Tag Archive: PBS Masterpiece


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

Just when you thought Nicola Walker′s (Collateral, Law & Order: UK, Luther) compassionate cop Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart is fed up with humanity–with the criminals that have gotten away with murder literally for decades and the antics of her family at home–they keep pulling her back in, with two more seasons in the works, and the fourth season hopefully arriving in the U.S. this year.  We reviewed the first season of the BBC’s Unforgotten here at borg just last month, and we’re happy to report the series only improves in the next two seasons.  The first three seasons are on BritBox via Amazon Prime, and if you want your fill of red herrings and surprise villains in your modern British crime drama, look no further.  With its fifth season currently in production, PBS is also now streaming the first three seasons as part of its Passport membership, a chance for U.S. viewers to get caught up on the show before the new episodes arrive.

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UNFORGOTTEN: LE PASSE DETERRE

Review by C.J. Bunce

British crime dramas deserve some credit as a group–and PBS Masterpiece for re-airing them.  Viewers never quite know what hoops the police will jump through next, the twists and turns a series will take, and what unlikely villain will end up at the end of each whodunnit.  That’s the test of all mystery series, whether you’re watching a strange villain and almost as strange cop in Luther or the tempered, well-intentioned Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart and her skeptical partner Detective Sergeant Sunny Khan tracking down 40-year-old crimes in Unforgotten.  With its fifth season currently in production, PBS is now streaming the first three seasons as part of its Passport membership, a chance for U.S. viewers to get caught up on the show.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

We’re always on the lookout for the next great British/Irish/Scottish/UK police procedural or mystery, and the new Hugh Laurie four-part star vehicle Roadkill may not be the Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes, Hinterland or Shetland, Marchlands or Lightfields, Derry Girls, The Woman in White, Mr. Selfridge, Zen, Quirke, or Sherlock, but it’s better than most of the UK series that have made it to the small screen in the past few years.  Airing in the UK on BBC One this past Fall and first in the U.S. as part of PBS’s Masterpiece series, it is now available on Amazon and DVD (still the PBS choice platform for British productions).  A lucky show that finished production before the pandemic kicked into full force, Roadkill will be a must-see for Laurie fans, and its angle on politics and telling a politician’s personal story should be enough to keep other anglophiles interested.

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While we’re waiting around to find out if we’ll see more of the BBC’s Sherlock, here’s something worth watching.  This weekend Benedict Cumberbatch posted on Facebook a link to the unaired pilot for the series.  If you’re a diehard fan, here’s a way to catch a different look at the beginning of Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman’s John Watson as they created the chemistry the show is celebrated for across the globe.

“A Study in Pink” was re-shot from the 2009 pilot, tightening up bits and pieces only slightly and in subtle ways so you may think you notice a big difference from the version that first aired in the U.S. on October 24, 2010.  It’s been available on the DVD and Blu-ray releases, but only now has the show’s star pointed out the availability of the free streaming version.  This version never aired in the U.K. and wasn’t part of the original airings on PBS in the States.

This early poster shows the look of the actors you’ll find in the pilot:

The now familiar music wasn’t yet integrated in such a boisterous manner.  Mark Gatiss’s Mycroft Holmes–and any reference to Moriarty–are both absent from the unaired pilot.  Cumberbatch’s first run at Sherlock seems to be more cheery, charismatic, slightly less blunt than the version that ended up in the series. 

Or is it?

Watch the original pilot, streaming free now on Vimeo:

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victoria-coleman

Actress Jenna Coleman’s Clara, the cheery and sweet companion on BBC’s Doctor Who, moves on this year as a new companion joins the series in her place.  But Coleman is already off to new things, and first up is portraying young Queen Victoria in a new BBC series beginning tonight on PBS’s Masterpiece.  Victoria is a large-scale costume drama focusing on 18-year-old Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent and from her rise in power through her marriage to Prince Albert.  It includes an extensive romance thread–the unrequited love between Victoria and Lord Melbourne, played by Rufus Sewell.

Coleman’s Queen Victoria is both strong and passionate, and Melbourne as played by Sewell–known for countless roles in productions including Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Zen, Eleventh Hour, The Legend of Zorro, Pillars of the Earth, A Knight’s Tale, Dark City, and most recently, Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle–exhibits those good qualities and the more frustrating bits found in Jane Austen’s Lord Darcy from Pride & Prejudice.

victoria-pbs

The costumes, props of royalty, location filming, and production sets are not surprisingly lavish.  Victoria has the hallmarks of another successful BBC/PBS series, taking on the popular Downton Abbey timeslot.  Episode One tonight is 120 minutes, and the first season of the series continues for seven episodes this year.

Here are previews for BBC’s new series Victoria:

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sherlock-hound

Only with the BBC would you have a season of television that had two back-to-back episodes an entire year apart.  If you weren’t aware we were currently in Season 4 of Sherlock, you’re not the only one.  Apparently “The Abominable Bride” was episode one of Season 4 and the season will continue in January 2017.  Curiouser and curiouser.

The good news is that three episodes will air in January.  On January 1, 2017, “The Six Thatchers” premieres, followed by “The Lying Detective” on January 8, and “The Final Problem” on January 15.  Sherlock is one of those series that is brilliant when the episode is well done, and enormously disappointing for the rest–a classic “hit and miss” series.  Since each episode is its own mystery, each is like a mini-movie, so fans who love the series may be happy to hear the Season 4 finale is coming to the big screen for two days.

sherlock-family

January 16 and 18, “The Final Problem” will be heading to theaters as part of the Fathom Events series, including bonus content not seen on television.  The shows will be screened at 7 p.m. local time across the U.S.

sherlock-flood

Tickets for “The Final Problem” can be purchased online by visiting www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices–nearly 350 movie theaters are participating.  For a complete list of theater locations visit the Fathom Events website.

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Sherlock season 4

First off, Sherlock Clue is real.  Keep reading.

From the new trailer PBS Masterpiece released this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con it appears we have a dark season ahead as Sherlock enters its fourth season.  Unfortunately, like Doctor Who the wait seems to be endless.  Those British production companies sure aren’t in any hurry to supply fans with new content.  We won’t actually see the next season of Sherlock until sometime next year.

The good news is Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and all the key players are back.  The bad news?  Moriarty might be back.

Toby Jones plays a new menace in season four, Culverton Smith, an original Arthur Conan Doyle character in his original story “The Adventure of the Dying Detective.”

Amanda Abingdon Sherlock season 4

And that’s Secret Agent Watson (onscreen and offscreen partner to Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington) with a gun.

Check out the trailer straight from SDCC 2016:

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Husbands of River Song

Forget about parades and bowl games.  The BBC has taken over your television set for the holidays in the U.S.A.  For the past few years Americans have been treated to the British tradition of gathering the family round for a Doctor Who Christmas special on the evening of Christmas day.  This year was no exception with one of the best Doctor Who Christmas specials so far, and our favorite recurring character across the Doctors–Alex Kingston’s River Song–in “The Husbands of River Song.”

If you missed “The Husbands of River Song” on TV last week and can’t find it on your OnDemand channel, tonight you have another chance to see it but on the big screen courtesy of the Fathom Event series.  Check out the Fathom Events website here for theater locations and tickets.  Here’s a preview for the show:

But it’s not just Christmas Day getting the BBC treatment this year.  On New Year’s Day Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return for their only 2016 appearance as Holmes and Watson in the Sherlock New Year’s Day special “The Abominable Bride.”

Sherlock special 2016

This special finds the duo back in the 19th century past of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.  Here’s a preview:

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Freeman Watson

Almost if to prove that they can do the original Sherlock Holmes better than Guy Ritchie’s 19th century film adaptations, showrunners Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are promoting the next episode of their Sherlock.  This time stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return to the story’s roots instead of modern England, yet the latest trailer hints that they still live in a world well aware of Holmes’s crime-fighting fame.

“You’re Sherlock Holmes,” says Dr. Watson as he thrusts the famous deerstalker hat into Holmes’s hands, “wear the damned hat.”

The 19th century streets, the buildings, the entire environments are impeccable.  Would we rather have a Sherlock movie or a television series so long as either stars Cumberbatch and Freeman?  We may all answer “series” if only they could crank out more than three episodes every year or so.  But we’ll happily wait as we did for the equally good A&E Channel Horatio Hornblower episodes starring Ioan Gruffudd (Forever, Fantastic Four), Denis Lawson (Star Wars: A New Hope, Marchlands), Paul McGann (Doctor Who), David Warner (Tron, Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Time After Time), and Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) that arrived piecemeal in a series of eight TV movies between 1998 and 2003.

retro Sherlock

So check out the latest from Sherlock here:

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