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Masterpiece’s Any Human Heart: Logan’s Run Ends

In Recaps on March 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Elderly Logan Mountstuart (Jim Broadbent) wrote in his journal in “Any Human Heart.” (Screen cap)

TV Columnist offers its final recap of Any Human Heart, PBS’s latest Masterpiece miniseries, using the journal entries of hero Logan Mountstuart.

As the third and final episode began Sunday night, Leo’s funeral reunited Logan (Matthew Macfadyen) and ex-wife Lottie (Emerald Fennell), who blamed him for their son’s death.

Flash forward to 1970s London, where an older Logan (Jim Broadbent) resumed his journal after another lengthy break:

Does it matter that I haven’t written in this journal for years? No. If you keep writing, the gaps are unimportant. However, I have to record that I am astonished at how easy it is to become poor. Suddenly you wake up one day and realize you have very little money. My New York wealth and affluence are a distant memory now and yet, there is something strangely liberating about being free from money. When you’re looking up from the bottom of the heap, the world is a much less complicated place. Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Bloods: In All Things Obduration

In Recaps on February 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) in “Age of Innocence,” Friday night’s “Blue Bloods” episode. (Screen cap)

The humanization of Frank Reagan continued on Friday night’s episode of Blue Bloods, as the CBS drama offered a few small-but-important reminders that Tom Selleck’s character isn’t always so damn perfect.

Since Blue Bloods debuted in September, one of my gripes with the show has been its tendency to elevate Frank, the New York City police commissioner, to superhuman status.

Frank rarely loses his temper, he seems to have the right words for every occasion and like all good New Yorkers, he always remembers the neediest – whether it’s helping to exonerate his office cleaning lady’s wrongly arrested son or reading ancient Arabian poetry at the bedside of an ailing Pakistani American cop.

But in Age of Innocence, Friday night’s Blue Bloods installment, Frank actually treated someone not-so-nicely!

Twice! Read the rest of this entry »

Masterpiece’s Any Human Heart: Prisoner of Love

In Recaps on February 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Middle-aged Logan Mountstuart (Matthew Macfadyen) was imprisoned in “Any Human Heart.” (Screen cap)

TV Columnist is recapping Any Human Heart, the three-week Masterpiece miniseries now airing on PBS, using the on-air journal entries of its fictional hero, Logan Mountstuart.

As Episode 2 got underway, Tess Scabius (Holliday Grainger) visited Logan (Matthew Macfadyen) and pleaded with him to help save her marriage to Peter (Samuel West), who was seeing another woman.

Logan tried to talk to Peter, but Peter was adamant that his marriage was over; later, he was overcome with guilt when Tess committed suicide.

Logan’s domestic life with wife Freya (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Stella was happy – unlike his relationship with his son from his first marriage, as he described in his journal:

What can I do about Lionel? I hardly know him. Yet he’s my son; therefore, I must love him. But be honest, Logan, is flesh and blood enough? Will he always be a stranger to me?

As World War II began, Logan’s friend Ian Fleming (Tobias Menzies) got him a job in the Naval Intelligence Division.

I have a secure 9-to-5 job for the first time in my life…. Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Bloods: The Best of Enemies

In Recaps on February 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) visited dying gangster Whitey Brennan (Mark Margolis) in “Dedication,” Friday night’s “Blue Bloods” episode. (Screen cap)

Sometimes appreciating a television series requires tolerating its clichés.

You know the red-shirted Enterprise crewman is doomed as soon as he steps behind the Styrofoam rock, or that Chloe’s computer wizardry will bail Jack out of his latest jam, or that the reality show villain will justify their betrayal by declaring they aren’t “here to make friends.”

But you’re willing to overlook these too-predictable moments because, well, this is television, and sometimes clichés are just the price of admission.

So it is with Blue Bloods.

The CBS crime/family drama debuted a mere six months ago, but already the show has found a plot device it can’t seem to resist: The Return of the Old Enemy from the Reagan Family’s Past.

So far this season, CBS has aired fifteen Blue Bloods episodes, and at least four of them have focused on the re-emergence of some mobster/thug/lowlife who tangled with one of the Reagans long ago.

A Blue Bloods fan could allow the over reliance on this narrative crutch to annoy them – or they could recognize that these often turn out to be some of Blue Bloods’ better episodes and just go along for the ride. Read the rest of this entry »

Masterpiece’s Any Human Heart: The Writer Has Three Faces

In Recaps on February 18, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Young Logan Mountstuart (Sam Claflin) wrote in his journal in “Any Human Heart.” (Screen cap)

Any Human Heart, the three-week Masterpiece miniseries that PBS began airing February 13, tells the fictional tale of Logan Mountstuart, a British writer whose life spans the 20th century and includes Forrest Gump-style brushes with real-life historical figures.

TV Columnist is recapping the show using Logan’s own words – his inner thoughts and on-air journal entries.

Episode one opened with elderly Logan (Jim Broadbent) in a reflective mood:

I have this image in my head. It’s a kind of recurring dream that I can’t explain – a boat on a river in Uruguay, with a little boy fishing. Am I the boy in the boat, or am I the observers on the riverbank? Is this a vision of an individual life, traveling through time? Which life is truly mine? I’m all these different people. All these different people are me.

Logan flashes back to 1926, when as an Oxford student (played by Sam Claflin) he took to his journal and “solemnly declared” he would lose his virginity.

Logan and his friend Peter Scabius (Freddie Fox) bet each other to see who could seduce Tess (Holliday Grainger), a slightly older woman in town.

Logan lost the wager – and shared his disappointment in his journal: Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Bloods: An Innocent Man

In Recaps on February 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) in “My Funny Valentine,” last night’s “Blue Bloods” episode. (Screen cap)

The country spent the past week venerating the wrong Reagan.

Instead of commemorating Ronald’s 100th birthday, everyone should have been celebrating Frank, Tom Selleck’s character on CBS’s Blue Bloods.

In My Funny Valentine, last night’s installment, Frank – the New York City police commissioner – cleared the name of a man wrongly arrested for robbery, counseled a troubled grandchild and made sure his daughter didn’t spent Valentine’s Day alone.

If you ask me, these achievements are a lot more heroic than almost anything Ronald Reagan did.

But I digress. Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Bloods: You Only Live Twice

In Recaps on February 5, 2011 at 9:00 am

Danny and Jackie (Donnie Wahlberg, Jennifer Esposito) in “Hall of Mirrors,” Wednesday night’s “Blue Bloods” episode. (Screen cap)

Viewers of Blue Bloods know that New York City police detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) is a man who divides his life between two women: his wife Linda (Amy Carlson) and his partner Jackie Curatola (Jennifer Esposito).

The CBS drama doesn’t devote a lot of airtime to Danny’s marriage – a notable exception being the December episode in which he contemplated (but ultimately rejected) the advances of a sexy temptress – but each week, we get lots of scenes between Danny and Jackie.

Hall of Mirrors, the Blue Bloods installment that aired two nights ago, put their relationship front and center – in the process, giving viewers new insight into which of Danny’s women mean the most to him. Read the rest of this entry »

Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow

In Recaps on January 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Robert and Matthew (Hugh Bonneville, Dan Stevens) took a stroll on last night’s “Downton Abbey.” (Screen cap)

Misdeeds abounded on Downton Abbey, the Edwardian era miniseries that PBS’s Masterpiece aired this month, but in last night’s conclusion, the biggest crime happened off-screen.

Earlier, I wrote about how producers cut 35 minutes from the seven-hour British saga – but now I wonder if the job was outsourced to the corner butcher.

Each week, I watched both versions of the show – yes, I’m a true Downton devotee – and until last night, the differences were mostly subtle: PBS viewers missed a line here, a scene there.

But on the show’s final night, entire subplots and several insightful scenes were slashed; so were some choice lines from Violet, the droll dowager countess played to perfection by Dame Maggie Smith.

(Sample: “My poor niece never uses one word when twenty will do.”)

PBS viewers who want to see the whole story should buy the show on DVD, Blu-ray or iTunes, where they’ll find the original, unedited episodes.

Until then: Read the rest of this entry »

Blue Bloods: Brighton Beach Memories

In Recaps on January 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Danny and Jackie strolled along the boardwalk in “Family Ties,” Wednesday night’s “Blue Bloods” episode. (Screen cap)

The sacrifices that parents make for their kids – and the burdens children bear – have been recurring themes on CBS’s Blue Bloods all season, and they were explored again in Family Ties, the installment that aired Wednesday.

The episode opened at a flashy nightclub in Brooklyn’s Russian-American enclave of Brighton Beach, where young Mischa and Sophia (Topher Mikels, Sofia Sokolov) were celebrating their engagement.

After Sophia gyrated her way onto the dance floor, Mischa headed to the basement with sexy Svetlana (Anna Ellinsfeld), who must have been his tailor, because as soon as they were alone, she unbuckled his belt and hit her knees.

I guess she needed to inspect his inseam?

Since this is Blue Bloods, at that moment, the basement door opened, a gun-wielding hand emerged and three bullets were fired into Mischa’s chest.

Svetlana fled screaming. Read the rest of this entry »

Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey: To Serve, in Love

In Recaps on January 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Anna (Joanne Froggatt) confessed her love to Bates (David Coyle) on last night’s “Downton Abbey.” (Screen cap)

In last night’s episode of Downton Abbey, the Edwardian soap opera airing this month under PBS’s Masterpiece banner, Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) paid a surprise visit to lawyer/cousin Matthew (Dan Stevens), asking him to review the legal agreement that prohibits her granddaughter Mary from inheriting the family estate.

Although Matthew is poised to leapfrog Mary in the line of succession, he readily accepted Violet’s request, and she almost fell off her seat – not because she was surprised, but because she was sitting in a swivel chair, which she figured was another “brain wave” of the modern era.

When Matthew ran into Mary (Michelle Dockery) at the village fair, he told her that he was searching for loopholes in the inheritance pact and the two seemed to bond; Mary even confessed her unhappiness, declaring that “women like me don’t have a life.” Read the rest of this entry »