Friday, August 12, 2022

British Boob-Tube Bits

• Production has begun on Season 5 of Strike (aka C.B. Strike), the moody BBC One series starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger, and based on novels written by J.K. Rowling under her pen name, Robert Galbraith. The latest episodes are adapted from Troubled Blood, Rowling’s fifth case for London private eye Cormoran Strike (played by Burke) and his secretary-turned-colleague, Robin Ellacott (Grainger). The Killing Times explains the new season’s story arc:
Strike is visiting his family in Cornwall when he’s approached by a woman asking for help finding her mother, Margot Bamborough, who went missing under mysterious circumstances in 1974.

Strike’s never tackled a cold case before, let alone one 40 years old, but despite the slim chance of success he’s intrigued and takes it on, adding to the long list of cases that he and his partner in the agency Robin Ellacott are currently working on. And Robin herself is also juggling a messy divorce and unwanted male attention, as well as battling her own feelings about Strike.

As Strike and Robin investigate Margot’s disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer and witnesses who cannot all be trusted. And they learn even cases 40 years old can prove to be deadly.
• This is hardly surprising news: The UK detective drama Grantchester will return for an eighth season on ITV-TV in Great Britain and PBS-TV’s Masterpiece series here in the States. “Filming has started,” reports Mystery Fanfare, “with Robson Green returning as [Detective Inspector] Geordie Keating and Tom Brittney as Reverend Will Davenport. The eighth season of Grantchester will range from Speedway to spies, exploring the lives of invisible women and the very visible problems caused by [former Anglican curate Leonard Finch’s] new vocation which may, once again, find him battling the law.” Expect the entirety of those plots to roll out sometime in 2023.

• But this is surprising: Plans for a sophomore season of ITV’s The Long Call, which debuted four fairly interesting episodes last year and was based on the first of Ann Cleeves’ two DI Matthew Venn novels, have been abandoned—at least for the time being. “ITV have now confirmed,” says TVZone, “that they have no plans for a second series of The Long Call. The series was stripped across one week in October [2021], and opened to an audience of over 6m, before falling to under 4m for the final episode.” This Devon-set program starred Ben Aldridge, Pearl Mackie, and Juliet Stevenson.

• As for that other Ann Cleeves-inspired crime drama … The seventh season of Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall as Jimmy Perez, a DI responsible for maintaining the peace (as best as possible) in Scotland’s far-north Shetland Islands, premiered this week in the UK. Six fresh episodes will appear, one per week, until mid-September. The first of those installments is recapped here. Henshall—who announced recently that he’s leaving the show—talked with The Killing Times about the Season 7 storyline, why he decided to seek employment elsewhere, and giving up Pérez’s wardrobe (“I chose not to keep the coat, though—I kind of figure I can never wear a pea coat again!”). Quite to my surprise, the Web site I Heart British TV says Shetland will go on without Henshall. No new lead actor has yet been identified, but an eighth season of the program is currently being planned.

• I confess, I struggled through Season 1 of Annika, Nicola Walker’s Alibi-TV series based on her long-running BBC Radio 4 drama, Annika Stranded. It definitely has its strengths: Walker’s Norwegian-descended protagonist, Detective Inspector Annika Strandhed of Scotland’s Glasgow Marine Homicide Unit, periodically displays a ripe cynical humor and unexpected insecurity about her leadership position, plus an unembarrassed erudition that causes others to shake their heads in confusion. She bears as much human depth as Detective Chief Inspector Cassie Stuart, the character Walker portrayed over four seasons of ITV’s Unforgotten, but appears rather less vulnerable to depressive pressures and psychological strain, which I’m glad to see. Additionally, I enjoy the maritime setting—different from most small-screen crime dramas. On the other hand, Annika’s relationship with her sexually experimenting teenage daughter, Morgan, quickly grew tedious in Season 1, with Morgan being fairly impenetrable as a character and neither mother nor daughter comfortable talking about their feelings. By the time the episodes were spent, I questioned whether watching more was worth my time. Nonetheless, I find I am in the minority with that viewpoint. Although the first season of Annika isn’t scheduled to debut on PBS’s Masterpiece until October 16, word is the show has already been renewed for a second season.

• Perhaps more promising—judging solely by its trailer—is ITV’s The Suspect. That four-part thriller stars Aidan Turner (And Then There Were None, Poldark) as Doctor Joe O’Loughlin, who, says The Killing Times, “appears to have a perfect life with a devoted wife, loving daughter, successful practice as a criminal psychologist, media profile and publishing deal. When a young woman is found dead he is only too willing to offer help with his profiling and expertise. But as the investigation into the woman’s death gathers pace, we start to ask, do we know the real Joe, or does he have a secret life?” The Suspect is adapted from Michael Robotham’s 2004 novel of that same time, and is supposed to premiere sometime this month across the pond; no American broadcast date has yet been released.

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