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PBS: "The Bletchley Circle"

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Seems that many TV mysteries require a serial killer. This addition to PBS, following Masterpiece (here) last Sunday has a real nasty one. Here's a general summary from PBS's site, which runs a video repeat of part one:
Quote:
The Bletchley Circle follows four ordinary women with the extraordinary ability to break codes, a skill honed during World War II when they worked undercover at Bletchley Park, site of the United Kingdom’s main decryption establishment.
An intriguing intro, with the protagonist et al pooh-poohed of course by Scotland Yard, before the entire circle, all sworn to secrecy about their background, gets serious about tracking the killer's unique path. But for a review in last weeks NY Times, likely would have missed this series -- John.
post #2 of 30
Really enjoyed the first episode. Interesting premise for the story, great acting from the four leads, nice portrayal of early 50's London (still showing scars from the war). Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.
post #3 of 30

I knew going in that this would be good. From the reviews we are made aware that the women would largely be ignored by the "good old boys". So when the Deputy Commissioner told Susan that she was no clerk during the war I was surprised.

post #4 of 30
I'm also enjoying this show. In my market it follows another show of the same time period and I believe same seedy area of London which I'm also watching, Call The Midwife. It's kind of different that we are getting these shows so soon after the original air date, most of the BBC shows on PBS I see are several years old, nice looking HD on both these shows.
post #5 of 30

Ditto on Call the Midwife. This is its second season so it proved to have legs.

post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Adams View Post

Ditto on Call the Midwife. This is its second season so it proved to have legs.

Call The Midwife is a huge hit in the UK - similar ratings to Downton Abbey - with both getting >10million viewers for some episodes. (Which are stellar figures for a UK show domestically) One of the stars of Call The Midwife, Miranda Hart, also has her own, incredibly popular, sit com.

The Bletchley Circle wasn't in the same league in ratings terms - and didn't get much 'buzz' here.
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

One of the stars of Call The Midwife, Miranda Hart, also has her own, incredibly popular, sit com.
That wouldn't be Miranda would it? I instantly recognized the tall midwife from a show that also playes on PBS called Miranda. I watch Miranda off and on but a big gripe is it's upconverted SD picture quality(similar to many of the other BBC shows we get here). Shows like Outnumbered, Last of the summer wine(even the newer ones), Ballykissangel, etc. aren't all the old but seem to only show in SD. Not sure if they were just shot in SD or maybe PBS only purchases the SD version.
Great HD(most PBS HD stations are broadcast in 1080i) is one of the reasons I like shows like Bletchley Circle, Call the midwife, and of course Downton Abbey.
post #8 of 30
Unfortunately, my local PBS stations, which had awesome hd in the early days, now carry a bunch of subchannels. If I want high quality hd, I'm better off getting from "unofficial" channels, wait for netflix or the bluray.
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
They picked a suitably creepy close-out for part two: lead protagonist Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) entering the former home of a psychiatrist suspected of treating the serial killer. This actress plays a lead, as a young woman, in the BBC's series, Dickens' "Bleak House." Plot summary for next weeks' part 3 .

Enjoy the how-it's-made sections at the end of both episodes. Sunday they outlined how they deliberately acheived a drab toned-down look, with repetitious patterns, minimizing sunlit scenes. Seems that wouldn't go well, PQ-wise, from detail-robbing minimized-bandwidth, multi-subchannel PBS HD stations. -- John
Edited by John Mason - 4/29/13 at 9:24am
post #10 of 30
Overall it is an excellent mini-series. Acting, story and production values are all great. However, it seems that every male character is portrayed as a condesending idiot, a wifebeater or a rapist. I would not watch a 10 episode run of the series if it continued in that direction.
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandu View Post

Overall it is an excellent mini-series. Acting, story and production values are all great. However, it seems that every male character is portrayed as a condesending idiot, a wifebeater or a rapist. I would not watch a 10 episode run of the series if it continued in that direction.

So, are you saying you don't believe the series is depicting life as it was then? I don't know if it is depicting things as they really were or if it may be embellishing things a bit, I was just a wee toddler during that time and lived here in the states, so I can't say, but when I grew up, women didn't get that much respect.
post #12 of 30
I wasn't around during that time or have detailed knowledge of the English class/society/gender 'rules' of the early 50's. From all accounts, women were not treated as equals in many areas of life but, it seems the 'condesending idiot man' stereotype is over-emphasized a bit in this story, so far.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandu View Post

I wasn't around during that time or have detailed knowledge of the English class/society/gender 'rules' of the early 50's. From all accounts, women were not treated as equals in many areas of life but, it seems the 'condesending idiot man' stereotype is over-emphasized a bit in this story, so far.

I think I would rather have the series flash back to their time at Bletchley myself, I think that would/could be more interesting. I'm thinking about grabbing a copy of 'The Girls of Atomic City' , it's amazing how much unheralded work the women did during World War II ...
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post

That wouldn't be Miranda would it? I instantly recognized the tall midwife from a show that also playes on PBS called Miranda.
Yep - the very same.
Quote:
I watch Miranda off and on but a big gripe is it's upconverted SD picture quality(similar to many of the other BBC shows we get here).
Pity - it's always been shot in HD as it's a recent commission.
Quote:
Shows like Outnumbered, Last of the summer wine(even the newer ones), Ballykissangel, etc. aren't all the old but seem to only show in SD.
Recent series of Outnumbered and the very final few series of Last of the Summer Wine were shot HD. However Ballykissangel ceased production 12 years ago - so it's not surprising that is SD. In fact early series were shown when the BBC only had 4:3 SD outlets.

The BBC introduced 16:9 SD broadcasts in 1998 (when our first generation of digital TV platforms launched), and by 2000 almost all BBC production was in 16:9 SD - including News.

The BBC then trialled HD in 2006 (around the time HD started taking off in Europe with the World Cup), launching a full HD channel in Dec 2007 (with OTA HD services launching in 2009 with our second generation of OTA digital standards) Most BBC production outside news had transitioned to predominantly HD acquisition by about 2010, with News transitioning to HD when they moved from West London to Central London earlier this year. (Studios are HD, some field reports are HD, most remote live contributions are SD) There are still some long-term commissions that are still being produced in SD, and currently the BBC doesn't have HD outlets for BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC or CBeebies (though most new programmes are originated in HD for these channels). The BBC currently only has HD outlets for BBC One HD and BBC Two HD (BBC HD was a previous HD channel that carried non-BBC One HD shows, but this was replaced by BBC Two HD a month or two ago to reduce the costs of administering a separately scheduled channel)
Quote:
Not sure if they were just shot in SD or maybe PBS only purchases the SD version.

Great HD(most PBS HD stations are broadcast in 1080i) is one of the reasons I like shows like Bletchley Circle, Call the midwife, and of course Downton Abbey.

ITV - the BBC's main commercial competitor in the UK - makes (or commissions) some of these (Bletchley Circle, Downton Abbey). Initially they lagged behind the BBC in HD production (and were a bit half-hearted with their HD channels) However they now have HD versions of all of their networks (ITV, ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4) with the exception of their kids channel (CITV) In the early days of ITV HD production some shows were "not great" - as ITV were allowing Super 16 to be used for HD productions (the BBC don't) The first HD series of "Lewis" (the spin off of "Inspector Morse") was a particular HD-quality low-point...
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by rebkell View Post

I think I would rather have the series flash back to their time at Bletchley myself, I think that would/could be more interesting. I'm thinking about grabbing a copy of 'The Girls of Atomic City' , it's amazing how much unheralded work the women did during World War II ...

The work at Bletchley Park is fascinating - as are the amazing men and women who worked there. Churchill described them as "The Goose that layed the golden egg, but never cackled" - with most keeping their silence well into the 1970s when some of the work was de-classified.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colossus_computer (now cited as the first electronic digital computer that was all programmable) in particular was an amazing achievement that was unknown to most due to wartime secrecy.

Also fascinating is the work of the many women pilots who delivered Spitfires etc. from the factories.
post #16 of 30
Thanks for clarifying things sneals2000 smile.gif
Most of the SD we get in my market is 4:3 with only the occasional 16:9 SD, mostly things that started out HD and for whatever reason is downconverted to SD. Sometimes things like Summer Wine is broadcast in a postage stamp format only later in the broadcast to be changed to zoom. IMO the whole aspect ratio thing is kind of problematic, at least for PBS where I get most of my British programming.
Only one Bletchley Circle to go, it's turned out to be a rather nice mini series.
post #17 of 30
Thread Starter 
Before this series started I couldn''t recall where I'd seen another drama about Bletchley Park. Believe PBS ran something called "Breaking the Code" (see IMDB.com) way back when, about breaking the Nazi Enigma codes; there's a 60-minute documentary, too. -- John
Edited by John Mason - 5/3/13 at 10:02am
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason View Post

Before this series started I couldn''t recall where I'd seen another drama about Bletchley Park. Believe PBS ran something called "Breaking the Code" (see IMDB.com) way back when, about breaking the Nazi Enigma codes; there's a 60-minute documentary, too. -- John

Also the fine movie "Enigma"
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by philw1776 View Post

Also the fine movie "Enigma"

A perfectly good film - but ignore any concept that it's based on reality...
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

A perfectly good film - but ignore any concept that it's based on reality...

Like Bletchley Circle? rolleyes.gif
post #21 of 30
Thread Starter 
Moderately suspenseful ending, IMO. Didn't quite catch how the rest of the circle tracked Susan as she visited, by train, the house to protect her family after the serial killer called her. They found she'd taken the gun from a purse, but she didn't leave a destination note. -- John
post #22 of 30
Susan called the house and ended up speaking with Malcolm the murderer. She told the rest of group that she had spoken with the father of the first murdered girl, and she was going to visit him alone at the house because he was old and too many visitors would upset him. After they discovered the missing gun, apparently they sensed Susan could be in danger, so they followed her to the house
post #23 of 30

From the web:
ITV has announced that the women of The Bletchley Circle are returning for a second season of code-breaking and mystery solving. A four-episode second season has been commissioned, and the network revealed that the season will be split into two self-contained stories, each spanning two episodes, that will be written by series creator Guy Burt.

 

I hope PBS will buy into season two.

post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Adams View Post

From the web:

ITV has announced that the women of The Bletchley Circle are returning for a second season of code-breaking and mystery solving. A four-episode second season has been commissioned, and the network revealed that the season will be split into two self-contained stories, each spanning two episodes, that will be written by series creator Guy Burt.

I hope PBS will buy into season two.

This is good news indeed!
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by philw1776 View Post

Like Bletchley Circle? rolleyes.gif

And U571...
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett Adams View Post

From the web:

ITV has announced that the women of The Bletchley Circle are returning for a second season of code-breaking and mystery solving. A four-episode second season has been commissioned, and the network revealed that the season will be split into two self-contained stories, each spanning two episodes, that will be written by series creator Guy Burt.

I hope PBS will buy into season two.

They were talking about the next season of 'The Bletchley Circle' at the end of 'Call the Midwife' tonight on PBS, so I'd say it's almost a sure thing they will be showing season #2 of 'The Bletchley Circle'.
post #27 of 30
Thread Starter 
Tonight is the 2nd season on some PBS stations. The women get together again to help one of their own, accused of murder. -- John
post #28 of 30

Yep I noticed it right after Masterpiece Classic (Mr. Selfridge season 2), I've set both to record  :)

post #29 of 30
Thread Starter 
An interesting new season. Believe there are two episodes to start this initial mystery. The bad guy(s), to be vague, belong to an organization some UFO fans accuse of squelching Roswell reports. As with season one, there's a short follow-on documentary briefly outlining Bletchley's decoding hardware and other details. -- John
Edited by John Mason - 4/16/14 at 7:01am
post #30 of 30
Last series had three episodes comprising one story. This series, there will be four comprising two stories.

Both the wife and I really like this series, and the closing "documentaries" as well. We loved the line that the attendance at the Bletchley museum has doubled since the series was shown. biggrin.gif
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