Comedy & Drama

Victorious Blog, Episode 1: “Doll 123”

1837: The monarchy is in crisis. William IV has retreated to Windsor. The heir to the throne is his teenage niece Alexandrina …

Much like a coffee devotee content with a lukewarm cup of joe,  I’ll admit that I’ll be content with repeats of Downton Abbey for quite some time. The history, the British humor, the romance – it never really gets old. But with the release of Victoria, Masterpiece is back to stoke the fire with a new PBS treasure, and I’m happy to dive in to a new soon-to-be-favorite show. 

The eight-hour drama, hailed as “a sparkling gem in PBS’ crown” by The New York Post, made its debut last night (watch the full episode online). With a footprint of about two hours, settling in for Victoria’s premiere was a commitment, but well worth the time. In a not-so-gentle nod to the episode’s title, “Doll 123″ – here are my three favorite elements from the Victoria premiere. (Numerous spoilers ahead!)

Continue reading Victorious Blog, Episode 1: “Doll 123”

“Miss me?” Sherlock returns for Season 4 on Sunday, Jan. 1

“There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less and a cleaner, better stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”
–Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “His Last Bow”

As the premiere of Sherlock’s “darkest season yet” creeps up on us this Sunday, a dedicated Sherlockian reflects on the BBC production’s relationship with the Canon: the original 60 stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Tune in at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Day (Sunday, Jan. 1) for the premiere of Masterpiece Mystery! Sherlock, Season 4 with “The Six Thatchers.” An encore of this 90-minute episode begins at 9:36 p.m.

Then, tune in at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8 for an up-to-the-minute encore of “The Six Thatchers,” followed at 8 p.m. by “The Lying Detective.” The finale of Season 4, aptly titled “The Final Problem,” airs at 6:30 p.m. – just before the series premiere of Victoria; how’s that for an evening of great TV? – on Sunday, Jan. 15.

And don’t forget: you can watch Sherlock from the very beginning starting 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27 with “A Study in Pink.”

Continue reading “Miss me?” Sherlock returns for Season 4 on Sunday, Jan. 1

Dashing Through the Snow? Five Holiday Favorites to Watch on the Go!

For those of us with loved ones in various area codes, holiday travel is an inevitable part of the holiday experience. If you have some time to relax on your journey – or are simply looking for something to keep the children entertained on the road – WPT’s online video library has you covered!

Here are five online holiday favorites that run the gamut from music to craft to Wisconsin-made programs. All of the shows below are available to stream on video.wpt.org and on the PBS channel of your Roku or other digital device.

Trust us: this list is just the tip of PBS’ holiday programming iceberg! You can explore the full collection online, anytime.

Caregivers, take note: the PBS KIDS app and pbskids.org/video/ let you stream full episodes of PBS KIDS programs, including holiday favorites from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Peg + Cat and more! 

Read inside for some of our favorites – and let us know what gems you find!

Continue reading Dashing Through the Snow? Five Holiday Favorites to Watch on the Go!

Director’s Cut: Roger Rapoport, Richard Riehle and “Pilot Error”

On this week’s Director’s Cut, it is my pleasure to welcome two very esteemed guests to discuss the film Pilot Error. The film’s producer, Roger Rapoport and renowned character actor, Richard Riehle, join me in studio. Rapoport is one of the most innovative producers I’ve met in the indie game when it comes to getting films made, from lining up financing all the way through post production. Riehle has appeared in over three hundred films and made countless television appearances. Two of his most notable credits include Office Space and Casino. Riehle is a native Wisconsinite, born and raised in Menomonee Falls.

Pilot Error is an ambitious project for an indie producer but Rapoport and his team were up for the challenge. When a film involves a plane crash, it’s hard not to think “big studio budget.” The film has a nice narrative about an investigative reporter who loses a friend in a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean, and loses her job to uncover the truth. The production value is excellent for an indie film. Emmy Award-winning composer Garth Neustadter scored the film.

Pilot Error has not only played in hundreds of theaters thanks to an ambitious self-distribution campaign, it has also helped change regulations in the airline industry and bring awareness to issues such as faulty equipment. Rapoport is as proud of the whistle blowing aspect of his film as he is of the film itself. Continue reading Director’s Cut: Roger Rapoport, Richard Riehle and “Pilot Error”

First look at Sherlock Season 4… and some extra tidbits

Flip up your coat collars, Cumberbunnies and… Watseekers? The First Look trailer for Season 4 of Sherlock went live yesterday, as Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Amanda Abbington (Mary Watson) joined executive producers Mark Gatiss (also Mycroft Holmes) and Steven Moffat on a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Let’s watch.

We last saw our friends when the deliciously gaslit Sherlock: The Abominable Bride aired on Masterpiece on New Year’s Day. As of July 24, the team was two weeks from finishing filming for Season 4.

So … what do we see? Continue reading First look at Sherlock Season 4… and some extra tidbits

Director’s Cut: J.T. Arbogast & “Angel’s Perch”

This week on Director’s Cut, we welcome writer-producer-actor J.T. Arbogast to discuss his film Angel’s Perch. Arbogast, who makes his home in Los Angeles, hails from West Virginia. It’s a place he is still very fond of and where Angel’s Perch was shot. He was happy to come to Madison to discuss his passion project which hit very close to home and was semi-autobiographical.

Angel’s Perch is about hot-shot architect Jack, who is handed the project of a lifetime. At the same time, he is dealing with the death of his young wife, and his grandmother’s ailing health and dementia. Yes, the film has a lot going on emotionally, but Arbogast and his team pull it off. The plot has a little something for everyone, from young busy professionals more focused on their careers to those who know or have dealt with relatives dealing with a family member with dementia. Arbogast is a good actor and portrays an earnest and compassionate leading man as his story unfolds. 

In addition to writing chops, Arbogast has an eye for comedy and a background as well. He studied improv comedy for years and brought his talents to this personal story. Angel’s Perch is peppered with comedy throughout the film and it is well placed. It happens just when the viewer needs a break from heavier plot moments. Angel’s Perch is folksy and will tug on the heart strings just the right amount and make you laugh a little, too. Join us this Saturday night at 10 p.m. for Director’s Cut and Director’s Cut Presents on Wisconsin Public Television…your home for independent film!

New Ken Burns: Jackie Robinson

Ken Burns’ newest documentary, Jackie Robinson, goes way beyond baseball and can turn anyone (even yours truly) into a fan.

The film – premiering 8 p.m. Monday, April 11 – draws you into mid-century America through sports, the civil rights movement, and an incredibly charismatic, strong ball player named Jackie.

My favorite aspect of Jackie Robinson (and of all Ken Burns’ films, really) is how it shows a deeply human side of this iconic superstar. Jackie’s relationship with his wife, Rachel, is so inspiring. They seem like an indomitable team, and I’m so glad she contributes her voice to the story. It gives a depth and perspective to their experience that I truly appreciate.

This movie also adds another layer of nuance and perspective to my understanding of race relations in the U.S. I can’t help but watch this film and think of how far we’ve come, and how much we still have to accomplish. The resistance to change that shows up in this documentary feels uncomfortably familiar, and some of the frustrations and inequalities that come through in the movie are still being experienced today. Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson serves as a powerful reminder that we can do more, and we can expect more of ourselves.

Your Guide to British Drama Season Premieres

We may have said farewell to Downton Abbey, but British dramas still reign on WPT. March brings new seasons of Grantchester on Masterpiece and Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece, and April welcomes a new season of Call the Midwife.

Clear your Sunday evenings and make a date with your favorite midwives, vicars and entrepreneurs. View premiere dates and season previews below.

Grantchester on Masterpiece: Season 2
Premieres 8 p.m. Sunday, March 27
Enjoy a new season of adventures, matchmaking and murder with vicar Sidney Chambers and veteran cop Geordie Keating.

Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece: Season 4
Premieres 9 p.m. Sunday, March 27
See Jeremy Piven in the thrilling final season that dramatizes the climactic battle for the future of London’s iconic department store,
Selfridge & Co.

Call the Midwife: Season 5
Premieres 7 p.m. Sunday, April 3
Rejoin the nurses and midwives for a fifth season. It’s 1961 and Poplar is beginning to feel the winds of social change, along with improvements in housing, sanitation and healthcare.

Streaming Favorites for March

A lot of my favorite national dramas from PBS recently wrapped up, including Downton Abbey (let’s all share a moment of silence), and Mercy Street. In my search for great streaming content, I decided to bring it back home and focus on some of our locally-produced shows. So much of the quality content we broadcast at WPT is also available to watch online, so if you missed an episode – or if you’re a spoiled viewer like me, and only watch shows on-demand – check out some of our great, locally produced shows online.

Wisconsin Foodie
Kyle Cherek goes all over the state in a quest to discover the hidden gems of Wisconsin’s culinary scene. From cheese makers to beer distillers, Cherek shows us why it’s great to be a foodie in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Life
When you feel like you’re in a rut, Wisconsin Life can show you a new perspective and share some of the incredible, adventurous things going on across the state. This show highlights how diverse, creative and fun Wisconsinites truly are!

Continue reading Streaming Favorites for March

Saying Farewell to Downton Abbey

As of 10 p.m. Sunday night, the phenomenon known as Downton Abbey is officially over. I’m a Downton fan (see: The Downton Dish), so I spent my weekend trying to squeeze in as much Downton as possible before the finale.

My all-things-Downton weekend included attending Wisconsin Public Television’s A Downton Abbey Farewell fundraising event, held Saturday night at the University Club in Madison. It was so much fun to mingle with fellow fans, dress up in 1920s attire and enjoy Downton-themed food and music. The amazing team that puts the event together really goes all out to give guests the complete Downton Abbey experience, and the excitement was contagious. (View photos from Saturday’s event here).

The show might be over, but our love of Downton Abbey doesn’t have to stop. Check out Masterpiece’s The Downton Abbey Connection to stay connected to your favorite characters, hear from other fans, take Downton-inspired quizzes to find out if you’re a superfan, and more!

Fellow Downton fans: We’ll get through this.