Tag Archives: David Tennant

Tennant plays a courtroom Houdini in Escape Artist

'Masterpiece Mystery!' returns Sunday on PBS.

From left),acquitted murder suspect Liam Foyle (Tony Kebbell) thanks his defense team (Roy Marsden and David Tennant) in ‘The Escape Artist,’ a taut, two-part thriller premiering Sunday on PBS’ ‘Masterpiece Mystery!’

Masterpiece Mystery! gets its summer season off to a white-knuckle start Sunday night with The Escape Artist, a two-part thriller (concluding on June 22) about a brilliant defense attorney whose life and career go off the rails. David Tennant (Broadchurch) stars as Will Burton, the top criminal lawyer in the UK, whose perfect record of courtroom wins has put him on the fast track to ‘’take the silk” as Queen’s Counsel. He even has a perfect family – vivacious wife Kate (Ashley Jensen, Ugly Betty) and young son Jamie (Gus Barry) — to round out the idyllic portrait.
Will’s cases often find him sparring with legal adversary Maggie Gardner (Sophie Okonedo), who is fed up with always coming in second to Will. What seems to be lost on both of them is that their cerebral legal games in the courtroom usually take a heavy toll on the victims, defendants and their loved ones.
Invariably, Will often winds up defending and getting off some characters who most likely should be behind bars (hence his nickname of “the escape artist”), but as he somewhat idealistically explains to anyone who questions him, “Everyone deserves a defense.”
Then, just as Will and his family are heading out of town to their vacation getaway, his bosses hand him the case file on Liam Foyle (Toby Kebbell), a reclusive bird lover who stands accused of the horrific torture-killing of a young female medical student. Liam is a self-confessed misanthrope, but he adamantly insists that he is innocent. As Will, on vacation, studies the file, he can’t help seeing that there’s a ton of compelling circumstantial evidence against Liam, such as how his credit card statements reflect that he was a frequent user of “extreme porn” websites featuring the kind of activity that figured in the gruesome and extended killing of the victim.
Once in court, however, Will grows convinced that Liam is being rushed to judgment, especially after the judge refuses to grant a continuance to allow Will’s DNA expert to complete his research. Based partly on that, Will is able to get the judge, in effect, to declare a mistrial on the basis of procedural error. Chalk up another win in Will’s column.
And then Will makes a tiny error in judgment, a small yet crucial misstep that sets into motion a series of tragic, violent events. Even worse, he finds himself compromised by the very trial strategies that once stood him in good stead.
That’s all I’ll reveal about this edge-of-your-seat suspense drama, which has a very satisfying quota of twists and even shocks. Tennant is sensationally good in a role that forces him to play things straight, with none of his trademark Doctor Who twinkle. Okenodo, who picked up a Tony Award just last Sunday night for her performance in the current Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, is also good in a role that could read as a one-dimensional villainess with a different actress.
Among the other recognizable faces in the large ensemble of The Escape Artist are veteran Masterpiece character actor Roy Marsden as another member of Foyle’s defense team and Kate Dickie (Sansa Stark’s mad aunt Lysa in Game of Thrones) as a Scottish barrister trying to offer Will some urgently needed legal advice in next week’s conclusion.
It’s easy to see why The Escape Artist earned rave reviews when it aired recently in the UK, and the two 90-minute episodes should whet viewers’ appetites for more mysteries to follow under the Masterpiece Mystery! banner.
David Tennant and Ashley Jensen star in 'Masterpiece Mystery!' Sunday on PBS.

Brilliant defense attorney Will Burton (David Tennant) watches helplessly as his happy marriage to wife Kate (Ashley Jensen, ‘Ugly Betty’) is destroyed in Part One of ‘The Escape Artist,’ premiering Sunday on the PBS series ‘Masterpiece Mystery!’

Look, ‘Who’’s turning 50 with ‘Day of the Doctor’

'The Day of the Doctor,' Saturday's special 50th Anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who,' will air as a global simulcast in more than 75 countries.

Allons-y! Matt Smith and David Tennant somehow interact in their roles as, respectively, the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors in ‘The Day of the Doctor,’ a 50th Anniversary episode of ‘Doctor Who’ premiering Saturday.

The venerable British sci-fi series Doctor Who airs what promises to be a very special 50th anniversary episode of the program Saturday as a global simulcast to more than 75 countries. In the United States, BBC America will carry “The Day of the Doctor” (as the episode is titled) live at 2:50 p.m. ET, followed by an encore broadcast that evening at 7 p.m. ET.
As usual, the BBC is cloaking this special episode in the kind of secrecy that usually is reserved for nuclear launch codes, although the network has released the following brief (and enigmatic) summary:
“In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space, an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion. All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comoes back to haunt him.”
Here’s what else is known about the episode, which is penned by lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat. First, and most bafflingly, the episode will feature both the current 11th incarnation of The Doctor (Matt Smith) as well as his previous embodiment, the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), sharing scenes together. As if that’s not enough, John Hurt, who was seen very briefly in the final moments of the Season Seven finale, will appear as The War Doctor, a “forgotten” past incarnation of The Doctor.
Fans who are searching for further clues also can view a related and very tantalizing mini-episode prequel of sorts called “The Night of the Doctor,” with Paul McGann reprising his role as the Eighth Doctor online here: http://youtu.be/-U3jrS-uhuo.
The other big news is that “The Day of the Doctor” also will include an appearance by fan favorite Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, former traveling companion for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Jenna Coleman also co-stars in this special episode in her current ongoing role as the Eleventh Doctor’s traveling companion, Clara Oswald. Joanna Page guest stars as Queen Elizabeth I.
Moffat has said in related interviews that “The Day of the Doctor” will “change the narrative” of the series in a big way. Fans are speculating this may involve a long-standing conundrum built into the basic premise of Doctor Who: namely, the notion that any Time Lord can regenerate only 12 times. (Actor Peter Capaldi is scheduled to begin appearing as the Twelfth Doctor sometime after Smith’s upcoming Christmas Day episode. If we count Hurt’s appearance as a regeneration, which is how it is described in “The Night of the Doctor,” that would mean Capaldi’s Doctor would be the 12th time the character has regenerated).
In addition to their joint appearance in “The Day of the Doctor,” Smith and Tennant also are scheduled to appear together late Saturday evening on BBC America’s The Graham Norton Show. That show was taped and aired in the UK earlier this week, however, so expect their comments to be fairly guarded.
Fan favorite Billie Piper guest stars in Saturday's 50th Anniversary episode of 'Doctor Who.'

Former series regular Billie Piper feturns in ‘The Day of the Doctor.’

Bard games on PBS

In his Oscar-winning screenplay for Shakespeare in Love, Tom Stoppard floated the whimsical premise that the Bard’s endearing comedy Twelfth Night had been inspired by a (completely fictional) love affair he had while penning Romeo and Juliet. That film is a delightful romantic comedy, but Shakespeare Uncovered, a wonderful new six-film series premiering tonight on most PBS affiliates, manages to be just as entertaining by sticking to the facts as it explores the stories behind some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays.
Two back-to-back hourlong episodes air on three successive Fridays, each hosted by a notable artist who has a passionate interest in the subject at hand, starting with Ethan Hawke, a former movie Hamlet who now is keen to get his kilted killer on in the title role of Macbeth. What follows is an engrossing look at one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most enigmatic plays, a work so haunted that superstitious actors refer to it only as “the Scottish play,” believing it bad luck to speak the actual title aloud.
As with the series as a whole, the episode draws on scholarly research from historians who provide background on the real-life Macbeth, who lived roughly 1,000 years ago, as well as commentary from actors who have grappled with the thorny roles of Macbeth and his formidable Lady (keep an eye peeled for a brief excerpt from an early TV production of the play with Sean Connery in the title role!).
The aforementioned Twelfth Night is a prominent part of tonight’s second hour, a fascinating appreciation of Shakespeare’s comedies hosted by Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck), joined by her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, whose own career was launched via an early 1960s televised performance as Rosalind in As You Like It. Both actresses bring a palpable passion and joy to their exploration of how Shakespeare’s comedies contain some of the playwright’s most profound observations on the human condition, especially as it pertains to women. The hour also includes some insightful commentary by Helen Mirren, an acclaimed Rosalind in her own right.
Next Friday’s episodes feature Derek Jacobi exploring the political thriller Richard II, including scenes from an upcoming Great Performances film adaptation of the play starring Patrick Stewart and Ben Whishaw, and Jeremy Irons reflecting on the history plays Henry IV and Henry V, also due for a Great Performances adaptation starring Irons and Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers).
The series concludes on Feb. 8 with David Tennant (Doctor Who) plumbing the depths of Hamlet and director Trevor Nunn considering Shakespeare’s last completed work, The Tempest.
While Shakespeare Uncovered is packed with interesting details, the series strikes a canny balance between scholarship and entertainment, so it should appeal both to Shakespeare enthusiasts and relative newcomers to these plays. Viewers who come to these episodes with at least a rudimentary grasp of what the featured plays are about, however, probably will have a slight advantage.