Tag Archives: Masterpiece

Howards End/Sanditon Review

Classic and beloved novels are easy targets for stage and screen reboots. The question that fans have to ask is if these reboots hold up to the text.

Last night, the new adaptations of Howards End and Sanditon premiered on Masterpiece.

Based on the E.M. Foster novel, Howards End is the story of the intermingling of three families in the early 20th century in England. The Wilcoxes are upper class, the Schlegels are middle class and the Basts are lower class. With a cast led by Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen, this story of cross-class differences and secrets is bound to delight audiences.

I have a confession to make: I have heard of the book, but I have never read it. That will soon be remedied. In the meantime, I was completely taken in by the first episode and as of now, I plan on completing the series.

Sanditon was started by Jane Austen just months before she died. An eleven chapter fragment of a novel, respected television writer Andrew Davies continued where Austen left off. Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) is part Elizabeth Bennet and part Catherine Morland. The daughter of a large landed gentry family from the country, Charlotte is young and eager to spread her wings.

When an offer comes her way to visit Sanditon, an up and coming seaside resort, she immediately says yes. But Sanditon is a different world than the world she grew up in. One of the people she meets is Sydney Parker (Theo James, who played the infamous Mr. Pamuk on Downton Abbey), the brooding and sometimes rude younger brother of the couple who she is staying with.

For many Austen fans, Sanditon is a what-if experience. With only eleven chapters completed, we can only guess what the completed novel would have looked like. As an adaptation, so far, I have to say that I am impressed.

Like his previous Jane Austen adaptation, Davies knows when to stick to the script and when to add a little something extra.

What I liked about the series so far is that unlike most Austen heroines, Charlotte’s main reason for going to Sanditon is not to find a husband. Most of her heroines (with the exception of Emma Woodhouse) are motivated to marry because of family pressure and/or financial needs. Charlotte goes to Sanditon to see the world and experience life outside of the family that she grew up in. She is also curious about the world and shows interest in certain subjects that would not be deemed “appropriate” for a woman of this era.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. It is a love letter to Austen fans and contains plenty of Easter eggs if one knows where to look.

I recommend both.

Howards End and Sanditon air on PBS on Sundays nights at 8:00 and 9:00 respectively.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, Jane Austen, Television, TV Review

The Chaperone Movie Review

The opportunity to travel offers more than what it appears to be. It is more than the place one goes to, it is the emotional experience and the growth that comes with travel.

The 2018 movie, The Chaperone, is based on the book of the same name by Laura Moriarty. At the age of fifteen, future silent screen star Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) is given the opportunity to study dance at a prestigious school in New York City. But a fifteen year old girl cannot travel alone, especially in 1922. Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) is there to make sure that Louise stays out of trouble.

But Norma has her own reasons for leaving Kansas and her family behind. Can she find the answers she is looking for and will Louise become the star that she dreams of becoming?

Penned by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellows, this movie is interesting. I appreciated the parallel character arcs of the lead characters. Though their end goals are different, their individual journeys are remarkably similar. I also appreciated the relationships with the men around them are secondary to the relationship between Norma and Louise.

However, compared to Downton Abbey, this movie is kind of meh. Though I have not read the book yet, I did not have the chill up my spine that I had with Downton.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Chaperone is available for streaming on Masterpiece.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Movies, New York City

Thoughts On the full trailer for the Downton Abbey Movie

A good movie trailer is essentially a tease of the full movie. It gives enough away to tempt the audience to pay to see the movie, but it doesn’t (well hopefully it doesn’t) give away too much of the narrative.

The full trailer for the Downton Abbey movie was released earlier today.

Based on the uber-successful BPD Masterpiece television program of the same name created and written by Julian Fellows, the movie starts in 1927, a year after the series ended. King George V and Queen Mary will soon be visiting Downton, causing all sorts of commotion. I also fully expect there to be plenty of personal drama between the characters while the household is preparing for their royal visitors.

I am definitely looking forward to seeing this movie.

P.S. Whoever decided to end the trailer with a delicious verbal duel between Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and Violet (Maggie Smith) is a genius.

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Filed under Downton Abbey, Movies, Television, Thoughts On....

Mrs. Wilson Review

When we marry, the expectation is that the person we are marrying is who they say they are.

In the miniseries, Mrs. Wilson, Alison Wilson (Ruth Wilson, playing her grandmother), receives a rude awakening after the death of her much older husband, Alexander (Iain Glen). Her husband was good at keeping secrets. His most potent secret was that she was not his only living wife. Coleman (Fiona Shaw), her husband’s handler from World War II is not too forthcoming with information. There is also the question of Dorothy Wick (Keeley Hawes), who keeps popping up as Alison tries to find out the truth of her husband’s life. As the series flips between the beginnings of Alison and Alexander’s (who was known as Alec) early relationship during the war to the 1960’s, where the widowed Alison is desperate for answers.

I have to admit that I am impressed with this series. I am impressed because this is a very personal story for Wilson. It takes a lot to share a personal story that is part of her family lore with the public. As a viewer, I can understand why Alison was not the last woman to fall for Alec. He was charming, intelligent and appeared to radiate qualities that would qualify him as a good man.

Both Wilson and Glen are familiar faces to Masterpiece viewers. Wilson made her Masterpiece debut in the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre. In 2011, Glen had a brief role as Sir Richard Carlisle, Lady Mary’s fiance on Downton Abbey. As Alison and Alec, I was rooting for them as a couple. On the same note, my heart was aching for Alison as she grieved not only for her husband, but for the husband she knew.

I recommend it.

The first two episodes of Mrs. Wilson are online. The final episode airs this Sunday at 9PM on PBS. 

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Filed under Charlotte Bronte, History, Television, TV Review

Poldark Series 4 Episode 1 Review

*Warning: this review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.

For the last three years, Poldark has brought romance, drama, politics and a shirtless Aidan Turner to millions of fans.

Last night, the fourth series premiered on PBS.

The series picks up shortly after the third series ended. Ross (Aidan Turner) and Demelza’s  (Eleanor Tomlinson) marriage is back on track. But Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) is still in love with Demelza, despite her gently turning him down.  While this is happening, there is turmoil in Cornwall. The rich get richer while the poor are starving and dying.  George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) still covets power and taking Ross down. But unlike last season, despite his misgivings, Ross knows that he must step up to protect the people of Cornwall from the greedy and power-hungry.

I really liked the episode. It felt like a natural continuation of the previous series. I also very much liked the potential narratives that the premiere introduced for the coming season.

I recommend it.

Poldark airs on PBS on Sundays at 9pm. 

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Filed under Books, Poldark, Television, TV Review

The Miniaturist Episode 1 Review

Period pieces, especially BPD’s (British Period Pieces) are known pretty formulaic. As much as I enjoy a good BPD, it’s nice to watch one that steps out of the box.

On Sunday, the first episode of the three-part miniseries, The Miniaturist (based on the book of the same name by Jessie Burton), premiered on PBS.

Petronella Brandt or Nella as she is known (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a young woman who has just married Johannes Brandt (Alex Hassell), a mysterious older man who earns his living in trade. Her treats her well, but keeps her at an emotional arms length. His unmarried and religious sister, Marin (Romola Garai) rules the household. Nella’s wedding present is a dollhouse that looks too much like the real thing. Somehow, the dollhouse is telling Nella the truth about her new life and the people in it, but what message is being sent and by whom?

I loved the first episode. It was tense, suspenseful and pulled me in immediately. If I had a time machine to move ahead to this coming Sunday, I would. But I don’t, so I have to wait.

I absolutely recommend it.

Episodes 2 and 3 of the The Miniaturist air on Sunday, September 16th and Sunday September 23rd at 9pm on PBS. The first episode is available online on the PBS website for a limited time. 

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Filed under Books, History, Television, TV Review

I Want To Shop At Selfridges

Last night, PBS and Masterpeice added a new series to their lineup, Mr. Selfridge.

The series tells the story of Harry Gordon Selfridge (Jeremy Piven), an American businessman who opens the first modern department store in 1909 London.

Harry is brash, bold and optimistic against all odds, a retail showman battling against a traditional world where modernity and new ideas are not always welcome.

Harry is married to Rose (Frances OConnor), but is flirting with Ellen Love (Zoe Tapper), a stage actress and Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly), his aristocratic backer.

Harry’s employees include Anges Towler (Aisling Loftus), Mr. Grove (Tom Goodman-Hill) and Miss Mardle (Amanda Abbington), each with their own personal drama.

The writer of Mr. Selfridge is Andrew Davies. Mr. Davies has written many well known series, including one of my personal favorites, the 1995 Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Selfridge is compelling and interesting. Masterpiece has added another gem to it’s lineup and I once again look forward to filling my sunday nights with Masterpiece and PBS.

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Filed under Mr. Selfridge, Reviews, TV Review