Hit crime drama Broadchurch was a triple winner at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) TV Awards on Sunday (18May14). The detective series picked up the Leading Actress prize for Olivia Colman, Supporting Actor for David Bradley and the top honour of the night for Best Drama.
Colman's win marked the star's third TV BAFTA prize, after claiming two trophies last year (13) for her roles in Twenty Twelve and Accused.
Overwhelmed with emotion upon receiving the award, Colman said through tears, "Well, Broadchurch, I'm so pleased everyone likes it. Chris Chibnall is a f**king genius, thank you for writing it! And (co-star) David Tennant, standing opposite you is a joy and a treat."
Double winners also included veteran presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, who were feted with both Entertainment Performance and Entertainment Programme for Ant And Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, while comedy The IT Crowd earned both Katherine Parkinson and Richard Ayoade the Female and Male Performance in a Comedy Programme, respectively.
Other awards were handed to Southcliffe star Sean Harris for Leading Actor, Sarah Lancashire for Supporting Actress in Last Tango in Halifax, U.S. drug drama Breaking Bad for the International prize and Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor earned the Radio Times Audience Award.
Veteran TV star Cilla Black was lauded for her decades of work with the Special Award, while Julie Walters was given BAFTA's highest honour, the BAFTA Fellowship, for her contribution to film and TV.
During her acceptance speech she said, "When I told my mother I wanted to be an an actress in 1969, she said: 'She'll be in the gutter before she's 20'. But what a gutter, and I shared that gutter with some of the most amazing and talented people without whom I would not have a career."
Talk show host Graham Norton hosted the event for the second year in a row at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything.
On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker.
Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair.
On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film.
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Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets.
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Fans of British sitcom The IT Crowd have been waiting three years for this. The show is returning — after a hiatus that would make the wait between Mad Men seasons feel like a commercial break — for a one-off finale on Sep. 27. We're dying to see what the Reynholm Industries IT department have been up to (and what they think about the iPhone 5c launch). While we wait these last few agonizing days for the return of Roy (Chris O'Dowd), Jen (Katherine Parkinson), and Moss (Richard Ayoade), let's take a look back at some of their best moments.
"This, Jen, is the Internet."
Roy and Moss lend tech-virgin Jen "the Internet" for her Employee of the Month presentation, but only after a blessing from the "elders" and a de-magnetizing by Stephen Hawking, of course.
Looking normal: easier said than done.
Jen, thrilled to be dating a "proper normal," is less than thrilled to have to invite her work mates to a couples dinner party. But, socially-challenged nerd or not, who doesn't feel awkward in situations like these?
"Wow. A gun!"
Reynholm heir Douglas (Matt Berry) finds a hidden note and emergency handgun in his father's old desk and tests it out in the safest way possible.
0118 999 881 999 119 725…3
Of course the easier-to-remember phone number for England's new-and-improved Emergency Services shows up in another episode. It's so catchy!
Roy describes humanity, concisely and accurately.
Well, he does.
Moss accepts a challenge.
Street Countdown is much the same as the regular British game show Countdown, except we play it on the street. And it can get awfully chilly. Moss has his thermals on though, so he's ready to roll.
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Caught up with Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Doctor Who and looking to scratch that lingering itch for the dry wit and impeccably plotted story that only British television can provide? Netflix and Hulu have a collective treasure trove of Anglo-centric masterpieces just waiting for your eyes and ears. Check out our recommendations in comedy, drama, and sci-fi, but don't blame us when you get addicted. Cheers.
Call the Midwife
Don't fret if you missed the PBS airing of this critically acclaimed drama. The first six episodes are available on Netflix Streaming and the second series of eight should be up soon. But we must warn you: Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jessica Worth who served London's poor East End as a nurse in the 1950s, will likely break your heart a few times. But, as with most British series, it'll be worth it.
Your plans for next weekend are sorted. Gather your pop-culture obsessed friends; load up on some truly terrible junk food; and marathon all 14 episodes of Spaced on Netflix. The reference-laden slacker comedy marks the first time Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright worked together. See if you can spot all the Spaced cameos and in-jokes in their big screen collaborations Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and summer release The World's End.
Torchwood: Children of Earth
The run of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood has its share of highs and lows. The season that's most worth your hard-earned free time is the masterfully bleak and self-contained Children of Earth. It's a far cry from the cheeky, innuendo-heavy first and second series, but the seemingly hopeless spot the Torchwood team finds themselves in will keep you glued to your TV until the final seconds.
The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is a gift to nerds and the people who love them. The laugh track is jarring at first, but you'll quickly tune it out and concentrate on the antics of computer experts Roy (Bridesmaids' Chris O'Dowd), Moss (Richard Ayoade), and their clueless boss Jen (Katherine Parkinson). Catch up on all four short seasons on Netflix to be ready for its one-off finale (and first new episode in three years), which is debuting at the end of September.
Where Heroes failed, Misfits succeeds. The premise: a strange electrical storm imbues a group of teenage deliquents with a variety of superpowers while they're completing their community service. The series seamlessly blends comedy, drama, and sci-fi with striking visuals to come as close to feeling like a filmed comic book than a TV show has ever been. The first four seasons are on Hulu Plus, and the fifth and final season is on its way.
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Every once in a while, Netflix adds a goodly amount of content to their Watch Instantly lineup. With slightly less frequency, they will add scores of new content. And once a year they will open the streaming content floodgates and a tidal wave of new instant viewing options comes crashing into your eyeballs. January 1 marked just such an occasion as over 450 new titles were added. If you’re anything like me, you will spend the next several months tearing into the new releases and spending far more time watching movies than should be legally permissible. But try not to get too distracted by your marathon sessions of Shaft’s Big Score and Robocop 3 that you fail to discover The IT Crowd.
If you’ve ever worked in a big office, or are currently working in a big office, then you are familiar with the delicate dance that commences whenever you are forced to call upon the IT department. It’s one of the few times in life that the nerds have the upper hand and they intend to make the most of it. I’m generalizing of course, but one constant that does seem to exist is the infuriating initial question: “have you tried turning it off and on again?” British television series The IT Crowd is a comedy that takes you deeper into the dungeon-like lair of those in the technical support department than anyone would care to be.
Unlike most British comedies, The IT Crowd does not rely on dry humor. The comedy comes from cartoonish characters that exist as hilarious exaggerations of people you may very well recognize from your daily life. But the brilliance of The IT Crowd over something like, say, The Office is that they are given an environment to be as ridiculous and uber nerdy as possible with little regard as to how true to life it seems. The fact that their IT department is sequestered from the rest of the employees in the building gives the show an opportunity to explore and satirize the more outlandishly absurd aspects of the corporate world.
The show focuses on Jen (Katherine Parkinson), a hapless but well-intentioned young woman who manages to bluff her way into a management position at Reynholm Industries only to discover she’s been assigned to the unpopular and completely neglected IT department residing in the basement. Her new underlings, Roy (Chris O’Dowd) and Moss (Richard Ayoade) are the most unrepentant geeks one could ever hope to meet. Moss sports a half-ro, high-rise pants, and coke bottle glasses while Roy’s carousel of nerd culture tee-shirts is awe-inspiring. The two of them engage in activities that both demonstrate their oddly compatible friendship and illustrate the cause of their social alienation.
The first series (not season, it is British after all) has them mostly dealing with interoffice fiascos—dating, stress, Jen’s special lady time—but the subsequent seasons see our heroes branching further and further away from the office. This allows them to wreak as much havoc on the citizenry of London as they do on their own coworkers. The show really hits its stride in the second series when Douglas (Matt Berry), the son of Reynholm Industries’ president, shows up. Berry is absolutely unhinged and even the preposterous trio from the IT department can’t make heads or tails of his antics.
The writing is sharp and wickedly clever and the characters are all instantly likeable for one reason or another. While some of the in-jokes are perplexing at first, drawing from British pop culture, the broader gags are sidesplitting. There are movie, music, and techno references taken to the nth degree in a glorious testament to the geekiness of the show’s writers. What really impresses me is the incredible and masterful slapstick employed with precision and impact. It’s not often seen in sitcoms and it blends well into the comedic stew that is The IT Crowd.
Series 1, 3, and recently 4 are available on Netflix Watch Instantly and Series 2 is available through their mail service. As you will certainly be hooked by the end of Series 1, waiting for the second through the mail will be well worth it.