“Masterpiece Mystery!: Guilt,” season four of “Frankie Drake Mysteries” and several documentaries are among the titles coming to DVD in September from PBS Distribution.
The dark comedy series “Masterpiece Mystery! — Guilt” is due in a two-DVD set Sept. 14. In the series, a drunken drive home from a wedding lands two brothers in increasingly hot water, as they commit more and more serious crimes to hide their culpability in a hit-and-run. Mark Bonnar (“Line of Duty,” “Catastrophe,” “Unforgotten”) and Jamie Sives (“Valhalla Rising,” “Mean Machine”) star as the brothers, with Ruth Bradley (“Grabbers,” “Flyboys,” “Pursuit”) as the victim’s niece, who falls for her uncle’s killer.
Season four of “Frankie Drake Mysteries” comes out in a three-DVD set Sept. 7. The season opens with our intrepid detectives Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) alongside their best gal pals, Mary Shaw (Rebecca Liddiard) and Flo Chakowitz (Sharron Matthews), traipsing through the woods on a scavenger hunt that quickly turns deadly. From the wilderness to the world of high society, from an underground cabaret to a candy factory, Frankie and Trudy investigate murders, kidnappings, heists and poisonings. Using her position as a morality officer, Mary is able to snoop through police files and be privy to non-civilian discussions, while Flo lends a hand with autopsy reports, science experiments and her newly acquired medical skills. As always, amid high-stakes danger, excitement, intrigue and friendship, the women find their balance in their lives outside of work. Frankie has a European race car-driving beau; Trudy’s dreams of home-sweet-home are closer than ever; Mary falls for the wrong fellow; and Flo starts a family.
Also due on DVD in September are the documentaries Exhumed: A History of Zombies on Sept. 14; Downing of a Flag on Sept. 7; Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths and Secrets, Volume 2 on Sept. 14; and The Mysteries of Mental Illness on Sept. 28.
The self-help title Discovering Your Warrior Spirit with D.J. Vanas comes out on DVD Sept. 14.
Coming for the kids in September are Molly of Denali: Molly and the Great One, due Sept. 14, and PBS Kids: 15 Girl Power Adventures!, available Sept. 7.
Episodes of “Professor T,” “Masterpiece Mystery! — Unforotten” and several “Walter Presents” shows are coming to the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in July.
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
“Professor T,” based on the hit Belgian series of the same name, stars Ben Miller (“Bridgerton”) as Jasper Tempest, a professor at Cambridge teaching the science of crime. He lives a precisely calibrated and rigidly structured life, that is, until a former student, and current detective for the local police, convinces him to help her solve their most difficult cases. Six episodes of the series start streaming July 11.
The fourth season of the BAFTA award-winning series “Masterpiece Mystery! — Unforgotten” also starts streaming July 11. DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan return as they investigate a cold case with alarming links to the police force.
New “Walter Presents” International series streaming on the channel in July are “The Same Sky,” “The Last Wave,” “The Half Brother,” “Love, Inevitably” and “Under Suspicion.”
Due July 2 are six episodes of the German series “The Same Sky.” It’s East Germany in the spring of 1974, and Lars Weber, an East German Intelligence agent, is being relocated to West Berlin, tasked with seducing and spying on women who work in government or defense institutions for other countries. Lars is a young talent only just emerging from his espionage training program when he is assigned the case of Lauren Faber (Sophia Helin, “Masterpiece: Atlantic Crossing”), a data analyst for the British Secret Service at the Devil’s Mountain listening station. Under the strict, skeptical and somewhat twisted guidance of his handler Ralf Müller, Lars quickly proves his talent, making his first steps into Lauren’s wary and formerly closed-off psyche. When Lauren ends up in intensive care, Lars is given a new target: Sabine Cutter, Lauren’s U.S. counterpart at the listening station, who proves a much tougher target. Will he be able to fulfil his mission or will his growing feelings for Sabine lead to an evening that will forever change their lives?
Debuting July 16 are six episodes of the French series “The Last Wave.” One day in Brizan, a quiet seaside resort in the region of Landes in southwestern France, everything changes with the arrival of a wave. When a surge of clouds and a supersized wave collide during a surfing competition it engulfs the participants, causing them to disappear. Five hours later, the surfers reappear unharmed, but with no recollection of what happened to them. One by one, the returning surfers discover they each possess inexplicable powers.
The Norwegian series “The Half Brother” offers up eight episodes starting July 23. Based on the novel by Norwegian writer Lars Saabye, the series follows the life of a family spanning five generations in 20th century Europe focusing on the half-brothers Barnum and Fred. On V Day, May 1945, as the continent emerges from war, Barnum’s mother Vera is raped in her attic in Oslo by an unknown man, leading to the birth of Barnum’s half-brother Fred. When Barnum is born five years later, to the man that Vera has since met and married, the Nilsen family, like Europe, is already splitting in two. Growing up together during the Cold War — Barnum with his father, and Fred searching for his — the half-brothers become estranged and Fred eventually disappears. At the film festival in Berlin in 1990, as the Wall is still coming down, Barnum learns that Fred has returned. Finally, as the true identity of Fred’s father comes to light, the two half-brothers may once again be reunited.
The Spanish and Italian series “Love, Inevitably” debuts 10 episodes July 25. It is the story of Candela and Massimo, a dancer from Seville and an entrepreneur from Rome, two complete opposites. It all starts in Prague, where Candela and Massimo meet by chance. It is hate at first sight, and yet they can’t stay away from each other. Once back in their home countries, they appear in each other’s thoughts and visions. From that moment on they will have to put up with paranormal phenomena that happen at the most inopportune moments, demanding their attention and manipulating their choices. In an effort to set these spirits and their souls at ease, they will attempt to make their love a palpable reality.
Two “American Experience” documentaries are coming in June. The Blinding of Isaac Woodard, due on DVD June 1, explores the effects of an incident in 1946 in which Isaac Woodard, a Black army sergeant on his way home to South Carolina after serving in WWII, was pulled from a bus for arguing with the driver, beaten, and left unconscious and permanently blind by a police chief who was later acquitted by an all-white jury. Also due is American Oz, coming June 8, exploring the life and times of author L. Frank Baum, the creator a classic American narrative.
Two nature films are available in June. Life at the Waterhole, exploring the drama as African wildlife flock to a manmade waterhole rigged with cameras, will be available on DVD June 8. Nature: The Leopard Legacy, following the story of a leopard mother as she raises her cubs, is coming on DVD June 22.
Finally, the science film Human: The World Within, exploring the incredible universe inside each and every one of us, is coming on DVD on two discs June 22.
Three murder mystery films, Agatha and the Truth of Murder, Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar and Agatha and the Midnight Murders will be streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in May.
In the films, viewers follow what might have happened to the author Agatha Christie, a writer who also happens to investigate real life crimes.
The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
Due May 11 is Agatha and the Truth of Murder. In the film, in 1926, with her writing in crisis and her personal life in tatters, a young Agatha Christie decides to solve a real-life murder. With Dean Andrews (“Ashes to Ashes,” “Life on Mars”), Bebe Cave (“Victoria,” “Great Expectations”), Amelia Dell and Ruth Bradley (“In Her Skin,” “Grabbers”) as Agatha Christie.
Coming May 18 is Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar. In the film, set in 1928, bruised from divorce and struggling with fame, Agatha travels to Iraq and finds a web of murder, intrigue and love. With Jonah Hauer-King (A Dog’s Way Home, World on Fire, Little Women) and Lyndsey Marshal (The Hours, Rome, Hereafter) as Agatha Christie.
Available starting May 25 is Agatha and the Midnight Murders. In the film set in London in 1940, as the Blitz rages and her future is threatened by fallout from the war, Agatha makes the decision to kill off her most famous creation. With Blake Harrison (A Very English Scandal, World on Fire, “The Great”), Jacqueline Boatswain (Bloodborne, London Voodoo), Gina Bramhill (Us, “Sherlock,” “Endeavour”) and Helen Baxendale (Anonymous, “Cold Feet”) as Agatha Christie.
In addition, “Masterpiece: Indian Summers” seasons one and two will be added to the channel in May, as well as a number of international programs from Walter Presents including “Le Monstre,” “1864,” “Crimes of Passion” and “The Nordic Murders.”
The Hugh Laurie thriller “Masterpiece: Roadkill,” season two of “Great Performances: Now Hear This” and a duo of “Nova” programs are among the titles coming to DVD from PBS Distribution in December.
The new political thriller “Roadkill” from Academy Award nominee David Hare (The Reader, The Hours) comes out on DVD Dec. 15. The series stars Laurie as Peter Laurence, a self-made forceful and charismatic politician. Peter’s public and private life seem to be falling apart — or rather are being picked apart by his enemies. As his personal revelations spiral, he is shamelessly untroubled by guilt or remorse, expertly walking a high wire between glory and catastrophe as he seeks to further his own agenda, while others plot to bring him down. However, events show just how hard it is, for both an individual and a country, to leave the past behind. Helen McCrory (The Queen, “Harry Potter”), Sidse Babett Knudsen (“Westworld,” Inferno) and Millie Brady (“The Last Kingdom,” Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) also star.
Season two of “Great Performances: Now Hear This” is due Dec. 1. Viewers join Scott Yoo, renowned violinist and conductor of the Mexico City Philharmonic, in a four-part documentary miniseries that merges music, storytelling, travel and culture, as Yoo chases the secret histories of some of the greatest music ever written.
Also coming Dec. 1 is Nova: Human Nature, a feature-length film exploring the science, history, and ethics of a revolutionary gene-editing technology and its applications.
American Masters: Keith Haring — Street Art Boy is a biographical documentary coming out Dec. 8. International art sensation Keith Haring blazed a trail through the legendary art scene of 1980s New York and revolutionized the worlds of pop culture and fine art. Haring’s message targeted the underlying threat of violence, sexual exploitation and political oppression. His art was shown in more than 100 group and solo exhibitions during his lifetime and he continues to be celebrated today.
Also due Dec. 8 are Nova: Secret Mind of Slime and Secrets of Royal Travel. Nova: Secret Mind of Slime explores the questions and science behind the “intelligence” of slime molds. These creatures are not animals, nor plants, nor fungi, yet they appear to learn and to make decisions without brains, expanding the boundaries of intelligence beyond the animal kingdom. Secrets of Royal Travel tells the inside story of the monarchy on the move, taking viewers inside some of the most famous, yet exclusive, transport systems around the globe with select interviews of royal staff.
Coming Dec. 15 is The Queen and the Coup, a documentary about the happenings in February 1953, the first anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, during which she is about to be deployed in a U.S. plot to topple Iran’s last democratic leader in favor of an all-powerful Shah.
Finally, Dec. 22 comes Nova: A to Z — The First Alphabet and How Writing Changed the World. The documentary explores the history of writing. Just as writing changed the course of human history, the evolution of paper and printing revolutionized the spread of information. While the invention of paper boosted Chinese and Islamic societies, the simple fact that the Latin alphabet could be printed using a small number of discrete, repetitive symbols helped popularize moveable type, handing Europe a crucial advantage at the beginning of the Renaissance. The printing press itself kicked off the scientific revolution that fast-tracked us to the current digital age.
“Masterpiece Mystery! Van der Valk,” “Masterpiece: Flesh and Blood,” Islands of Wonder, and season one of “Cobra” are coming to DVD and digital in October.
Available now is Islands of Wonder, in which viewers journey to three of the most exotic, mysterious and remote islands on Earth: Madagascar, Borneo, and Hawaii. These isolated and iconic tropical islands harbor remarkable wildlife and human castaways found nowhere else on Earth. In a rapidly changing world, these fragile islands are a vital gauge for the health of our planet. Ancient Madagascar is the strangest and oldest island in the world, famed now for its lemurs. Though, over millennia it has given rise to more unique wildlife than any other island, Borneo’s rich coral reefs, lush jungles and mountainous landscapes reveal it is no paradise, and the struggles to survive are the secret to a greater variety of life, from orangutans to sun bears and flying snakes. Hawaii, the most remote island chain in the world, is a wondrous archipelago that has offered sanctuary for all life that have reached its tropical shores. From humpback whales to waterfall-climbing fish, carnivorous caterpillars and even albatross. All these islands are home to an extraordinary wealth of diverse wildlife and stunning, yet seldom seen, natural backdrops.
Due Oct. 13 is “Masterpiece Mystery!: Van der Valk,” which follows Piet Van der Valk, played by Marc Warren (“Beecham House,” “The Good Wife”), an engaging, unapologetic, and street-smart detective, as he leads his dynamic team in solving a raft of mysterious crimes. Brilliant, but cynical Piet Van der Valk solves these baffling crimes in and around 21st-century Amsterdam, which is more prosperous, cosmopolitan, and crime-prone than ever — at least that’s the way steely-eyed cop Van der Valk sees his murder-infested beat. Van der Valk and his team tackle high profile cases in the worlds of art, politics, addiction, mysticism and fashion.
Coming Oct. 20 is the drama “Masterpiece: Flesh and Blood,” in which the already dysfunctional lives of Helen, Jake, and Natalie are thrown into disarray when their recently widowed mother Vivien (Francesca Annis) declares she’s in love with a new man, retired surgeon Mark (Stephen Rea). Their suspicion of the newcomer triggers events in the siblings’ own complex love lives, which begin to spiral out of control. Next door neighbor Mary (Imelda Staunton) has known the family for years and tries to support them all with wise counsel, but seems powerless to stop the events from escalating. As the mystery unravels, this dark yet deliciously witty thriller explores family dynamics, modern relationships, love, loyalty, and betrayal, while keeping viewers guessing up until the very last moment.
Due Oct. 20 is season one of “Cobra,” an action-packed political drama that follows the British Prime Minister and his emergency committee as they navigate a major crisis and its political and personal fallout. On the brink of a geomagnetic solar storm, a team comprised of Britain’s leading contingency planners and senior politicians assemble under the name COBRA (taken from its meeting place in Whitehall’s Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) to guide the country through turbulent times.
A new season of “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” the “Worricker Trilogy,” Secrets of Highclere Castle and several “Walter Presents” series are among the titles available on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video channel in July.
The subscription rate for the channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
“The Worricker Trilogy” is David Hare’s spy trilogy that exposes the battles raging inside the intelligence community in the name of security. It stars Bill Nighy as Johnny Worricker, a long-serving MI5 officer whose life, both personal and professional, has just been turned inside out. The three installments of the trilogy are “Page Eight,” “Salting the Battlefield” and “Turks & Caicos,” and each episode features a host of guest stars, including Rachel Weisz, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Walken, and Winona Ryder.
In Secrets of Highclere Castle, viewers get the insider story about the famous mansion from the multi Emmy award-winning series “Downton Abbey.” Viewers step inside one of Britain’s best-known manor houses. It may be more famous now than any time in its 1,300-year history as the setting of “Downton Abbey,” but England’s Highclere Castle has its own stories to tell. In its heyday, Highclere was the social epicenter of Edwardian England. Viewers see how all the inhabitants of Highclere lived, from the aristocrats who enjoyed a life of luxury to the army of servants toiling “below stairs.” They also find out how the current inhabitants, Lord and Lady Carnarvon, spend their $1 million in annual upkeep funds, and what life in the castle is like today.
“Walter Presents: Imperial” is an Italian series set in 1905. The young and handsome Pietro Neri, from a nearby agricultural town, arrives at the Imperial, a luxury hotel in the Italian Alps. Posing as a waiter, he is there to investigate the mysterious disappearance of his sister Caterina, who also worked at the hotel. But Pietro is unprepared for what awaits him at the Imperial Hotel. On one of his first days there he crosses paths with the beautiful Adele Alibrandi. She is the aristocratic daughter of the hotel’s owner, Donna Vittoria Alibrandi, a woman with her own secrets, lies and crimes who will stop at nothing to keep them hidden. However, the difference in class will not stop Pietro and Adele from falling in love and starting a tumultuous affair, complicating everything for them.
Nineteen people were hanged and one man pressed to death, while hundreds went to jail during the witch hysteria of 1692. Three Sovereigns for Sarah is a true story based on transcripts from the Salem Witch Trials and stars Academy Award winners Vanessa Redgrave, Kim Hunter and Phyllis Thaxter. Sarah Cloyce (Redgrave), and her two sisters, are accused of being a witches in 1690s Massachusetts. After the trial, her sisters are found guilty and burned at the stake and Sarah is given a life in prison sentence. For years she is kept in brutal and terrible conditions until her family rescues her, after which she sets about trying to clear her family’s name. With real characters and original transcripts woven into the dialogue, the film is a moving story about three sisters accused of witchcraft and what happened to those who were found guilty.
Based on real events, the Italian series “Walter Presents: The Hunter,” which begins streaming July 10, is the true story of the “hunting season” in Italy during the 1990s. In Palermo, after decades of bloodshed and government officials turning a blind eye to the crime and corruption of the mafia, a new lawyer decides it’s time to go after the two rivaling bosses who have been causing the deaths of criminals and the innocent alike for years. Saverio Barone is a young and ambitious prosecutor who is fighting for what’s right through the legal system. When he reports his own boss as being a part of the mob corruption, his colleagues criticize and blame him for the trouble he causes. Barone is uniquely equipped for the job, with a distinct set of skills that will make him known as “The Hunter.” Thanks to a number of brilliant hunches that he follows, spectacular raids and arrests are made, taking 300 Mafiosi into police custody.
In season three of “Frankie Drake Mysteries,” which begins streaming July 17, the ladies of the Drake Detective Agency are back solving the crimes the police can’t handle, from cases in London with new mystery novelist friend Agatha Christie, to a mermaid-themed jazz club, to swanky Toronto private schools, to busy telephone exchanges filled with busybody operators. Mary is still at the police station where her newfound confidence at work and life leave her feeling frustrated with her status as a morality officer and push her toward new professional goals. Meanwhile Flo finishes her classroom portion of medical school and is looking forward to her clinical in-hospital training, all while juggling a long-distance beau and the varied demands of Drake Detective cases. As Trudy’s love life with Bill Peters heats up, she also excels at her investigative work, taking on some truly hair-raising risks as she works to solve cases. And finally, Frankie continues to lead the team with aplomb and ingenuity, while exploring a romantic connection with boxer Moses Page.
Mixing political intrigue with personal drama, the Swedish series “Walter Presents: The Inner Circle,” which begins streaming July 17, is a thriller that plays out over the course of several days as enterprise minister David Ehrling is in the running to become the next prime minister, all while his press officer Lena Nilsdotter attempts to keep his past misdemeanors from prying journalists. Adding to his troubles, David must also juggle the demands of his job with his family life, which is under threat of falling apart.
In the Italian series “Walter Presents: Rocco Shiavone,” streaming beginning July 24, due to disciplinary reasons, the unorthodox, weed smoking, foul-mouthed Italian police detective Rocco Schiavone is transferred far from his beloved Rome to the small mountain town of Aosta. The sophisticated but cranky Roman despises the mountains, the cold and the provincial locals as much as he dislikes his superiors and their petty rules. But he loves solving crimes, the only thing that is keeping him from losing his sanity.
Finally, the Ukrainian series “Walter Presents: Hide and Seek” streams beginning July 31. In a small industrial town, a father and daughter love playing hide and seek, but during one of their usual playdates, the daughter mysteriously disappears and is nowhere to be found. Later, a video is released that shows the girl holding a sign with an unusual set of numbers, but no one knows what they mean. She becomes the first of several children to disappear without a trace. Two young detectives, Varta Naumova and Maksim Shumov, take on the complex case and their own demons during the investigation. They are total opposites, but both have experienced trauma and this case affects them each on a deep level. They become personally vested in finding the children and apprehending the kidnapper as they confront their pasts.
The Windermere Children, Masterpiece: Beecham House, The Queen at War and several “Nature” and “Nova” programs are among the titles PBS Distribution in June will release on DVD and through digital retailers.
Available now is The Windermere Children, a dramatization based on the true story of 300 children who were saved from the Nazi concentration camps, along with a documentary on the subject. The drama’s cast is led by Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Tim McInnerny (“Strangers”) and Iain Glen (“Game of Thrones”). In the dramatization, child psychologist Oscar Friedmann (Kretschamann), art therapist Marie Paneth (Garai), philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (McInnerny) and sports coach Jock Lawrence (Glen) have been given the task of looking after the children once they arrive. By the lake, the children learn English, play football, ride bikes, express their trauma through painting and begin to heal. Some locals taunt them, but they are embraced by others. Ultimately alone, the children are haunted by nightmares and hope for news about the families they left behind.
Also available now is the documentary Nature: Remarkable Rabbits. There are more than 100 domestic and wild kinds of rabbits, from swamp rabbits and Flemish giants to snowshoe hares. Yet, these prolific creatures are often overlooked and rarely get the respect they deserve — due, in part, to their adorable appearance and storybook depictions. Learn how hares are more than just a rabbit with long ears and legs, how rabbits have managed to survive in ever-changing landscapes — in downtown Chicago or Canada’s frozen boreal forest — and how they turn the table on their predators. Despite their remarkable ability to reproduce, many wild rabbits are in danger of being eradicated. Viewers join scientists in the field as they work tirelessly to save rabbit species from the brink of extinction and reveal ground-breaking new discoveries.
Also available is Nature: Cuba’s Wild Revolution. As the largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba is teeming with exotic biodiversity and host to spectacular wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. Jumping crocodiles of the Zapata swamp, the world’s tiniest hummingbird, thousands of migrating crabs, giant bat-eating boas that lie in wait for easy prey, coral reefs pulsating with life, and five-foot-long Cuban rock iguanas all call this island home. Decades of a socialist, conservation-minded government, American embargoes, and minimal development have left the island virtually unchanged for 50 years. As international relations ease, what will become of the spectacularly biodiverse wildlife sanctuary in this Caribbean paradise?
Season one of “Expedition With Steve Backshall” is also available. In this new series, adventurer and naturalist Backshall ventures into undiscovered territory, endures extreme physical challenges, encounters extraordinary wildlife, and teams up with remarkable people. From free-diving in underground river systems descending deep into the caves of the Maya underworld to kayaking Himalayan whitewater and scaling unclimbed Arctic peaks, these expeditions push Backshall and his expert crew to the limit. Some of the locations he explores include Oman’s Dhofar Mountains where he is the first to ascend the desert rock face, a Bornean cave system that has only recently been spotted from a dark shadow on a satellite image, and Greenland where he will attempt to summit an unclimbed mountain in the country’s remotest peaks.
Available June 16 is The Queen at War, examining Queen Elizabeth’s childhood as she endured WWII and how her actions impacted England as a whole. Narrated by Phyllis Logan (“Downton Abbey”), viewers take a look at Britain’s longest reigning monarch in history. The documentary offers a fascinating look at how Princess Elizabeth, just 13 years old when World War II broke out, was set on her life’s path to become a legendary monarch. Together with sister Margaret, the young princesses became symbols of hope for a nation wracked by a horrific war, the terrors of the Blitz and the relocation of over a million children. By 1945, Elizabeth had been transformed from a shy girl into a confident young woman and proved her mettle as a driver and mechanic in the women’s branch of the army. She was also already in love with the handsome naval officer she would one day marry. Told through the reminiscences of friends, including Lady Glenconner, royal biographers Christopher Warwick, Robert Lacey, Jane Dismore and Hugh Vickers, among others, the documentary features rare footage of the Queen’s war years culled from private and public collections.
Also due June 16 is the documentary Nova: Cuba’s Cancer Hope. In Cuba, as in the United States, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Decades of economic and political isolation have starved the country of medical resources, leading Cuba’s biomedical researchers to get creative and invent their own immunotherapies. Among them are very promising lung cancer vaccines that can help jumpstart the body’s immune response to cancer. Some U.S. patients are even defying their country’s trade embargo to travel to Cuba for treatment. The program explores the fascinating history of Cuban biomedical research and follows the journey of two cancer patients, one from the island and one from the United States, receiving the new vaccines. As they prove effective in some patients, Cuban scientists are teaming up with a leading U.S. cancer institute to develop an even more effective treatment by combining the best of both countries’ research and medical technologies.
Due June 30 is the drama Masterpiece:Beecham House. From filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Blinded by the Light), Beecham House takes place in 19th century India at the start of the British Empire. The six-part miniseries explores the life of the mysterious John Beecham, a former East India Company employee who buys an imposing mansion in Delhi. Starring Tom Bateman (Vanity Fair, Jekyll and Hyde) as John, Lesley Nicol (“Downton Abbey”) as his mother Henrietta Beecham, and Leo Suter (Sanditon) as his brother Daniel,Beecham House follows the twists and turns, and complex relationships of John and those that surrounded and live in the mansion with him.
Coming June 30 is the documentary Nova: The Truth About Fat. For generations, fat has been the enemy, and overweight individuals have been stigmatized and shamed. Society has demonized it as a cumbersome health risk and cast overweight individuals as too gluttonous or lazy to make healthy choices, but scientists are coming to understand that fat is not so simple. In fact, it’s a fascinating and dynamic organ — one that has more to do with biological processes than personal choices. “Nova” asks and answers the questions that surround fat. Do we control our fat or does it control us? Why don’t sumo wrestlers suffer from the health problems that other obese people do? Why has evolution hardwired us to hang onto fat even when it’s unhealthy? What would happen if you had no fat at all? Through real-life stories of hunter-gatherers, supermodels, and a “Biggest Loser” contestant, the program explores the complex functions of fat and the role it plays in controlling hunger, hormones and even reproduction.
A new episode will debut every Sunday following April 6 with the full series available May 17.
The subscription rate for PBS Masterpiece is $5.99 a month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.
Academy Award-winner Helen Hunt (As Good as It Gets, “Mad About You”) and Sean Bean (“Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones”) star in the series taking place during the first year of the war following the intertwining fates of ordinary people in four countries, Britain, Poland, France, and Germany, as they grapple with the effects the war has on their everyday lives.
Hunt stars as an American broadcaster reporting from Warsaw and then Berlin as fighting erupts. Bean plays a World War I veteran-turned-pacifist trying to cope with chronic shellshock while looking after his working-class family. And Academy Award-nominee Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread) stars as a British fascist sympathizer who finds herself sheltering a young refugee.
In Manchester, England, Douglas Bennett (Bean) is fighting a losing battle for pacifism as his country spirals into war. His lawbreaking son, Tom (Ewan Mitchell, “The Last Kingdom”), is given the choice of prison or the military. His daughter, Lois, is a factory worker and talented singer, involved in a romance with upper class translator Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King, “Little Women” on Masterpiece) — much to the dismay of Harry’s aloof mother, Robina (Manville).
Posted to the British embassy in Warsaw, Harry forgets Lois when he falls in love with local waitress Kasia Tomanszeski, becoming close to her family, including her studious little brother, Jan. Harry also befriends Nancy Campbell (Hunt), an American radio reporter trying to uncover the truth about the Nazi regime.
From the Nazi invasion of Poland, to the near debacle at Dunkirk, to the fall of Paris, “World on Fire” brings to life the devastating effect of war.
Also starring are Blake Harrison (“A Very English Scandal”) as a stalwart English sergeant, Julia Brown (“Shetland”) as an armed services entertainer, Zofia Wichłacz (“The Romanoffs”) as a Polish resistance fighter, Brian J. Smith (“Sense8”) as an American doctor in occupied Paris, and Parker Sawyers (“Southside with You”) as a Parisian jazz musician.
The Jane Austen series “Sanditon” and a miniseries of the classic E.M. Forster novel “Howards End” are among the titles coming to disc and digital from PBS Distribution in February.
Writer-executive producer Andrew Davies completes Austen’s last piece of work — unfinished due to her death in 1817 — with the PBS “Masterpiece” series “Sanditon,” due on Blu-ray, DVD and digital Feb. 4. Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “Les Misérables,” “Little Dorrit”) takes the first 11 chapters of the final Austen masterpiece and creates an epic drama. Set during the Regency Period, the story follows Tom Parker (Kris Marshall), who is obsessed with turning the sleepy seaside village of Sanditon into a fashionable health resort. He enlists the financial backing of the local, curmudgeonly wealthy widow, Lady Denham (Anne Reid). Through a mishap while traveling through the countryside, Tom and his wife Mary (Kate Ashfield) make the acquaintance of the Heywoods, a local farming family. While describing his plans for Sanditon, their eldest daughter Charlotte (Rose Williams) is intrigued and excited and Tom invites her for an extended stay at the seaside town. Upon her initial arrival, the sensible and naive Charlotte observes hypochondria, avarice and attempted seduction run amok. Lady Denham is playing matchmaker for her destitute nephew, Sir Edward (Jack Fox), who is determined to seduce Lady Denham’s ward, Clara (Lily Sacofsky), and become the primary heir to his aunt’s estate. The arrival of wealthy, mixed-race heiress Miss Lambe (Crystal Clarke), under the guardianship of Tom’s upright brother Sidney (Theo James), due to a promise he made to Lambe’s father on his deathbed, adds an interesting complication. Eligible men naturally find Miss Lambe fascinating, while Charlotte is intrigued by Sidney. Charlotte Spencer also stars as Sir Edward’s scheming sister, Esther. Even as Austen was succumbing to her fatal illness, she chose to lampoon the contemporary fad for tonics, sea water cures and other medical remedies. Undiagnosed at the time, her malady was probably Addison’s disease, which today is easily treatable. Austen died at age 41, on July 18, 1817.
Also due Feb. 4 from “Masterpiece” on DVD and digital is the four-episode miniseries “Howards End,” starring Matthew Macfadyen, Julia Ormond, Hayley Atwell, Philippa Coulthard and Tracey Ullman. The series follows Margaret Schlegel (Atwell), an intelligent, idealistic young woman who is courted by the older Henry Wilcox (Macfadyen), a self-made conservative businessman. After his wife Ruth (Ormond) dies unexpectedly, he becomes the owner of Howards End. Meanwhile Margaret’s passionate and capricious younger sister Helen Schlegel (Coulthard) takes up the cause of Leonard Bast, a young bank clerk who falls on hard times at work and at home with his partner Jacky. In the absence of their late parents, the sisters’ loving but interfering Aunt Juley (Ullman) tries to keep the young ladies and their brother Tibby on the straight and narrow. The adaptation is written by Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea, Gangs of New York).
Coming Feb. 11 on DVD and digital is American Experience: McCarthy, chronicling the legacy of Joseph McCarthy’s relentless search for anyone he deemed a communist or enemy of the state. The Wisconsin Senator’s crusade is now the centerpiece of any conversation involving the government’s role in decency, democracy and ethical conduct. This witch hunt, completely free of restraint or oversight, led to the trials and imprisonment of many celebrities, Americans and immigrants. This program details the rise of McCarthy’s political life which led to his belief that there was a great conspiracy threatening America, culminating in a chilling campaign full of groundless accusations, bullying intimidation, grandiose showmanship, cruel victimization and a web of lies to keep public opinion on their side.
Due Feb. 4 on DVD and digital is Nova: Decoding da Vinci. On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, with guidance from historian Walter Isaacson, the program pulls back the curtain to investigate what led to da Vinci’s ahead of his time, legendary successes. The program examines how his scientific studies, from dissecting humans to studying optics, led to a host of brilliant inventions, such as hang gliders, armored tanks, parachutes and many others. The program further explains how this deep scientific curiosity was behind the most captivating work of art in history, The Mona Lisa.
Coming Feb. 11 on DVD and digital is Nova: The Violence Paradox. Violence is ubiquitous in our everyday lives. We see it in the news, in movies, on TV and video games so why do some experts say that violence is decreasing and that we’re living in the most peaceful time in history? The program addresses these questions and explores the intricacies of how violence permeates our life, psychology and everyday thoughts and actions. The program takes us through time and the human mind to investigate what impacts the violence rates and what people are doing now to reduce violence in the world.
Finally, on Feb. 18 comes Nova: Animal Espionage on DVD and digital. With the technological advancements of the camera industry, experts and viewers get an intimate look at hard-to-view species behind closed doors during their everyday lives. Camera traps and drones, completely hidden from the animal’s view, allow viewers to get closer than ever before to animals such as whales, tigers and elusive giant armadillos. The recordings featured on this program capture everything from the unexpected to the comical.