Tag Archives: World on Fire

World on Fire Character Review: Albert Fallou

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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. It would be nice to live in a world in which whom one loves is just another aspect of who they are. But the reality is we are judged based on our sexuality and based on that judgment, assigned a value. On World on Fire, Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers) is a Frenchman whose family is originally from West Africa. He is also gay and in love with American doctor Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith).

Before the Nazis invade, Albert just lives his life as anyone does. But things quickly change under German rule. Targeted for his West African heritage, the Nuremberg Laws state that Albert is a second class citizen. Fearing for his and Webster’s lives, Albert asks Webster to smuggle him out of France. He knows that while his partner may be able to fly under the radar for a short time, Webster’s sexuality could be revealed at any time.

To sum it up: It takes courage to be yourself in a world that at best denies your rights and at worst, wants you dead. But, it also takes courage to know when it is better to leave your home and stay alive rather than stay where you are and risk being killed. Albert is aware of the world he now lives in and the tough choices that must be made in order to survive.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Webster O’Connor

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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 truth of human sexuality is that it has always been a spectrum. But for most of our time on Earth, the only acceptable sexual relationship has been between a man and a woman. It is only in the last few decades (depending on where one lives) that members of the LGBTQ community are free to live and love as they want to.

On World on Fire, Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith) is an American doctor working and living in Paris as World War II rumbles on the horizon. He is also gay. Before the Germans invade the country, Webster is able to live openly as a gay man (well, as much as one could back then). Happily involved with Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers), Webster does not listen to his aunt, Nancy Campbell (Helen Hunt) when she strongly recommends that he return to the States.

Then the Battle of France happens and Webster is stuck behind enemy lines. As both an American and a member of the LGBTQ community, he knows how dangerous it is to remain in France. But his Caucasian complexion and his assumed Christian faith have so far kept Webster off of the Nazi’s radar. Feeling that he has to do something, Webster and his colleague/nurse Henriette Guilbert (Eugénie Derouand), hatch a plan to get prisoners of war out of France before the Nazis can get their hands on them.

To sum it up: I suspect that many people in Webster’s situation would have taken his aunt’s advice. Having stayed for love, Webster is completely aware of the situation he is now in. But. he also knows that doing his part to save lives is dangerous. Having the courage to do that makes him a hero in my book.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Connie Wright

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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 history, when the men went to war, women stayed home. It is only in the last 150 years or so that women have actively served in one form or another. In World on Fire, Connie Wright (Yrsa Daley-Ward) does not want to sit around while her fellow Brits fight for King and country.

Connie and her bestie/singing partner Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) join ENSA (Entertainment National Service Association). Following the troops, Connie and Lois perform for the boys fighting dying for everything that the British people held dear. Providing a sense of comfort and normalcy, the soldiers are given a brief respite from everything that war brings with it.

While Connie is traveling across Europe, her thoughts are with her musician husband, Eddie (Ansu Kabia). Like anyone with a spouse, partner, or loved one who is on active duty, she is torn. She knows that what he is doing is necessary, but she is keenly aware of the realities of war.

To sum it up: The idea of women being strong and capable is still a relatively new concept. Up until the last few decades, women were thought to be weak, emotional, and only suited to certain tasks and responsibilities. But Connie is not even close to that idea. As not just a woman, but woman of color in England, she is breaking boundaries, reminding the audience that the stereotypes of women are just that.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Best New TV Shows of 2020

  1. Bridgerton (Netflix): This Jane Austen inspired series is based on books by Julia Quinn. Sexy and romantic with a feminist twist, it is the perfect BPD (British Period Drama) to lose one’s self in.
  2. Saved by the Bell (Peacock): The re-imagining of this much loved 1990’s teen comedy program will thrill both new fans and old.
  3. Cursed (Netflix): Based on the comic book by Frank Miller, it revisits the Arthurian myth via Nimue (Katherine Langford).
  4. World on Fire (PBS): This PBS/Masterpiece follows a group of individuals as World War II is on the horizon.
  5. Mrs. America (F/X/Hulu): In the 1970’s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was close to becoming the law of the land. A tug of war begins between one group of women that is for it and another that is against it.
  6. Sanditon (PBS): Based off the unfinished book of the same name by Jane Austen, we follow Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a young woman who leaves her family for the seaside resort town of Sanditon.
  7. The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix): This Netflix series is based on the books by Ann M. Martin.
  8. Flesh and Blood (PBS): Natalie (Lydia Leonard), Jake (Russell Tovey), and Helen (Claudie Blakely) are unsure about their widow mother’s new boyfriend.
  9. The Weakest Link (NBC): A delightful reboot of the early 2000’s game show of the same name. Hosted by Jane Lynch.
  10. The Windemere Children (PBS): World War II has just ended. 300 child survivors of The Holocaust are taken to England to heal. The adults have their work cut out for them.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Hulu, Jane Austen, Netflix, Television, TV Review

World on Fire Character Review: Robina Chase

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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. Losing a spouse is difficult by itself. Losing a spouse when your children are young is immeasurably harder. On World on Fire, Robina Chase (Lesley Manville) has lived most of her adult life without her late husband. Raising her son, Harry (Jonah Hauer-King) alone, she has ambitions to see him do great things in life.

But like many young men, Harry and his mother do not see eye to eye. She is almost relieved when he takes a job in Poland as a translator. But that does not mean she approves of his choices, especially when it comes to women. Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) is a local girl who Harry has been seeing for some time. After breaking up with Lois, Harry’s new girlfriend is Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichłacz), a young woman with who he met in Warsaw.

When Harry returns home after the invasion of Poland, he is not alone. He has come with his young brother-in-law. Robina is not happy with her new charge or that Lois is carrying her future grandchild. But the coming war and the changes to her life will open this woman’s once cold heart after years of tucking it away.

To sum it up: Robina is a woman changed by circumstance. First, by the early death of her husband, and then by the changes brought on by the war. It is through those changes that she reveals the loving, giving heart underneath the formerly cold exterior.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Kasia Tomaszeski

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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. War changes our fate like nothing else can. Forced to make decisions that would never even be considered in peacetime, we know that the chance of not surviving is high. In World on Fire, Kasia Tomaszeski (Zofia Wichłacz) is a young woman without a care in the world. Working as a waitress and living in Warsaw with her family, she is also in love with Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King), an English translator who is working in the city.

Then the Germans invade and her world is forever changed. When her father and brother, Grzegorz (Mateusz Wieclawek) join the Polish army, Kasia has two excruciating choices. Now married to Harry, she can go with him to England, not knowing his complicated love life. Or, she can stay and fight for her country.

Choosing to join the Polish Underground, Kasia sends her little brother to England in her stead. Driven by her mother’s murder, she knows that she could be betrayed, captured, tortured, and killed at any moment. But it is a risk that must be taken to free Poland. When we last see Kasia, she is reunited with Harry, but they are surrounded by German soldiers, their fate unknown.

To sum it up: The decisions Kasia makes are far from easy. The consequences, whatever they maybe, are at best, dangerous, and at worst, deadly. But for her it is the only choice. For her family, for her country, and most of all, for herself.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Tom Bennett

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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. Sometimes, the only way to grow up is to be knocked down a peg or two. As difficult as the experience is, it is the only way to learn that lesson.

On World on Fire, Tom Bennett (Ewan Mitchell) is a young man living in England as World War II looms in the distance. Akin to many at that age, he is a headstrong know it all. Raised by his widower father Douglas Bennett (Sean Bean), he and his sister Lois Bennett (Julia Brown), Tom’s priorities are to be young and have fun. While Douglas lives with the PTSD after serving in World War I and Julia juggles work, household chores, and her growing singing career, Tom does not have a care in the world.

After one too many run ins with the police, he is given a choice: enlist in the army or go to jail. Though he originally intended to avoid enlisting by claiming to be a conscientious objector. Tom knows that he has no choice. He has no idea what he is about to experience and how that will change him.

Starts at 38 seconds

To sum it up: Though Tom is part of a certain generation, who he is when we meet him is emblematic of that stage of life, regardless of the era that we live in. Youth grows into maturity, but not without going to the school of life. Joining the military and fighting for his country teaches Tom that there is more to life than just having a good time.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Douglas Bennett

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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. From the outside looking in, fighting in a war is heroic and glamorous. But anyone who has looked death in the eye knows that it is not as glamorous or heroic as it appears to be. Those who come home, if they come home in one piece, face internal battles that will last for the rest of their lives.

In World on Fire, widower Douglas Bennett (Sean Bean) is veteran of World War I. Dealing with the lingering effects of PTSD, he would do anything to avoid Britain getting involved in another war. But his attempts are unfortunately futile. Watching both his son Tom (Ewan Mitchell) and daughter Lois (Julia Brown) getting involved what would ultimately become World War II, brings back memories that Douglas would rather forget. They are made worse when Tom, who has joined the Navy, is briefly MIA.

But in spite of this darkness, there is still a little bit of light in his life. An unexpected friendship with a young refugee who is staying with his daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother, Robina Chase (Lesley Manville) and the news that Lois is pregnant allows Douglas to realize that it is still possible to hope that the future is bright.

To sum it up: Douglas is a man who has seen enough to know that war is not what it seems to be. But he lives in a world that for any number of reasons, does not see what he sees. It is not a surprise that given his circumstances, his PTSD is exacerbated. But to his surprise, he is able to find something to make him feel good. That gives him the opportunity to believe in the future and more importantly, believe in hope and humanity.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Nancy Campbell

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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 job of a journalist is to report the facts and let the public decide how to react. The problem is that in some countries and under some governments, the facts are dangerous.

On World on Fire, Nancy Campbell is an American journalist whose job is her life. In 1939, Nancy is in Warsaw when the Germans invade Poland. Returning to Berlin, she does her job as she has always done. But she also knows enough to know that war is coming. She tries to convince her closeted nephew, Webster O’ Connor (Brian J. Smith) to leave Europe while the borders are still open. But Webster decides to stay.

In Berlin, she is friendly with her neighbors and the army officers who she must interact with as part of her job. The journalist in her wants to report what she is seeing. But she is held back by her German supervisors who are towing the party line and need to make sure that only their version of the truth is released.

Nancy knows the risks she takes when she is determined reveal everything that she is seeing and experiencing. But in her eyes, it must be done, in spite of the personal costs she may have to pay.

To sum it up: Sometime doing the right thing requires going against everyone and everything around you. It is easy to be silent and pretend that everything is fine. It is harder to follow your own instincts. When Nancy makes the difficult and dangerous decision to speak the truth, she is standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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World on Fire Character Review: Lois Bennett

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series World on Fire. 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.

Love and loss often compels us to act in ways that we would otherwise act. On World on Fire, Lois Bennett (Julia Brown) is initially introduced to the audience as an idealistic young woman living in England at the start of World War II. Though she has a day job, her true passion is singing. At night, she performs at night clubs with her friend, Connie Wright (Yrsa Daley-Ward). She is also happily in love with Harry Chase (Jonah Hauer-King), in spite of his upper class mother Robina’s (Lesley Manville) misgivings.

But life is not all sunshine and roses. Lois lives with her hot-headed brother Tom (Ewan Mitchell) and their widowed father Douglas (Sean Bean). Douglas is a veteran of World War I. Still dealing with PTSD decades after returning home, he is against Britain getting involved in another war.

After she and Harry break up, Lois joins the ENSA and the war effort. When she finds out that he has returned to England with a young boy who is his brother-in-law, she is furious. When they meet, one thing leads to another and they sleep together.

Upon finding out that she is pregnant, Lois decides to keep the baby. But, she does not tell Harry and rejects financial help from Robina. At a local army base, Lois meets Vernon Hunter (Arthur Darvill). She initially rejects him but eventually agrees to marry him.

Starts at 3:43

To sum it up: There are two ways to deal with loss, especially loss that is associated with romantic love. We can wallow in self-pity. Or, we can find a way to move on from that loss, even if it is difficult. What I like about Lois is that she does not let the breakup with Harry stop her from living. That strength I find to be inspiring and powerful.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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