Posts by Carmen Croghan

‘Sherlock’ Waves the Flag for British Telly at 2014 Primetime Emmys

With over two dozen British actors, writers, directors and productions nominated for Emmys this year, less than a handful brought home the gold earlier this week during the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony. A disappointing result for an telly addict like me to be sure, but with the rising popularity of UK television in the States you’d expect a little bit better showing from our talented performers across the pond.

Well, with one notable exception, anyway. Read on for a full report and highlights of how our favorite nominated Brits did this year.

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.

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.

James Corden Named the New Host of CBS’ 'Late Late Show'

Depending on which source you read, it is “reportedly”, “likely” and “confirmed by sources” that Tony-winning English actor, writer and presenter James Corden “has been named” Craig Ferguson’s successor as host of CBS’ Late Late Show. Did you get all that?

This apparently surprising development has prompted media outlets around the US to throw together introductory bios quite quickly; however, around this time last year I wrote a British Actors You Should Know profile on Corden so I won’t bother rehashing that post.

An all-around entertainer, James has a variety of skills and past work experience that would transfer well to his new position. Therefore, what I’d like to focus on are the strengths that I believe make Mr. Corden a good choice for this particular gig. As you might expect, I have compiled video proof to back it up.

'Last Tango in Halifax' Recap: How the Second Half of Series 2 Went

Can you believe Last Tango in Halifax Series 2 is over already? I guess it’s true what they say -time flies when you’re engrossed in a proper family drama. Since we last talked, quite a lot of time has passed and life for the newlywed Buttershaws and their kin has been eventful to say the least. While estrangement was rife earlier in the series, by the finale, reconciliation abounded. Loss was tempered with the promise of new life and love definitely trumped angst in the end.

Let’s get on with the recap, shall we?

Five Reasons You Should See 'Cuban Fury'

If you’re anything like me many of the British films you hear about and are excited to see never come to your local cinema. My nearest art house theater is about an hour away so I often find myself forgoing that trek and waiting for the DVD release instead. One example of such a motion picture is Cuban Fury which I finally got to watch via digital download.

This film tells the story of Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) who, as a young man, was a salsa dancing phenom. However, after a vicious beating by some bullies, Bruce retired his sequins and quit the competitive dance circuit.

Flash forward to present day and we find that Bruce works for an industrial equipment company and lives a joyless, lonely existence. His sister and former dance partner, Samantha (Olivia Colman) and his golf buddy, Gary (Rory Kinnear) are his only support system. Then one day Bruce’s new boss Julia (Rashida Jones) arrives from America and his cautious life is changed forever.

Monty Python Live (Mostly): A Good Laugh and a Fond Farewell

Disclaimer: I am a life-long Monty Python fan so this post is very unlikely to be an objective account of the simulcast I am about to tell you about. That being said, yesterday I had the privilege of witnessing a very special event indeed – Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go.

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the legendary Monty Python’s Flying Circus comedy troupe reunited after over 30 years away from the stage for a limited run of ten live shows at London’s O2 arena. For those of us who weren’t in the vicinity or couldn’t get their hands on a ticket, the Pythons kindly consented to turn their very last show into a worldwide party by live streaming the event to cinemas around the world and to UK residents on the Gold channel as well.

It was great to gather in a movie theater with other Python fans, people who know, love and, in many cases, can recite the sketches verbatim. If you’ve ever watched Monty Python with the uninitiated you may well know the confused scowls and the bewildered lament of “I don’t get it.” There was none of their ilk in the seats yesterday. Who’s going to pay $18 to watch a bunch of septuagenarians being silly on stage without being obsessively familiar with their body of work after all?

'Last Tango in Halifax' Mid-Series Recap: Discuss the Dramatic Twists of Series 2

Like many of you, I’ve been faithfully watching Series 2 of Last Tango in Halifax, a late-in-life romance/family drama. But half way through last Sunday’s episode I started to wonder why we haven’t done recaps of this exceedingly chat worthy show. I won’t lie, more than once I’ve rolled my eyes at the constant barrage of melodramatic circumstances that have befallen the Buttershaw/Dawson clan. But I’ve also witnessed authentic family dynamics that ring so true I feel that they are speaking directly to me. In my opinion, the merits outweigh the soap opera elements. In fact, I liken it to a more serious and decidedly adult-themed Brady Bunch for our time.

So Last Tango fans, here’s my rehash of the most important developments in the very eventful lives of our favorite West Yorkshire residents. So far this series has boiled down to three major themes: estrangement, money and babies.

Is 'Endeavour' Just the Beginning? Other British TV Characters That Should Get a Prequel

 

Endeavour has recently returned to Masterpiece Mystery for a second series and I must say I find it to be the most compelling show on PBS’ very British Sunday night line-up. So far DC Morse (Shaun Evans) has solved intricate cases dealing with beauty queens, ancient artifacts, a boarding school for girls and a century’s old mass murder. In addition, I’m looking forward to discovering how the Freemasons play into all the mayhem being unleashed in Oxford.

As advertised when it first aired last summer, Endeavour is the origin story of the beloved Inspector Morse, who was played by the late John Thaw in the orignial series of the same name. This prequel is not only an opportunity to allow fans of the original series to see Morse solve a few more murders, but a peek into the past to discover how the promising young Endeavour developed into the brilliant but somewhat sullen detective he became. We get to witness his growing affinity for opera and drink, as well as get a glimpse of some people who will follow him through his police career. Fans love little homages like that and new viewers get to meet a well-written character with a definite destiny ahead of him.

The concept of the prequel got me to thinking about other series that might want to employ this narrative device. While some shows are all about character development and uncovering the layers, so to speak, there are other personalities that are so mysterious, eccentric or enigmatic you can’t help wondering how they got that way.

'Downton Abbey', 'Sherlock' Lead British Invasion as 2014 Emmy Nominations Are Announced

The 66th Primetime Emmy Award nominations were announced this morning (July 10) so I thought it a good time to take an inventory of how some of our favorite actors from the UK fared with the Television Academy. If you're curious - the answer is - quite well, and in a few unexpected categories to boot! Let's take a look. If you’d like to see the complete list of nominees, regardless of their nationality, click here.

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