Actually, this is all PBS news, but interesting . . .
– Benedict Cumberbatch, speaking to the Television Critics Association, was coy about committing to additional seasons of “Sherlock” (which splendidly returned to American TV in its third season, complete with Watson’s Mustache of Sadness, Sunday night). Though a fourth season was confirmed last year, apparently it’s up to Cumberbatch whether they do any more; and he’s rather busy. But he reiterated that he has great fondness for the character, that he’s proud that the show has boosted sales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, and that kissing Moriarty (or, to be precise, almost kissing Moriarty) was “like fist-bumping.” Noted.
– Meanwhile, also at the TCA, PBS head Paula Kerger made everyone’s cup of tea just a little bitter by saying that PBS will never, ever, air “Downton Abbey” any closer to its British run. The January debut of “Downton” (it begins in September on British television, and spoilers abound) is “a bit of a tradition after the holidays,” said Kerger, noting that it’s gaining record audiences. Ah well. Speaking of “Downton,” I’m not going to recap this week, because of the holiday and because Sunday’s episode was not especially eventful, but can I just briefly comment on something that drives me nuts on this (and other) shows — the occasional inconsistency of the characters. What happened to the good-hearted Mrs. Hughes who supported and tried to help Ethel, despite her disapproval of Ethel’s actions? Admittedly, Edna is far more of a schemer than Ethel ever was, but still — that line about dragging her to the doctor and holding her down didn’t sound like the character I knew and loved. Particularly with Tom sitting right there, seemingly owning no responsibility for what happened — how far this firebrand has fallen. (Yes, I know Edna brought him a drink, but still . . . those two have a history, and Tom’s complicit in it.) Elsewhere, “He’s dead and I’m alive” isn’t the most romantic language to include in a proposal, is it? Sweetest moment this week: Cousin Isobel (Penelope Wilton is heartbreaking this season) and the Dowager Countess having a very real conversation about mourning, concluded by the D.C. telling Isobel, with uncharacteristic gentleness, “I hope you can find a way to be friends with the world again.”
– And, also at TCA, the very prolific documentarian Ken Burns announced his upcoming slate of films. “The Address,” which follows a Vermont school whose students are required to memorize the Gettysburg Address, will air on PBS in April. The 14-hour “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” will air this fall, followed in 2015 with “The Story of Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” based on the book by Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D. Coming later: films about Jackie Robinson, the Vietnam War, country music, and Ernest Hemingway. And you thought you were busy.