Three British Period Pieces Worth Watching
Blame it on a horrid stomach bug, but I’ve spent the last week fascinated by three separate BBC miniseries. All available now on Netflix Instant Watch.
The plot itself is a bit Pride and Prejudice mixed with some Dickensian characters and commentary on poverty and the Industrial Revolution. It’s four episodes long, but very beautifully shot. Beautiful for BBC – who isn’t notorious for having the most crisp or clean-looking productions. But I can’t get the images of the white fluffs of cotton blowing around in the factory out of my head.
Features some spot-on acting by Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, who both do fine jobs portraying smoldering romance with fluttering eyes and lips. Other actors worth mentioning are Sinead Cusack as the crotchety but sympathetic mother foil, Brendan Coyle as union rabble rouser and Anna Maxwell Martin as a town girl with a chronic illness.
Be sure to watch this fan-vid after you view the series. It’s perfect.
It struck a cord immediately – reminding me of a serialized Gosford Park and both of which I assume owe some kind of nod to Upstairs, Downstairs which is a series I’ve never seen myself. Either way, I much prefer Downton Abbey because it is visually quite a bit nicer than most of the other BBC television productions. Probably because it’s ITV. Oh snap. J/K BBC, I still love you.
Perhaps it’s not breaking any new territory in terms of focusing on the lives of nobility and their household staff, but I was immediately drawn to it – recognizing Brendan Coyle from North & South, as well as Joanne Froggatt from Robin Hood. And of course – Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton. Hugh Bonneville is wonderful too – though I didn’t immediately recognize him from something, his face was very familiar.
My only beef with this show is that the passage of time is not obvious (all the sudden the characters were like “well, it’s been two years”). The Titanic sinking was a great series opener and ended with World War I kicking off. Only eight episodes available on Netflix right now. I know there are at least sixteen.
Unfortunately, this depiction of Middlemarch a 1994 jam, so the production value is low and you won’t recognize many well-known actors – aside from Rufus Sewell or perhaps Jonathan Firth, the younger, blonder brother of Colin Firth. Juliet Aubrey looks like she plays a bad-ass in current BBC productions, so go her.
What I love about this book/series? The characters aren’t all perfect but no one is really a villain outright – they all are just victims of themselves, their circumstances or bad choices. Like real life.
Runner Up: Robin Hood. Only three seasons long. A pointless main character death in the second season took a lot of wind out this series sails. And the dialogue was sometimes a bit off for the time period depicted. But it featured lots of sexy young things and a skinny hipster hero in Robin of Locksley. Worth watching if you’re unemployed. Or love Richard Armitage as much as I do. 😉