Category: British TV
Midsomer Murders: Barnaby's Top 10
John Nettles presents some of his favorite episodes
As seen on A&E and the Biography Channel
WHAT EVIL LURKS BEYOND THE WELL-TRIMMED HEDGES OF MIDSOMER…
And what secrets lurk behind the scenes of the blockbuster British mystery series. John Nettles, who stars as the unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby, presents his 10 favorite mysteries from the program’s first six series. The affable Nettles introduces the cases with witty and revealing anecdotes about the show’s production as he relates why each holds a special place in his heart.
THE TOP TEN
How It All Began: The Killings at Badger's Drift (1998)
Favorite Story Line: Blue Herrings (2003)
Favorite Leading Lady: A Worm in the Bud (2002)
Best Location: Dark Autumn (1998)
Funniest Moments: Dead Man's Eleven (1999)
Most Intriguing Crime: Death of a Hollow Man (1998)
Most Difficult to Film: Electric Vendetta (1998)
Most Dramatic Episode: Murder on St. Malley’s Day (2004)
Most Bizarre Episode: Talent for Life (2003)
Favorite Episode: Strangler’s Wood (1998)
New Tricks Season One 2003-2004
Starring: Amanda Redman, James Bolam
The premise of New Tricks is irresistible: A career-driven British detective hits a career speedbump and is put in charge of a new cold-case division that she thinks is way out of the spotlight. And if that isn't bad enough, she must build a staff from a raggedy crew of retired cops with loads of time on their hands--as well as, it turns out, some pretty great detective skills they're dying to use again.Supervising the oddball group is the former hotshot Det. Supt. Sandra Pullman (played by Amanda Redman with refreshing world-weariness that gives homage to Helen Mirren's great performance in Prime Suspect), who feels sidelined, and thus frustrated, in this latest assignment. Yet the viewer knows Pullman is perfectionist enough to give this Siberia gig her all, even if her work methods differ wildly from those on her team... (A.T. Hurley)
39 Steps 2008
Starring: Rupert Penry-Jones, Lydia Leonard
BBC's new adaptation of John Buchan's thriller is the best ever! Richard Hannay (Rupert Penry-Jones) finds himself framed for a murder he didn't commit. Now he has to break a ruthless German espionage network to prove his innocence and, more importantly and patriotically, warn the admiralty that its plans have fallen to the enemy. Full of excitement, danger, fun and romance, The 39 Steps is a remarkable tale of an ordinary man who puts his country's interests before his own safety. BBC
As Time Goes By: You Must Remember This 2003
Starring: Judi Dench, Geoffrey Palmer
For the first time in ages, Jean (Judi Dench) and Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer) have the house to themselves, which spurs them to look back at nine years of love and laughter. Flashbacks of meetings, partings, comedy and romance are all beautifully woven into a poignant tapestry of memories. Join Jean and Lionel as they remember the best of As Time Goes Byin this exclusive special. BBC Warner
“A Needle Sharp Thriller”
Starring: Bill Paterson, Lindsay Duncan
Like The Singing Detective, Alastair Reid's award-winning 1989 British miniseries (broadcast in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theatre) has taken on mythic status. The critical and box-office success of Steven Soderbergh's Oscar®-winning feature-film adaptation paved the way for Traffik's home-video release, and it's an even more gripping and devastating experience. This is understandable in that it unfolds over five riveting hours, allowing for richer characterization. Traffik also operates on a broader canvas, as the interlocking stories play out in such far-flung locales as London and Hamburg, Germany, as well as Pakistan, a reminder that the war on drugs--in this case, heroin--is a global one. Comparisons between the miniseries and the movie are inevitable, and in the role played by Michael Douglas, Bill Paterson (perhaps best known as the lovelorn disc jockey in Comfort and Joy) makes a more convincing bureaucratic Everyman trying to hash out a financial-aid agreement with Pakistan that would eradicate the impoverished farmers' precious poppy crop. His world is shattered when his own daughter (Julia Ormond in her heartbreaking screen debut) becomes an addict. Lindsay Duncan is even more chilling than Catherine Zeta-Jones as Helen, a "housewife" who takes over her husband's smuggling operation when he is arrested. Aware of his illicit activities, she vows, "I'm not going to let go of everything we fought for." In the Don Cheadle role is Fritz Müller-Scherz as Ulli, a crafty and relentless German detective on Helen's case. One tragic story line unique to the miniseries concerns Fazal (Jamal Shah), an impoverished Pakistani farmer who finds work with Tariq Butt (Tallat Hussain), a major drug trafficker. This is one of television's finest hours (or five), and it's impossible not to get caught up in it. --Donald Liebenson
Pie in the Sky Series 1 1994
Starring: Richard Griffith, Maggie Steed
Perfecting a recipe is like solving a crime, suggests Pie in the Sky, the clever British mystery series featuring sleuth-turned-chef Henry Crabbe (Richard Griffiths, The History Boys). After being shot by a notorious embezzler, Crabbe tried to retire from the police force so he could open a restaurant--but his weaselly superior officer, ACC Fisher (Malcolm Sinclair) blackmails him into remaining a detective. Thus begins Crabbe’s dual career, which of course proves handy as mysteries feature everything from omelets to edible snails. He’s assisted at the restaurant by his wife, Margaret (Maggie Steed, Sensitive Skin), despite her maddening indifference to food; he’s assisted in his investigations by DS Cambridge (Bella Enahoro), who works for Fisher but whose sympathies lie with Crabbe.
Pie in the Sky has an excellent balance of suspense and humor, exemplified by the very first episode’s opening: The snappy banter of policemen on a stake-out turns abruptly taut when a car careens into their territory, then segues into an elegant and almost eery face-off between Crabbe and the embezzler (played with crisp malice by Michael Kitchen, Foyle’s War). Some later episodes are more conventional, but odd narrative turns are a staple of the series (in one episode, it turns out a crime was never committed in the first place!). Griffiths is probably best know as Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series, but others know him as lecherous Uncle Monty in Withnail and I--which only demonstrates this superb actor’s remarkable range. His approach to Crabbe is almost gentle, yet with a decisive, cunning undercurrent. The ten episodes of Pie in the Sky: Series 1 unfold like a well-made meal: Unexpected yet delightful flavors are revealed with each bite. --Bret Fetzer
Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin 1976
Starring: Leonard Rossiter, Pauline Yates
Opening with a naked Reggie running into the sea, this groundbreaking BBC comedy series tells the story of a man desperate to escape his daily monotony. Adapted by David Nobbs from his darkly-comedic novel, and powered by the unique performance of Leonard Rossiter, this brilliant satire had the world “cracking up” over one man’s nervous breakdown.
Reginald Perrin (Rossiter) has a respectable career at Sunshine Desserts, a happy marriage and two less than satisfactory children. But the pressures of the rat race are beginning to push Reggie over the edge. The mere mention of his mother-in-law conjures the image of a hippopotamus, the word ‘earwig’ keeps creeping into his conversations, and his thoughts are repeatedly interrupted by outrageous fantasies involving his secretary – what’s an overstressed food firm executive to do?
INCLUDES ALL 3 SEASONS (21 EPISODES) PLUS:
“The Very Best of Leonard Rossiter” – the ultimate film review of the acclaimed actor including unforgettable highlights, archival interviews with Rossiter and first-hand reflections from four of his Reginald Perrin co-stars.
“Reginald Perrin Christmas Special Sketch” – the long-lost sketch, which reunited the cast three years after the completion of the series; originally broadcast as part of BBC’s 1982 “The Funny Side of Christmas” special. (BBC)
"A loveable rascal with a heart of gold"
My Uncle Silas, Series One 2000
Starring: Albert Finney, Sue Johnson
Based on the stories by H.E. Bates (The Darling Buds of May)
A loveable rascal with a heart of gold
Five-time Oscar® nominated actor Albert Finney (Erin Brockovich, The Bourne Ultimatum) brings to life the loveable Uncle Silas, a charming old rascal whose love of alcohol and women make him a bad influence on his 10-year-old nephew Edward, who has come to the country to spend the summer with him.
Together, Silas and Edward recognize the sophistication of Victorian-era England... and then set out to ignore it and have fun. Sure, the old ladies huff and sneer, but that is because they don t know what Edward knows: that the uncouth Silas is a diamond in the rough with a heart of gold. (Granada)
Based on K.M. Peyton's award winning trilogy of novels, in thirteen episodes as seen on Masterpiece Theater.
Starring: Edward Judd, Steven Grives
Based upon the books by K.M. Peyton, this British miniseries enjoyed a healthy run stateside on PBS and the A&E cable network. When the orphan Christina is sent to live with her uncle just after the turn of the 20th century, she learns about the class struggle, the meaning of "family," and the trials and tribulations of true love -- the latter lesson taught by none other than her cousin, whom she marries. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide
Sensitive Skin, Season 1 & 2 2008
Starring: Joanna Lumley, Denis Lawson
Weathered but luminous, Joanna Lumley (Absolutely Fabulous) glows in Sensitive Skin, a lovely comedy-drama from the BBC. Davina Jackson (Lumley), a 61 year-old wife, mother, and art-gallery assistant, has begun hallucinating imaginary friends and the personification of her frustration. Her husband Al (Denis Lawson, Bleak House) is a bundle of neuroses, while her son Orlando (a brilliant turn by James Lance) is 30 but behaves as if he's barely 13. Over the course of 12 half-hour episodes (six per season), Davina, Al, Orlando, and their friends and family reveal--sometimes with rueful melancholy, sometimes with acidic humor--that getting older doesn't mean getting wiser. Al struggles to be more assertive and just becomes obnoxious; Davina has an affair with a younger man prone to make archeological double-entendres; and their brother-in-law Roger (Nicholas Jones) surrenders his profitable career in finance to become an artist--just as he falls under suspicion of embezzlement. None of the episodes are plot-oriented, yet they move along briskly, driven by elegant, razor-sharp writing and skillful performances from the central cast and superb guest performers like David Warner, Frances de la Tour, Jonathan Miller, Patrick Malahide, and Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), among others. After the first season there's a dramatic turn; the series loses its footing slightly for a couple of episodes after that, but then unveils the strongest work of the series. Fans of Dennis Potter (The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven) should definitely see Sensitive Skin. Lumley is simply wonderful, ranging from arch comedy to heartbreaking sadness with subtle and fluid confidence. Sensitive Skin is a gem. --Bret Fetzer
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