Winter Telly Takes Us Back in Time

The following is a guest post.

There’s a lot of drama coming Stateside in the New Year… telly drama that is. Whether it’s a returning favorite or a brand new series, 2013 is a great time to be of the Britophile persuasion. And though I sometimes feel a bit proprietary towards the shows I love, the rational side of me realizes that the more the American public expresses its appreciation for this sort of programming, the more access we’ll have to it. And according to the winter schedules, we really seem to appreciate period drama…

Downton Abbey: Series 3 – PBS, January 6 – February 17

In regards to the return of this cultural and ratings phenomenon, I’ll assume a couple of things. 1) If you’re a Downton fan worth your salt, you probably know more than I can tell you and 2) many of you have probably found an opportunity to watch this season already, one way or another. Suffice it to say, the melodrama of the Crawley family continues. As always, Lord Grantham and his clan will have financial concerns, O’Brien and Thomas will scheme (although not necessarily together), engagements will be made and broken, hard-fought justice will be won and lives will begin and sadly, end. With the recent news that Dan Stevens will not be returning for series 4, if you are a Matthew Crawley enthusiast, I recommend you appreciate his presence on screen even more than you might have done.

Ripper Street – BBC America, beginning January 19 at 9 pm

This new series transports us to 1889 London in the aftermath of the Ripper murders. Matthew MacFayden stars as DI Edmund Reid, the head of H division, the unit in charge of policing the dangerous, poverty stricken neighborhood of Whitechapel. DI Reid puts his faith in the latest crime solving methods and believes they will lead to the capture of the newest murderer in the neighborhood, a possible Ripper copycat. I like a well-done police procedural and I especially enjoyed the modern day Ripper-themed storyline of Whitechapel so I’m hoping Ripper Street, referred to as “CSI – Victorian London” by The Telegraph, is a winner.

Spies of Warsaw – BBC America, Winter 2013 (possibly February 6, 13)

Not a whole lot of info out there on this one yet; not even the air dates are clear. What I do know is that this two part espionage mini-series stars David Tennant as decorated war hero Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier who finds himself assigned to the French embassy in Warsaw as a military attaché in the years leading up to WWII. There’s romance, betrayal, abduction and intrigue. Did I mention David Tennant? I bet you can guess why I’ll be watching.

Call the Midwife: Series 2, PBS, March 31

Again not many details to be had on the new series of Call the Midwife except that Poplar’s favorite nuns and nurses will definitely be returning to our shores. According to PBS “viewers can expect to see more births, babies and bicycling, plus blossoming romance from an unexpected quarter.” Can I say right now that I reckon the blossoming romance will involve Sister Bernadette, the young, pretty nun who quietly pines for the life of the civilian midwives and also a certain widowed doctor? Unfortunately we’ll have to endure several long, cold months before we can return to Nonnatus House.

Mr. Selfridge – PBS, March 31

In an interesting juxtaposition of poverty and opulence, PBS immediately follows Midwife with a new offering about Harry Selfridge, the American entrepreneur and founder of the famous London department store. Jeremy Piven stars in the titular role as an innovative, flamboyant, manic pioneer of retail whose primary goal was to make shopping sexy for fashionable Edwardians. Though Piven is the headliner, and someone whose work I tend to avoid, this series is written by one of the kings of period drama (including the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice), Andrew Davies, so that makes it worth a peek in my book.

I’m sad to say new British comedy is not as prevalent as drama on American TV schedules, classic Britcoms on PBS aside. So next time I will be highlighting new comedies slated for broadcast in the UK in 2013. Until then, I wish you a Happy New Year and many hours of blissful telly viewing.
Carmen is an American wife and mother of two college students who live away from home. With her yellow lab Malcolm by her side, she watches and writes about British television for her own blog Everything I Know about the UK I Learned from the BBC. Read more of Carmen’s posts here.

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