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Rosemary & Thyme Christmas

Rosemary & Thyme Christmas

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by Greg Bakun

I know I have done an episode of Rosemary & Thyme recently but I am sitting here, roughly a week before Christmas and really wanted something comfortable to watch. It's been a crummy week and as I sat down to view something for this column, I knew I wanted to grab something from the Christmas programming Acorn TV was offering. It's Sunday and I thought nothing would be more appropriate than watching an episode of Rosemary Boxer and Laura Thyme as they deal with The Cup of Silence.

Streaming News

Don't forget, Acorn TV has special programming for the holiday season. It's called Most Mysterious Christmas Specials and features our favorite detectives Poirot, Rosemary & Thyme, Foyle, and Midsomer Murders.  This is only available on Acorn TV for a little while longer, so check it out as soon as you can.

Acorn TV is featuring a free 14-day trial for complete access to the 18 different series with an average of 175 hours of weekly content (up 40% from the 125 hours in Sept.) Thereafter, a subscription is just $2.99/mth or $29.99/yr. Each week three new seasons are added and three are removed.


Here is the list of programs for December 2012 and January 2013. Please note all program descriptions courtesy of Acorn Media

December 2012:
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans – Complete Series (ends 1/13)  Agatha Christie’s classic tale of murder, suspense, false identities, and sparkling British wit, unraveling the mystery behind those enigmatic dying words. 1 episode. 188 min
Lillie – Complete Series (ends 1/13) In a time when women were expected to be docile and demure, Lillie Langtry was the opposite. 13 episodes. 676 min.
Blue Murder – Series 2 (ends 1/13) Janine Lewis, a single mother and DCI, heads a police team that probes Manchester’s most gruesome murders. 4 episodes. 276 min.
Prime Suspect 1-2 (Ends 12/23)
Cadfael 2 (Ends 12/23)
Fresh Fields (Ends 12/23)
Rosemary & Thyme 2 (Ends 12/30)
Touching Evil 3 (Ends 12/30)
Above Suspicion (Ends 12/30)
Jennie (Ends 1/6)
Murdoch Mysteries 4 (Ends 1/6)
The Last Detective 2 (Ends 1/6)
The Brief – Complete Series (ends 1/20) Henry Farmer is a clever criminal practice barrister who fights for justice in the courtroom— and against chaos in his personal life. 8 episodes. 560 min.
Cracker – Series 2 (ends 1/20) Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald is a drunkard, a gambler, a boor, and a brilliant criminologist— an indelible character in British crime fiction. 9 episodes. 450 min.
Monroe – Series 1 (ends 1/20) With a dose of House’s dark humor and an infusion of humanity and warmth, Monroe is a gripping medical drama at its best. 6 episodes. 360 min.
Partners in Crime – Series 1 (ends 1/27) Spirited dialogue, posh Roaring '20s style, and devious mysteries abound in Agatha Christie’s tales of the crime-solving couple Tommy and Tuppence. 5 episodes. 330 min.
Brideshead Revisited – Complete Series (ends 1/27) Adapted from the novel by Evelyn Waugh, winner of 17 international awards, it hasn’t lost any of its power to move and enchant. 11 episodes. 572 min Upstairs Downstairs – Series 3 (ends 1/27) Upstairs: the wealthy, aristocratic Bellamys. Downstairs: their loyal and lively servants. 13 episodes. 780 min.
Above Suspicion – Series 2 (starting 12/24) Does Detective Anna Travis have what it takes to succeed in what is still mostly a man’s world? 3 episodes. 180 min
Slings & Arrows – Series 2 (starting 12/24) A dysfunctional Shakespearean theatre troupe struggles with artistic egos and conspiratorial board members. 6 episodes. 276 min.
The Grand – Complete Series (starting 12/24) The Grand is more than a building. It’s a nexus for scandals & romance among guests and staff members alike. 18 episodes. 918 min.
Partners in Crime – Series 2 (Starts 12/24) Spirited dialogue, Roaring '20s style, and devious mysteries abound in Dame Agatha's tales of crime-solving couple Tommy and Tuppence. 6 episodes. 330 min.
Maigret – Series 1(starting 12/31) Equipped with rigorous logic, uncanny judgment of character, and, his signature pipe and fedora, Maigret relishes the challenge of solving any mystery. 6 episodes. 390 min.
No Job for a Lady – Complete Series (starting 12/31) Jean Price has just been elected Member of Parliament. Now her real work begins: navigating the Machiavellian world of Westminster. 18 episodes. 468 min Time Team – Set 1 (starting 12/31) An eclectic band of archaeologists explore sites dating from the Roman occupation of Britain. 12 episodes. 720 min.

December Marathons:
Most Mysterious Christmas Specials 11/26 – 12/23
Agatha Christie’s Poirot “Theft of the Royal Ruby” (Series 3)
Agatha Christie’s Poirot “Poirot’s Christmas” (Series 6)
Rosemary & Thyme “The Cup of Silence” (Series 3)
Midsomer Murders “Ghost of Christmas Past” (Set 8)
Foyle's War "Bleak Midwinter (Set 4)
Midsomer Murders Sets 10-12 12/10 – 12/30 Homicide, blackmail, and betrayal; just a taste of what goes on behind the well-trimmed hedges of Midsomer County. 12 episodes. 1200 min.
Doc Martin 12/31-1/27 Enjoy the complete collection of Doc Martin including Series 1-5 and the Doc Martin Movies (prequels to the TV series). 40 episodes. 1962 min.

January 2013:
Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries – Series 1 (Starts 1/7) In 1920s Melbourne, Phryne Fisher, the glamorous “lady detective”, is a thoroughly modern woman operating in a mostly male world. 13 episodes. 650 min. A Fine Romance – Set 2 (Starts 1/7) Dame Judi Dench and Michael Williams, star in his sitcom about two middle-aged misfits and their bumblings along the road to true love. 7 episodes. 210 min.
Cadfael Set 3 (Starts 1/7) A 12th-century Benedictine monk, played by Sir Derek Jacobi, who uses his worldly knowledge, to solve crimes. 3 episodes. 225 min.
Murdoch Mysteries Season 5 (Starts 1/14) Cutting-edge Victorian science meets cunningly plotted mystery in this award-winning Canadian TV drama. (Not available for Canadian subscribers.) 13 episodes. 780 min.
Edward the King – Complete Series (Starts 1/14) He waited a lifetime to be king, ruled England for just nine years, and changed the monarchy forever. 13 episodes. 676 min.
A Woman of Substance – Complete Series (Starts 1/14) Determined to ruin the upper-class Fairley family who wronged her, Emma Harte aims to become one of the richest women in the world. 9 episodes. 840 min.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Complete Series (Starts 1/21) The story of an educator’s effect on young ladies at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, revealing the challenges they face growing up in 1930s Scotland. 7 episodes. 366 min.
Blue Murder - Series 3 (Starts 1/21) Janine Lewis, a single mother and DCI, heads a police team that probes Manchester’s most gruesome murders. 3 episodes. 204 min.
Murder Investigation Team – Series 1 (Starts 1/21) DI Vivien Friend and DC Rosie MacManus lead an elite murder investigation team for London’s Metropolitan Police. 8 episodes. 384 min.
Dirk Gently – Series 1 (Starts 1/28) Meet Dirk Gently. He’s poorly dressed, perpetually insolvent… and uncommonly good at solving mysteries. Based on the Douglas Adams series. 4 episodes. 220 min.
Chance in a Million – Complete Series (Starts 1/28) Tom Chance seems cursed by fate until he meets Alison Little, a sheltered, earnest librarian, and the two embark on an unconventional courtship. 18 episodes. 540 min.

January Marathons:
Upstairs Downstairs – Complete Series (Starts 1/28) Series 1-5 Upstairs: the wealthy, aristocratic Bellamys. Downstairs: their loyal and lively servants. 67 episodes. 3,417 min.

Rosemary & Thyme: The Cup of Silence

It’s that time of year when we take a break from real life and journey into the whimsical world of peace and goodwill.  I don’t mean to sound cynical; there are actually a lot of fun things that happens around Christmas time. As you may know, I am a massive fan of British television. Part of what makes me enjoy it so much is how television is perceived over there versus over here.

Take for example television programs shown on Christmas day. Over here in the US, we rarely see new episodes of our favorite series on Christmas day or even Christmas Eve. Yet over in the UK, programming on the evening Christmas day is huge. Both ITV and the BBC plan those evenings very carefully to try and get a foothold in the ratings that evening. This trend began with a series called Only Fools and Horses. When the series started in 1981, it was just a regular sitcom which was perceived as nothing special. When the series started to grow in popularity, the BBC ran special episodes of the series on Christmas and this became a tradition and was bringing in huge ratings. In fact, there were a total of 14 specials of Only Fools and Horses that aired between 1983 and 2003. The BBC saw this as a way to add more than just Only Fools and Horses as part of their Christmas programming. Usually there is a big episode of Eastenders that would have a massive plot twist or a death of a regular. Now, one of the big draws on the BBC schedule is the Christmas episode of Doctor Who.  This year will mark the 8th special.  The BBC was not alone in this as ITV also got involved with making their own Christmas magic.

Now to be honest, I don’t think anyone can call Rosemary & Thyme a big hitter for Christmas. In fact the Christmas episode I watched was shown in the UK on ITV  December 23rd 2005.  The thing about Rosemary & Thyme is that it is comfortable. For example, I had a really horrible week prior to sitting down and watching this episode. I needed something that felt warm and had some heart to it. From the first strings of the theme tune to the incidental music running throughout the entire production, it is all very familiar and warm.

The Christmas episode for Rosemary & Thyme is called The Cup of Silence. It is a feature length episode which really gives the whole production time to breathe. What I find really enjoyable about this program is that neither Rosemary nor Laura is detectives. They are brought into these locations as gardeners. It just so happens that the murders are committed wherever they go.  They are sort of accidental detectives.
What brings Rosemary and Laura to Crickle Valley Vineyard is a weed problem within the Vineyards vines. Rosemary is having some problems as her land-over is having gear box issues and she is unable to fix the problem due to a lack of money.  At Crickle Valley is the vineyard but also a hotel. Each one is managed by a brother. The Vineyard is managed by Ben Blackton and the hotel is by Stuart Blackton. Stuart desperately wants to get good reviews for the food and quality of service in his hotel. Not a lot of people know about Crickle Valley and he knows he has a good product. Rosemary is in a spot of trouble herself. Her land-rover has completely died and she has to work at the vineyard to pull weeds to be able to afford the work that will need to be done on the vehicle.  The good news for her though is that a good friend of hers, Angus Fairley, is also staying at the hotel.

Angus is a food critic. He does a lifestyle piece for the paper and he is there in his capacity as a critic to review the hotel on Crickle Valley. This is also good news for Stuart as this could really mean good things for his hotel. A positive review from Angus means success for a hotel. He is that well known. The problem is that Angus has previously rubbed a few people the wrong way who are now working at the hotel including the Chef. Yet it is a surprise to everyone when Angus is found dead one morning.  This is when Rosemary finds out that Angus wasn’t exactly the nicest guy around as a few people in the hotel are not all that bothered that he is gone.

There is somebody who is in the hotel that may know what is going on.  Her name is Daisy and she works at the hotel. She has uncovered some possible information that may lead everyone to who the killer is. She confides into Rosemary and Laura that something is going on but before she can really tell anyone, she is killed. Worse of all is that Stuart’s brother Ben has been romantically linked to her before and he is arrested for her murder. Is he responsible?

I really enjoyed this episode. Like I mentioned above, I watched this at the right time, as I really needed something comfortable. The link to Christmas in this episode is tenuous at best but that, to me, actually adds some of the charm.  The episode takes place close to Christmas as Laura is inviting Rosemary over to spend it with her and her family. By the time we get to the end of the episode, all of Laura’s family ended up having other plans and she eventually does decide to spend it with Rosemary. Even though this takes place close Christmas, it is clearly Summer outside. This is not unusual especially for British television to shoot these programs in the summer for a Christmas broadcast. This show especially needs to be shot in the summer. After all, it’s about plants. Plants grow in the spring and summer so it makes sense that this episode was shot during that period. It’s with good reason too; the locations found in this series are beautiful. The rolling hills and the endless rows in the vineyard are breathtaking.  The greens of the plants and vines are vivid and lush. The old manor used as the hotel is gorgeous with its combination of looking traditional but having all the recent amenities.

The room that Laura and Rosemary are allowed to stay in is called the Ebenezer Scrooge room. All the rooms in the hotel are named after movies that were shot on the premises. The problem with the Ebenezer Scrooge room is that it is at the very top of the hotel and is super tiny. Laura and Rosemary have bunk beds. When watching that scene, I suddenly had a flashback to twenty years earlier when I travelled to the UK and stayed at all kinds of Bed & Breakfast places around the country. One room was about the size of the Ebenezer Scrooge room. It was tiny yet it was a blast. Happy memories!

Speaking of movies being made at this fictional hotel, Laura Thyme gave a name check to a couple of my favorite British actors.  Wilfred Brambell who played Albert Steptoe in Steptoe and Son and Peter Cushing has played every part in film and television history. Peter Cushing is still a pretty big name but Wilfred is probably less so now than when he was during the height of his popularity. I love these sorts of call outs. Another familiar name who was not a call-out but was actually in the program was Clive Francis who played Angus. Some people might recognize him from the Piglet Files. He played Drummond. If you have never seen the series, check it out. It is a great comedy about a young spy who had to take the only codename left: Piglet.

There are some really good clues and miscues through out the episode to guess who is behind this. There is a great ghost story aspect to this episode with Laura thinking that the hotel was haunted. Ghost stories at Christmas are huge in the UK. I have a box set of BBC programs from the 1970s that have all the adaptations of the MR James classics and these were always shown on Christmas Eve or the evening of Christmas Day on the BBC.  I wish we would have more programs made like that over here. Unfortunately it feels like everything we make in the US that is Christmas related always features Santa Claus or family members being reunited. There is some great comedy in this episode too. When Rosemary goes into town there is this store that sells only stuff with Donkeys on it. At one point Rosemary decides to go into it so she can buy Laura a gift to cheer her up after learning all of her family will be spending Christmas with other people rather than her. She goes into the store and the amount of items that could be bought that features a donkey is staggering. I immediately wondered if there really was a pathetic store like that out there where they got all the merchandise for the episode or did the production team need to make all that junk.

I have been pretty impressed every time I have watched Rosemary & Thyme. The chemistry between Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendall is natural and the locations have been great. As I mentioned earlier, the music is a big part of the enjoyment. It is polite and cheerful. I wish there was a soundtrack for this. I applaud Acorn TV for having a special section of their service dedicated to Holiday programming. The mystery aspect is pretty cool too but with that being said, I hope that next year they consider extending to other genres as I think people will want to watch a mixture of different types of programs.

Coming Soon

Do I have time to sneak in one more Christmas mystery before they go away? I'll do my best and I may have to indulge some more into Foyle's War!

Like what you see? Hate it? Have questions of comments? Send us an e-mail and tell us what you think!


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 20, 2012 8:45 AM.

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