Oliver Twist Recap: Part I

I’m not entirely sure what happened. I checked out PBS.org and I could have sworn it said that Oliver Twist was airing last night and next Sunday, so in an effort to keep myself sane and ensure and early bedtime, I scrambled around until I found this version of Oliver online and I went ahead and recapped part one. Then I tuned into PBS later and…it was some Downton Abbey nonsense. Look, I like Downton just fine, but it’s over now, and I think it’s time to move on. Enough with the endless “behind the scenes” specials, ok? I’ve readjusted my brain to Dickens month now, so stop jerking me around my time periods, PBS!  Anyway, the recap was already done, so I figured, eh, screw it, I’m posting it anyway. No way I’m flushing a couple hours worth of work on a Sunday down the drain. So, here it is, and you’ll get part II next week, because now I’m just operating on my own schedule.

Like all the Dickens adaptations this year, this one starts out in gloom and misery. A young woman in distress rings the bell at some workhouse and begs to be admitted. Someone comes out and helps her inside, where she gives birth to a baby and then takes a really bad turn. One of the other workers notices a locket on the young mother, and once her rather hardened superior leaves, the mother rallies and asks to see the baby. Nice Lady brings him over and mother smiles and realizes she’s dying. She begs Nice Lady to send a letter she has on her, and though Nice Lady’s reluctant, you know she will, or she’ll hold onto it and reappear at some randomly opportune moment. Mother expires and Nice Lady takes the locket, watching it twist in the flickering light.

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2011 Golden Armchair Awards

Best Miniseries or Show Readers’ Pick: Downton Abbey My Pick: Downton Abbey On paper, this sounded like another Gosford Park or Upstairs, Downstairs, but thanks to excellent writing, spectacular acting, and wonderful production design, it became so much more on both sides of the pond. Worst Miniseries or Show Readers’ Pick: Camelot My Pick: Camelot I see we’re all in agreement here: Camelot sucked. SUCKED. … Continue reading 2011 Golden Armchair Awards

Dear PBS…

I don’t think it’s any secret that I found this season of Masterpiece Classic to be incredibly disappointing. It started out strong with Downton Abbey (which will thankfully be returning next year), and then it was a long, sad slide downward, ending with the abysmally bad, cliche ridden South Riding. A critic, in his review of South Riding, commented that sometimes it feels like the powers … Continue reading Dear PBS…

South Riding: Bad Romance

Previously on South Riding: Lydia’s mom died, and she had to leave school to take care of her siblings. Sarah almost seduced Robert, but he was too overcome with guilt over making his wife crazy to seal the deal.

The morning after the affair that wasn’t, Sarah comes tripping down the stairs to the front desk of the hotel and asks them to ring Robert’s room. They inform her he checked out early that morning. She asks if there are any messages. There aren’t. Honestly, what did she expect? Does he seem like the type to leave love notes around hotels?

Sarah drives to Mrs. B’s house, and Mrs. B’s pretty confused, because it’s Christmas Eve and she knows Sarah’s supposed to be with her sister’s family in Manchester. Sarah says she changed her mind. Probably because she wore and therefore essentially ruined her sister’s gift.

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South Riding: The Schoolmarm Cometh

Laura Linney starts off telling us all about how the deaths of so many men in the First World War left lots of women with nobody to marry (as one would imagine), and the author of the novel this is based on was one such woman. Write what you know.

As a man gallops a horse along a beach and through the countryside, a young woman in bright red sits on a train, smoking and writing in a journal. She hops off the train at a station and hauls ass to wherever she’s going, leaping onto a moving bus and everything. Meanwhile, the horseman dismounts (presumably at home) and Isobel Crawley calls ladies in to an interview. Red Dress finally arrives at the interview spot, and soon our unnamed horseman arrives as well. Isobel (that’s what I’m calling her until she gets a real name) ribs him for arriving just in time for the finish.

Red Dress (and I must ask—is a scarlet red dress really appropriate attire for a job interview? As a schoolteacher?) is in for her interview with a panel of mostly men, plus Isobel. One of them notes her empire experience—she taught in the Transvaal before going to London. Isobel informs her that this isn’t a fancy school, like they have in London, and Red Dress (oh, hell, her name’s Sarah Burton) counters that if one has high expectations, the girls will rise to meet them. Some will. Isobel’s not sure Sarah knows what she’s in for, in this far northern town, but Sarah zings them all by saying she does, actually, because she grew up nearby. Horseman doesn’t seen so keen on her, so now we know they’re totally going to hook up by the end of this. We’ve all seen this situation before. He’s totally the Mr. Darcy of this film.

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Downton Abbey: Backstairs Bitchery

I must have been insane when I decided to recap this. Yes, of course, it fits perfectly with this site and is a totally obvious choice, but the number of characters alone is slightly mind boggling, and trying to keep all the (similarly dressed) servants in order is likely to drive me slightly batty. Maybe a chart would help. I mentioned in the Gosford Park recap that GP and Downton Abbey have a few things in common, and this is one of them. You know how many times I had to watch GP before I could readily identify everyone? And to be honest, I still can’t remember the actual name of Lady Lavinia Meredith’s maid. I promise, everyone, I’ll try my best, but if I slip up, I do apologize. Please be kind in your comments.

We start with a close up on a wireless being tapped frantically, then move right to a steam train rolling through some beautiful countryside. The camera lingers lovingly on the train that probably cost them a fortune to rent and run for this one little scene, and eventually it comes to rest on a window, where a man with a round face, probably in his early to mid-forties, sits, looking out. The wireless chimes in again, and I was briefly tempted to really outdo myself and try to translate what was being said via the wireless, but admittedly, I don’t have the energy, and it was probably gibberish anyway. We learn what’s being said soon enough.

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