TV Picks: 'Grimm,' 'Death Comes to Pemberly,' 'A Poet in New York'

Critic @marymacTV's television picks include "Grimm," "Death Comes to Pemberley" and "Poet in New York"

"Grimm." Just in time for Halloween, NBC's super-good supernatural thriller returns, with a whole new set of good/evil Wesen, and an ever-more intricate spider web of plot.

A study in cliff-hangers, the season three finale left most of the characters in extremis. Hoping to retrieve her (very powerful) baby from the scheming Royals, Adalind (Clair Coffee) had stripped Nick (David Guintoli) of his abilities to see, and presumably fight, Wesen, making the young and inexperienced Trubel (Jacqueline Tobani) the only Grimm in Portland. Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) lay on death's (and Nick's) door, shot by a renegade (and Wesen) FBI agent; Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) did manage to get married but not before their wedding turned into free-for-all; and Sergeant Wu (Reggie Lee) is finally figuring out that the creature who sent him to the mental hospital may have been real after all.

So, obviously, there's a lot going on in early episodes of season 4, all of it laced with all manner of myth-evoking critters and an uber-plot involving a sinister yet lovely castle in Austria. As with previous seasons, early episodes neatly balance plot and heart (and really great scenes of Portland); the Wesen are imaginative and often scary, but the real story is Nick's willingness to make peace where there was once war and the wise and funny team he assembles to do it.

 Welcome back, Grimm; we missed you! NBC, Fridays, 9 p.m.

"Death Comes to Pemberley." First zombies, now amateur detection -- I admit I could not bring myself to read P.D. James' murder-mystery sequel to "Pride and Prejudice," even though it was written by, well, P.D. James. How many ways would Jane Austen's classic novel be reconsidered? As an anime Web series?

But from the moment this two-part PBS Mystery! rendition opens with the inevitable carriage coursing through the sylvan countryside, I was hooked. With Anna Maxwell Martin ("Bleak House," "Bletchley Circle") as Elizabeth Darcy nee Bennett, Matthew Rhys ("The Americans") as Mr. Darcy, Jenna Coleman ("Doctor Who") as the flighty Lydia and Matthew Goode ("The Good Wife") as that infamous ne'er-do-well Wickham, "Death Comes to Pemberley" is a moody, romantic, gorgeous joy from start to finish.

Over the bones of a clever mystery, James' story examines the past, present and future of the famous characters, while keeping a wary eye on the realities of their times. 

Indeed, my only complaint with the two-part series is that it's only two parts.   PBS,  Oct. 26 and Nov. 2, 8 p.m. 

"Poet in New York." To mark the centenary of poet Dylan Thomas' birth, the BBC commissioned a film about his death. Ironic perhaps, but then Thomas' death in 1959 at the age of 49 after a night of drinking at New York's White Horse Tavern is legendary. With his co-dependent alcoholic marriage and self-aggravated  depression doing constant battle with his obvious genius, Thomas became a next-generation standard bearer for the "doomed" artist template, popularized by  Earnest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many members of the Algonquin Round Table.

In "Poet," the redoubtable and prolific screenwriter Andrew Davies follows Thomas' final whiskey-soaked, nicotine-stained weeks, spent raising funds for a trip to California where Igor Stravinsky had offered him the chance to write a libretto. Copious flashbacks hint at How It Came To This, with Tom Hollander delivering a magnificent performance as Thomas at various stages of his life.

Indeed, Hollander's performance is the main, possibly only reason to watch "Poet in New York," which is otherwise simply another heart-breaking, infuriating and cautionary tale of alcoholism--Thomas seems intent on drinking himself to death and then he does.

To Davies' great credit, the film does not "blame" Thomas' death on much more than this; Holland portrays a man just as selfish, childish and insufferable as he is charming. But there is no denying the genius, nor the oratorical gifts. Unlike most other poets, Thomas' readings of his work were just as famous as  the work itself, and Hollander is magnificent.

Those exquisite phrases, the mighty stanzas rise up from a sea of booze and smoke and self pity to remind us exactly what was lost; a rich and splendid country of words slipped beneath the waves when Thomas decided he had no choice but to drown his sorrows. BBC America, Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Twitter: @MarymacTV

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