Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Are You Watching? Summer Edition: Part One

It's been awhile since we've had a fun discussion on what everyone has been watching so I thought I would start it off with some of the shows I've gotten into lately. Not surprisingly, most of the series I've really enjoyed recently are brought to you by the BBC.

With most of my favorite shows on hiatus here in the states, like Boardwalk Empire, The Newsroom, Veep, Criminal Minds, Downton Abbey and Magic City, I veered towards some BBC original series and boy was I pleasantly surprised at what I found.

First, I was turned on to Sherlock by a couple of friends in the UK and once I found the first two seasons I fell in love with Benedict Cumberbatch and now I'm counting the days until the now very popular actor, wraps up Season 3 of the hit show.  (The latest is it will air in 2014) With only 3 episodes per season, which are over an hour long, each one is perfection from the acting, the scripts to the cinematography which manages to make you forget that this take on one of our most beloved literary characters takes place in modern day Europe. It offers everything that I had hoped the American version, Elementary fails to deliver. (Sorry to any Elementary fans out there!)

Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Sherlock and Martin Freeman who plays the incomparable, Watson in the BBC series.

Some of the best scenes are when the two first meet and become flat mates. Sherlock's digs are exactly how we had hoped they would be.

Watson gets his first glimpse of what he's in for.

If you're familiar with the comedic actor, Freeman's previous work like the original BBC series, The Office or The Robinson's you know you're going to get some laugh out loud moments when the two actors go at one another and match wits.

 Una Stubbs plays their landlady, Mrs. Hudson and she is delightful in all of her scatterbrained but motherly glory.

 Sherlock, using that brilliant mind to solve cases with modern day gadgets. 

He's so eccentric and clever. I have to say it again that this series is one of the most brilliant shows of the last decade. Well done, BBC!

The modern day Sherlock has it's fair share of intriguing villains for our detective to play cat and mouse with.

My favorite episode of the first two seasons is The Hounds of Baskerville (S2, Ep2)

The mastermind at work!

While I'm on the Benedict love train, I also caught the mini series, Parade's End which originally aired on the BBC in 2012 and starred the talented actor. If you're a fan of Ford Madox Ford's books then you won't be disappointed in this adaptation of my favorite from his stellar repartee. Visually they've outdone themselves and the casting was brilliant. As you weave your way through the five episodes in the series you cheer for Christopher Tietjens while knowing his journey is often heartbreaking and surreal.

 The aristocrats of Old England, holding on to their lavish lifestyles during The Great War.

 Rebecca Hall plays the vindictive, cruel wife, Sylvia Tietjens in the five part series. While often deplorable, she fills the harlot shoes perfectly and she looks gorgeous while doing so. 

 Our feisty little suffragette,  Valentine Wannop is played by Adelaide Clemons.

 A very blonde, Benedict Cumberbatch, steals our hearts as Christopher Tietjens.

 The costumes and sets are worth mentioning.

 Rupert Everett is delightful as the supportive and insightful older brother, Mark Tietjens.

 For our horse lovers, like Lindsay. 

 The most insincere and dangerous smile in England.

 Tietjens comrades are so The Three Stooges that we are given a few great laughs in the series.

 So many quirks that make the lead even more endearing.

 The scenes between the brothers are some of my favorites.

 So troubled! That wife of his. She would have put lesser men in their graves.

 For the ladies!

 If you're not a fan of tragic love stories there are plenty of scenes that depict the tragedies and struggles of wartime, England.

 We also get a lot of Sylvia's smarmy and inept suitors.

 She may look like a lady but she is no lady!

 I screen grabbed this one because I have two of those identical jars on my dresser. Too bad I don't have those long red locks and yards of lace to wrap my body in at night. ha ha

 Cumberbatch reporting for duty and looking quite handsome in his uniform. 

 Stealing scenes with just one expression.

 Lots of fur and attitude for days!

 We're taken back to 1912. 

 Such sweetness and I love that sweater!

Then back to Sylvia to remind us that money and breeding doesn't always buy happiness, morals or even a proper steam iron.

I didn't want to give too much away here in case you have been inspired to watch either Sherlock or Parade's End.

Have you seen either of the two series? If so I can't wait to get your thoughts on them or anything that comes to mind after reading, please discuss in comments. What have you been watching this summer? 

In Part Two, I'll be featuring more brilliant shows from the BBC like Ripper Street, the sequel, Upstairs, Downstairs and Call the Midwife. 

Until then, thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. I'm afraid I don't watch much TV outside of TCM, though Rebecca Hall looks mighty nice in that little costume drama.

    I've taken in a bunch of outdoor movies once again this summer. I think I mentioned to you on Twitter that I saw 'Gold Diggers of 1933' for the first time, at an outdoor venue. I liked that movie a lot. Just last week I asaw Billy Wilder's 'A Foreign Affair,' also for the first time, in midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park.

    Plus, I saw 'Dracula' with a live score by Philip Glass and his orchestra, in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. That was special. I had never seen a 'talkie' with a live score before, but they made it work.

    1. Wow, Rich, you've been getting around and I mean that in a good way! I knew you were excited about getting to see Gold Diggers but I didn't know that you lucked into seeing A Foreign Affair at such an interesting venue. And while I'm jealous of both viewings, getting to see Dracula with a live musical score and at Prospect Park no less. I'm not mad at ya but here I sit content to have caught up on some BBC shows when you're up there livin the high life. : ( ha ha

      Thanks so much for sharing. I've been absent lately but hoping to get caught up with all of you and back in the swing of things. I certainly miss talking old cinema.

  2. My sisters recently returned my "Sherlock" DVDs. I told them to take their time and savour the series because we weren't getting a new episode until 2014, but did they listen? Did they? They did not.

    I will certainly check out "Parade's End". A WWI story will always find a place with me.

    "The Dick Van Dyke Show" has been a priority in our house this summer since buying the complete series (there was a sale!). My husband will think of an episode and we'll drag our daughter to the television. She's developed a thing for Alan Brady!

    Will you be surprised to learn that I've been watching Charlie Chan flicks by closing my eyes and reaching for a DVD?

    1. Hi, CW! : )

      Your daughter having a thing for Alan Brady is just too cute!

      You know, I loaded the first two seasons of Sherlock on my moms laptop for her to watch while she was recuperating from her recent heart surgery and so far she hasn't started watching him but every time we talk on the phone I try to get her to start watching since I know she will love the series. As you know she's a big Chan fan so it should be right up her alley. She also loved the original Sherlock but we all do! ha ha And I would be more surprised if you didn't tell me that you were re-watching the love of your life, Charlie Chan. : )

      I'm using some of my 3 day weekend to catch up on other blogs so expect to see me over at your place. Anxious to see what you and the rest of our little family has been up to.

  3. I love the BBC! I don't have cable right now, so I haven't seen the ones you discuss, but at the end you mention two that I have been watching on Netflix, and I'm in LOVE with them -- Ripper Street and Call the Midwife. I can't stop watching them! I'll have to keep my eye out for Sherlock and Parade's End now! Fun article, Page!

    1. Hi there, Becks! : )
      I'm so excited to hear that you love Ripper Street and Call the Midwife. I knew you had great taste! ha ha

      I'm not sure how you would find Parade's End since it was a mini series but I would imagine Sherlock is on Netflix.

      We need to catch up so I'll email ya today. I've got a 3 day weekend finally so I plan to get caught up on reading blogs and my emails.

  4. Here the only series that is not on summer hiatus is New Girl.
    Speaking of Sherlock, I've just finished reading both A study in scarlet and The hound of the Baskervilles. Now I'm crazy to watch the film adaptations of theses stories made in the 1930s. Yet, I think I won't have time to do it until September.
    Besides being in the Summer Under the Stars mood and taking notes of some of the movies on American TCM that I want to watch, I'll also enjoy August to watch some Lillian Gish films that have escaped me.

    1. Hey, Le!
      It sounds like you've got a pretty busy movie schedule over there. You can never go wrong with Lillian Gish films, especially with the Blogathon coming up. I plan to participate but I just don't know yet if I'll be writing a bio on the sisters or doing a movie review. Guess I better decide soon.

      Thanks for being such a constant here with your great comments. I'm always thrilled to see you've stopped by. : )

  5. I've never seen "Sherlock" and I guess I should remedy that. I did catch a scene or two of, I think, the "Scandal in Bohemia" episode, and didn't care for what I saw, but I'll give the show another go. My library has them for rental. I do enjoy "Elementary" though, about one of two network shows I enjoy.

    But then I enjoy Monogram movies, so what do I know. Hope you are well, Page.

    1. Hiya, Kev!

      Hmmm, it's funny that you caught bits of Scandal in Bohemia since that was my least favorite epi of the 1st two seasons of Sherlock.

      Since you're willing to give it another try, I will give Elementary a try as well. Perhaps I'll go back and start with the series if I can find the first season. : )

      Now that things are getting back to normal here, well as normal as they can be, I can't wait to catch up on what you've been writing about.

      My ugly spider bite has finally healed and I've been doing okay so thanks so much for asking.
      See ya soon!

  6. Thanks for bringing up this subject Page. I agree that Parade's End is a remarkable series - I liked it better than Downton Abbey. One off-beat show I watched was "Damages" with Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, in its final season also starring Ryan Philippe. I had started watching it when it first came out on FX. The Cable station dropped it and Direct TV picked it up. I didn;t have access so I finally caught up with the series conclusion in Season 5 on DVD. It's a tense psychological legal-based drama, originally based on a Madoff-type situation. I won't say more but I recommend it.

    1. Christian,
      I'm such an impatient person that I usually watch a series post season so that I can watch the entire season all at once within 3 days. You'll be happy to know that I watched all of the seasons of Damages and Homeland during the holidays. I loved both and I honestly had no interest in Damages until it started winning awards. That piqued my interest and I was so glad that I was able to get a hold of every season. WOW! Close was amazing and I agree that the Philippe epis were fantastic. What an amazing villain, Close makes but then again we all knew that.

      You're the only one who has stopped by to admit they've seen Parade's End so far Christian. I'm pleased that you liked it so much.

      I'll feature some other BBC shows in my next installment then of course a couple cable shows I'm currently watching. I'm really into Ray Donovan right now with Jon Voight and Liev Schreiber which airs on Showtime.

      See ya soon, Christian! : )

  7. Fun post, and it looks like you are enjoying your summer. Let's see ... ever since our vacation we've been watching International House Hunters (my better half is a part-time real estate agent). If the episode takes place in Europe, we watch it :) We've also been on a Hitchcock kick the past few weeks for our Sunday night movie of the week. Last week we saw "The Book of Mormon" in Chicago, which was fantastic.

    1. CFB,
      I can't fault your wife for watching International House Hunters since I record a lot of the shows on HGTV and TTC. I don't care for the US version but I do love the International one. I used to watch the original Cash In the Attic, UK version religiously. I even had a silly crush on Allistair. ha ha

      It sounds like you had a great time in Chicago. I love that city. The first time I saw Phantom of the Opera and La Cage a Follies was on a very spontaneous trip there during a blizzard.

      Always great to see you here, Brian. So glad you and the family are having a great summer.

  8. I really like Benedict Cumberbatch as an actor. He really can enliven a scene with just his acting alone and is one of the reasons why I really liked watching War Horse. I sadly haven't watched Sherlock or Parade's End as I'm both trying to read the books first and I have no time left. However, I'm watching some films that are on my to watch list, known as Shame List! I just watched The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Ladykillers (1955), 3:10 To Yuma (1957), Father Of The Bride (1950) and The War Room. I'll write about them on Matt's Musings soon. Have a great summer!

    1. Hey, Matt!

      Good to see another BC fan! : )

      I so appreciate your book list given that I've never read any of Doyle's work. I have read two of Ford's novels though.

      Thanks for sharing your viewing list with the rest of us. 3:10 to Yuma stuck out to me. Did you see the remake? While I enjoyed both you can't beat the original.

      Thanks again, Matt for stopping by and for joining in on the conversation. : )
      I'll be sure to check out your reviews on the mentioned classic films.