Who knew? Few could have foreseen the enduring success of Doctor Who given its inauspicious origins a half-century ago — a fascinating story of pluck, luck and imagination delightfully rendered in An Adventure in Space and Time, a new TV movie (Friday, 9/8c) airing as part of BBC America's 50th-anniversary Who celebration this weekend.
You don't have to be a Whovian to appreciate this jaunty re-creation of a simpler, scrappier time in TV history. A "year-ometer" (cute touch) dials back to 1963, when the staid BBC's brash new head of drama, Canadian showman Sydney Newman (a marvelously uncouth Brian Cox), greenlights a new sci-fi serial to appeal to kids and fickle sports fans. With a miniscule budget, an overheated "broom cupboard" of a studio and an edict of "no tin robots or BEM (bug-eyed monsters)," Newman appoints an unorthodox team to realize his vision: Verity Lambert (Call the Midwife's Jessica Raine), an ambitious pioneering female producer, and Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan), a novice Indian director.
Remakes (House of Cards) and reboots (Arrested Development) are one way to go when establishing a brand — let's just forget about the atrocious Hemlock Grove for now — but with Orange Is the New Black, Netflix finally achieves its eureka moment with a terrifically entertaining piece of original programming that's truly and bracingly original.
The setting, an upstate New York women's prison, isn't all that new, but Orange — adapted by Weeds' Jenji Kohan from a memoir by Piper Kerman — makes it fresh by mining a deep vein of absurdist humor with an unexpectedly generous empathy for the outrageous characters its overwhelmed heroine encounters in her nightmare odyssey behind bars. When anxious Piper Chapman (a wryly understated and immediately sympathetic Taylor Schilling) is being processed to start her 15-month sentence, she's assured this isn't OZ — and it also isn't Chained (or Caged) Heat. This show is much cooler than that.
A chill wind blows onto your TV screen as summer beckons, with one last ghoulish chapter in the artful and macabre saga of NBC's Hannibal, Bryan Fuller's deliciously suspenseful and deeply unsettling twist on the Thomas Harris franchise. If we weren't in a boom time for quality drama featuring such an array of complex, morally ambiguous and compellingly portrayed male leads, the performances of Hugh Dancy as the psychologically broken profiler-for-the-FBI Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as his mentor/secret tormentor Hannibal Lecter would be slam-dunk Emmy bait.
Death suits Dan Stevens.
After being killed off Downton Abbey, the 30-year-old British actor has lost 30 pounds. But don't worry...
The 90s really are back!
Will Smith turned his appearance on The Graham Norton Show earlier this week into a full-on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion.