Tag Archive: PBS


Professor T

Review by C.J. Bunce

PBS is now airing a six-episode mystery series starring Ben Miller, best known for playing the first detective of many on the series Death in Paradise, an actor whose television work goes back to the early 1990s, including even a small role on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  Miller plays Professor Jasper Tempest, the title character of Professor T, a British adaptation of a Belgian series about a quirky, obsessive, compulsive detective in the style of Adrian Monk, Prodigal Son’s Malcolm Bright, and Sherlock Holmes himself.  The series airs weekly Sundays on PBS, also available to stream in its entirety with a PBS Passport subscription.  Will this be another short-lived British police procedural, or can it survive in the ocean of similar series to find a second season?

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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

With the 1868 novel The Moonstone, author Wilkie Collins created what is widely considered to be the first modern English detective novel, creating the key beats that would thereafter make up the framework for the genre.  In his earlier work, the 1859 Gothic “sensational” novel The Woman in White, Collins created a suspense thriller that stands up to rich classics including his contemporary Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and Bleak House, all while steeped in the realities of being a 19th century woman documented a decade earlier by Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre, and later, Daphne du Maurier in Rebecca.  The BBC 2018 adaptation of The Woman in White, streaming now via Amazon Prime, rises to the top of recent British mystery series, a compelling execution that will keep you guessing until the final scenes.    Continue reading

First airing in March 2013, BBC’s police procedural Shetland is part mystery, part action, part suspense drama set in the stark and beautiful Shetland Isles.  It follows detective inspector Jimmy Perez, played by Douglas Henshall, as he and detective sergeant “Tosh” MacIntosh (Alison O’Donnell) and detective constable Sandy Wilson (Steven Robertson) solve unusual crimes in a rural part of the world that has its own set of rules.  Season 5 has begun on the BBC in the UK, and it will be coming to the U.S. delayed by only a few weeks, arriving this April.

The series is loosely based on characters and stories from a set of novels by Ann Cleeves.  We named season four of the series the best British/UK series of 2018 in our year-end wrap-up here at borg.  Take a look at our review of season four here.

BBC released a preview for the series’ next season.  After a gruesome discovery, Perez and his team track the murderer in a complex investigation.  Here’s the trailer for season 5 of Shetland:

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Where in the world has Carmen Sandiego been lately?

She’s been the subject of an ongoing series of video games since 1985.  She was featured in two game shows, one a Peabody Award winner and the second an Emmy Award winner, featuring Rockapella and late actress Lynne Thigpen (Homicide, Law & Order, Tootsie, Shaft) as The Chief, from 1991-97.  And she had an Emmy Award-winning animated series that ran for five years, with the last episode airing 20 years ago this week.  The animated series starred Oscar-winning actress Rita Moreno (West Side Story, The Electric Company, Jane the Virgin) as the voice of Carmen, and a host of bad guys, including a recurring villain voiced by Tim Curry.  The games and shows have had changing names: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?  Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?  Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?  But the constant has always been Carmen.

A new animated series is coming to Netflix later this month, bringing back the character with some updates.  Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego will deliver two ten-episode seasons starring Gina Rodriguez as the voice of Carmen.  Rodriguez’s most recent voice work can be heard in Ferdinand and Smallfoot, and she’s appeared in front of the camera in genre series from Law & Order to Longmire, and her best known role in Jane the Virgin.  The updated Carmen is first seen younger than her past personas.  Law enforcement agencies see her as a master criminal.  She becomes a modern-day Robin Hood traveling the globe and stealing from the crime organization V.I.L.E., giving stolen goods back to its victims.  The series will follow her escapades, and viewers will learn not only where she is but… Who in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

The series will feature the voice talents of Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things, It, Supernatural, The Addams Family) and Sabrina Carpenter (Horns, The Hate U Give).  The first trailer has Carmen updated from all-out criminal to something like a member of the team in the television series Leverage (“The rich and powerful take what they want.  We steal it back for you.  Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys”).

Take a look at the English and Spanish trailers for the new series Carmen Sandiego:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Netflix has been carrying BBC’s British police procedural series Shetland on Netflix for a few years, but now is a good time to get caught up on the series’ first three seasons as Season 4 aired in February in the UK and is expected to arrive on Netflix soon for U.S. viewers.  Set in the remote Scottish Shetland islands, Shetland stars Douglas Henshall (Sea of Souls, Outlander, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Kull the Conqueror, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, who solves crimes against the dramatic backdrop of the Shetland Islands.  Based on a bestselling detective series by award-winning crime writer Ann Cleeves, the series spotlights the stark landscape of remote Scotland and its small population, which must manage the big crime trouble of the far off Scotland metropolis of Glasgow, with far fewer resources.

The backbone of the series is the personable nature of Henshall’s cop as he wrestles with growing daughter Cassie (Erin Armstrong) who has a mind of her own, and the sparring he has over her in an almost spousal love-hate-bickering relationship with his deceased ex-wife’s second husband Duncan (Mark Bonnar).  Helping him dig into crimes is his right arm, DS Tosh McIntosh (Alison O’Donnell), who is part smart investigator and Glasgow street savvy and also very familiar with local norms, and next level down cop Steven Robertson as DC Sandy Wilson, who is trying to build his career path while routinely held back by his strange family and personal relationships.  Technology, a remote geography, and a culture removed from the rest of the country combines to create plenty of opportunities for resourceful police work by Perez and his team.

In the series’ third season Shetland hits its stride, combining the show’s regular cast of five recurring characters with a guest appearance by genre film star Ciarán Hinds, who drives the mystery for the bulk of the season.  Hinds boasts an impressive career in some of our favorite films, including Excalibur, Mary Reilly, The Sum of All Fears, Road to Perdition, The Phantom of the Opera, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Woman in Black, John Carter, Frozen, Game of Thrones, Justice League, First Man).

Although it’s not yet known when or if Season 4 will make it to Netflix, Season 4 is now available here via Amazon on Britbox.

Here is a brief trailer for Season 4–a Season 5 was in production this summer:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Once every 176 years a window opens whereby humans can send spacecraft in a trajectory that would include Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.  Scientists knew of this pathway for centuries and the time for this window was approaching as 1970 arrived.  To act, with achievements in rocketry, aeronautical science, and experience in space travel, decisions needed to made quickly.  When President Richard Nixon was told this–and that the last President who could have done this, Thomas Jefferson, missed his opportunity–Nixon authorized the creation of two spacecraft to make the journey at a cost of about $1 billion.  The result is considered by many scientists to be the greatest space mission ever devised by humans.  The information recorded on the grooves of the accompanying golden records will survive intact for at least a billion years, making ours the first generation to create something that will not only outlive us, but will outlive our star.

One of the highlights of the year from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and PBS that we previewed in January here at borg.com has arrived.  An excellent, and surprisingly poignant and even epic journey of exploration as exciting as any voyage you’ve ever read about or seen awaits you in PBS’s new documentary The Farthest–Voyager in Space.  You will be hard-pressed (and must be made of some substance not found on this planet) to watch this film and not find yourself joining the Voyager project members in shedding a tear or two as you follow along in the amazement and surprising emotion of the Voyager missions, their euphoric highs and nearly devastating lows.  Should it surprise us that scientists and retired scientists saw their mission as so personal and yet so global in scope, to get so emotional when discussing the Voyager probes 40 years since they left the Earth?  Individual experts in all aspects of science, from NASA engineers to imaging specialists, describe their creation in terms like they would a child sent off into the unknown, never to return, but that would keep sending postcards and messages home for decades to come.

The film’s journey chronicles benchmarks of the Voyager spacecrafts as the individual scientists who were there from conception of the idea in 1972 to the 1977 launch of the first ship, Voyager II–which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year–to its arrival at Jupiter and Saturn, to Voyager I’s arrival at Uranus and Neptune, to its emergence beyond the magnetic bubble that defines our solar system and entering interstellar space and beyond.   The probes were the first manmade objects to do many things, among them the first to observe volcanic activity outside of Earth, to discover moons which may contain life, and to leave our solar system.  The Voyager space records that humans have been so fascinated with since 1974 are explored in the film, too, as well as the afterparty attended by Chuck Berry, whose “Johnny B. Goode” continues its voyage into the unknown every day.  Standing in for Carl Sagan–who directed the creation of the two physical Voyager records (plus a few extras to keep for Earthlings) and their contents in less than six weeks–is his son Nick Sagan, whose greeting to possible alien life as a young boy was included on the records.

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It’s the latest sensation.  This generation’s Beanie Babies.  Like last year’s Pokémon Go, collectors just “gotta catch ’em all.”  And Funko, the toy company that makes them exclusively, has licensed seemingly any and every property on Earth for their POP! line of bobblehead dolls.  Almost.  Funko is always reaching for the next great franchise, the next cool character, the next thing for fanboys and fangirls to go nuts for.

Really.  They’ve secured the licenses for nearly everything.  Challenge us on that?  How about Tupac Shakur?  They made him into a vinyl POP! figure.  Michael Jackson?  Yep, in multiple outfits.  Invisible Bilbo Baggins.  The creature from Sharknado.  Duck Dynasty?  They made ’em.  How about 1970s Elvis?  Yep.  Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, The Muppets, and Game of Thrones?  Of course.  The Golden Girls?  Nah…. yep!  They made those, too.  Piglet from Winnie the Pooh and Butters from South Park.  The Elf on the Shelf?  The cast of Friends?  They’re just toying with us now.

       

But it doesn’t stop there.  There’s Bob’s Big Boy and Bob’s Burgers.  Parks and Recreation.  BBC’s Sherlock.  The cast from Lost.  Universal Monsters.  My Little Pony.  NFL football.  The Gilmore Girls.  The A-Team.  Pewdiepie from YouTube???  Gremlins.  The Walking Dead.  Power Rangers.  The Exorcist.  It goes on and on…

Is there no end to the properties that the Funko toy company will rematerialize into bobbleheads?  They’ve got Santa Claus, Homer Simpson, David Bowie in Labyrinth, Breaking Bad, and the kids from Twilight.  And the band members from Metallica.  Thankfully they don’t yet have The Twilight Zone or we’d have to witness a frightening POP! of Billy Mumy’s victim Dan as the jack-in-the-box from “It’s a Good Life.”  [[shudder]]

       

But this week’s release tops them all.  Truly there is now one Funko POP! to rule them all.  The real Top POP!  But who could it be?  Who is the big surprise?  Drumroll, please…. The One POP! to Rule Them All is…

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cernan-2017

Yesterday the last man to walk on the Moon, Apollo 17 commander Capt. Eugene Cernan, passed away at age 82.  Of the 24 men who visited the Moon and the 12 that walked on its surface Cernan leaves only six remaining men who actually walked on the Moon’s surface: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Alan Bean (Apollo 12), Dave Scott (Apollo 15), John Young (Apollo 16), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17).  A three-time space traveler, Cernan was the pilot on Apollo 10 and had previously flown on a Gemini mission.  He served as backup crew for Gemini 12, Apollo 7, and Apollo 14.

“Curiosity is the essence of human existence and exploration has been part of humankind for a long time.  The exploration of space, like the exploration of life, if you will, is a risk.  We’ve got to be willing to take it,”  Cernan said.  Cernan passed away on the annual day America observed the contributions of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and he, too, recently recounted a dream.  “I was just a young kid in America growing up with a dream.  Today what’s most important to me is my desire to inspire the passion in the hearts and minds of future generations of young men and women to see their own impossible dreams become a reality.”

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The best tribute to Cernan and his contemporaries is the continuing exploration and discovery missions of NASA, which will be the subject of several documentaries this year on PBS.  In particular, August will be a big month for space aficionados.

The documentary The Farthest will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voyager space program.  As discussed extensively previously here at borg.com, the Voyager probes continue their role as the farthest humans have stretched their technology into space.  The only objects to ever enter interstellar space are Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.  Voyager 2 was the first to launch forty years ago, on August 20, 1977.

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