Shrewsbury. The monks are having a medieval blood drive by the look of it. Actually, they’re just being bled because…I don’t know, it’s Tuesday and that’s what they do? One of the monks suddenly gets up and has some sort of fit. Cadfael is summoned and holds him down, shoving a stick in between his teeth and calming him with poppy juice. Jerome thinks the guy was in the grips of some sort of religious ecstasy, while Cadfael thinks he was just weakened and loopy from blood loss. I’m surprised nobody thinks witchcraft was at work, but then, maybe they though no spell could be effective in such a holy place.
A well-dressed man arrives on horseback at a modest estate—Ashby Manor—and wastes no time making it clear he’s a snob and a half. His name’s Peter Clemence, and he’s coolly greeted by Ashby’s proprietor, his cousin, Leoric. Leoric introduces his family: his ward, Isobel, younger son Meriet, and his clearly much favoured older son, Tristan. Tristan’s pretty fiancée, Rosana, strolls over and Peter kind of hits on her before he’s hustled away by Leoric.
At the abbey, Cadfael gets a visit from Hugh Beringar and Sergeant Warden. Beringar’s heading to Westminster to give an accounting of the shire. Cadfael rather unthinkingly asks who’ll be in charge of keeping the peace and Warden’s like, uh, I’m right here? Cadfael’s response is a definite, oh, yeah, well, I guess you’re better than nothing. Though barely. Nice, Cadfael.
I’m a bad former English major. I’m not a fan of Dickens. Not a fan of reading his work, at least. I find it hard to slog through his novels (though I did enjoy Great Expectations), so I don’t read most of his works, and I haven’t read The Old Curiosity Shop. This recap will, therefore, be entirely based on what’s on screen, not what’s in the book or how the book translates to the screen. I’m not sure I can promise the same for Great Expectations when that airs, but we’ll see how that goes when we get there.
It’s been a while since I did a movie recap, hasn’t it? My lucky husband has just spent the last week in Edinburgh (on a job interview—fingers crossed!), leaving me behind in Douglasville with the dogs. Loneliness and jealousy set in pretty quickly, so I decided the best thing to do was to fill the house with English accents. And it worked! After catching up with Law and Order: UK OnDemand, I turned to The King’s Speech, and I thought: “oh, what the hell, let’s recap it.” So, here we are.
We start off with an ominous close-up of a giant, menacing microphone just waiting for someone to feed words into it for broadcast to the British Empire, which comprised a quarter of the world’s population at the time, according to the lead-in, which also informs us it’s 1925. Once we get a few camera angles on the microphone, we see Bertie and Elizabeth waiting for him to go out and give the closing speech at the Empire Exhibition. With them are Derek Jacobi, playing the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a few Palace suits, all of whom look tense. It’s kind of funny to see Derek Jacobi in this movie, considering he’s played a stammerer himself at least three times. Bertie looks like he wants to throw up. In a room somewhere, Adrian Scarborough, here playing a BBC announcer, introduces Bertie’s speech, as Bertie makes his way toward his own microphone like he’s hiking to his own funeral. Adrian informs us all that Bertie’s dad and older brother have already spoken on the wireless, and now it’s his turn. Bertie emerges into the stadium, which is packed with people, and he stares at the menacing red cue light as it flashes, then stays on to tell him it’s time to get started. He stares at the microphone and struggles to begin. The silence is long and awkward. He finally manages to get started, but before long he hits a troublesome “K” sound when he has to say “King” and it gets uncomfortable all over again. Elizabeth looks like her heart’s breaking for him, and the crowd starts to get restless. In reality, this speech didn’t go quite so badly, and Elizabeth wasn’t even there, but that’s less dramatic.
Those of you who read my Tudors recaps knows how I feel about the work Michael Hirst chooses to produce, so when I heard he was taking on the Borgia family, I was a bit wary, and the bodice ripping early previews didn’t help. Still, I tried to be optimistic. After all, The Borgias stars much-lauded actor Jeremy Irons. Now, Irons has made some pretty poor choices in the past when it came to his roles (he did, after all, voluntarily do both Eragorn and Dungeons and Dragons), but he’s still a fine actor, and as much as I’m sure I’ll get outraged comments about this, I think he’s a much better and stronger actor than Jonathan Rhys Myers, who in my opinion didn’t have what it took to carry The Tudors. The supporting cast looked good too—Derek Jacobi, Joanne Whalley, Colm Feore. So, like I said, I tried to be optimistic. And judging by the first episode, I was kind of right to be. If the show continues the way it started, it’s going to be a fun ride. Let’s get started, shall we?
Those of you who read the Pillars of the Earth recaps may recall me mentioning Cadfael at some point. If you were confused by that, this should help clear it up. The Brother Cadfael Mysteries were written by Ellis Peters and brought to life by the great Derek Jacobi, who played the 12th century monk/ex-crusader/herbalist to perfection. Judging from PBS’s 2011 lineup, I’ll be delving pretty deeply into the Edwardian and interwar periods for a while, so I thought I’d give myself a break and dip into the war-and-wimple period instead, at least until Netflix sends me the first disk of The Duchess of Duke Street. So, on with the recap!
Party time! A wedding, to be exact. A young man who looks like he’s only got about sixpence to the shilling, if you know what I mean, peeks in on the festivities from another room. He’s played by Toby Jones, who’s a platinum diamond member of the British “Hey! It’s that guy!” club. He just shows up everywhere, in a baffling range of roles that runs the gamut from lead actor to featured to glorified scenery. It’s too bad his Truman Capote movie came out right at the same time as Capote (and therefore got much less attention), because he was actually really good in it and that probably would have gotten him more recognizable roles, if Philip Seymour Hoffman hadn’t come along and kicked ass. Oh well, c’est la vie. Anyway, he’s joined by a bearded man who looks at him silently for a moment, then peeks into the wedding himself.