Category: British TV

SAFE (Canal+ and Netflix 2018)

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How does one feel safe in a neighborhood? Does fencing in the community help keep the boogie-man out or does it actually keep the boogie-man safe within? It’s a question that comes up in this interesting series entitled SAFE, which was done by Netflix and Canal+. It’s a pretty intriguing mystery with a surprising twist at the end. Just don’t Google the answer if a certain character makes it or dies before you finish all eight episodes. You are liable to read the spoiler about the end. Ruined it for me!  Dang-it.

The series is set in England and involves an English doctor with two daughters, one of which goes missing after a wild house party she attends. The daughter of one of the parents in the fenced neighborhood has a wild drinking and drug party while her parents are away. Unfortunately, when the host steps outside for a breath of fresh air, she finds a dead body of one of the male attendees floating in the swimming pool.

The deceased is the boyfriend of Tom Delaney’s elder daughter, who hasn’t come home from the night before. As the police deal with the who-done-it questions about the dead boy, Tom is out searching frantically for his daughter.

His search uncovers all sorts of mysteries surrounding his deceased wife, and everything become very convoluted as the web of neighborhood deceit becomes stickier than ever. There are a few subplots along the way regarding others neighbors, and a huge secret that answers all the questions is glossed over early in the series.

It’s a good mystery.  Worth the watch.

 

Case Histories (BBC 2011 and 2013)

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Streaming on Amazon Prime Video is Case Histories, an engaging British crime television drama about a private detective named Jackson Brodie. These episodes are based on the novels of Kate Atkinson.  Jackson is played by the talented Jason Isaacs. Before becoming a PI, he was a soldier and policeman. Jason is plagued by his own memories of a family tragedy. He’s also divorced and is dealing with custody issues when his ex-wife wants to move to New Zealand.

Set in Edinburgh, you’ll get a mix of British accents and very heavy Scottish brogues. To round out the cast is Amanda Abbington who plays D.C. Louise Munroe. (You’ll remember her more recently as playing Mary Watson in Sherlock and Miss Mardle in Mr. Selfridge). There are romantic feelings between the two, which aren’t really expressed until the end of Series One, which is the only one streaming at the moment.  Also, be prepared for graphic sexual encounters – loud rutting but not much flesh. There is also one upsetting scene with a father having incest with his daughter.  I do agree with some viewers that could have been cut out and handled differently.

Otherwise, this is a good series because Jackson’s clients are an eclectic mix of interesting cases that often intersect in one fashion or the other.  He solves mysteries that have gone unsolved by the police and takes on new cases with surprise endings.  Even though he’s a former policeman, he sort of skirts around the law when it suits his purpose. Frankly, I enjoyed the series but Season Two is not available except for purchase on DVD.  I’ll wait hoping eventually it will go to Prime.

 

 

Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages (2014-2016)

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I’ve been to England four times and often wished I could rent a car and drive everywhere visiting the little-known villages I haven’t seen.  How many of us have loved the photographs of quaint English country life and wished we could live in such an idyllic place?  I know that I have.

In all honesty, I’m not much for watching traveling shows, but this three-series wonder is an absolute gem.  Currently streaming on Acorn, I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to see the inner workings of these smaller communities.  At the present time, I’m only beginning Season 2 but have much more to see.

What is unique with this particular travel series is that while you’re riding in the car with Penelope to the next location, you know what is down the road is going to be as fascinating as the last.  So far I’ve traveled to Wales, Lancashire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Devon, and Cornwall, among other places.  Penelope immerses the audience not only in the village’s history but its people, architecture, challenges, and sometimes quirky celebrations communities hold together.  It’s a wonderful series that only deepens your longing for England.

The running time for each episode is 47 minutes. So brew a cup of tea, gather some biscuits and sit down for a wonderful tour of beautiful England’s landscape and its villages.

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Another series that is almost as entertaining if you’re interested in things regarding the monarchy, is Penelope Keith at Her Majesty’s Service also streaming on Acorn.  Here she visits the iconic locations and explains the unknown rituals that have continued on for centuries.

Episode 1 is at Windsor Castle, including a ride on the Queen’s barge.  Episode 2 visits Inveraray and Holyroodhouse, locations the royal family frequent. Episode 3 is on location in Northern Ireland at Hillsborough Castle and Episode 4 at Caernarfon Castle in Wales.  It’s another wonderful show for those who love all things English.

 

The Edwardian Country Home (2002 British TV Channel 4)

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Now streaming on Acorn TV is “The Edwardian Country Home,” (also known as The Manor House) a television series from 2002 that takes a group of individuals from 2001 and places them into another world.  As the synopsis says, “An Edwardian country house in Scotland is brought back to life in this real-life Upstairs, Downstairs. For three months, one family will live in the manor while another 12 individuals serve them, an immersive experience in the world of social inequality and class distinctions that defined the period between 1905 and 1914.”

This television program is a highly entertaining look into life much like the famously portrayed version in Downton Abbey years later. However, the difference is the heartwrenching reality of taking modern-day individuals and setting them into a world they find quite different.  The six episodes delve into the three-month period and how it challenges and changes those who play their roles upstairs and downstairs. Nothing is as peachy as it seems upstairs when life becomes boring, stifling, and rigid in its many mannerisms. Neither is anything peachy downstairs as servants give their lives to serve their masters.

What is unique about the program is that it spans the years as it would have been from 1905-1914, when at the onset of World War I that dramatically changes how the rich lived and the uprising of the classes striving for a better life. Some of the younger participants, such as the scullery maid, come and go when the harsh work overwhelms them and they are unable to deal with the authority of the butler.

They serve their masters in all of their needs to dressing them, dinner parties, hunting parties, shooting parties, and grand balls.  The housework and cooking is a never-ending circle of life and long hours. At times, they feel unappreciated, ignored, and live the stark reality of being lower class. Those upstairs cannot believe how they cannot do the simple task of even dressing without help but eventually get accustomed to the pampering.

The ending is quite emotional as they all prepare to leave the life they have grown to live over three months. Some of them are glad to put away their servant outfits, while those upstairs warily return to work, leaving behind their pampered lives.  The lady of the house believes she would be much more suited to living in the era she is now forced to leave. However, even if that were true, the era is disintegrating and passing away.  The wealth and opulence can no longer be maintained.

If you are a lover of period drama and historical romance, I highly recommend watching this entertaining series.  I enjoyed it far better than the recent one in the Victorian era on PBS.

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