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.
3 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.
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.
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.
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.
P.S. Here are some great GIFs on PBS of Episode 1 – CLICK HERE
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 individuals 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.
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.”