|2007 is shaping up to be something of a renaissance for Peter Davison. He has major roles in no fewer than three major projects on British television screens this year.
The first series of his newest programme, Fear, Stress & Anger finished transmission on BBC 2 in March. Meanwhile, on ITV, the fourth series of The Last Detective concluded last night. Later in the year, Davison is a featured guest star on the telemovie, Marple: At Bertram's Hotel, a Jane Marple mystery adapted by Doctor Who writer, Tom MacRae.
Anger revolves around Davison's character and his wife, a middle-aged couple coping with the difficulties of having not quite accomplished all the goals they would've liked to, but still having to provide for an aging mother and a not-quite-out-of-the-nest daughter. Davison's daughter is notably his real-life daughter, Georgia Moffett, who reportedly auditioned for the character of "Rose Tyler" in 2005.
The show has gotten mixed reviews on several British Comedy forums, with some viewers finding it not nearly funny enough, and others calling it a charming portrayal of desperation. Interestingly, an online petition has appeared in recent weeks, begging for the BBC to officially call a halt to any future planned series. As of this writing, though, the petition has only been signed by two people.
Some of the criticism for the show may stem for the fact that producer Sue Vertue (who also produced Coupling and The Vicar of Dibley) took the unusual step of not including a studio audience or a laugh track. A recent comedy in the US, 30 Rock, struggled with this same artistic choice in 2006 until it managed to find an audience just as it was about to be axed.
Davison's more recently-aired series, Detective, has been ongoing since 2003. Like Monk or Columbo, Detective focuses on an unusual policeman whose eccentricities allow him to solve crimes other, more politically ambitious detectives couldn't. The role somewhat echoes his performance of the Fifth Doctor, though, in that Davies is "too nice" to get ahead at work or to make demands in his personal life. Unlike Anger, though, Detective (whose pilot episode paired Davison with Patrick Troughton's son, David) has gotten extremely positive reviews from its first outing in 2003.
With the conclusion of this series, his titular character of "Dangerous Davies" threatens to become his most prominent character since Doctor Who. Currently, that honor belongs to "David Braithwaite" a titular character of his 2000 comedy series, At Home With the Braithwaites. That programme ran for 18 episodes over 4 seasons, while "Dangerous Davies" outing on 31 May was his 17th appearance in 4 seasons. Unlike the definitely defunct Braithwaites, though, a fifth series of Detective is likely. Whether that fifth series comes, though, "Davies" appears to be the detective character Davison is most likely to be remembered for in the UK, eclipsing even his 1989 performance as "Albert Campion".
Sadly, unlike the transatlantic broadcast of Campion on PBS' Mystery!, Detective has yet to find a widely-available home on US television sets. Stateside, Detective is basically a direct-to-DVD affair, with the first three series being currently available in Region 1.
More likely to see broadcast in the US is Davison's upcoming 2007 appearance in Marple: At Bertram's Hotel. WIth its commitment to Agatha Christie-related programming, Mystery! is almost certain to distribute this film to US audiences in 2007 or 2008.