Flashback Friday: Victoria & Albert: The Royal Wedding (2018)

A wedding is something to celebrate. A royal wedding takes that concept and explodes it tenfold.

The 2018 PBS TV movie Victoria & Albert: The Royal Wedding told the story of the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from the inside out. Hosted and narrated by Lucy Worsley, the viewer is given a micro view of the often unseen and underappreciated details that made the day what it was.

I find this topic fascinating. Though outwardly, it is straight out of a fairy tale, there is obviously much more than the happily ever after. The number of moving parts that could have ground everything to a halt is a topic that deserves the spotlight.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Best New Television Shows of 2022

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: The DisneyPlus series answers the question of what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in between the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977). My favorite part of the series was the introduction of Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram).
  2. Anatomy of a Scandal: Based on the Sarah Vaughan book of the same name, this Netflix miniseries follows the investigation of a politician accused of rape.
  3. The US and the Holocaust: This Ken Burns multi-part PBS documentary exposes how the United States failed to help the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
  4. Ridley Road: This PBS/Masterpiece program is based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom. It tells the story of a young woman of Jewish descent in the 1960s who goes undercover to stop a Neo-Nazi group from destroying the UK.
  5. Gaslit: Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell in this Starz production that tells the tale of Watergate from Martha’s perspective.
  6. Dangerous Liaisons: A sort of prelude Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it started off a bit slow and took a few episodes to get interesting. Unfortunately, Starz canceled it at the end of the first season.
  7. The Serpent Queen: Samantha Morton plays the title character in this Starz series about Catherine de Medici. Wow, that is all I have to say.
  8. Women of the Movement: This ABC/Hulu miniseries told of the murder of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie’s journey to get justice for her son.
  9. Ms. Marvel: A young woman goes from an ordinary teenager to a superhero who saves the world.
  10. Andor: The prequel to Rogue One, the series explains how Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) became the rebel leader who led the fight against the Empire.
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This will be my last post for 2022. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for taking time out of your day to read this humble writer’s work. I’ll see you in 2023.

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Sanditon Character Review: Tom and Mary Parker

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last week. I had other writing priorities that came first.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

The best relationships, whether they be personal, romantic, or professional, are ones in which one person balances out the other. In the  PBS/Masterpiece television series, Sanditon (based on the unfinished Jane Austen novel of the same) the narrative is kicked off when the carriage carrying Tom and Mary Parker (Kris Marshall and Kate Ashfield) crashes. Briefly taken in by the Heywood family, the offer to give the eldest daughter, Charlotte (Rose Williams), an opportunity to spend time with them in Sanditon.

Tom is the dreamer. Mary is a pragmatist. His dream is to turn this small seaside town into a fashionable and popular tourist destination. Unfortunately, his financial means are limited and he is not exactly a details kind of guy. The money comes from Lady Denham (Anne Reid). The nitty-gritty of the business comes from his brother Sidney (Theo James). Sidney also happens to be Charlotte’s first love.

Mary does more than take care of their children and maintain their home. She has the ability to bring her husband back to reality when necessary. When it becomes obvious that their carriage is in need of imminent repair, it is Mary who speaks the truth. Her husband would prefer to believe that everything is fine. That does not mean, however, that she does not lose her cool when Tom goes too far. When she finds out that he bought her a necklace when they are in debt, she is furious (as she should be).

To sum it up: In an era in which marriages were often a business arrangement, this is a love match. What Mary lacks, Tom has, and visa versa. It is this balance that allows their relationship to flourish and prove that love matches are possible.

Which is why they are memorable characters.

Sanditon Character Review: Charlotte Heywood

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Growth does not come from taking the easy way out. It comes from walking on an unseen path, not knowing what lies ahead. The heroine of the PBS/Masterpiece television series, Sanditon (based on the unfinished Jane Austen novel of the same) is Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams). Born to a rural farming family, her world opens tenfold when Tom and Mary Parker‘s (Kris Marshall and Kate Ashfield) carriage crashes.

Grateful for their brief respite, the Parkers offer Charlotte to stay with them for a short time in Sanditon, a growing seaside community. Among those who she meets are Tom’s younger brother, Sidney (Theo James), and Miss Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke). Sidney is a realist while Tom has his head in the clouds. Georgiana is a biracial heiress and is much as an outsider as Charlotte is.

Charlotte is also eager to spread her wings and not find love (at least not yet). She is eager to expand her mind and takes it upon herself to get involved with Tom’s business ventures.

Like many couples, Charlotte and Sidney’s relationship does not start off well. There are misunderstandings and miscommunication. But that eventually turns into mutual attraction, which turns into love. But there is no happy ending for Charlotte and Sidney. To save the family business, he must marry his widowed and wealthy ex. He then dies soon after, leaving her heartbroken.

After spending time at home recovering from her loss, Charlotte returns to Sanditon. Joining her is her younger sister, Alison (Rosie Graham). Alison is in the same emotional place that her sister was previously. Determined not to marry, Charlotte accepts a position as the governess for Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes). She also meets Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones). As with an Austen-ian love interest, there is a question of who is telling the truth and who is a good liar.

To sum it up: Through friendship, falling in love, and heartbreak, Charlotte starts to mature. Even when she is down in the dumps, she finds the strength to move forward and find happiness/purpose. Considering the time and place that she lives in, this is both refreshing and modern. The way I look it at is that if she can pick herself up and move on, then so can the rest of us.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

Lucy Worsley Investigates Review

History is more than a dry set of facts in a book. It is a lesson from previous generations and can be a mystery with clues that are yet to be revealed.

The four-part PBS series, Lucy Worsley Investigates, takes a second look at some of the most dramatic and well-known events in British history. Using first-hand sources from the era and speaking to historians, she takes a deep dive to understand what is a myth and what is a fact.

I enjoyed this program. With her usual intelligence and easy-to-follow narrative, Worsley takes viewers into the nitty-gritty of the subject. With a detective’s nose for the details, she uses a modern perspective to understand why it happened and what we can perhaps learn from it so it is not repeated.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Lucy Worsley Investigates can be viewed on the PBS app or the PBS website.

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The US and the Holocaust Review

There is a famous quote about history. As cliche as it sounds, it is the truth

If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

The new PBS three-part documentary series, The US and the Holocaust premiered this past weekend. Co-created and co-directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein, actor Peter Coyote narrates the story of the near destruction of European Jewry from 1939 to 1945.

Within the film, there are interviews with historians, survivors, and readings from respected actors such as Meryl Steep, Paul Giamatti, and Liam Neeson. It does more than share what the events in our history books have already told us. It takes the viewer back in time to show what led the Shoah and repeats what most of us (hopefully) know. Though it’s been nearly a century since World War II, it is clear to me that we have not learned from the experiences of that generation.

The thing that hit me immediately is that there are far too many parallels to what is happening now both in the United States and around the world. Xenophobia and hatred have once again become the norm. We have a former President who has authoritarian tendencies, refuses to accept the results of the previous Presidential election, and has convinced many that he is the victim.

What made me angry was the spoken and unspoken complicity of a majority of Americans at the time. Though this country is supposed to be the land of immigrants and freedom. Instead, it became a land of isolation and hypocrisy. That hypocrisy was clear in the first episode when the connection was made between the Nazi’s racial laws and Jim Crow.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. In fact, I would say that it is required viewing for every American.

The first two episodes are available for streaming on the PBS website. The third will air tomorrow night at 8PM.

P.S. After I watch or read anything about the Holocaust, I can’t help but think of what the victims or the descendants might have given to the world. The late performer Olivia Newton-John was Jewish on her mother’s side. Her maternal grandparents got out while it was still possible to do so. If they hadn’t, it is very likely that she would have never been born and therefore, not entertained multiple generations of audiences.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Helen Alderson

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

There are two ways to get through life: complain endlessly or just get through it. Though complaining has its place, it takes much less time and energy to just deal with the cards that life has dealt you.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton) comes from a long line of Yorkshire farmers. Since the death of her mother, Helen has both taken the duties of farming and being the surrogate mother to her much younger sister Jenny (Imogene Clawson). Born and raised in this world, she is practical, intelligent, and just does what needs to be done. She is more than capable of getting behind the wheel of a tractor or rangling an unruly animal.

That does not mean that Helen is a tomboy who despises wearing dresses and putting on makeup. When the occasion arises, she is just as comfortable in a dress and heels as she is in overalls.

She is also the object of affection for two different men. When we originally meet Helen, she has been with Hugh Hulton (Matthew Lewis) for quite a few years. They have grown up together. The next natural step in their relationship is the ringing of wedding bells. Hugh comes from a wealthy family and would be able to provide for Helen and her family.

But there is someone else waiting in the wings. James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) is a newcomer to the area. He nearly instantly develops a crush on Helen and is devastated that she is spoken for. Though he respects the fact that she is in a relationship, James never wavers in his love for Helen. Eventually, Helen and Hugh go their separate ways. It takes some time, but James does eventually propose. She accepts and all appears well for their future.

But neither knows that World War II is waiting in the wings, threatening to turn their world upside down.

To sum it up: Though Helen is the romantic lead, she is not defined by the two men who want to be with her. She is her own woman who can clearly take care of herself and her family. It is that levelheadedness that allows modern women to relate to her but still keeps her grounded in the period that she lives in.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: Mrs. Hall

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

For most of human history, women have been contained the roles of wives, mothers, and housekeepers. That does not mean, however, that within their own homes, they are powerless.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name) Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley), whose first name we later learn is Audrey, has been the housekeeper for Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West) for a number of years. In addition to cooking and housework, she helps him to run his veterinary practice.

Mrs. Hall is a widow whose son has maintained a distant relationship with his mother. Though she is a figurative mother to Siegfried’s younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) and assistant Vet James Herriot Nicholas Ralph), she would prefer to be in her real son’s life. Balancing her out is Siegfried, who is the figurative father in the home, creating a unique chosen family.

She is calm, easygoing, and in control, while Siegfried is passionate, a little out there and a force of nature. Mrs. Hall is the one who convinces her boss (who at this point is more her friend/confidante) to give James a chance after he nearly botches his interview.

Though she has been married previously, that does not mean that romance is out of the question. A local man takes an interest in her. There is also a spark of something with Siegfried. But with World War II on the horizon, a new love may be the last thing on her mind.

To sum it up: Mrs. Hall is the glue of that household. Without her, the men who reside there would be hungry, dirty, smelly, and not able to do their jobs properly. Though she dwells within the traditional realm, her strength, warmth, and cool head makes her more than what she seems to be.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

All Creatures Great and Small Character Review: James Herriot

The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show All Creatures Great and Small. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

One of the first great adventures as an adult is our first job. That experience (at least from my perspective) forever stays with us, regardless of how long our resumes become.

In the PBS/Masterpiece television series, All Creatures Great and Small (based on the book series of the same name), James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) is a newly licensed veterinarian who is eager to prove his worth in 1930s England. He arrives at the home and practice of Siegfried Farnon (Samuel West), hoping that Dr. Farnon will hire him.

Dr. Farnon is quite a character and would test the patience of the most understanding of people. He nearly goes home without a job, but the housekeeper, Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) convinces her boss to give James a chance.

He is also helped by Siegfried’s carefree and sometimes less than practical younger brother Tristan (Callum Woodhouse). He is the yin to James’s yang in terms of temperament, perspective, and professional outlook.

Over the course of his employment, James becomes a respected veterinarian, appreciated by his colleagues and the community. Though he has the option of returning home to Scotland, he stays in Yorkshire. He is also infatuated with Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton). But Helen is spoken for. Hugh Holton (Matthew Lewis) is a local boy who is the son of the landed gentry. Eventually, Helen and Hugh go their separate ways, opening the door for James’s wish to become reality. When we last saw James, he had it all. A solid career, a fiance, and a future.

But World War II is on the horizon. He doesn’t know it yet, but everything that he knows is about to change.

To sum it up: James is an everyman. He doesn’t want much. He wants a career he loves, a family to come home to, and a place in this world to call his own. He has all that and so much more. But before he can get there, he has to go through a few growing pains along the way.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

Best New TV Shows of 2021

*I apologize for the delay in posting. I should have written this before New Year’s Eve.

  1. Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as Loki, the complicated immortal who has become much more than the standard antagonist. Forced into new circumstances, he goes on a journey that forever changes him.
  2. The Wonder Years: This reboot of the beloved 1980’s/1990’s series is just as poignant as its predecessor. The choice of making the main character and his family African-American only adds to its relevancy.
  3. Law & Order: Organized Crime: This spinoff of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit starring Chris Meloni as returning Detective Elliot Stabler is a thrilling and spine tingling hour of television.
  4. Ordinary Joe: This new NBC series is the story of one man and three distinct life paths before him. Told concurrently and using different colors for each decision, is is a reminder of how one choice can affect the rest of our lives.
  5. Impeachment: American Crime Story: The latest chapter of this long running F/X series focuses on the affair between Monica Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein) and former President Clinton (Clive Owen) and the impeachment trial that followed. Instead of focusing on Clinton, the story is about the women who were directly affected by his less than honorable actions.
  6. WandaVision: This first foray by the MCU via DisneyPlus is everything it promised to be. Wanda Maxmioff and Vision (Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) are living in family sitcom wedded bliss. But it not what it seems to be. With a star making turn by Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness, this series is a must see.
  7. All Creatures Great and Small: Ths unexpectedly Masterpeice/PBS series is adorable and charming. A rookie vetenarian starts his career in rural Yorkshire in the 1930’s and grows in unexpected ways. The new season starts tonight at 9PM ET/ 8PM CT.
  8. Atlantic Crossing: This second Masterpeice/PBS series tells the story of the friendship/supposed affair between Franklin Delanor Roosevelt and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden during World War II. Forgotten for nearly a century, this tale of one woman’s drive to save her nation is truly worth watching.
  9. The Book of Boba Fett: This latest entry into the Star Wars universe from DisneyPlus just premiered on December 29th. Though only two episodes have been released, it is already asking questions that are begging for answers.
  10. Behind Her Eyes: Based on the book by Sarah Pinborough, this six part Netflix series about a married man’s affair with his secretary has a delicious ending that is jaw dropping and completely out of left field. Few endings have wowed me as this did.
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