Sex is one of the core components of being human. But sex, like all things related to being human, is complicated.
Tales from the Royal Bedchamber aired on PBS back in 2013. Hosted by historian Lucy Worsley, the documentary takes viewers into the personal and romantic lives of the monarchy. Entangled into the story are concerns about family, children, and the next generation of royals.
I enjoyed this documentary. It could have easily been a dry history lesson talking about kings, queens, and their successors. But Worsley has a way of making history come alive while showing the humanity of the film’s subjects.
After the death of one parent, hearing that your living parent is dating again can create one of two reactions. The first is joy or relief that the parent who is still alive is getting back into the world. The second is concern about the new boyfriend or girlfriend.
The new four part miniseries, Flesh and Blood, premiered last night on PBS. A little more than a year after Vivian’s (Francesca Annis) husband passed away, she has starting seeing Mark (Stephen Rea). It looks like they are happy together, but only two of her three adult children trust the new man in their mom’s life. Youngest daughter Natalie (Lydia Leonard) is happy that Vivian is moving on. But her older siblings, Helen (Claudie Blakley) and Jake (Russell Tovey) believe that Mark has ulterior motives.
Then there is a murder on Vivian’s property. The first person the police talk to is Vivian’s neighbor, Mary (Imelda Staunton). If that was not enough, Helen, Jake, and Natalie are all dealing with problems in their own lives.
I really enjoyed the first episode. There is a nice mix of family drama and mystery, keeping the audience engaged and asking questions.
I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something about creating art that is both gratifying and relaxing. I think it has something to do with the creation of the art and the focus on something that makes the person happy.
The Joy of Painting aired on PBS from 1983 to 1994. The viewer followed along with the late artist and art teacher Bob Ross as he taught the viewer how to paint landscapes.
I remember watching this show as a kid. He had a way of teaching that was ideal. He spoke softly, encouraged the viewer to believe in themselves, and taught in such a way that it anyone believe they could paint as he did.
Great women do not become great overnight. It takes years or even decades to be worthy of the title of greatness.
On Friday, Great Performances aired Gloria, A Life. Starring Christine Lahti, the play tells the life story of legendary second wave feminist Gloria Steinem. Via a small cast made up entirely of female performers, the audience is introduced to the real woman behind the icon.
I’m thrilled that this show was filmed for television. I didn’t see the play while it was open, though looking back, I wish I had. I loved it. It was educating, enthralling, and entertaining. If nothing else, the play is a reminder that the issue of women’s right is just a prevalent today as it was fifty years ago.
I absolutely recommend it.
Gloria, A Life can be streamed on the Great Performances website.
No one is without a past, for better or for worse. Ideally, we should be able to learn from the past and watch it disappear in the rearview mirror. But that is not always the case.
Beecham House premiered last night on PBS. This six-part miniseries takes place in India at the end of the 18th century. The viewer is introduced to John Beecham (Tom Bateman). A former employee of the British East India Company, John is eager to move on from his troubled past. But that is easier said than done.
I really enjoyed the first episode. As the lead character, John is compelling, complicated, and human. Filmed on location in India, the setting adds a level of reality that is often not seen in dramas set in this period. It could have been conceived as a technicolor, fairytale-ish land that can only come out of a dream. Authentically re-creating India as it was in the late 18th century helps to draw the viewer in further to the narrative and the characters.
The Windmere Children, a television movie, takes place just after World War II. Britain has taken in 1000 child survivors of the Holocaust. 300 of these children are taken to an estate in England to recover. They are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. They are also most likely the only survivors from their families. It is up to the adults around them to help them become children again. Played by Romola Garai, Iain Glenn, and Thomas Kretschmann, the therapists and teachers are doing everything they can to help their charges begin to heal.
World on Fire is a miniseries that tells the story of ordinary people whose lives are turned upside down by the war. Starring Helen Hunt, Jonah Hauer-King, and Sean Bean, this miniseries follows a group of individuals from various countries as they face the dangerous realities of war. Hauer-King’s character is a young man from Britain in love with two women. Hunt plays an American journalist trying to do her job in Europe as the shadow of war grows ever closer. Bean’s character is a working-class father doing the best he can to take care of his children.
I loved both. The Windemere Children is both heartbreaking and uplifting. World on Fire stands out because it tells the stories of ordinary people who must do extraordinary things to survive.
Earlier in the week, PBS aired an episode of Secrets of the Dead that focused on the fact that though the Allies knew about the death camp and were urged to bomb it, they chose not to.
What makes me angry is that the purpose of this war was to fight for democracy and human rights. And yet, when the Allies had an opportunity to make a statement about the very thing that they were fighting for, they chose not to.
I can’t help but think of the time, energy, resources, and the lives that were wasted in the Holocaust. We will never know what the victims and their forebears might have given to the world. We will also never know what those who worked in the camps might have done with their lives if they had not given into the hate and believed the lies of the Nazis.
We talk about “Never Again” and how we will never let a specific people be ostracized, traumatized and murdered. And yet, in our modern world, with all of the hate that has started to once more consume us, the message feels as important as ever.
May the memories of those who were killed within Auschwitz be a blessing and a reminder of how inhuman we can be to our fellow humans.
Discovering previously unknown parts of one’s family tree is akin to being a detective.
Finding Your Roots premiered on PBS in 2012. Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., each episodes focuses on two or three well-known personalities as they learn about their family trees. The cumulative research of genealogists, historians and genetics experts is then compiled into a book of life. As the subject of each episode follows along, Mr. Gates either reveals their family history or answers questions to long-held family secrets.
Genealogy is a fascinating subject, at least from my perspective. It’s more than knowing where your ancestors came from. It’s about connecting the past to the present and revealing that the human experience is a universal one.
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.
Queen Victoria has the rare distinction of being one of the few female rulers in human history. Last year, the television series Victoria (based on the book of the same name by Daisy Goodwin, who is also the series’ show runner ) hit our small screens.
Last night, the second series of Victoria premiered on PBS. The second series starts a month after the first series ended. Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) is a new mother and has been on resting since giving birth. Prince Albert (Tom Hughes) has stepped into his wife’s shoes while she recovers from bringing their daughter into the world. But Victoria is eager to get back to work and like many mothers, has to find the life/work balance that is sometimes akin to walking on a tightrope. While Victoria is trying to balance family life, her marriage and her job, Albert is trying to find his own identity outside of his marriage.
I really enjoyed last night’s episode. Not just because creator and writer Daisy Goodwin brings these real life people into our modern lives, but also because Victoria and Albert’s marriage seems so ordinary, despite their extraordinary status in society. Like any married couple, they love each other, but they disagree quite fiercely. I also very much appreciated that Victoria’s dilemma is quite modern. She is working in a man’s world, but at the same time, she is a wife and a new mother. Any woman trying to maintain the same delicate balance will tell you that it is not easy.