A love letter to PBS and Masterpiece

Dear PBS and Masterpiece,

I am writing this letter to you to express my undying love for your willingness to share British television with anglophiles like myself.

It was only with the rising fame of Downton Abbey a few years ago that made me take notice of you (except when I was a kid tuning in to the local PBS station for Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street).  Apparently, Masterpiece has been around a while (40 years to be exact) and while that’s a fact, I still feel like it’s still a bit of a hidden gem for my generation.

It’s really an anglophile’s dream–free British television available right here in the States. And that actually goes beyond just the Masterpiece series. You have upped your Sunday night game with quality British television that rivals that of the ever-popular powerhouse networks.

Did I mention you give me great television for free? Okay, just checking. I mean, I can even count on being able to catch your programming while visiting my parents who are cable-free. It’s amazing.

I think perhaps you should consider renaming your network to Public British Service–just a thought.

My growing list of TV favorites include many series that you bring to the U.S.–Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Sherlock, and now 2 new series Poldark and The Crimson Field. Needless to say, please keep doing what you’re doing.

Also, send Darlene Shiley my thanks as well. Her $1 million donation to Masterpiece is only going to help bring those great British dramas for years to come.

And finally, your ads for Viking River Cruises makes me want to take my own voyage with them despite the likely age gap between me and the retired couples that seem to be the demographic. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but the lack of millennials in the commercials make me pretty positive I’d be the youngest patron by at least a couple of decades, and yet, I’m still interested in giving it a go.

In conclusion, I’d like to say thanks to YOU, public television. You’ve been placed up there with the other TV network “greats” and the best part is that I don’t ever have to worry about whether my cable package includes you or not. 😉

Sincerely yours,


The Crimson Field: When You Instantly Love A Show That’s Already Been Canceled

PBS hasn’t made much of a fuss over The Crimson Field, a WWI drama that originally aired on BBC One last year. In fact, it’s been far off in the shadows of Poldark, a Masterpiece Classic and already-predicted fan favorite featuring the ever handsome Aidan Turner.

I had wondered why I hadn’t heard too much about this British drama, only occasional mentions online. But alas, I finally got my answer. BBC chose to cancel this program shortly after its first season of 6 episodes ended. According to reports, writer Sarah Phelps had sketched out future plots and had all intentions of seeing this series last for at least 4 more seasons. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.

What a bloody shame!

I generally avoid shows I know have been cancelled or are rumored to be, but I was intrigued. I’m a total sucker for British dramas. My Twitter friends and fellow British TV fans were raving over this series…and well, they were right. It was a great first episode.

We follow an army medical team in the field on the coast of France as they care for the wounded. There are strong female characters, a couple of dashing gents (don’t get me started on my new crush Richard Rankin), and several familiar faces from shows like Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. In the first episode alone, we deal with the affects of PTSD, a complex main character who is rough around the edges but clearly hiding something, and the daily dealings of war. Then, top all of that off with the lovely Scottish accent of Captain Tom Gillan, whom many fans call the Scottish Mr. Darcy (and I’m totally with them on that one).

Hello, Captain Gillan (played by the dashing Richard Rankin). (Image property of BBC/PBS)

As Sunday night drew near, I began to see Poldark being compared to Downton Abbey, and yet I would argue The Crimson Field may be the closer match. There’s the drama of war time, an ensemble cast of strong characters, and the potential for a love story or two.

How can a show with such great reaction by fans be given up on so quickly?

We’ve seen some networks show a little patience for new shows (though often they’re comedies, not dramas) and we’ve also seen them bring the ax down quickly on others. And in more recent years, some canceled shows are given new life by a new network–though it’s never been for a show that was canceled so early, nor for a British series. In the age of shows being rescued by other networks, here’s hoping that The Crimson Field will get that treatment as well. (PBS, are you reading this?)

In the meantime, I’m raising my glass to the upcoming 5 episodes. No matter the outcome, I plan to enjoy every second of it for the next 5 Sundays.