Masterpiece

A sex-symbol, crime-solving vicar? It's a new world for PBS


You really don't expect many sex symbols on PBS' "Masterpiece." The "Downton Abbey" guys kept their shirts on ... and their undershirts ... and their topcoats ... and ...

But now comes "Grantchester," opening its season on Easter Sunday. It has a hot young hunk, plus an older hunk and some pretty good mysteries. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

"Downton" starts its long and stately farewell;


Life, you may have noticed, is not fair. Good shows depart quickly; "Alice" and "Facts of Life" seemed to go on forever. And now "Downton Abbey" is starting its final season on Sunday (Jan. 3) ... three days before "American Idol" doies the same.

These are shows that helped transform their networks; they also remain consistent. This final "Downton" season continues the show's elegance and depth; here's the story I sent to papers:

"Downton" says a slow goodbye to an elegant era


The "Downton Abbey" years have been splendid -- high standards and high ratings, precision and politeness and the occasional jolting death. Now the last scenes will be shot Saturday (Aug.15), for a final season that starts in January. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

LOS ANGELES -- In a
British studio Saturday, an elegant era will end. “Downton Abbey”
films its final scenes.

Poldark: A throwback hero rides again


This is just what TV viewers need to round out their summer choices. Reality shows and cable dramas are fine, but "Poldark" adds something more -- a big, sweeping, scripted series on a broadcast network. It debuts Sunday (June 21) on PBS: Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Lately, TV has been
redefining just what a leading man does.

These are masterful times for "Masterpiece" producer


There really was a time when "Masterpiece" seemed to be wobbling. The underwriter had left and the British shows were becoming scarce; so were the viewers. Then a remarkable comeback began, peaking Sunday (Feb. 23), with the two-hour "Downton Abbey" season-finale. Much of that centers on Rebecca Eaton, now in her 29th year as the "Masterpiece" executive producer. Here's the story I sent to papers:


Here's who's-who in the Abbey


The previous blog is a story I sent to papers, previewing the new "Downton Abbey" season. It's a well-crafted show, but sometimes a tough one to join in progress, with its swirl of changing characters and titles. With that in mind, I also sent papers this character guide:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

"Downton Abbey": A grand structure faces constant change


For decades, PBS' "Masterpiece" delivered high-quality dramas to modest-sized audiences. Then "Downton Abbey" found just the right mixture of classy characters and soap-opera twists. The result has drawn big audiences, lots of awards ... and high interest in the fourth season, which starts Sunday (Jan. 5). Here's the story I sent to papers:

 

OK, here are TV's 10 best


The best thing about 10-best lists is that they let us fume, fret and argue -- to ourselves, to anyone nearby or to whoever created the offending list.

With that in mind, here's the story I just sent to papers, with my picks for the 10 best shows of 2010. Fell free to commence griping, by posting a comment here or simply upsetting your neighbors:

 

By MIKE HUGHES

Amid the cascade of 10-best lists,
there's an annual trend: