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Period Drama Thread
Spaceship Dispatcher
A discussion and review thread for dramas that have caught our attention and are set in the 19th or 20th Centuries, a later period than the medieval or ancient civilisation themed dramas that I'll review in the Historical Drama thread. All are welcome to post comments and reviews here. Last week I watched the recent series Mr Selfridge, having bought it for the collection on dvd as it featured a member of the Survivors cast, and I wrote my blog on another site as this one was due to close and restart. The asterisks divide the different days that I posted...


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Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
I'm now four episodes into Mr Selfridge, so time for some initial impressions and comparisons with the BBC competition. Its fascinating how Andrew Davies and Bill Gallagher (The Paradise) came at certain ideas from the same direction; even as far as having some characters with direct equivalents such as Selfridge and Moray being very similar personally as well as having the same professional role, and the shop girl with lots of ideas and potential but a difficult father holding her back. However, and this is something that would be more apparent to UK dwellers than overseas viewers, the inner city setting of MS and the 'up North' setting of TP do make them very different in tone and style. The socially high pressured, hyperactive, metropolitan atmosphere of hussle and bustle in early 20th century London is a world apart from the provincial, laid back, countrified life of tea parties in the gardens of country estates or clandestine woodland meetings of the Glendenning's domain. Its that difference of atmosphere that imo makes MS stand alone on its own merits despite sharing the same subject matter. Everything here is larger than life in a grand and bombastic sort of way, with higher stakes and the gaze of London society adding weight to do the decisions and mistakes of the characters. Here, the shop girl's father isn't merely awkward and obstructive but is a violent drunkard who physically assaults Agnes and her brother and smashes up the shop; the owner/manager of the shop doesn't get into bother for merely speaking to another woman as in the case of Moray, but has an adulterous relationship with Ellen Love that drags his name down into scandal; and the issues mentioned are 'real world' issues of the day such as womens' sufferage. Performances likewise match the tone, with the cast giving equally larger than life dimensions to their characters but without crossing the line and becoming unbelievable. There are some good touches, like the two girls in the accessories department who observe and discuss life in the store without so far having any direct involvement. One criticism might be that there's a little too much sexual tension too early, with too many secret and potentially damaging relationships going on. Its not really excessive, but does burden the plot a little imo. Regarding the production, it all looks very good with impressive design and direction. Only four episodes in, but its a good show and enjoyable enough so far.

*****

Managed to fit in 4 straight episodes of Mr Selfridge this morning! To its credit the show doesn't slow down in the middle, which is something I was worried about when it emerged that it was 10 episodes long. The sensationalism of trying to get X number of characters into bed with each other to keep the ratings up feels even more awkward and unnecessary than before, but fortunately its kept in the background for the most part. Something that was an unexpected direction was the supernatural elements of the seance (which was portrayed as 'real' and not fixed by the medium) and the implication that Ellen Love is a woman with dangerous powers. The whole drunken episode with the car was a little overdone and if Harry really was as far gone as the special effects suggest then he wouldn't even have managed to get the car out of the garage! Worthy of special mention is the direction and camera work, with some clever use of mirrors in several shots. Two more episodes to go...

*****

Finished off the last two episodes of Mr Selfridge this morning. As for the surprise of the nature of Ellen Love's return Timeless, it was certainly quite an interesting direction for the show in that last episode but was also something of a double edged sword. It was an excellent dramatic way to bring many of the character threads together and bring them out into the open at the same time, allowing the story to end without the last episode being full of unlikely contrivances. On the other side of the coin however, the final twist also made it clearer than ever just how much the drama had gone over the top with the extreme nature of the scenarios across the previous nine parts. The play is a self-parody of the drama that it itself is a part of. The viewer is maybe left with a feeling of implausability due to the fact that real life personalities were used rather than fictional substitutes, making this feel too colourful for a biographical drama; that's my opinion anyway, having taken a brief look at the real lives of these people and the fact that certain parts of the story have been distorted a lot for artictic licence. Overall then, this was a good steady drama series that sometimes pushed its material a bit far but was enjoyable and engaging for the whole ten episodes. The suicide theme near the end was very well handled and praise worthy.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Watched something very different this afternoon! The new version of The Great Gatsby...

Having never read the novel or seen the original, I can't compare it to anything that's gone before. But this film really did impress me. Its so wild and fantastic and obviously set in a larger than life fantasy version of the real world at the beginning, but then the tone gradually changes as the characters develop and the central themes of the film shift. Near the end it becomes a much slower and more tragic relationship drama, after the loud and colourful opening hour or so. Visually, the look of the picture has been made to look like a 1930s colour film and that seems to work quite well. Something else very artistic that I liked, but would almost certainly cause division in how people see it, is the way that 1930s culture and modern pop-culture are blended together musically and in the dance routines. The performances are all good, including Sally Sparrow... sorry, Carey Mulligan! She plays a similar character to her role in An Education, but older. Very good film.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Have been lent a copy of Peaky Blinders to watch by a work colleague. Did anyone else catch this?
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Website Mutoid
I loved it from the opening moments. Can't speak for historical accuracy etc, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very atmospheric, great soundtrack, great cast. Try the first episode and see what you think - worth a punt. :)
www.blakes7online.com/images/clear.png
"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness." - Allen Ginsberg
 
Klenotka
Does the new "The Musketeers" from BBC count as a period drama? Grin
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Klenotka wrote:

Does the new "The Musketeers" from BBC count as a period drama? Grin

Fits more comfortably into the Historical Drama genre imo Grin
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Just noticed some comments over on the Historical Drama Thread about Call The Midwife and realised my previous reviews of the series were lost with the previous site. The show was somewhat 'hit and miss' for me as a complete production, although I generally enjoyed the viewer experience. It was very much a fantasy drama rather than a serious, historically accurate one. The light and fluffy East End of London we see in the show is one devised for a Saturday tea-time audience rather than what you would see in photographs of the time, which I found odd as the series was based on an auto-biography. The central characters seem to be based closely on the original author's own memories, but the people they meet seem to be from a different version of 1950s post-war London to any account I have seen previously. The poverty, illness, violence and prejudice are all quite watered down, although its true that people looked after each other more in those days. But having visited The Museum in Docklands a few times, the reality and the show seem a long way apart. But as a fantasy, its quite a good show. The quality of acting is very high with a pretty stellar cast featuring the likes of Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Judy Parfitt and rising star Jessica Raine who also starred in Dr Who: Hide and Dr Who: An Adventure in Time & Space. Some of the plots are a little bit like a 'crisis of the week' format that always seems to have a rather unlikely happy ending, again no doubt due to the intended broadcast slot; but for me a more bittersweet tone would have been more effective. There were no stand-out episodes for me, and it all seemed pretty 'samey' across both series. Enjoyable enough, with good performances, but falling short in design and accuracy for a period that is so well documented.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Joe Dredd
Klenotka wrote:
Does the new "The Musketeers" from BBC count as a period drama? :D



Spaceship Dispatcher wrote:
Just noticed some comments over on the Historical Drama Thread about Call The Midwife


It seems having two threads for historical/period drama is causing confusion. Perhaps one would be better?
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Joe Dredd wrote:

It seems having two threads for historical/period drama is causing confusion. Perhaps one would be better?

They are seperate because imo medieval drama is a sub-genre of 'fantasy' due A. the creative licence intrinsic in any drama that far in the past and B. they often weave mystical elements into the narrative qv Robin of Sherwood, Merlin, The White Queen and The Tudors. 'Period' drama set in the recent past, for which we have more detailed accounts and photographs, involves more factually certain recreations of the past even if the plot and characters are fictional. For me, the time difference of the settings makes them completely different genres.

Please feel free to post series or episode reviews on either thread JD.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Peaky Blinders (episodes 1-3) - this was another recommendation from a friend, and pretty good too; a fictional story set against the real life back-drop of Birmingham's criminal underworld in the period immediately after the Great War. The production values are very high, and comments that the recreation of the Black Country in the industrial period are like looking through a window into the past are not imo exaggerated. The cast is excellent for the most part, with special mention for Sam Neill, especially good as the Irish police inspector, and Annabelle Wallis as his agent operating within the gang. If there's a small criticism of the show, it is this: the focus on the criminal factions (five, no less*) and the police, and the complexity of the plot, means that we don't really get to know any other characters who are not directly a part of that group. Its like someone has walked up to a painting of West Midlands life on a huge canvas and taken a photograph of one very small part without taking in any of the surrounding picture; there is no social context for the events that we see. But the production that we have, with what we do see, is very good so far. *yes, five! Peaky Blinders, the Communists, the IRA, the Gypsy community and a rival gang...
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Peaky Blinders (episodes 4-6) - very impressed with this series as it reached a conclusion; after the sub-plots about communism and Irish freedom are resolved in the middle episodes, the finale is a special piece of television. The conflict between the two rival gangs comes to a final confrontation, but the drama doesn't become fast and frantic or end in a large scale fight with lots of special effects and stunts. On the contrary: the scenes become longer and contain some wonderful two-handers; the loud music of episodes 1-5 all but vanishes and is replaced with a silent and contemplative mood; recent experiences of the Great War affect the minds and hearts of the characters; and the conflict is resolved in one of the most amazing, tense, dialogue and character driven, well directed scenes in any recent series that I have seen as a sensible and emotive appeal to the hearts of the men facing each other by a previously marginal character ends the confrontation with limited loss of life. The decision to go against fashion in the television and film industry by becoming more sombre and dialogue heavy in a finale about violence and conflict rather than becoming more visual, and also to have a minor character step in front of the lead actors and take over the final decisive moments, are both highly commendable and make this serial stand out as different. The surreal deserted streets and lack of any characters not directly part of the plot still make this feel like a weird alternate reality where Birmingham is populated only by criminals, and there's a badly inconsistent enactment of a faked execution that doesn't stand any scrutiny; so this show isn't perfect but does have a virtually perfect recreation of industrial Birmingham (apart from the lack of people!), a dark and chilling atmosphere, well drawn and three dimensional characters, and a brilliant last episode.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Death Comes to Pemberley - to write a novel to follow on from Pride and Prejudice and to justice to the original characters and combine that with an effective crime mystery was a challenge, and to successfully dramatise the work for a modern television audience even more so. The end result here is nothing short of exceptional, with a story that confidently makes you believe that these are the same people we left behind at the end of the original story and makes a murder mystery sustain itself over three hours while set in a period before the police force as we know it or most criminal investigation techniques had come to exist. This is completely character driven drama, with all the visual elements recreating the era but allowing the characters to tell their own story without the director trying to tell it with suggestive camera angles, flash-backs or music. The cast is amazing too: Matthew Rhys (The Lost World) and Anna Maxwell Martin (Bleak House, Dr Who: The Long Game) play the Darcys, Matthew Goode (Dancing on the Edge) and Jenna Coleman (Titanic, Dr Who) play the Wickhams, Eleanor Tomlinson (The White Queen, Marple) plays Georgiana Darcy, Alexandra Moen (Dr Who - Lucy Saxon) plays Jane Bingham, Trevor Eve plays the local magistrate Sir Selwyn Hardcastle, Tom Ward (The Lost World, Dr Who: The Snowmen) plays Georgiana's suitor Colonel Fitzwilliam, James Norton plays Georgiana's other suitor Mr Henry Alveston, and Penelope Keith makes a brief cameo as Lady Catherine. The productions values are very high, evoking the period without going over-board; and there's not even an evening ball in this one as its cancelled in episode one! Mrs Bennet is played for comic relief, as she almost always is, but Lydia Wickham (nee Bennett) is similarlt used in this otherwise dark tale this time too; although she retains her vulnerabilty and has some well performed introspective moments, for the most part she is wild and petulant and generally a makes a nuisance of herself. But the way that Jenna Coleman plays her, hyperactive and funny and with all the expression and variety of mood that she brings to her role of Clara in Dr Who, makes this alternate interpretation work. Each episode is better than the one before, and the tension and drama of the final episode make this a very memorable addition to the wider Austen-inspired genre.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Looks like there's going to be a new 8-part adaptation of Poldark next year, starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson...

Happy
Edited by Spaceship Dispatcher on 24 April 2014 07:34:16
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
Spaceship Dispatcher
Well... I finally got around (just before Winspit, hence the delay) to watching Pride & Prejudice, the cult mid-90s BBC drama that launched Colin Firth's career to new heights. It was good, but I do think standards have improved in recent years. The chellenge was to appraise it in isolation, not in comparison with other productions that built upon the success of this serial. It was easy to see why it was so popular, and Colin Firth as Darcy inparticular, as there was a great deal of effort put into making many of the scenes feel realistic. On the other hand, some of the supporting performances were so over the top as to be charicatures more at home in Dickens. Alison Steadman as Mrs Bennett and Julia Sawalha as Lydia were especially hard to believe in, and there was such a clash between the serious drama efforts and the absurd comic turns that it comes across as very disjointed by the standards of any era. One of the most outstanding performances was given by Benjamin Whitrow as Mr Bennett; this made the contrast in styles even more obvious, but never more so than when he and Jennifer Ehle (as Lizzie) shared a scene with Alison Steadman and Julia Sawalha in the same room. Visually of course, everything was spot on; the design and the camera work were as good as always suggested. The music was not quite perfect, often not matching the scene it was played against though always sounding right for the overall setting. Not the best Austen based drama by a long way, although I'm sure does score highly as an authentic performance of the text as it seemed very detailed, but of course it was seminal in paving the way for better to follow with some of its most successful elements. It is recommended viewing for fans of the genre, but probably not a good starting place for an Austen beginner.
Reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something. It sounds great.

Blake's 7: Trojan Horse (s4 fanfic) - Blake's 7: Through the Needle's Eye (s2 fanfic)

Spaceship Dispatcher's fanfic site
 
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