PBS dramas

Opposite lives? Well, maybe not

There are roughly 3.7 zillion different routes to being an actor. At first glance, the stars of PBS’ new Alice & Jack” seem to have taken opposite ones.
For Domhnall Gleeson, 40, it looks quick and obvious. His dad, Brendan Gleeson, is a prominent actor, complete with an Oscar nomination (“The Banshees of Inisherin”), five Golden Globe nominations and a Harry Potter role, as Mad-Eye Moody.
And Andrea Riseborough, 42? Her parents were a car salesman and a secretary.
Now they trace 15 years of a sometimes-romance, in a six-parter that debuts at 10 p.m. Sunday (March 17), after the season-opener of “Call the Midwife” and the start of Helena Bonham Carter’s “Nolly.” But their careers aren’t as opposite as they seem. Read more…

Yes, PBS is fun: dramas, concerts, more

OK, we all know that PBS likes to educate. It’s the place to learn about French chefs, Russian czars and Roman aquaducts.
But it’s also a fun place.We’re reminded of that with a new batch of Sunday dramas (starting March 17) that includes Helena Bonham Carter (shown here) … a four-Friday slice of Broadway (starting May 10) … and music, from Willie Nelson to Elton John.
“Art has been at the heart of our work for more than 50 years,” Paula Kerger, the PBS president, told the Television Critics Associatiion. She means 50 years literally: Read more…

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…