Tag Archive: PBS Masterpiece


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? 

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Don’t turn around, Der Kommissar’s in town. 

Marc Warren is a rock star.  Or at least he looks and acts like one.  He’s starred and guest-starred in dozens of series and in each one he’s a stand-out, most famously in Doctor Who and Life on Mars, State of Play and Band of Brothers, and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, just to name a few.  As a Dutch detective on a stylish crime series created by British network ITV, TV audiences will meet the next Sam Tyler, Aurelio Zen, John Luther, and Jimmy Perez.  Warren plays Commissaris Piet van der Valk, Amsterdam’s best detective, on the series Van Der Valk, which saw its first season of three movie-length episodes make its way to the U.S. in 2020.  The first episode of the second season is coming to the States in September on PBS Masterpiece.  So who is this crime fighter from Amsterdam?

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

If you’ve been missing the David Tennant from Doctor Who–he regenerated 11 (!) years ago into Matt Smith–and series like Broadchurch and Good Omens don’t cut it, and you don’t like your Tennant fix as a nasty villain as in Jessica Jones, then your series has finally arrived.  BBC and PBS Masterpiece’s new adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1873 science fiction adventure Around the World in 80 Days isn’t your father’s or father’s father’s or father’s father’s father’s Jules Verne.  But it is very much Doctor Who.  It’s David Tennant in the lead role as Phileas Fogg acting his most emoting, put-upon, and frenetic Doctor Whovian.  It even has two companions to accompany him on his journey, a journey already booked for two seasons.

Continue reading

Apparently they don’t make it–at least in the first season–since a second season is already approved.  It’s the most classic piece of science fiction and adventure, coming to your PBS Masterpiece:  BBC’s latest adaptation of Jules Verne’s 1873 novel Around the World in 80 Days It’s David Tennant in the lead role as Phileas Fogg acting his most frenetically Doctor Whovian and passing to his fans the code word “companion” in its first trailer for the series.  It might be the most we’ve seen Tennant in this kind of rollicking role since his last turn as the 10th Doctor.  The production looks sharp, as we’d expect from the BBC, with costumes, trains, and set pieces quite up to snuff.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: