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Friday, February 8, 2008

BBC Series (My Anglophilia)

Am I the only one who watches these?? Maybe this is (one of) my dirty secrets, but I just LOVE the old gossipy serials! I started off watching Upstairs, Downstairs.* After I got through about 2.5 seasons, I went on to watch stuff like Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Chancer (season 1), and various Catherine Cookson shows. Recently, I got into watching The Duchess of Duke Street (about a female cook at the turn of the century who made a name for herself), starring Gemma Jones (a.k.a., Bridget Jones'** mum). I am concurrently trying something more modern--Monarch of the Glen (about a London restaurateur who has to go back to his struggling highland estate to whip it into shape).

Now, the BBC stuff that depicts the olden days have all been very good from the beginning. I mean, right off the first episode, I am hooked. But, the modern stuff is, well, kinda cheesy sometimes. For example, I had to talk myself into giving Chancer a chance, even though it starred Clive Owen. Same with Monarch of the Glen. But, once I give it a chance, it always grows on me. There's just some cheesy charm to these things. I'm only on disc 2 of the first season of MotG, but it's safe to say that I'm hooked.***

I just don't know what it is! I guess my love for England is making me want to have a piece of it in my own home. Honestly, these programs are rather soapy. I'm sort of ashamed to even admit this, but trash TV is a mainstay in my household (including but not limited to MTV, VH1, E!, A&E, TLC). I just have to let my brain veg for a bit when I get home, you know? I really love those set in earlier times, though. It's just neat to see how people lived back then, what they wore, how they behaved, and how they spoke. If you've never tried, you should really give it a go. I recommend The Duchess of Duke Street or Upstairs, Downstairs for your first attempt. It's really super fun!

* This one was my first because I loved Gosford Park (watched it about 20 times and have read the script), but ever since UpDown, I have been hooked on BBC stuff. Trivia: Jean Marsh plays the head housemaid in UpDown, but she also created the series. You might be thinking, "Where have I seen her before?" Jean Marsh also starred in a 1959 Twilight Zone episode entitled, "The Lonely," in which she played a robot sent to keep a convict company on a deserted planet.

** When I first watched Bridget Jones' Diary, I hated it because I couldn't understand what they were saying (same with Trainspotting--btw, if you like Kelly McDonald from Trainspotting and Gosford Park, she appears in No Country for Old Men with a dead-on Southern accent!). But, I have to credit my love for England to the second Bridget Jones movie (Edge of Reason). OMG, Colin Firth = *swoon*. Ever since then, I have been watching and reading British stuff (like Jane Austen novels and adaptations, Jasper Fforde books, both Bridget Jones books, movies with Emma Thompson and/or Alan Rickman). The one thing I can't get into is listening to the BBC station on my radio when I'm driving around in Dolly. I don't know. They just sound so serious on that station. Cripes, just look at the line up.

*** Okay, now that I think about it, there is one exception. Spooks. That one didn't grow on me even though I watched an entire season. Here's the reason. Spooks is about MI:6 (or MI:5--can't remember), so it's kinda like Alias without the stupid wigs and bad acting. The main character was played by Matthew Macfadyen, who was wonderful in the recent film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Anywhoo, his girlfriend in the show didn't know that he is an undercover MI:X agent and he tells her that he's some computer specialist. Of course, she gets suspicious. Long story short, he wants to marry her and, in the course of proposing, he tells her the truth.

[needless domestic drama]
She has doubts about him because he has kept this from her for so long (since they first met), and refuses to marry him. She has to think about it.
[/needless domestic drama]

So, I'm sitting here thinking, "Um, okay. Your undercover CIA agent boyfriend tells you that he wants to marry you, and you're here hemming and hawing about him not telling you about his real work before?? Tell me, what are the chances of you, a single mother and waitress, doing better than this chap?" (See, I get all British with my word choices when I talk about these TV series.) I'm not even British and I can understand why an undercover MI:X agent would keep his true identity a secret until he knows for sure that he wants to spend the rest of his life with some chick. If Mr. Nonny Nu were to tell me that he's actually an FBI agent, I would be completely fine with it. I would be understanding about it (because, don't widows of FBI agents get good compensation?).

Anyhow, this part of the plot just turned me off to the whole thing. However, I have just found out that Gemma Jones (of The Duchess of Duke Street fame) is starring in the most recent season of Spooks, so I might go back to watching it. In fact, the Matthew Macfadyen character is no longer listed as being a part of the current cast, so maybe they killed off his stupid girlfriend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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