Tag Archives: public television

The special relationship

Is Downton Abbey the one public TV program that will convert viewers into contributors?

PBS sure thinks so.

DA cartoonAnd a lot of folks agree.

But PBS viewers in the U.S. have to wait a full four months after their counterparts in the U.K…which means spoilers, and lots of them.

I assumed the time lag was laid down by the producers.  The Brits would appreciate a slower pace, right?

NO.

Downton Abbey executive producer Gareth Neame wants American audiences in on the first viewing!  In an interview in Vulture, he was quoted as saying, “If I were PBS and I had the biggest drama I’d ever had in my entire 40-year history, I would be sorting my schedules out to make sure I was airing it more quickly.”

So what gives, PBS?

Are you scared to put Downton Abbey head-to-head with other new programming that comes out in the fall?  I would think its strong showing against The Walking Dead this spring would ease your mind on that score.  I know marketing DA might be a bit more challenging — since the actors will be committed on both continents — but a divide-and-conquer approach could be adopted.

Or perhaps the U.S. viewers will continue to vote with their checkbooks…and then the cartoon will look something like this:

DA cartoon2

Hee.

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The producers

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey — and really, who isn’t — you’ve no doubt seen this a few times:

“Funding for Masterpiece is provided by the Masterpiece Trust, created to ensure the series future, with support from Donald and Darlene Shiley and the following…”

“The following” change episode to episode, but the Shileys remain at the top of the list.  You’ll even see their names as supporters of Masterpiece Mystery.

Which got me thinking — who are Donald and Darlene Shiley? Should I know their names already?  And can I personally thank them for ‘ensuring the future’ and very existence of Downton Abbey?

Sadly, Donald died in August of last year, but not before he made tremendous contributions as a doctor and philanthropist.  Shiley collaborated with Swedish cardiologist Dr. Viking Bjork to develop the Bjork-Shiley heart valve, which is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

He also contributed millions to research centers in San Diego which bear his name. The Shiley Eye Center at UC San Diego. The Shiley Center for Science and Technology at the University of San Diego. The Donald P. Shiley Cardiovascular Research Center at San Diego State University.

He and his wife Darlene have given millions to Alzheimers research, the Scripps Clinic, The Old Globe Theater and KPBS.  (She worked as a TV public service director and promotions manager before their marriage.)

So now, each time I sit down to enjoy another addictive episode of Downton Abbey, I’ll smile knowing an even greater love story made the whole darn thing possible.

Public promote

My weekend has not gone as planned.

The plan?  Movies, movies, and then perhaps, if time…another movie.

There are so many I haven’t seen — “Young Victoria” and “Nine” are on my short list.  And I have only seen nine of Entertainment Weekly’s ’25 Movies to See before the Oscars.’

Embarrassing.

The long weekend stretched in front of me in opportunity.  The only other things on my to-do list were taking down the Christmas decorations and doing laundry, which I did simultaneously Saturday morning.

The rest of my free time was going to be spent in a darkened theater, eating trash food, being transported.

Perfection.

And then my DVR and my local PBS station ruined everything.

I mentioned yesterday that my DVR recorded the rebroadcast of Masterpiece Theatre’s wonderful ‘Little Dorrit’ — which I watched in its entirety on New Year’s Day.  I noticed this morning that it had recorded ‘David Copperfield’ as well — the version starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe in his first starring role.

So, once again, I found myself mesmerized for two hours this morning, watching another excellent Masterpiece Theatre production.  How fun to see Daniel Radcliffe and Maggie Smith together long before they played student and instructor at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter series of movies.

Many advertising campaigns in 2009 emphasized staying home and rediscovering the entertainment found there.   Apparently it took the new year to remind me of the wonderful programming available on PBS.

Next up — “Oliver Twist” and “Cranford.”

As soon as I get back from the movies.