MAGIC: The fairy-tale noir Pushing Daisies is the show to watch this fall.
The British are coming! And they have American accents!
|Fall preview 2007|
“Happy endings: Bad news begets good tunes.” By Matt Ashare.
“Busy busy: Something for everyone this fall.” By Debra Cash.
“Stage worthies: Fall on the Boston boards.” By Carolyn Clay.
“Basstown nights: The new scene emerges; Halloween preparations.” By David Day.
“Bounty: The best of the season’s roots, world, folk, and blues.” By Ted Drozdowski.
“War, peace, and Robert Pinsky: The season’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.” By John Freeman.
“Trane, Joyce Dee Dee, Sco, and more: A jam-packed season of jazz.” By Jon Garelick.
“Turn on the bright lights: Art, women, politics, and food.” By Randi Hopkins.
“War zones: Fall films face terror at home and abroad.” By Peter Keough.
“Locked and loaded: The fall promises a double-barreled blast of gaming greatness.” By Mitch Krpata.
“World music: The BSO goes traveling, and Berlin comes to Boston.” By Lloyd Schwartz.
“Singles scene: Local bands dig in with digital.” By Will Spitz.
The networks’ fall TV season is brimming with faces and names of British actors who are unknown here to all but the staunchest BBC America, HBO, and PBS addicts. Kevin McKidd, who was the haunted Lucius Vorenus in HBO’s Rome, gets his own NBC drama series, Journeyman, in which he plays a time-traveling San Francisco newspaper reporter. McKidd’s Rome cast mate Polly Walker (sex-blood-and-power-mad Atia) co-stars in CBS’s soap Cane, playing a devious sugar-cane heiress with a languid drawl straight out of Tennessee Williams. Damian Lewis, who played Soames Forsyte in the Masterpiece Theatre remake of The Forsyte Saga, stars in NBC’s drama series Life. Lewis is aces as an LA cop who was framed for murder and then exonerated and is now back on the force.
British stage actress Anna Friel is a freckle-faced, all-American Sleeping Beauty on ABC’s wondrous fable Pushing Daisies. CBS’s musical-noir series Viva Laughlin, which stars Brit Lloyd Owen (Monarch of the Glen) and Aussie Hugh Jackman as rival American casino owners, is a (regrettably unnecessary) remake of BBC America’s cheeky 2005 mini-series Viva Blackpool. British actress Michelle Ryan (of EastEnders and the BBCA mini-series Jekyll) takes the coveted role of Jaime Sommers in NBC’s dark and edgy remake Bionic Woman, and, yes, Jaime is still a Yank. And let’s not forget the Brits playing Americans on current series, such as Jason Isaacs on Showtime’s Brotherhood, Dominic West on HBO’s The Wire, and Rose Byrne on FX’s Damages.
Why the influx of semi-obscure Brits in starring roles on high-stakes American network shows? Well, it’s a global TV market, and it helps if American programs have non-American actors in them to sell abroad. On the flip side, British actors (who have always been less snobby about doing TV work than their Yankee counterparts) benefit from the American network exposure, which often leads to raises in their Hollywood profiles and paychecks. Case in point: Hugh Laurie, the star of Fox’s House. Yep, House is the main reason you’ll be seeing so many British actors on network prime time this season. Before the American accent, the facial stubble, and the limp, Hugh Laurie was “that guy from Blackadder” (and, to audiences under age five, Stuart Little’s father). Now, Hugh Laurie is House and House is Hugh Laurie, and the networks are hoping lightning strikes twice. (The best chance of that lies with Damian Lewis’s magnetic turn as the eccentric, damaged — and very House-like — cop on Life.)
And now, some night-by-night highlights of the fall line-up. Tally-ho!
ALREADY PREMIERED | The Doctor Who spinoff TORCHWOOD (BBC America, Saturday at 9 pm); the couples-therapy drama TELL ME YOU LOVE ME (HBO, Sunday at 9 pm); the sixth and final (maybe) season of CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO, Sunday at 10 pm); IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (FX, Thursday at 10 pm).
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 17 | K-VILLE (Fox, 9 pm) stars Anthony Anderson and Cole Hauser as partners on the post-Katrina New Orleans police force.
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19 | Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton play squabbling news anchors on the sit-com BACK TO YOU (Fox, 8 pm). With Fred Willard as the sports guy.
THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 20 | SURVIVOR: CHINA (CBS, 8 pm) has contestants fighting to outplay, outwit, and outlast one another in a sweatshop making lead-poisoned Dora the Explorer dolls. Well, not really.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23 | ONLINE NATION (CW, 7:30 pm) aims to be the America’s Funniest Home Movies for the YouTube generation. THE SIMPSONS (Fox, 8 pm) opens Season 19 with guest Lionel Richie. KING OF THE HILL (Fox, 8:30 pm) and FAMILY GUY (Fox, 9 pm) also return.