Well, hello there, Masterpiece Mystery. Have a British period piece for us? Your timing is perfect.
See, the thing about a lot of really good TV right now is the seriousness – the angst, the anger, the fear. And Sundays are the worst. Because Sunday nights are when the best dramas air. Angry, troubled men on Satisfaction (Showcase, 10 p.m.) and The Affair (TMN, Movie Central, 10 p.m.). Watch Homeland (Super Channel, 9 p.m.) and you fret about terrorists and their targets. Don't even mention The Walking Dead for feelings of being threatened. It's intense. And, well, it's been a wicked week, this one just ending. We need to soften the edges.
So also comes Death Comes to Pemberley (Sunday, PBS Masterpiece Mystery, 9 p.m.) and it sure does soften the edges. This adaptation of P.D. James's charming 2009 sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, done as a murder mystery, is light as air, but hugely entertaining. It does, after all, blend two staples of Brit TV into one – the lush period-piece literary adaptation, and the sorting out of who is responsible for the dead bodies.
This marvellous mash-up has Elizabeth Bennet (Anna Maxwell Martin) now married to Mr. Darcy (Matthew Rhys from The Americans) and running a grand country house. Oh, it is just heaven to enter this world. It opens with the grand house getting ready for a ball. Bustling servants and ladies in lovely frocks. One lady, the comely Georgina Darcy (Eleanor Tomlinson) is a tad excited. Little wonder – there are two chaps vying for her affection, you see.
We go outside into a pretty, woodsy landscape. Silly servants lollygagging. One says she saw a ghost in the woods. Balderdash. But, you know, there is a rather peculiar woman in bright red skulking about. She hisses like a cat. Cripes, it's intriguing.
Anyhow, the prepping for the ball and the lollygagging cease when Elizabeth's hugely irritating sister Lydia (Jenna Coleman) arrives, screaming, "Murder! Murder!" Captain Denny, a friend of her husband (the rather dodgy Wickham), has been murdered and, well, there must be an investigation. Oh yes. Investigations and hints and accusations. It all moves a tad slowly, of course. There are no car chases with screaming tires.
Oh, but there are frocks, bonnets and gorgeous furniture. There are gently heaving bosoms and chaps in very tight britches. Some chaps even get up on a horse and gallop across the countryside. Oh my. Drollery pops up constantly amid the slow-moving mystery. It's all nonsense, but well-crafted, very restful nonsense, and it is in two parts, continuing next Sunday. Just what we need now. Thanks, Masterpiece Mystery!
Also airing this weekend
Boardwalk Empire (Sunday, HBO Canada, 9 p.m.) reaches its season finale, and with more whimper than bang. There have only been eight episodes in this final season, which suggests a hurry to wrap up core plot lines, and little else. The bodies have piled up around Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and it's possible it is his dead body we will see at the very end. But the one I'll miss is Gretchen Mol playing the crazy, loose-cannon Gillian Darmody. A great creation, Darmody embodied the whole series with her gold-digging wiles and duplicity. Also, whether wearing a suit, a hat or almost nothing at all, Mol managed to make Darmody a character you couldn't take your eyes off – mad, bad and terrifyingly beautiful.
Finally, if you require truly eccentric distraction from seriousness, the DIY Canada channel introduces Vanilla Ice Goes Amish (Sunday, 10 p.m.). The former rapper, now touting himself as a handyman, immerses himself among Amish people to learn their skills and outfits a horse and buggy to suit his style. No, seriously, this is a TV show.