Of course we can!
Lee did a great job summarizing everything that was wrong about the new Upstairs, Downstairs, and luckily the next Masterpiece offering is not nearly so horrible.
I really enjoyed the next series, South Riding. It tells the story of a woman who returns to Yorkshire after a long time abroad to become the headmistress of a girls’ school. It takes place in the mid-1930s, so there is the requisite dead fiance (hers, from WWI); handsome brooding Yorkshire landowner (hint: if someone’s played Colonel Brandon, he can do handsome and brooding); hypocritical, increasingly corrupt councilman; girl from the wrong side of the tracks (that is, the side without indoor plumbing) who needs a headstrong headmistress to push her onto the higher ed path; random lady who is somewhat supportive in a rather backhanded “don’t stick your neck out, girlie” kind of way; and Douglas Henshall.
There were, of course, a few exceptions to my rave:
1) Why is it that every time there’s a series about Yorkshire only 1/3 of the people actually speak with a Yorkshire accent? (On a related note, I think I still have residual anger with All Creatures Great and Small because James Herriot was supposed to be from Glasgow and spoke in a rather RP way.)
2) Anna Maxwell Martin was previously in the extremely awesome but frustrating Bleak House. If you recall, she played Esther, who had to choose between an extremely rich, extremely gorgeous Scot and some other dude. In South Riding, the choice was between an extremely gorgeous Scot and a guy who broods way too much.
Now, maybe Anna has an order in with her agent: “Please, I will only accept roles in which I pick the other dude over the really gorgeous Scot.”
But, really, Anna, for the love of all that is good, you have now rejected two of my favorite actors. (Seriously, watch Local Hero at your earliest possible convenience and tell me if it is not the best movie you’ve seen all month; similarly, if the first two seasons of Primeval don’t make your heart melt just a little for Douglas Henshall, you’re a cold, cold person. Or perhaps just a heterosexual male.)
Anyway, you should totally catch up on South Riding if it isn’t already in your DVR. Perhaps it was because Any Human Heart was unwatchable and Upstairs Downstairs was wicked bad, but I enjoyed it, gorgeous-Scot-rejection notwithstanding.