Tag Archive: Bill Paterson


Review by C.J. Bunce

It arrived in Scotland and the UK in 2019 before the pandemic, then took its time getting to the States.  In the interim BBC’s series Guilt won top honors in Scotland for its darkly funny and thrilling story from creator Neil Forsyth.  The series stars the amazing, award-winning co-star of Shetland and Unforgotten, Mark Bonnar, and the second season is even better than the first.  Fans of UK television have seen Bonnar as both well-meaning and outright guilty before, but not like his Max McCall in the first season of Guilt.  But the second season should have been titled Revenge.  Max was a reasonably well-adjusted lawyer, scheming and in deep with the local mob, before he went to jail–between seasons.  We meet him again, after two years of thinking about what kind of man he wants to be.  Emun Elliott takes the co-lead spot this season as the put-upon (but improving) investigator Kenny Burns.  The second season of Guilt is now airing on PBS Masterpiece, with the entire eight episodes of its first and second seasons available anytime now on PBS Passport and on PBS DVD.

Do you love a good revenge plot? 

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The battle of the fantasy series begins.  By some reports Amazon Prime has more than double the subscribers of all of HBO and HBO Max in just the U.S. alone, but both are pulling out the stops for their big-budget prequel series.  That’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power from Amazon (previewed here), and the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon HBO Max (sorry, HBO-only subscribers) released a compelling trailer for its series, with production values, costumes and props, rousing music (and that great CGI dragon!) that rivals Amazon’s series previews for what has been called the most expensive series yet, estimated at $1 billion for its five planned seasons.

The Game of Thrones prequel also has the benefit of Doctor Who star Matt Smith, who has had an amazing showing since his run as the Doctor from 2010 to 2014, including movies Terminator Genisys, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and most recently Last Night in Soho and Morbius.  Unlike The Rings of Power, it also has several familiar genre stars, including Rhys Ifans (Spider-Man: No Way Home, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The King’s Man, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Bill Paterson (Doctor Who, Shetland, Outlander, Sea of Souls), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Bates Motel, The Secret of Crickley Hall). Graham McTavish (The Hobbit, Creed, Outlander, Rambo, Sharpe, Lost, 24, Aquaman), Cornetto Trilogy regular Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), Milly Alcock (The Gloaming), Emma D’Arcy (Truth Seekers, Wild Bill), and even young Wonder Woman and Lara Croft actress Emily Carey.

Check it out for yourself:

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Bommar Guilt

Review by C.J. Bunce

It arrived in Scotland and the UK in 2019 before the pandemic, then took its time getting to the States.  In the interim it won top honors in Scotland for the darkly funny and thrilling series and show director Robert McKillop, with nominations for its actors and writing.  It’s BBC’s Guilt, featuring the amazing, award-winning co-star of Shetland and Unforgotten, Mark Bonnar.  Fans of UK television have seen Bonnar as both well-meaning and outright guilty before, but not quite like the compounding weight placed upon his character in Guilt.  And the result is a performance of multiple facets of the human condition that at times is laugh-out-loud funny.  Bonnar co-stars with Jamie Sives (Doctor Who, Game of Thrones) as brothers who run over and kill an old man while driving home after a wedding.  Their world falls apart when the dead man’s niece arrives from Chicago.  She’s played by Irish actor Ruth Bradley, who played the stellar, tragic cyborg DI Voss on BBC’s Humans.  Guilt is now airing on PBS Masterpiece, with its entire four-episode first season streaming now on PBS Passport.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca.  His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  Rebecca, a remake, premieres this week on Netflix.  For its fall releases the popular streaming studio nicely split up the male leads of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., putting Henry Cavill in Enola Holmes and Armie Hammer in Rebecca, even using the same mansion for both films.  For Rebecca, Netflix plucked ex-cast members from Mr. Selfridge and some other genre favorites of British TV.  So how does the new Rebecca compare to Hitchcock’s masterpiece?

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A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  It is a Hollywood classic, a perfect Gothic romance masterpiece starring Joan Fontaine as the mousey Cinderella-esque Mrs. de Winter, opposite Laurence Olivier as the controlling but dashing Maxim de Winter.  There’s a dark secret at Maxim’s sprawling estate called Manderley.  The great future dame Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers, creating one of those screen villains in that club of scary, loathsome manipulators that includes The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Dolores Umbridge, Mrs. Emerson, and Nurse Ratched.  Now 80 years later, relatively unknown director Ben Wheatley (Doctor Who, Free Fire) is bringing his own adaptation to Netflix next month.  So who is being cast in the key roles this time?

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This one looks like it could be the next holiday classic.

Although he’s had theatrical roles in 2013’s The Fifth Estate, 2014’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, 2016’s Colossal, and this year’s Beauty and the Beast remake, Dan Stevens is better known for his British TV roles like Matthew Crawley throughout the run of Downton Abbey.  But the genre world really took notice of Stevens this year when he headlined a new X-Men TV series, playing David Haller, a crazed wielder of superpowers on FX’s new series Legion.  His next role takes him back to jolly old England and a character that can’t possibly be more classic and British: Charles Dickens himself.

Although the last time we saw someone play the part of Charles Dickens in a major film it was Gonzo in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Stevens’ off-kilter, frenetic kinetic sense, and quizzical expressions make for an intriguing take on Dickens in the first preview for The Man Who Invented Christmas.  Stevens looks like he’s channeling Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein in one scene from the movie’s first trailer.

And we get to see Academy Award-winning actor and Shakespearean great Christopher Plummer (Twelve Monkeys, Up, Wolf, Dragnet, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Somewhere in Time, Return of the Pink Panther, The Sound of Music) join the likes of Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, and Bill Murray as Ebenezer Scrooge.  This take on Scrooge focuses on Dickens writing the novel A Christmas Carol and getting a spell of writer’s block.  And speaking of Finney, the view of the film in the preview looks like a mash-up of style from the comedies Tom Jones and Shakespeare in Love

Here’s a fun preview for The Man Who Invented Christmas:

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