The folks from PBS spoke to the nation’s TV critics over the weekend as part of the summer portion of the TV Critics Association tour, and our friend Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter was impressed.
Writes Goodman: ‘PBS seemed dowdy and unsexy. But that all changed with ‘Downton Abbey,’ of course, and now with season two garnering a whopping 16 Emmy nominations there seems to be a halo effect for the rest of the programming.
"PBS has 58 total nominations — more than NBC, ABC, Fox, FX, AMC, Showtime, etc. Even channels that could arguably be PBS’ main content competition – Discovery, History and BBC America – could only come up with a combined 31 nominations, and 16 of History’s 17 nominations were for ‘Hatfields & McCoys.’
Besides praising the PBS series "Sherlock," Goodman adds, "[T]he combination of ‘Masterpiece Classic’ and ‘Masterpiece Mystery!’ — where PBS is presenting some of its very best work — give viewers Inspector Lewis, ‘Endeavour’ (the prequel to the Inspector Morse series which did huge numbers in England and is likely to be renewed) and ‘Wallander’ with Kenneth Branagh. These are all series of high quality that prove that, creatively, PBS is a major player in the drama arena.
‘In the three seasons since ‘Masterpiece Theater’ was relaunched as simply ‘Masterpiece’ (with ‘Classic,’ where ‘Downton Abbey’ resides, ‘Mystery!’ and ‘Contemporary’), ratings have increased. Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of ‘Masterpiece,’ said viewership rose 15 percent the first year, 45 percent the second year “and a dazzling 107 percent increase this past year,” Eaton said, as proud as ever. “This is not just the ‘Downton’ effect. This is the ‘Sherlock’ effect, the ‘Lewis’ effect, the ‘Marple’ effect and the ‘Wallander’ effect.”
Goodman continues, "PBS should nevertheless take every available opportunity to get fresh faces looking at what ‘Frontline,’ ‘Nova,’ ‘American Masters’ and ‘American Experience’ have to offer as well, since those stalwarts have consistently produced some of the best content on television."