What series was James Parker talking about when he said in the January/February 2013 issue of The Atlantic: “Preposterous as history, preposterous as drama, the show succeeds magnificently as bad television. The dialogue spins light-operatically along in the service of multiplying plotlets, not too hard on the ear, although now and again a line lands like a tray of dropped spoons. The acting is superb—it has to be.”
The one thing I’ve learned about television is that not everyone has to be (or can be) a fan. The highest-rated programs may be critically panned. Conversely, critics’ darlings can be cancelled due to low ratings. Even if the audience is there and reviews are excellent, there can easily be an outlier who finds the show lacking – and isn’t afraid to say so. Such was the case with the particular series reviewed above by “The Atlantic” contributing editor James Parker. A lovely bit of writing, most definitely, but a bit of a pan, it would seem.
So what TV show was Parker knocking? It was DOWNTON ABBEY, then in its third season. You can read the article – wonderfully titled “Brideshead Regurgitated” – and note to yourself that although Parker seems dismissive of the “aristo-soap” (as he calls it), he does seem to be a fan in the end.
Another week, another MIDSOMER MURDERS. This time, the episode in question (“Not In My Back Yard” Part One – in which members of the Midsomer Conservation Society are hunted by a mysterious killer) saw no less than nine special guest stars. Let’s get to them, shall we?
Peter Egan played retired accountant Norman Swanscombe. Going back to the late 1970s, Egan portrayed Oscar Wilde on Lillie, a Masterpiece Theatre presentation. In the 80s, he was Fothergill on Reilly: Ace Of Spies, Henry Simcox on Paradise Postponed, Magnus Pym on A Perfect Spy and David Braithwaite on Ever Decreasing Circles. There were some guest spots here and there (My Family, Grantchester, Inspector Lynley) but, more recently, Egan has been seen as Martin Hughes on Unforgotten and Hugh “Shrimpie” MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire on Downton Abbey. Continue reading →
What’s happening, what’s on and what’s interesting this week …
Twenty years ago, a woman sat on a jury ago that handed down the death penalty to a man convicted in a double homicide. Now, living with an unbearable feeling of guilt, she commits to tracking down her fellow jurors to tackle past demons. Tune in as POV presents LINDY LOU, JUROR NUMBER 2 – tonight at 10 on UNC-TV.
Back in the 1990s, UNC-TV revamped its on-air image. (Nothing out of the ordinary there – broadcast entities do this all the time.) The image consisted of a shadowbox-laden animation featuring various UNC-TV programming logos and objects, along with some North Carolina-themed material. There was a replica of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, the Wright Brothers flyer, Big Bird, Lamb Chop and references to Tar Heel staples like BBQ, basketball, dogwood and NASCAR. Maybe you remember the on-air image when it aired. If you’re a longtime UNC-TV viewer, I guarantee you saw it.
The photo above is of some of the artwork used to create this on-air image and of the finished product. It was framed and displayed within some staffer’s office, I guess. However, it recently made it’s way to a common area, where I snapped this picture.
“Now, look here, O’Reilly, I want my dining room door put back in and this other one taken away by one o’clock, do you understand? No, no, no, I don’t want to debate about it. If you’re not over here in 20 minutes with my door, I shall come over there and insert a large garden gnome in you. Good day.” – Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), talking to a contractor after discovering he’s botched a job, FAWLTY TOWERS (“The Builders”)
On Saturday night, MIDSOMER MURDERS wrapped up a two-parter (“The Noble Art”) in which the residents of Midsomer Morchard celebrated the success of a local boxer. Along the way, there were the usual shenanigans and a handful of guest stars (well, handful if you have six fingers) that UNC-TV viewers might have recognized from other shows. Let’s meet them, shall we?
Kevin McNally was avuncular manor owner Gerald Farquaharson. About ten years ago, he played Mr. Earnshaw on a Masterpiece adaptation of Wuthering Heights. Going back a few more decades, McNally was Drake Crane on the original run of Poldark and Castor on I, Claudius.
Daniela Denby-Ashe played Camilla Farquaharson. If you recognize the name, I guarantee it’s from one of two shows: Denby-Ashe was Sarah Hills on EastEnders and Janey Harper on the Britcom My Family.Continue reading →