Category Archives: Cable Series

Premium Channels i.e., HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc.: The Big C, House of Lies, Weeds, True Blood, Shameless, Spartacus, The Borgias, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Magic City, Dexter, and much, much more.

DOWNTON ABBEY – My rating: 9.5/10

DowntonAbbeyDownton Abbey is one of my most favorite series.  I love period pieces.  This one is before World War I and is brilliantly told.  The series revolves around a British, aristocratic family and their servants.  The family presently includes Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, Lady Mary, Lady Edith and  Robert’s mother, Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.  The major servants include Head of all servants, Mr. Carson, Mrs Hughes,  Head of kitchen staff, Mrs. Patmore,  John and Anna Bates, Valet to Lord Grantham and Lady Maid to Lady Mary, respectively.  The personal stories that take place between the staff and the Crawley family and friends makes for a fascinating series.  I’ve been mesmerized by Downton Abbey since it first started.  Just to see how the upper crust behaves in Britain — one wonders whose idea was it to have maids dress you every day.  The whole setup is rather complicated, so I’ve displayed a couple of charts that show the actors, characters they play and the positions they hold at Downton Abbey.  Just perusing the charts, gives you an idea of how the story flows.  Learning the positions and hierarchy of the staff will be challenge.  Overall, Downton Abbey takes you away to a world we don’t really know but can find entertainment and fun in watching.

Actor

Character

Position

Hugh Bonneville

Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham

Lord Grantham, head of the Crawley family

Elizabeth McGovern

Cora Crawley (née Levinson), Countess of Grantham

Lady Grantham, Lord Grantham’s American heiress wife

Michelle Dockery

Lady Mary Josephine Crawley

Eldest daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham; widow of Matthew Crawley

Laura Carmichael

Lady Edith Crawley

Middle daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham

Jessica Brown Findlay

Lady Sybil Branson (née Crawley)

Youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Grantham; late wife of Tom Branson

Maggie Smith

Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Lord Grantham’s mother

Allen Leech

Tom Branson

Chauffeur of the family (series 1–2), agent of the estate (series 3); widower of Sybil Branson

Dan Stevens

Matthew Reginald Crawley

Heir presumptive (third cousin once removed) of Lord Grantham; former lawyer, latterly co-owner of the estate; late husband of Mary Crawley

Penelope Wilton

Isobel Crawley

Matthew’s mother; widow and former nurse

Lily James

Lady Rose MacClare

Cousin and ward of the Granthams; daughter of The Marquess and Marchioness of Flintshire

Samantha Bond

Lady Rosamund Painswick (née Crawley)

Lord Grantham’s sister

Ava Mann (Series 4)

Sybil “Sybbie” Branson

Daughter of Lady Sybil and Tom Branson

Cole & Logan Weston (Series 4)

George Crawley

Son of Matthew and Lady Mary Crawley, heir to Downton and Earl of Grantham

Staff

Actor

Character

Position

Jim Carter

Charles Carson

Butler

Phyllis Logan

Elsie Hughes

Housekeeper

Brendan Coyle

John Bates

Lord Grantham’s valet; husband of Anna, widower of Vera

Siobhan Finneran

Sarah O’Brien

Lady Grantham’s lady’s maid

Rob James-Collier

Thomas Barrow

First Footman, later Lord Grantham’s valet, then underbutler

Joanne Froggatt

Anna May Bates (née Smith)

Head housemaid, later Lady Mary’s lady’s maid; wife to John Bates

Lesley Nicol

Beryl Patmore

Cook

Sophie McShera

Daisy Mason (née Robinson)

Kitchen maid, later assistant cook; widow of William Mason

Thomas Howes

William Mason

Second Footman; briefly married to Daisy

Rose Leslie

Gwen Dawson

Housemaid

Amy Nuttall

Ethel Parks

Housemaid, later Mrs Crawley’s Housekeeper and Cook

Kevin Doyle

Joseph Molesley

Matthew’s butler and valet, later a footman at Downton Abbey

Matt Milne

Alfred Nugent

Second Footman, O’Brien’s nephew

Ed Speleers

James “Jimmy” Kent

First Footman

Cara Theobold

Ivy Stuart

Kitchen maid

MyAnna Buring

Edna Braithwaite

Former maid, then briefly Lady Grantham’s lady’s maid

Raquel Cassidy

Phyllis Baxter

Lady Grantham’s lady’s maid

Jeremy Swift

Spratt

Violet’s butler

Advertisements

SHAMELESS – MY Rating: 8.5/10

ShamelessOutrageous is the one word that comes to mind when defining this  realer than real Showtime series.  With William H. Macy at the helm as a fall down, sloppy, disgusting drunk with 7 children, this series makes for a pretty interesting story.  William H. Macy plays Frank Gallagher.  Frank’s children include 1 genus son named Phillip but called Lip, 1 gay son named Ian, 1 (2) year old son named Liam, 1 potential sociopath and arsonist son who stands by Frank, named Carl, 1 adolescent daughter, named Debbie, 1newly discovered daughter named Sammi and his oldest daughter, named Fiona,  who takes care of the entire family while Frank stays in a drunken stupor most of the time.

BTW: the Gallagher’s do have a mom but she’s in and out of the picture, named Monica.  Shameless shows how a dysfunctional family evolves when the living conditions are unfavorable and the children are self raised in poverty and discord when there are no decent parents around for guidance.

There are so many other characters that help make this series successful.  Joan Cusask has a recurring role as Sheila, who is now head of her dysfunctional family since her husband died.  Fiona’s best friend, Veronica Fisher, who is the Gallagher’s next door neighbor and can at best be described as a real character, married to a bartender, who at times, is a bit of a block head.  Should you find this interesting enough to watch, here are some additional facts:

Resource:  Wikipedia
Brennan Kane Johnson & Blake Alexander Johnson as Liam Gallagher

The youngest of the Gallagher children, 2 year old Liam, is black despite having two white parents due to a recessive black gene the Gallagher’s acquired from Frank’s grandmother, who (allegedly) had an affair with a jazz musician. Liam is starting to verbalize more, however, his character has yet to be developed.
_________________________________________________________

Resource:  IMDB
William H. Macy also plays his brother Jerry Gallagher.

___________________________________________________

***SPOILER***
Veronica, thinking she couldn’t get pregnant, lured her mother into getting pregnant for her, using her very own husband so that their child would be half their own.   Since then, Veronica turned up pregnant with triplets and now is expecting 4 babies.  In reality, at the age of 36, Shanola Hampton, who plays Veronica,  gave birth to her first child, a daughter, named Cai MyAnna Dukes on January 20, 2014.  Child’s father is her husband, Daren Dukes.

LUTHER – My Rating: 10/10

Well here we go again — another excellent series.  Only this time, it’s the BBC who has contributed this master piece of excellence.  A friend recommended Luther, which I had never heard of.  I quickly scanned my Instant Watch on Nextflix and found the series.  This is what I have to say about Luther:

Idris Elba

Idris Elba who plays DCI John Luther is a powerful actor who really does a fantastic job with Luther.  He is brilliant, bordering on genius.  The story has so many surprising twists, that I cannot predict who or how characters will be leaving the show.  Luther focuses on psychopaths and serial killers.  Same old thing you might say but wait, there’s a twist.  Luther has one of these deviants on his side and knows when to call in favors.  Is he corrupt? — absolutely not!  You really have to see for yourself.

There are only 6 episodes in the first season and 4 in the second season, so you don’t have to spend your life on the couch watching it.  Luther is mind tingling and a superbly written series that hasn’t moved me like this since “24”.  I feel I want to discuss Luther with the world — it’s that good.  I hope it’s on for a very long time and I hope you’ll decide to tune in.  Aside from Netflix, you can view full episodes of Luther at TV.COM.

GAME OF THRONES – My Rating: 10/10

GameOfThronesOne of the best shows on cable.  The buzz all around seems to be positive feedback.  I originally watched Game of Thrones “On Demand”.  I ended up staying up all night trying to get through all the episodes.  I was pleasantly surprised by how captivating this series was.

5 kings, 1 throne.  All is represented in this series of power hungry, wicket, good, bad, and down right evil men and women clawing and scratching their way to the ultimate goal of ruler of the kingdom.  These people will stop at nothing to get what they want.  This is the universe at it’s most wicket.  Yet, you can’t help but favor one to fill the position.   This series has action, mayhem, violence, surprises, happiness, sadness, devastation, love, mystery, horror, deception, humor, war and a truck load of sin!

If you like period pieces, an excellent story and plot, this is the series for you.  I found it better than Spartacus, The Borgias and Rome.  Obviously, I highly recommend Game of Thrones, it’s  winner!

BTW:  There is a pint size surprise that might be deemed at the on-set of this series, as unlikely to be of any real significance.  But I guarantee he will be your favorite character before it’s all over.  He is one of the biggest attributes to the show.  I won’t mention who he is although there’s a pint-size clue in this critique.  Happy Viewing!