[Update - January 7, 2017] If someone can find my immune defences, please contact me at the email address on your right. Thanks in advance, it seems 2017 is so 2016 for me...
- The Halcyon - Episode 1 (ITV, January 2). Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey meet Hotel Babylon with shades of Foyle's War. From Left Bank Pictures (The Crown) comes ITV's latest attempt to recapture the flame of Downton. This new drama, created by Charlotte Jones and set in a five star London hotel in 1940, will not illustrate the definition of "Originality" in a dictionary but its first episode makes you want to watch more.
This premiere shouts class at all levels right from the pre-credit party. Then cue to a Bondian title sequence with an uber cool song, between Portishead and 007. The amazing Steven Mackintosh and the fabulous Olivia Williams lead a competent ensemble cast in a world of glamour, intrigue and romance. Mackintosh plays Richard Garland, the calm and effective hotel manager (a man with secrets). Williams plays Lady Hamilton, the intelligent, heartbroken wife of the Halcyon owner, soon confronted to a life-changing situation.
A secret meeting at the hotel raises the interest of American journalist Joe O'Hara (Matt "Constantine" Ryan). One of the participants is Charity Lambert (Charity Wakefield), a young woman with connections to the Nazi regime. Further cast includes Kara Tointon (singer Betsey Day), Hermione Corfield (Emma Garland), Jamie Blackley (Freddie Hamilton), Annabelle Apsion, Mark Benton, Edward Bluemel, Sope Dirisu, Kevin Eldon, etc. Even Mr Nick Brimble, a name which means a lot when you're a drama buff.
Episode 1 written by Charlotte Jones & Jack Lothian and directed by Stephen Woolfenden. Produced by Chris Croucher (Downton Abbey). Exec produced by Sharon Hughff, Jack Lothian and Andy Harries. Cinematography by Jean-Philippe Gossart. Title sequence by Alex Maclean. Music composed by Samuel Sim (Maigret). Hourglass, the title song composed by Sim, is performed by Tracy Kashi. The Halcyon is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
- Ministério do Tempo - Episode 1 (RTP1, January 2). Portuguese adaptation of El Ministerio del Tiempo, the acclaimed Spanish sci-fi/adventure drama created by Pablo Olivares & Javier Olivares. The 16 x 60-minute series is an ambitious gamble for pubcaster RTP and is intended as an alternative to the popular telenovela genre. Like the original, Ministério do Tempo is about a secret government institution called The Ministry of Time, whose mission is to prevent anyone from altering the past.
The result is an interesting work of historical and cultural transposition of the format with a genuine sincerity in terms of production. As a fan of El Ministerio, I find the local counterparts of Alonso, Salvador, Velázquez and Germán (the Ministry's beadle) already convincing but I'll need time to get used to the others (or not). Starring Mariana Monteiro (Amélia Carvalho), João Craveiro (Afonso Mendes de Noronha), António Capelo (Salvador Martins), Luís Vicente (Ernesto Ochoa), Andreia Dinis (Irene Matos Dias) and Carla Andrino (Maria dos Prazeres).
Produced by Iniziomedia Audiovisuais, Veralia and Just Up Produções for RTP. Adapted by Pedro Marta Santos. Music composed by Rui Neves. Directed by Bruno Cerveira & Paulo Rodrigues.