Posts Tagged BBC
Affairs of the Heart, Series Two features six adaptations of Henry James works. The series includes a cache of early performances from some of the finest British actors and actresses including: Derek Jacobi (I, Claudius), Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain), Sinead Cusack (North and South), Edward Hardwick (The Return of Sherlock Holmes), Cheryl Campbell (Chariots of Fire), Daniel Massey (Star!), and Christopher Cazenove (The Duchess of Duke Street).
My favorite episodes are Emma (based on the short story “Lord Beauprey”), Bessie (based on the novella An International Episode), and Elizabeth (based on the short story “The Great Condition”). Daisy (based on the novella Daisy Miler) and Kate (based on the short story “The Bench of Isolation” both fell flat for me. Using 19th century romance, Henry James mixes American ideals, attitude and modernizations clashing with British tradition and proper society. The result is often hilarious and divine. While Affairs of the Heart has simple production and basic theatrical sets, the wonderful acting and strong vignettes allow the series to hold up over time. There’s humor, sarcasm, and witty observations throughout.
Emma: “Oh dear mama, do you think I don’t know you by now?”
Mrs. Gosselin: “Do you know yourself I wonder?”
Emma Gosselin [Cheryl Campbell] and Lord Guy Beauprey [Jeremy Clyde] have been friends since childhood. In a bizarre series of events [“He was third in succession to an Earl who was 33 and died of Typhoid in Naples. The Earl’s tiny son succeeds him and dies of Diphtheria. The Earl’s brother succeeds him only to break his neck a week later on the hunting field.”] Guy becomes Earl and suddenly every single woman is after the single man. He proposes a faux engagement with his friend Emma. Complicating matters is Emma’s mother who would actually be happy if Emma married Guy and an American, Jefferson Brown [Paul Gregory] who Emma happened to meet shortly before the plan went into place. Emma and Guy are dear friends but Emma loves Guy merely as a friend and never anything more.
A good sport, good shot, good billiards player. Almost as good company as a man.
You know in Boston you have to pass an examination at the City limits and when you come away they give you a degree.
For a “lark and further observation of humanity,” Lord James Lambeth [Christopher Cazenove] accompanies his cousin Percy Beaumont [Geoffrey Whitehead] to America. Percy must attend to some business there. While in America, the two men travel to Newport, R.I. at the behest of a business associate and meet Boston-educated Bessie [Sinead Cusack] who has a fascination with everything British although she’s never visited England, only read about it in William Thackeray and George Eliot, among other novelists. As a Bostonian, Bessie is considered “thoughtful,” shy, and serious. Bessie is far more intellectual than James who isn’t the least bit bookish. When she visits England, James’s sister and mother are in fear that the American is after James for his money and title. Bessie turns down his proposal before he can even propose because he’s not smart enough for him. She says that she is “too aristocratic” for him.
Bertram Braddle [Derek Jacobi] and Henry Chilver [Edward Hardwicke] meet American widow Elizabeth Damerel [Diane Cilento] while crossing the Atlantic from the United States to England. Both men find her quite charming. Bertram spends all six days courting Elizabeth on the ship while Henry falls seasick. Back in England, Bertram has his doubts about Elizabeth’s past and feels she’s harboring some terrible secret. He takes off to the American frontier to investigate. While he is gone, Henry and Elizabeth fall deeply in love and marry. Elizabeth agrees to tell Henry about her past six months after they are married but as time passes, his love grows and he trusts her and never asks.
on DVD September 15DVD Features: Henry James biography, cast filmographies
You don’t seem like the rest of them and you’re clever enough to know what you’re saying can’t be true. –Annie
In this original BBC series [which coincidentally the canceled American television show copies almost exactly], Detective Inspector Sam Tyler [John Simm] gets hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 back in his own Manchester police office. Naturally he flips out. He cannot believe it is 1973 or any of this is real. Tyler befriends and confides in Annie [Liz White], an officer in the women’s division of the force [to the dismay of his colleagues he treats her as an equal and values her input on cases]. Here’s the kicker: in 2006 his partner and girlfriend Maya [Archie Panjabi] had been killed by a serial killer; now in 1973, a serial killer seems to be following the same m.o. as the one in 2006. Coincidence for Tyler? This is the nightmare from which he cannot awake. Everything is foreign to him and he cannot grasp how outdated and seemingly backwards everything is in 1973. The other detectives behave boorishly and in an unregulated manner that often does not sit well with Tyler. And this is something he has to come to terms with every day in order to work with this force. Life on Mars makes everyone in 1973 seem dumb, woefully untrained, chauvinistic, and almost savage. And ironically, they were. Life on Mars is a clever program with a mix of vintage and present tone and style. The unpredictability of the show will keep you watching.
DVD Bonus Features: “Take a Look at the Lawman,” a behind-the-scenes documentary that includes interviews with cast and crew interviews; interview with director Bharat Nalluri; and a featurette about the music of Life on Mars with composer Ed Butt
Based on the novel by popular author Joanna Trollope, A Village Affair focuses on Alice Jordan [Sophie Ward], a mother of three, who has married a wealthy but staid husband, Martin [Nathaniel Parker] and moved to a quiet village. She’s given up on the painting she once loved to do and has become depressed since the birth of her third child. When a wild-child heiress [Kerry Fox] returns from living abroad in Manhattan, she stirs things up for the couple.
Alice remarks to a friend of hers that she never got to go wild herself and her friend replies: That kind of wild requires money, good schools, and hordes of ancestors.
A Village Affair has a slow, even pace. Alice’s mother-in-law has always had a stronghold over Alice and her son. She makes decisions about what she things Alice should do. Everyone wants Alice. Even when Martin’s brother Anthony [Jeremy Northam] visits, he makes his desires know. Over time, Clodagh and Alice spent more and more time together and end up falling in love and having a real love affair which becomes a devastating scandal that rocks the entire village. Alice finds herself and becomes much more independent and happy but not without consequences. A Village Affair ends up being sad and destructive in the end as love leads to loss for everyone.
AVAILABLE ON DVD NOW
House of Eliott: The Complete Series
Starring: Stella Gonet, Louise Lombard, Aden Gillett
Beatrice: Evie, you’re unstoppable.
Evie: I think we both are.
In a beautiful packaged set, now you can have the complete collection of the popular British drama from 1991, House of Eliott. It has series one, two and three in lovely casing that fits the decorative and captivating series about two sisters in 1920s London. From the creators of Upstairs/Downstairs, The House of Eliott manages to examine class differences in London through the inner-workings of a design house. It’s done in a lively, dramatic manner. You become invested in all the characters over the course of the series.
We see the wealthy, attractive Eliott sisters who frequent extravagant parties and have elegant friends and then additionally peek into the lives of those who work for the House of Eliott—the seamstresses who toil and worry about money. Both rich and working class have one thing in common: relationship issues.
The two single sisters find themselves without money after their father’s death. 30-year-old Beatrice basically brought up 18-year-old sister and therefore, sacrificed her own goals and future. Both women are strong, independent and creative. Beatrice [Stella Gonet] is the sensible, conservative sister while Evangeline [CSI’s Louise Lombard] is the spirited, inquisitive and adventurous one. The stisters could not be more different but they have that special sibling bond and both have an interest in creating fashion. This makes them work well together. Evangeline [Evie] is the designer/the creative one and Beatrice has the business sense, the ability to see how to make it work. As one character said in the beginning the two sisters were not paid what they were worth. At first the women design clothes according to the interests of their clients but they decide to challenge themselves and create an original collection. During this time, suitors come in and out of their lives, and the women struggle to reach success in a fickle, competitive industry. The costume design, period sets and characters make House of Eliot a must-see.
At the beginning, the Eliott sisters sell their home and Beatrice considers a position as caretaker of an elderly woman. Evie applies for a dance instructor position after learning all the hot moves from the housekeeper. But the women have big dreams and these positions do not suit them. A chance encounter with Evie and a philanthropist Penelope leads to the introduction of Penelopes’ playboy/photographer brother Jack [Aden Gillett]. He ends up hiring Beatrice to work for him and she keeps him completely organized but knows she and Evie want to be involved in the fashion world. They go to work for a woman in her design house. Instead of learning as apprentices, the woman disapproves when Evie garners more attention and requests for designing than she does. After that a big name designer hires the much sought after sisters and ends up stealing Evie’s designs.
The sisters make the daring decision to go into business for themselves with Jack’s monetary support as well as that of Evie’s godfather. Beatrice is the businesswoman while Evie has the eye and the talent to design. The sisters argue over different concepts and plans for their company. They clash over operational and design matters. Evie dates two very different men and this also causes a rift between the two sisters. Beatrice is at that “spinster” age for most in England at her time and Evie is young, beautiful, and inquisitive and attracts many suitors while her sister focuses on work. Evie is dedicated to design though, especially after a tragic event breaks her heart: she travels to art museums and takes in concerts and immerses herself to other cultural activities to gain new ideas for an original collection.
As with any proper and really worthwhile British series, House of Eliott has its bounty of dramatic moments, cliff-hangers, tragedies, scandals and winning episodes to propel it.
Activist Penelope remains conflicted on her friendship with Evie and her relationship with her brother Jack, who has become a partner in House of Elliott: “It makes me so mad. All this care and attention lavished on so much nonsense.” At a charity ball, she stood on-stage and expressed her distain for all its attendants, admonishing them for all the money they spent on their outfits for the event as well as the wasted money she and her organization used to plan and present it. She said that they all should have donated money directly to the organization. As a sub-plot, Penelope’s story provides a view into the other side of wealth: she selflessly and ardently works to help the unfortunate and puts herself in harm’s way time and time again. At the end of series one, she contemplates traveling to Africa with a missionary. Jack moves away from full-time photography to the film industry. He also grows fonder of Beatrice and their relationship moves from platonic to romantic. They make a wonderful pair—although they have their ups and downs. From the first scene he’s in, actor Aden Gillett commands the screen as Jack; a charming, honest, experienced and it turns out, quite sentimental, gorgeous man.
The Eliot sisters attract upper-crust clientele and the business is going very well. As Beatrice, Gonet shows her sensible side but also exhibits a strong sense of self. She’s gone this long without a man to support her and knows she can do it on her own. She loves Jack but does not need Jack. Lombard shines as Evie, a sprite, eager young woman who cannot wait for her next adventure or challenge. They attend lots of parties. Others do not treat them as fairly as they treat their workers and soon money is swindled, an affair with Evie and a diplomat threatens the reputation of House of Eliott and the sisters must make some difficult decisions. Wanting children and a more domestic home life, Jack suggests a separation to Beatrice. She works so much and is so career-focused and he knows it will not change and he does not want her to give up the business which provides her with such self-identity and pride. He is doing rather well with his film business as this point, but he also wants a family and Beatrice is just too involved with the House of Eliott.
The House of Eliott provides viewers with flair, drama, intrigue and an intricate journey for the sisters Eliott to come into their own. At any age, with enough focus, anyone can do what many view as impossible. Beatrice and Evangeline are dedicated and determined to make their way on their own terms and will let very few obstacles or few people lead them astray from accomplishing their ultimate goal: a successful fashion house.
The first season of House of Eliott begins with the two strong sisters supporting one another and the final series ends the same way. House of Eliott shows two very different yet connected women succeeding in a competitive industry, during a complex time in London.