PBS dramas

From London confinement to coastal splendor

Louisa Binder’s life did an instant, 180-degree flip.
This was pandemic time, when London was finishing its third lockdown. “I had been stuck in my flat, by myself,” she recalled.
Then came the news: She had a lead role as Constance (shown here) in “Hotel Portofino,” the lush period-piece drama. Soon, she was going from urban confinement to splendor on the Croatian coast.
“It was breathtaking,” Binder said. “I get off the plane and it’s sunny and the sea is turquoise.” This was the proper way to start a professional acting career.
Now the actors have filmed three six-episode seasons. The second one starts at 8 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 15) on PBS, juggling moments that are brash soap opera and serious historical drama. Read more…

A tattered season coming? Not on PBS

The face on the screen was familiar and re-assuring.
Yes, this may be the TV season people dread, with two strikes and an overload of reality shows. But there was Ken Burns, via Zoom, reminding us that PBS is as strong as ever.
Burns has been making prize-winning documentaries for four decades.. All of them, he said, came with “no marketing decisions, no focus panels, … just whatever lands in our hearts or our guts.”
Coming next (Oct. 16-17) is a portrait of the Amrican buffalo (shown here). The first half, he admits, is “incredibly difficult to watch.” Still, both halves are richly crafted and deeply moving.
That provides a neat consolation: As awful as this TV season may be, PBS seems to be in fine shape. Here’s an updated look at what’s coming, with details through October and a few glimpses ahead: Read more…

“Downton” movie heads to TV — twice

PBS has some good news for fans of dramas that are large, lush and (of course) British.
The movie version of “Downton Abbey” (shown here) will air twice – on Christmas Day and on Jan. 2. It will be alongside two other favorites (“Call the Midwife” and “All Creatures Great and Small”) and something new – David Tennant in an eight-part mini-series, “Around the World in 80 Days.” Read more…

PBS dramas: “Grantchester” soon, “Sanditon” later

For fans of the lush “Sanditon” series (shown hee), PBS has semi-encouaging news:
It will be back … well, sometime. And probably in 2022.
“They are just about three weeks into filming now,” Susanne Simpson, the “Masterpiece” producer, told the Television Critics Association. “But you will see ‘Sanditon’ next year.”
Based on a novel that Jane Austen had barely started, the show created a seaside world filled with schemes, ambition and romance. It drew mildly favorable reviews from critics and strongly favorable comments from viewers … but the British company that created it decided against a second season. Read more…

TV this fall? PBS plans music, drama, zombies

As TV networks’ fall plans sputter, there’s a counterpoint:
PBS still has big plans for the season. That includes concerts (including Lea Salonga, shown here), dramas, politics, nature and whimsy.
Well, not a lot of whimsy. (This is PBS, after all.) But it will air “History of Zombies” on the eve of Halloween and visit “Santa’s Wild Home” before Christmas; it will also have a jazz tribute to “Sesame Street,” visit tropical islands and board the queen’s plane. Read more…