Tag Archives: Ralph Fiennes

Holy smoke! Delightful Rev. is back with new episodes

'Rev.' returns to Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Inner-city vicar Adam Smallbone (Tom Hollander, second from right) faces challenges from both church officials as well as his fussy lay reader, Nigel (Miles Jupp, far right) in Season 3 of ‘Rev.,’ which begins streaming Sunday on Hulu and Hulu Plus.


It’s been nearly two years since U.S. audiences have enjoyed new episodes of Rev., the hilarious, award-winning Britcom starring the fantastic Tom Hollander as a stressed-out vicar trying to keep his struggling church afloat in inner-city East London.
That extended hiatus wasn’t due to any quality concerns at its home channel in the UK (BBC2), where Rev. is revered as the highest-rated comedy series (it’s also carried in more than 140 channels worldwide). No, we haven’t seen Rev. for awhile simply because Hollander, its executive producer, co-creator and co-writer as well as star, is simply one of the busiest British actors working today, as is his leading lady, Olivia Colman, who was David Tennant’s detective partner in the shattering murder mystery Broadchurch.
As Rev. belatedly returns with six new episodes Sunday on Hulu Plus, time clearly hasn’t stood still in the neighborhood surrounding St. Saviour in the Marshes. For one thing, at the tiny vicarage, the Rev. Adam Smallbone (Hollander) and his patient wife, Alex (Colman), have welcomed their first child, daughter Katie, now approaching her first birthday (we see the frenzied circumstances of Katie’s birth in the opening moments of the season premiere).
What that means, most pertinently, is that Adam and Alex are dealing with the same stresses they’ve endured before, only with exponentially less sleep, especially now that Katie is going through a bout of explosive diarrhea. “Perhaps Satan is in charge of her bottom because you haven’t baptized her yet,” offers Archdeacon Robert (Simon McBurney) during one of his frequent visits to remind Adam that the size of both his congregation and his church coffers is a matter of growing concern among church officials.
In fact, two such officials – Area Dean Jill Mallory and Diocesan Secretary Geri Tennison (Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine, respectively, both of the Britcom Getting On) – also have stopped by to remind Adam passive-aggressively that, with the larger neighborhood now experiencing a sharp decline in its Christian populations as more Muslim residents move in, some old, high-maintenance churches such as St. Saviour may have to be shuttered.
That motivates Adam to collaborate with local Imam Yussef Hasan (guest star Kayvan Novak) on a fund-raiser to renovate a rusty and dog poo-choked playground in the season premiere. The event is a rousing success, although Adam and his flock are able to contribute only an embarrassingly tiny portion.
Episode two finds Adam on the horns of a different dilemma when two close gay friends of his ask him to officiate at their wedding. That being a no-no for the Church of England, Adam offers instead to lead a prayer for them at the regular Wednesday Eucharist gathering, but that event quickly spirals out of control.
Also returning to their occasional guest roles this season are Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as cleric and motivational speaker Roland Wise and Ralph Fiennes as the Bishop of London.
Rev. is the kind of rich, character-driven comedy that rewards faithful viewing, so if you are joining the series in progress, be sure to take advantage of the fact that Hulu Plus is streaming Seasons 1 and 2 as well. Hollander recently has said that he’s not sure whether he’s up for a fourth season as Adam Smallbone, so by all means enjoy the myriad delights of Rev. while you can.
Olivia Colman in 'Rev.'

Vicar’s wife Alex Smallbone (Olivia Colman) unexpectedly goes into labor while her husband is officiating at a wedding in the season premiere of ‘Rev.’ on Hulu.

PBS delivers a valentine from London’s National Theatre

Judi Dench performs 'Send in the Clowns.'

Judi Dench performs ‘Send in the Clowns’ from ‘A Little Night Music’ during ‘ National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage,’ tonight on ‘Great Performances.’


If you’re eager to take a break from the Winter Olympic Games, or if you’re just ready for two beguiling hours of television on general principal, Great Performances tonight presents the national television premiere of National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage on many PBS affiliates (as always, check your local TV listings to confirm when it’s airing in your area).
This glittering two-hour special, which was screened as a live satellite transmission to a limited number of U.S. movie theaters last November, spotlights a jaw-dropping array of British actors as they assemble to pay tribute to the first half-century of productions at a venue that is their part-time home: The National Theatre, which opened its doors at the Old Vic in 1983 under the artistic leadership of Sir Laurence Olivier before eventually transferring to its current location on London’s South Bank. The NT, which houses the Olivier, Lyttleton and Cottlesloe Theatres, annual generates an acclaimed combination of both classics and new works each night.
The evening’s program combines archival snippets of great past productions with a number of actors appearing live on stage to perform a speech from a play with which they’re associated. In the most moving example, we see an old clip of Maggie Smith at her most hilariously mannered in a production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever from her salad days, juxtaposed with the veteran actress of today as she recites a worldly-wise monologue from The Beaux’ Strategem, a Restoration comedy.
Another huge audience favorite, Judi Dench, appears to recreate two roles that won her the Olivier Award (London’s equivalent of the Tony Award) as best actress: as Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra and as aging actress Desiree Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.
Among Britain’s younger contingent of stars, Benedict Cumberbatch appears in a scene from his past triumph in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, while Cumberbatch’s Sherlock nemesis, Andrew Scott, and Dominic Cooper perform a scene from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America.
The cast of 100 performers also includes such familiar faces as Christopher Eccleston, Joan Plowright, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Penelope Keith, Helen Mirren and Derek Jacobi.
As the program unfolds, the producers’ desire to pack as much as possible into two hours inevitably starts to feel like the video equivalent of picking one’s way through the greatest Whitman’s chocolate sampler of all time, as one great moment in English drama after another follows all too fleetingly on the other. Also, I do regret that not all plays or even featured performers are identified (for the record, that’s a singer named Clive Rowe bringing down the house in “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat” from Guys and Dolls).
Still, even if you can’t put a name to an occasional face or performance, there’s no missing that, in terms of quality per minute, National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage is an embarrassment of riches.
Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch appears as Rosenkrantz in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.’