Review: ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ Are Not Equals After All

Things are far from over between the Gentleman and Mr. Norrell. And there’s growing tension over … books!

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Photo of Eddie Marsan and Marc Warren
Things aren’t over between Mr. Norrell (Eddie Marsan) and the Gentleman (Marc Warren). Photo: Matt Squire/BBC America

Lady Pole (Alice Englert) is quite alive after Mr. Norrell (Eddie Marsan) resurrected her last week, but she’s not enjoying her new life. After some initial excitement about dancing, she’s shut inside her own house because Sir Walter (Samuel West) and everyone else believe her to be mad. In actuality, she spends her nights dancing in the fairy world with the Gentleman. Stephen Black (Ariyon Bakare), a servant, is also under the same enchantment. It’s not clear yet how the Gentleman intends to make Stephen a king. Neither one is able to tell anyone the truth, but hopefully Norrell or Strange can figure out Lady Pole’s nonsense (which may eventually shift into solvable riddles). Continue reading “Review: ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ Are Not Equals After All”

Cromwell is the ‘Master of Phantoms’ in a Rousing ‘Wolf Hall’ Finale

Director Peter Kosminsky enjoys bringing viewers in and out of Cromwell’s head… It’s an upheaval of the mind that mirrors the unpredictability of the circumstances in which Cromwell finds himself.

This review contains major spoilers. Proceed with caution!

“Wolf Hall” finally drew to a close on PBS this weekend with “Master of Phantoms.” It’s 1536 and Thomas Cromwell is set on freeing Henry VIII (Damian Lewis) from Anne Boleyn, bringing a set of rousing portrayals by Mark Rylance and Claire Foy. I’ve taken issue before with Claire Foy’s scenes; but in this installment, she was very compelling as the now spurned queen. Momentum has been building in previous episodes: ultimately pointing to Cromwell’s mission to seek vengeance against Cardinal Wolsey’s (Jonathan Pryce) enemies.

Mark Rylance makes a strong finish as Thomas Cromwell. Photo: BBC
Mark Rylance makes a strong finish as Thomas Cromwell. Photo: BBC

The clash of the Cromwell and Anne is captured from the start in a daymare, in which a feast is laid out. Cromwell looks on wide-eyed as Anne’s body is pulled across the table towards him. It’s quite disturbing yet artfully done, as Anne’s gaze finally hits our own directly through the frame. The dark tone continues on, as Cromwell comes back to himself and the luncheon at his home. Director Peter Kosminsky enjoys bringing viewers in and out of Cromwell’s head, throwing a seemingly mundane moment (e.g. a dinner, looking out of a window) into something absolutely bizarre, hilarious, or horrifying all at once. It’s an upheaval of the mind that mirrors the unpredictability of the circumstances in which Cromwell finds himself. Continue reading “Cromwell is the ‘Master of Phantoms’ in a Rousing ‘Wolf Hall’ Finale”

Season 2 of ‘Broadchurch’ Makes DVD Release: Is it Worth a Go?

Season two differs markedly and disappointingly from the first, but hang on for the finale if you can.

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

In case you missed the news, the second season of “Broadchurch” is now available on DVD. Is it worth adding to your collection of UK television shows? Season one set the bar rather high in terms of viewer expectations. The success of the program spawned the American version, “Gracepoint,” with David Tennant in the lead role again: a venture that sank miserably to a dead last on the nights that episodes aired. Everyone hoped that at least season 2 of “Broadchurch” would set things right. Continue reading “Season 2 of ‘Broadchurch’ Makes DVD Release: Is it Worth a Go?”

Cromwell’s Situation Appears Uncertain in “Wolf Hall” with Looming “Crows”

In the end, it’s the king who is the most dangerous figure. Make your move Cromwell, before it’s too late.

Caution: This post contains spoilers from the fifth episode of “Wolf Hall.”

Damian Lewis as Henry VIII. Photograph: Giles Keyte/BBC/Company Productions Ltd
Damian Lewis as Henry VIII. Photograph: Giles Keyte/BBC/Company Productions Ltd

This coming Sunday, Masterpiece on PBS will air the final chapter of “Wolf Hall.” Take the opportunity to catch up before the big finale. The fifth installment of “Wolf Hall” from last weekend is aptly named “Crows” with a marked change in Thomas Cromwell’s (Mark Rylance) circumstances. He’s always had a few adversaries to contend with but this time they are gaining ground. It’s the first time in a while that the Machiavellian administrator is scrambling on a defensive position, rather than calling the shots. Continue reading “Cromwell’s Situation Appears Uncertain in “Wolf Hall” with Looming “Crows””

Review: Mr. Kaplan Returns on ‘The Blacklist’ While Liz Looks for ‘Leonard Caul’

Liz Keen handles big decisions while Reddington fights for his life. Photo: NBC
Liz Keen (Megan Boone) handles big decisions while Reddington (James Spader) fights for his life. Photo: NBC

Caution: This review contains spoilers on “The Blacklist.”

The typically unscathed Raymond Reddington (James Spader) took a bullet to the chest in last week’s cliffhanger of “The Blacklist.” His death would mean the end of the show, but with the news of a third season, that outcome seemed unlikely. there was still plenty of suspense to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Agent Keen’s call for help is interrupted by Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), who gets her to dial *77. Their rescuer is none other than Mr. Kaplan, who is usually dispensed by Red to take away the dead bodies. In this case, she is at hand to gather the medical team at an empty warehouse. There’s also a sequence with a creepy fellow who has been keeping surveillance on Reddington, Liz, and Tom. Continue reading “Review: Mr. Kaplan Returns on ‘The Blacklist’ While Liz Looks for ‘Leonard Caul’”

Season 2 of Showtime’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ Streams on Youtube Early

Caution: This post contains spoilers on the second season premiere of “Penny Dreadful.”

If you haven’t watched “Penny Dreadful” yet, now would be the perfect time to tune in and catch up. The series focuses on the supernatural talents of Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), as she works with others to combat threats in Victorian London. It has a level of action and intrigue that “The League of Extraordinary Gentleman” or “LXG” should have striven for in its 2003 theatrical release. Continue reading “Season 2 of Showtime’s ‘Penny Dreadful’ Streams on Youtube Early”

TV Review: Polar Bear Gives Answers in ‘Fortitude’

Caution: This review contains major spoilers on the eighth episode of “Fortitude.”

DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci) peers in a window in
DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci) peers in a window in “Fortitude.” Photo: Sky/Tiger Aspect Productions

If you haven’t watched the new Arctic thriller “Fortitude,” you are missing an amazing and riveting series. Unfortunately, it’s not a program that airs on cable television in the United States, but rather through the millennial-targeted distributor Pivot TV or through streaming afterwards on the Xfinity service. UK viewers can watch on Sky Atlantic. I’d mentioned “Fortitude” before its premiere in an earlier post and it’s a relief that the series delivers the quality that the previews appeared to promise. It traces a series of murder investigations by outsider DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci) in the town of Fortitude, which hasn’t been hit by any murders before. As we might expect, the supposedly quaint but freezing locale is rife with secrets. Continue reading “TV Review: Polar Bear Gives Answers in ‘Fortitude’”