PBS mysteries

This time, the actor and role merge neatly

Sure, we know that actors do make-believe.
Chances are, Tom Hanks has never piloted a space ship, Anthony Perkins hasn’t stabbed anyone, Anthony Hopkins hasn’t eaten anyone.
But in the rare times when an actor and a role merge neatly, the resultscan be fascinating. Meet Professor Jasper Tempest. “This character really, really fascinates me,” said Ben Miller (shown here), who plays him.
When “Professor T” begins its season (8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3, on PBS), it could be considered the start of the TV season. Two shows follow – “Unforgotten” at 9 p.m., “Van der Velk” at 10. Each has smart mysteries, at a time when strikes have silenced most scripted shows; “T” also has an intriguing blend of the main character and the actor who plays him. Read more…

Slow time for TV? Not if you like mysteries

Sure, the TV world is sputtering now. Summer line-ups are winding down; the fall ones are patchwork.
But let’s note an upside: This is a great time to watch mysteries.
A funny one (“Only Murders in the Building,” shown here) just started its season; a serious one (“Dark Winds”) began a week earlier. Another (“Justified: City Primeval”) is funny AND serious and violent..
Then there’s “The Lincoln Lawyer,” which just finished its split season. And “The Chelsea Detective,” which starts a new season on Aug. 28. Six days later, three shows – “Unforgiven,” “Professor T” and “Van der Valk” – all start their seasons on PBS. Read more…

A TV survivor ends a 26-season stay

The TV world has plenty of shows that vanish in an instant.
Paula Poundstone’s variety show lasted two episodes; the Osbournes’ variety show lasted one. Brian Bosworth and Glenn Frey had detective shows that each lasted one. “Turn-On” lasted one … but a Cleveland station dropped it after the first commercial break.
Given that, we should pause to admire “Endeavour” (shown here). When it ends its run (9-11 p.m. Sunday, July 2, on PBS), it will be part of a 26-season stretch. Read more…

PBS this summer: mysteries, music, more

As long as there’s a PBS, summertime viewers won’t be confined to reruns, reality and game shows.
The network will have new mystery episodes on Sundays this summer, including “Grantchester,” the final season of “Endeavour” (shown here) and two new arrivals. It will also have an opera, a symphony, a Little Richard profile and the annual 4th-of-July mega-concert.
Viewers looking for new, scripted shows in the summer often turn to cable or streaming networks, or to CW, which will have new “Nancy Drew” and “Riverdale” episodes through Aug. 23.
But the bigger broadcast networks have resisted. For instance: Read more…

Cheerful author creates grumpy, grouchy author

Alan Conway grumbles and grumps his way through the start of a new mystery mini-series. He’s an angry author, ensnared by success.
Conway is fictional, at the core of “Magpie Murder” (shown here),. which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 16) on PBS – surrounded by more-traditional mysteries: “Miss Scarlet and the Duke” (8 p.m.) is light and bright, “Annika” (10 p.m.) is darker, but both follow the usual pattern of solving a crime each week.
Not “Magpie.” It spends six episodes probing two murders – one of them nowadays, the other in Conway’s novel (set in the ‘50s), which is missing its final chapter. Read more…