Category Archives: Acorn TV

One of Acorn’s best reviewed series is…Canadian?

Though Acorn Media specializes in releasing British television on DVD, one of my favorite Acorn series is actually a Canadian series, Slings & Arrows. It’s easily one of the best reviewed series we’ve ever released. It was called “outrageously entertaining” by NPR, “absolutely addictive” by The New York Times, “one of the finest series ever made” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune said, “can make you both LAUGH and CRY….don’t miss it.”

The series has a stellar ensemble cast led by the excellent Paul Gross. Though primarily known to U.S. audiences for the mid-1990s CBS series Due South, Paul Gross is currently getting rave reviews on Broadway for “Private Lives” opposite Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall. Here’s a recent New York Times profile on him as well as an interview he did about Slings with his wife and co-star Martha Burns on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. It’s co-written/co-stars the very funny Mark McKinney of The Kids in the Hall, who spoke about the series on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Each season has a fun season long guest star, and the first season is a young Rachel McAdams, who the following year became a big star in The Notebook and Mean Girls.

I’ve never watched a series with such a perfect mix of comedy and drama. Slings dramatizes the backstage trials and tribulations of a Shakespearean theatre troupe. Gross stars as a passionate but unstable artistic director of a theatre festival. Haunted by the ghost of his predecessor and former mentor (Stephen Ouimette), he struggles to realize his creative vision while handling touchy actors (Rachel McAdams), a jittery general manager (Mark McKinney), a pretentious guest director (Don McKellar), and his own tempestuous romance with the Festival’s leading lady (Martha Burns). Slings & Arrows aired on the Sundance Channel (2003-2005) and has won numerous awards, including 13 Gemini Awards (aka Canadian Emmys).

I highly recommend you watch the first season on Acorn TV; the first episode is available for free. Check it out; you’ll be glad you did. Have you heard of the series before? What’s your favorite Canadian series that has yet to come out on DVD?

Chad is Director of Publicity for Acorn. When he’s not working, he’s happily playing at pools, playgrounds, concerts, fountains, and parks with his 4- and 6-year-old.

My Thanksgiving Pie (in the Sky)

Richard Griffiths offering up the season's finest.

Thanksgiving is upon us! Before you journey to the grocery store let me make a suggestion to add to your shopping list. Pie. Yes, everyone likes pumpkin pie or apple pie, but my favorite is cherry pie. I’m not a huge fan of desserts or sweets in general but I do make an exception for my favorite holiday. There is a caveat to this pie it’s more of a tart pie rather than sweet which I think is great.

Here’s the recipe for my cherry pie:

Ingredients

  • PASTRY:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • FILLING:
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans tart cherries (NOT SWEETENED)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water. Tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide dough in half. Roll out one half to fit a 9-in. pie plate for bottom crust. Drain cherries, reserving 1/4 cup juice. Mix cherries, juice, sugar, tapioca, extract, salt and food coloring if desired; pour into the crust. Dot with butter . Top with a lattice crust. Bake at 375 degrees F for 55-60 minutes.

After cooking for hours then sitting down to eat for hours with friends and family. Relax on the couch and watch the Pie in the Sky series, starring Harry Potter’s Richard Griffiths, on Acorn TV, instead of fighting the crowds at the stores or the tryptophan from the turkey.

Let me know what your favorite Thanksgiving recipe is and I might add it to my grocery list this week!

Zach is Acorn’s Digital Sales Assistant which means making sure you’re able to get Acorn’s products digitally off of Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and Acorn TV. He enjoys baseball, football, watching films, cooking, eating, and plotting his return trip back to London.

Rosemary & Thyme Gets a Makeover

One of the perennial (if you’ll pardon the pun) Acorn favorites is most definitely Rosemary & Thyme – a mystery series about two women whose hobbies include gardening and solving whodunits. I hadn’t heard of it until I started working at Acorn, but now I know that it’s beloved by so many British TV and mystery fans, so I’m truly excited about our re-release this month. Not to mention it will make a great holiday gift for my mom – hopefully she doesn’t read this blog.

We’ve added some fancy foil to the cover – we folks in marketing can’t resist a nice pop of foil – and, more importantly, we’ve re-authored it for a sharper picture and we’ve added English subtitles. For many years, I was responsible for answering the emails we’d get from our customers, so I’m only too aware of how important subtitles are to our fans. Combining a classic hit like Rosemary & Thyme with the popular feature of subtitles may be one of the smartest things we’ve done since bundling Doc Martin 1-4, or deciding to re-master, re-package, and re-release all of the Poirot episodes in broadcast order with subtitles WITH Blu-ray versions to boot (look for those new releases – with foil, of course – starting in early 2012).

If you’re not familiar with Rosemary & Thyme, it’s showing now on Acorn TV where you can watch the first episode for free.

Jen is the Senior Marketing Director for Acorn. When she’s not working or raising her two young cats (Donny and Marie), she can most likely be found playing Words With Friends or reading her Kindle.

Backlist Beaut: To Serve Them All My Days

The “backlist” is what we call titles that are more than a year out from their release date. In Product Development, we’re all about what’s new and what’s next. Once a title is finished and ready to sell, we’re done with it. But once in a while, when I’m looking for something in our sample room, I’ll spy an older title with a pang of forgotten affection and remind myself to recommend it to others.

My first Backlist Beaut recommendation: To Serve Them All My Days. When we released this 1980 BBC miniseries in 2003, I had never heard of it. I wasn’t much interested in the time period (post WWI), the setting (English boarding school), had never heard of the actors (stars John Duttine) or the “beloved” novel it was based on (by R.F. Delderfield). Nevertheless, I loved every one of its 663 minutes (that’s over 11 hours folks) and was bereft when the 13th and final episode ended. Much to my surprise, my husband and teenage daughter got into watching it with me, so we had both genders and two generations giving it a big thumbs up.

Why is it so good? I think the secret to a show that grabs you viscerally like this is simply believable characters you come to care about, rejoicing in their triumphs, worrying about their troubles. I recommend To Serve Them All My Days for anyone who likes a good drama. It would be especially interesting for teachers as the art of teaching gets explored and celebrated. Perfect for back to school.

Anyone else a fan of this one?

Anne is head of Product Development at Acorn. She’s one of those graying boomers, and proud of it. When not at work, she likes to be outdoors, preferably in her kayak on the Chesapeake Bay.

Acorn’s finest is free… but not for long!

You’ve probably found it hard to ignore our enthusiasm for the newest addition to the family: Acorn TV. We launched the streaming service back in July and we haven’t been able to keep quiet about it since—but for good reason! American audiences can check out their old favorites or discover new ones (look at that handsome Detective Murdoch!) with the best British TV streaming 24/7 on your computer, iPad, iPhone, and other portable devices. Some episodes will always be free, while others are only available to Acorn Premium members. We regularly refresh the programming so you’ll never find yourself saying, “there’s nothing on TV!”

UNTIL AUGUST 31, you can sign up for a FREE TRIAL of Acorn TV. So don’t delay—we think you’re going to love it!

Oh Brother

I don’t usually think that much about how long I’ve been with Acorn, but sometimes things happen that highlight the passage of time. One of these came up in a meeting a few weeks back in a meeting with representatives of ITV. While discussing our titles and how they’ve sold for us over the years, I realized that Acorn has been selling the series Cadfael for about 15 years. It started with the very first series, which aired on PBS in 1995, and has continued through our initial DVD releases and our recently release complete collection.

In addition to highlighting the passage of time for me personally, it also highlighted one of the things I enjoy most about working here. I love the way our programs continue to find new fans year after year. In any entertainment-based business, the typical pattern is for programs to start off really hot and then trail off dramatically, but Acorn’s releases tend to resist if not outright defy gravity when it comes to sales. A few years ago, there was a book written about this kind of sales pattern called The Long Tail, whose title became something of a buzzword. From our standpoint, the writers were just stating the obvious. Good stuff will continue to sell as long as there are people looking for good stuff.

In that spirit, if you haven’t seen Cadfael, I encourage you to give it a try. In addition to the fun of seeing a mystery with a setting that predates the 20th century, the role of Brother Cadfael is a great showcase for Derek Jacobi’s talents. And if that whets your appetite for more of Derek Jacobi, we can help with that as well, but that’s a posting for another time.

Stay tuned: Cadfael premieres on Acorn TV Monday, August 8th.

Don is Acorn’s Vice President of Programming. He enjoys bad puns and good beer and likes to indulge in both with his family and his colleagues.