoy!

The State of ‘Poirot’ for American Viewers: When Will We See the Final Episodes?

As many of you are almost certainly aware, actor David Suchet recently wrapped up his role as the titular Belgian supersleuth in Agatha Christie’s Poirot, having successfully filmed every Hercule Poirot story that Christie ever wrote over the course of his twenty-five year run in the role.

These final five episodes originally aired over the course of 2013 in the UK, with the last installment, titled simply Curtain, transmitting late last year. Ever since, American fans have anxiously awaited their chance to watch Suchet’s last bow as the character. However, we’re all going to get to see all of these episodes, we just have to be patient a bit longer.

As most (all?) of you already know, two of these episodes – Dead Man’s Folly and The Big Four – aired as part of this summer’s run of mysteries on PBS’s Mastrerpiece. But what of the other three? In short: Don’t worry, they’re coming.

No, really, they are. Have a gander at my Burning Questions Poirot Fans Need to Know primer below.

PHOTOS: Get Your First Look at 'Downton Abbey' Series 5

We’re ever so slowly inching toward that joyous day when the highly anticipated fifth season of Downton Abbey will arrive, and, as that’s the case we’re finally starting to see bits and pieces of information emerge about what Series 5 is going to look like.

In short: It’s okay to start getting excited now!

A full spread of delightful new images has been released by ITV and Masterpiece, giving us our first look at the new season key art (it’s even a little bit different this time around), as well as snaps featuring almost all of our favorite characters and a glimpse at the suddenly aged but perfectly adorable Crawley children.

Click through and take a look for yourselves!

The Trailer for ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ is Here

The sequel to heartwarming British film – and surprise box office hit – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has been highly anticipated since production was confirmed last Fall, and now fans everywhere can rejoice, because a trailer is finally here!

Creatively titled The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the film will continue to follow the story of a group of British retirees making a home for themselves in a second-rate Indian retirement hotel. The main cast from the original – comprised of such British acting royalty as Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie and more – are all back for the sequel, which will take place eight months later, as ambitious hotel owner-manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel) attempts to open a second business.

The gang of Marigold Hotel regulars will be joined by several new faces, including characters played by Richard Gere, David Straithairn and Tamsin Greig.

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