Category: BBC One

Gold Digger (BBC One/Acorn TV 2019 Mini-Series)

3 Kernels

It’s every single woman’s dream at sixty years of age is to meet a handsome man half their age, who falls head-over-heels in love with you. The sex must be great.

Wait!  You say he must have ulterior motives?  What good-looking man would fall in love with a slightly wrinkled, slightly plump woman with three grown children and grandchildren? What could he possibly have in common with her, being twenty-six years younger?  Surely, he must be a gold digger.  Although Julia isn’t that rich, she is comfortable thanks to her recent divorce.  After all, she received the lovely country home.

Naturally, such a scenario doesn’t sit well with three grown children and an ex-husband who quickly judge Benjamin to be unworthy. He had a secret past, lives in a flat about to be evicted, occasionally gets caught in little white lies, and movies into the family home with mum as if he owns the place.

Well, the series leads you to believe that he is a gold digger like everyone concludes that he is.  Although all may not be as it seems, it isn’t until the last episode that you discover his motives.  Is he really a gold digger or a broken man, looking for a substitute mother figure and security?  That’s even creepier, in my books. Be ready for a on-again, off-again, on-again ride.

Staring Jula Ormand as “Julia” and Ben Barnes as “Benjamin,” you wonder why their names weren’t something different in the series. Jemima Rooper (our Lost in Auten gal), Archie Renaux, Sebastian Armesto play the suspicious and angry children, brooding over their mother’s obvious bad decision. The entire dysfunctional family can’t seem to come with terms with Julia’s ex-husband Ted, played by the talented Alex Jennings (who is the most talented in the series), that their father is a wife beater. Although he attempts to come across as a love-crossed reformed man, he eventually shows himself to be true to his own character rather than his new.

The series does tend to drag a bit here and there. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it as suspenseful as I would have liked but it’s also not predictable. From what I’ve read, the fans in the U.K. were a bit miffed the so-called bad boy didn’t turn out bad enough for everyone’s taste.

Well, it’s Acorn TV and British showmanship.  Give it a shot.  I could go for a guy in his mid-30s at my age. But since I’m not wealthy or good-looking enough to attract one to my bed, I’ll just write about it. Of course, if the story were flipped, let’s be honest.  Sixty-year-old man marries a thirty-four-year-old woman?  There isn’t anything wrong with that scenario.

 

World on Fire (BBC/PBS TV Series)

3 Kernels

Well, stuck at home for 24 days now, I finished in two days on PBS Passport the series “World on Fire,” which originally aired on BBC and now is streaming each week on PBS Masterpiece. Series two has already been commissioned by BBC, and apparently, it could go on through six series in total if it gets picked up for the remainder.

The storyline is not a simple one. It involves a huge cast of characters situated in Germany, Poland, France, and England in the first seven episodes. Scenes flop back and forth between the lives of all these individuals set in 1939 just before Germany’s invasion of Poland. As the series progresses, you see the Nazis systematically invade Poland, Belgium and then France. As Europe falls into its clutches, the characters are taking their own journey during these turbulent times.

The main family groups are the Bennetts, consisting of a father (Douglas) who has residual shell-shock syndrome from WWI, his daughter (Lois), and a son (Tom) who is in trouble with the law most of the time. Harry Chase and his mother, Robina, are the next family circle. Harry is initially Lois’ love interest. Harry travels to Poland and becomes involved in the Tomaszeski family, falling in love with the daughter. Then there is Helen Hunt, who is a war correspondent based in Berlin, and her nephew who is a doctor in Paris.

Audiences may find it difficult to keep track of the multiple storylines and the changes of scenes between each family group and location.  The series pulls no punches and paints the Nazis in the cruelest light possible in their invasion of Europe. No one is safe–Jews, homosexuals, people of color, or children with disabilities. It focuses heavily on the Nazi beliefs of the “master race.”

Some of the storylines do not quite make sense and backgrounds are not fully fleshed out. Lois’ feelings toward Harry had me scratching my head. Harry’s mother is a hard nut to crack. Tom is a pain in the neck. Nevertheless, despite some pitfalls it holds your attention.

Beware that the season finale leaves its audiences on a cliffhanger that is going to make you wait for another year or more to find out what happens next. Just as a point of personal ranting, I am finding this new trend of cliffhanger theatrics in a lot of series of late to be irritating. Just because the cliff is there, it doesn’t mean there will necessarily be a season two.  Sanditon and Beecham House are two series that cruelly left their audiences because of non-renewals. I’m not sure that viewers are going to continue to be forgiving if this trend continues in the hopes that just because they leave us on the edge of our seats it will mean they will return for another season.  BBC and ITV need to rethink this ploy.

If you are into WW2 movies/series, tune into “World on Fire.” Since it doesn’t look like Victoria will be returning, for the next few years, you can count on being dragged through war instead.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.  And for goodness sake, stay home and binge-watch television.

‘Final’ series of Poldark may not be the last, says writer | Drama | The Guardian

With fifth series coming to screens next month, ‘door has been left open’ for show to return in future

Source: ‘Final’ series of Poldark may not be the last, says writer | Drama | The Guardian

Bodyguard (Netflix 2018)

Bodyguard5 Stars

Thank you, Netflix for purchasing the rights to show the BBC drama Bodyguard. No this isn’t a remake of the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston hit. Rather, it’s a BBC One production that grabbed the United Kingdom audience and now gets to grab you wherever you are.

It stars the talented Keely Hawes and Richard Madden (who takes a while to understand his accent). Fantastic acting by all the cast, a nailbiting, tense thriller to keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat.

Richard Madden plays the character of David Budd who is assigned as bodyguard to protect the Home Secretary Julia Montague played by Keeley Hawes.  She’s a high and mighty politician while he is a former soldier dealing with residual PTSD but packing a gun. The story revolves around tense political scenes, terrorists around every corner, broken marriages, and love affairs. To top it off, it’s the usual well-done British show with the tense music in the right spots.  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the plot twists in a surprising direction.

Great British television!  There’s nothing like it, and this is one of the best.  Just read the reviews online, and you’ll see many agree.

Kate & Alfie: Redwater (RTE One & BBC One 2017)

kate and alfie3 Kernels for the Show – 1 for the Stupid Ending

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a television series that has left me so bleeping mad that I cursed at the end and screamed, “what the hell?” BEWARE, before you tune into this BBC mystery now streaming on BritBox. They canceled the bleeping show and left everyone hanging at an extremely critical point in the story. Before you invest yourself in six episodes, please be aware it’s going to cause you to swear at the end.

After saying all that, it’s a story about a woman who returns to find her long-lost son who she gave up for adoption 32 years earlier.  Apparently, it’s based on characters from the soap opera EastEnders, which I haven’t watched. It’s filmed in Ireland.

As the story unfolds, it’s a fairly good mystery with a few surprising twists that kept my interest through the six episodes. It’s the ending that leaves you hanging, but apparently the question of “survival” is answered upon the return of the characters to EastEnders, which I’ve not seen.  I can only say it’s a rotten way to treat the audience and poor planning for those who are not invested in the soap opera or its characters.  Frankly, it’s down-right cruel RTE One and BBC One.  What were you thinking?

If you want to read more about the show and episodes before investing the time to watch it with the full knowledge of the outcome, I suggest you travel over to old Wikipedia.

 

Small Island (Series BBC One 2009)

small-island4 Kernels

Streaming on Britbox and available elsewhere is Small Island, adapted from a novel by Andrea Levy.  It apparently streamed on PBS Masterpiece in 2010, which I obviously missed.  If it hadn’t been for the Period Drama Facebook Group, I probably would have missed this one altogether. I watched the two-part series (90-minute episodes) in its entirety last night, staying up past my bedtime.  It was well worth the lack of sleep.

The story, in the beginning, flashes back and forth between the lives of two young Jamaicans – Hortense (Naomie Harris) and Michael (Ashley Walters) – pre-World War 2. On the other side of the world, it’s Bernard (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Queenie (Ruth Wilson). Each has their own dreams – Hortense of marrying Michael; Michael rebellious in his upbringing; Queenie escaping her childhood and the pig farm; and Bernard a shy man, living with his father.

Eventually, life splits Hortense and Michael.  Queenie marries Bernard to escape returning home to her parents, and then the war breaks out.  War, as you know, throws everyone’s lives in various directions with new challenges.

The main focus of the story is the character of Queenie, who doesn’t have a prejudice bone in her body when it comes to black people.  When Benedict leaves for war and she’s left alone in the house, she offers three airmen housing. One of the young men is the charismatic Michael, a handsome and alluring man in uniform.  Queenie willingly succumbs to his seduction and the next day he’s off on another mission.

As the story continues, she meets Gilbert, also from Jamaica and they form a friendship.  He marries Hortense, and the two of them eventually live in Queenie’s home because Benedict never returned after the war. I could continue the remainder of the series but will spare you spoilers.

The story, of course, shows the bias against the black Jamaicans among the English. Jamaican children under English rule were taught to love the “motherland” and obviously Gilbert did as a child and adult. Unfortunately, when he’s in the country who he believes supports and accepts him as an Englishman too, he finds the stark reality that prejudice against his skin color is no different than it is in the United States.

I enjoyed this two-part series and recommend it to those looking for another pre-WW2 or WW2 storyline that delves into a different aspect of human behavior during those years. It’s well acted and packaged to please.

 

 

 

Poldark – Season 2, Ep. 1 (2016)

poldark21

5 Fluffy Kernels

Riding into our lives returns Ross Poldark. Finally, the U.S. had been given the opportunity through PBS to tune into Series 2.  We had been waiting patiently or impatiently for Aidan Turner to once again fill our media devices and set our female hearts aflutter.  He returned, and we were not disappointed.

The U.K. has been given a head start on Series 2, but now it’s our turn.  At last, we can inhale the fresh air of the Cornwall coast.  The scenery is breathtaking – he’s handsome, smoldering, and well-built.   Yes, the backdrop of crashing waves, barren cliffs, and gorgeous sunsets have also caught our eyes in spite of the obvious draw of our attention.

Series 2 begins with Ross in trouble, having been charged with inciting a riot, among other things.  His arch enemy, George Warleggan, is out to get Ross hung. As an author, I often like writing antagonists, because they are the necessary evil to cause drama and conflict.  However, George is a piece of work.

Ross isn’t too worried, until the realization that a noose could be his future finally sinks into his mind.  Let’s face it.  Ross Poldark is an interesting character.  He is stubborn and proud.  Respected by the poor and hated by his upper class peers, he has a knack of rubbing the establishment the wrong way.  As we heard in his rousing speech in his defense, he is obstinate and stands for what he believes in regardless of the potential outcome.  Nevertheless, underneath those sharp edges is a man who is a kind husband and tender lover that attracts the starving female audience.

Then we have the women in his life – Demelza and Elizabeth.  Demelza captures our hearts with her innocent sweetness once again.  She is more of a lady than most, but still brokenhearted over the loss of their daughter. Obviously, she adores him unconditionally. Episode one (spoiler alert) reveals she is pregnant again, but Ross as he fights for his life, is unaware.

Elizabeth on the other hand, continues to silently regret her choice and pines for Ross.  She has a way of playing with the hearts of men either knowingly or unknowingly.  With a word or glance, she stirs up the male emotions of Ross, Francis, and George.  It makes it difficult to find her as endearing of a character, when you know that she alone can bring heartache to the marriage we all love.

Francis returns, showing a regained strength one moment, only to be tempered by his usual weakness in another.  Finally, he tells off George in spite of the dire consequences it could bring.  Afterward, he wants to toss in the towel and end it all.  Everyone respects Ross – no one respects him.  Ross has Elizabeth’s heart, and he bears the grief of unrequited love.  One moment he feels like an utter failure, and the next he pulls it together.  The man needs counseling.

Then we have George Warleggan who irritates us all.  There is nothing redeemable about this man.  He’s to be despised and not pitied for his unrelenting desire to destroy human lives.  Every time he opens his mouth, I want to nail it shut.  The man doesn’t use violence, nor does he rant or rave.  He just calmly and quietly goes about his destructive tendencies like a psychopath with no conscience.poldark

Episode 1, was filled with emotion and nail biting drama that did not disappoint.  Once again we enjoyed all the characters, along with new ones.  Our Midsomer murder detective John Nettles is back on the screen wearing a cravat.  And let us not forget, Horace the pug, sharing the limelight with a new aristocratic heiress and her intended.  In addition, I see love ahead for the doctor.

So yes, this episode and the entire series deserves a fluffy 5-kernel review, for drama, excellent acting, and a classy masterpiece without blood, gore, and graphic sexual scenes.

However, I recently learned on Facebook that it took twenty-four minutes into the episode before Ross took his shirt off.  Ladies, we need to control ourselves.

Cheerfully,

Vicki

P.S. Here are some great GIFs on PBS of Episode 1 – CLICK HERE

And Then There Was None (2015 BBC One)

none5 Kernels

Streaming on Amazon is Agatha Christie’s creepy mystery – And Then There Was None.  The book, originally published in November of 1939, possessed what would be considered today an offensive title.  When released in 1939 in the United States, the title was changed to “And Then There Was None.”  Apparently, this is Christie’s best-selling novel and considered her masterpiece. Her talent in mystery storytelling is unsurpassed.

Of course, it is one of those tales that has been adapted multiple times on stage, film, and television.  As usual, I am way behind the times having never read the book or seen any of the adaptations.  Perhaps this is what makes this particular version astound me because of the great production and a fantastic lineup of actors – Charles Dance, Toby Stephens, Burn Goldman, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Maeve Dermody, Sam Neill, and others. From the opening scenes of the story, the mystery and foreboding of what lies ahead is expertly unfolded. Instantly, if you are unfamiliar with the story, you are drawn into the tale like those drawn to an island to meet their fate — you are hooked and can’t escape.

The story is about a variety of individuals who are invited to Soldier Island under various pretenses. Each invitation is sufficiently enticing to bring the group together consisting of eight men and two females. They arrive at a remote island off the coast of Devon, where they eventually discover they are stranded and unable to leave. Perched on a hill is a mansion owned by the mysterious Mr. Owen who invited each of the guests.  However, upon their arrival, Mr. Owen is absent and apparently will not arrive until the following morning. To add to the oddity of the situation, in each room of the house, there is a nursery rhyme of Ten Little Indians is framed and hanging on the wall.

The guests settle into their rooms and meet for dinner.  After dessert, a gramophone plays and loud speakers blare throughout the house the crimes that these ten individuals have committed by overtly killing or accidentally causing the death of another. They have arrived at their location to pay their due since their actions were unpunishable in the court of law. Of course, everyone denies their culpability except for one character, Philip Lombard.

The story is played out in two episodes filled with excellent performances.  By the end of the first, three individuaAidanls have met their fate, which naturally panics the remaining guests. They begin to suspect each other or the mysterious Mr. Owen who they believe is hiding in the mansion. Sitting as a centerpiece upon the dining room table are ten figures in a circle. Each time a guest dies, one disappears, leaving the number remaining in the house.

And Then There is None is now available on Amazon Video And Then There Were None [Blu-ray] or can be stream at this LINK.

I highly recommend this fantastic adaptation of a most intriguing story.  Agatha Christie is indeed the queen of mystery and crime. There are advantages in not having read the original work before seeing this version. I’ve seen some complaints it wasn’t true to the book in the end.

Nevertheless, it left a lasting impression upon my unsuspecting mind – especially Aidan Turner wrapped in a towel.  How do they expect the female audience to concentrate? We were all thinking, “and then there was no towel.”

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: