Posted: 26 Jun 2013 03:26 AM PDT
Carson better stock up on the Pinot Noir: Sideways star Paul Giamatti (pic) will be a guest star on Downton Abbey in its upcoming fourth season, it was announced Monday.
According to a news release from Carnival Films, Masterpiece and PBS, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actor, perhaps best known for his role as a schlumpy wine snob in Alexander Payne's Oscar-winning film, will star as Harold, Cora's "maverick, playboy brother" in the season finale.
It's the latest surprising casting news for the costume drama, which will look quite different when it returns to TV in the United States on Jan 14 next year.
Following the departure of series regulars Dan Stevens, Jessica Brown Findlay and Siobhan Finneran, Downton Abbey will welcome a crop of new cast members that includes Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Cullen, Julian Ovenden, Nigel Harman, Joanna David and Gary Carr.
Giamatti will appear alongside Shirley MacLaine, also slated to return in Season Four following a brief guest role in Season Three.
"We're excited that Paul Giamatti will be joining us on Downton to play Cora's brother Harold, the rather free-spirited uncle to Mary and Edith," said Carnival Films' managing director Gareth Neame.
"We can't wait to see him work alongside Shirley MacLaine, who are both sure to upset the Granthams' apple cart in this year's finale."
Giamatti is no stranger to period drama, having won an Emmy for playing the title role in the acclaimed HBO miniseries John Adams. He also starred as comic book artist Harvey Pekar in American Splendor and, more recently, in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis. – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Posted: 26 Jun 2013 03:28 AM PDT
There's nothing revolutionary about Revolution's premise but its stunning visuals and a compelling cast make all the difference.
SOMETIMES, I wish the world would just come to an end already so we don't have to endure more end-of-the-world themed flicks. TV land has been invaded with zombies and extraterrestrials with shows like The Walking Dead and Falling Skies respectively, and let's not forget Discovery Channel's reality series, The Colony, where 10 contestants brave through a simulated post-apocalyptic environment.
To be fair, in Revolution, the world didn't come to an end or get destroyed or get infested with zombies and aliens. It simply has no electricity (Okay, the world might as well come to an end). Conveniently called the "Blackout", the power goes out one night in every corner of the world, like a global short circuit.
Only the power never came back on.
The sci-fi drama takes place 15 years after the Blackout. Families have fled the city and were driven into the wild. Governments fell and militias rose. In the pilot, the show zeroes in on Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee) and his family who live in a rural farming village. He gets an unwelcomed visit from Major Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito), commander of the Monroe Militia, who suspects that Ben knows something about the Blackout.
The meeting ends in a skirmish where Ben is killed, but not before handing his neighbour, Aaron Pittman (Zak Orth), a mysterious pendant and telling his daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) to find her uncle Miles (Billy Burke). In the scuffle, Ben's son Danny (Graham Rogers) is also taken captive. From here on, Charlie, Aaron and Ben's girlfriend, Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) embark on a journey to save their loved ones, uncover the truth about the Blackout and in doing so, attempt to turn the lights back on.
As mentioned earlier, given our post-apocalypse-saturated media landscape, I approached the series hesitantly. Will Revolution bring anything new to the table? As it turns out, my main criticism of the show's premise isn't so much the post-apocalypse setting but its potential for longevity. Every episode chronicles the Mathesons' adventures, and with 20 episodes to cover, it feels like creator Eric Kripke is deliberately stretching out the storyline.
I feel agitated with the introduction of numerous characters that neither help nor serve as interesting obstacles in the main characters' journey to achieve their goal. For example, the kind-hearted Charlie and Aaron feel the need to save everyone who comes their way! At times, the storyline feels like it is headed nowhere and writers are just making things up as they go along. But having said that, if viewers can hang on long enough, the show gets it together in the last five episodes and delivers a mind-blowing finale.
Flashbacks make up a big part of Revolution's format, as it is with the trend in TV shows these days (think Psych, Once Upon A Time). What I enjoy most about flashback scenes is seeing the juxtaposition of the characters pre- and post-Blackout. For instance, in next week's episode, viewers will learn more about the tough Major Neville, who was anything but tough before the Blackout. Then there's Miles who is helping Charlie with her cause to make up for his violent ways in the past (in episode two, it was revealed he co-founded the tyrannic Monroe Republic, which is policing certain parts of the US after the Blackout). These flashbacks are an examination of the human heart and what it is capable of in times of trouble.
But the best thing about Revolution has got to be its cast. Esposito (Breaking Bad) and David Lyons (Safe Haven) give hair-raising performances as villains Major Neville and president of Monroe Republic, Bass Monroe respectively. Esposito, in particular, stands out in this week's episode. After the roof collapses on his character, Major Neville, he convincingly manipulates Danny (who is trying to run away from him!) to save him. Another great performance is by Burke (Twilight) who plays the cool, suave Miles who can take down the bad guys in his sleep. I just wished he showered more often, though.
Disaster flicks always make for stunning visuals, and Revolution holds nothing back. From dilapidated iconic buildings to tattered memorabilias from the yesteryears, the set looked real and effortless. But my heart always skips a beat when I see scenes on the night of the Blackout. A sweeping view of cars piling up for miles and miles on the highway and skylines all around the world turning dark strike me as strangely beautiful. Perhaps, it's the appeal of seeing what the modern world would look like without power.
Ultimately, Revolution works because it is a sci-fi series that everyone can relate to. The concept isn't far-fetched, it's simple: imagine living in a world without electricity. It would flip a switch in all of us.
> Catch Revolution every Wednesday at 9.50pm on Fox (Astro Ch 710 / HD 726).
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