McDonald and Dodds (ITV 2020)

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McDonald and Dodds is a new series now up on Britbox. There are only two episodes in the first series, but it’s been renewed for more.  It’s filmed in Bath in the United Kingdom, so you get to enjoy all that Jane Austen-type architecture throughout various scenes. However, it’s not the location that makes me like this series. It’s the characters. And believe me, they have character, which is the spice this show has that Wild Bill was lacking.

The first episode, entitled The Fall of the House of Crockett, was a delight. Meet DCI Lauren McDonald, a go-getter from London who has arrived in Bath for her new position.  She’s ready to take charge and solve crimes.  Instantly, she’s running about barking orders at the crime scene and getting her crew to realize she’s spot on the job.  When she meets the detective assigned to her by the name of DS Dodds, she’s aghast to find a man who, by all means, should be retired. He’s old and has sat at a desk for the past ten years. Outwardly, he appears like a doofus, who keeps losing his glasses. The audience soon finds out that he’s got a keen eye, although he can barely articulate a clear thought.  He sees things where others cannot. His type of investigation is old school, while McDonald’s thinks she knows it all in the modern age.

DCI McDonald is overseen and threatened with loss of job by a Chief Superintendent who is overbearing. He’s the typical pushy CS, get things done quickly, so I look good.  John Houseman plays that role.  Frankly, they could have eliminated that character and I wouldn’t have cared.  I guess though he’s needed to put the pressure on McDonald so she nearly cracks by the end of episode one.

The episode was engaging, fast-moving, and the murder interesting enough to keep you guessing.  Robert Lindsay played Max Crockett, and I was so surprised to see him.  It took me a while to recognize him under the aging face and spotty gray beard and hair.  He’s been a long-time favorite for me from the old show My Family, a British sitcom that I loved to pieces and own all the episodes on DVD.  He played the part of the suspect as quirky and well-acted as you would expect.

Well, the first episode has surely entertained, and I will be happy to see more.

Beecham House (PBS 2020)

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This is going to be a lackluster review.  Now streaming on PBS is Beecham House, which formerly aired in the UK on ITV in 2019.  I watched this series a few months ago on my PBS Passport subscription and frankly was bored to death. About the only redeeming quality of this series is the luxurious costumes and background, as well as the good looking, but terribly brooding male lead of Tom Batement.  Other than that the story is flat, the acting is flat, and the end is another cliffhanger of epic proportions with no season two to tie up the loose ends.

Read this review on The Guardian. It says it better than I can and gives it one star.  I’m being generous with two.

Sorry, but this one fell flat in my opinion, and the general opinion of others, which is a shame. I cannot quite come to terms with whether it is the story or the acting that makes this show a yawner.  The only excitement is the rotten ending that will never come to a resolution.

Again, it brings up my prior point that British television has been toying with the cliffhanger endings on some famous shows recently in hopes of a season two.  It really leaves a sour taste in this viewer’s mouth, and I wish they would rethink their tactics when doing these shows in the future.

Okay, I’m done ranting.


Sanditon (ITV/PBS) Coming Soon to PBS

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UPDATE: Sadly, in spite of my encouragement written below in my earlier post, ITV has decided to axe Sanditon for a second season, stating the season struggled in ratings.  It’s a shame, frankly, because ITV made a huge mistake with this fantastic potential of a new Jane Austen adaptation.  Sadly, the writers gambled on a second season and therefore left the story open and unresolved, which is now their shame and defeat.  Unless another network picks it up, I’m afraid this will go down in history as the most disappointing period drama ever filmed.  (News released December 10, 2019)

January 12, 2020, PBS Masterpiece will be showing Sanditon in the United States. It has already aired in the United Kingdom and a few other places.  Those who have watched the series are biting their fingernails, waiting for the reaction across the pond that may or may not determine an announcement whether there will be a season two.  Hold onto your hats, ladies, and gents, because the ocean breezes can be strong. So what’s all the fuss about this fictional seaside resort? Well, let me explain.

Sanditon is based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel. She died before finishing the tale. Screenwriter Andrew Davies decided to finish it, along with other writers who worked on the script and brought it to ITV in the United Kingdom earlier this year. The result of those eight episodes has stirred a storm like none other Jane Austen adaptation on screen thanks to the number of viewers that fall into two camps.

The Jane Austen purists were aghast at the storyline, as it contained nudity (bare male behinds running into the cold waters), too many sexual innuendos, free-flowing hairstyles, and men and women acting non-Regency style. (How dare he kiss her and not propose!) The ending added to the horror of it all, which I will discuss later.

In the other camp are throngs of women who have lost all senses and become absolute fanatics about the series. If you don’t believe me, you need to check out the Sanditon Facebook fan group.  I make no judgment about their often desperate and humorous posts. They only want one thing in life – a second season. Andrew Davies had the nerve to leave its viewers heartbroken in a very un-Jane Austen like ending with no happiness in sight.  How dare he? Well, the women of Sanditon fandom will hear none of it, and they have been on a mission to hound ITV, Red Planet Pictures, the stars, the producers, and whoever they can find to continue the story.  Will they?  Apparently, no announcement will be made until after it airs in the United States. Today the following was posted from the official Sanditon websites:

“We are so happy you enjoyed your trip to Sanditon! We are setting sail for the US and won’t have news to share with you on a second series until the show has aired there. In the meantime, thank you so much for all your support and love for Sidlotte!” (Official Sanditon Facebook Page)

Therefore, it is imperative that you, the viewers, become incandescently obsessed with this show or otherwise a deep depression will circle the earth because Charlotte and Sidney have no happy ending.

So, who are these characters? What is the story about?  Is it because dreamy Theo James, who plays Sidney Parker has actually given the infamous Mr. Darcy and run for his money?  I will let you be the judge of this man who at first has no redeeming qualities. However, in period clothing and with that face, what woman can resist him in spite of his faults? And he will flash his bottom as well, that is if PBS doesn’t edit that scene out. They better not, or there will be hell to pay!  {fans self}

Now that I have regained my senses…

Charlotte, the heroine of the story, in a chance encounter meets the Parkers who invite her to Sanditon. She’s innocent, outspoken, and absolute joy of a character, the eldest of more children than you can count. Her father allows her to accompany the Parkers to Sanditon but not without warning. “Be careful, Charlotte,” he says.  “Careful of what, papa?”  “Everything.”

Yes, there is much to be careful about, because the rest of the characters will leave a lasting impression. There are the grumpy aristocratic lady and her relations that can’t wait for her to die to get her money. Mr. Tom Parker, with tunnel vision, is the town’s entrepreneur who thinks only of himself, along with two hypochondriac siblings. There’s the mysterious Sidney, his other brother, whose slight twitch of a smile will make you swoon. He’s guardian to a rich heiress worth 100,000 pounds who can be a handful. Of course, what story doesn’t have its antagonist you love to hate? You will want to strangle Mrs. Campion, who by the way is married in real life to Theo James. Then poor Stringer, the victim of unrequited love. Many other characters will come onto the screen as well.

The series is well-acted, to say the least. Theo James and Rose Williams, who plays Charlotte, are fantastic in displaying their emotions. Andrew Davies and the writers have woven symbolism throughout the tale that you won’t pick up on until it’s all over and you lean back in your chair, grab a tissue, and sob. Then you’ll begin to ask yourself, what just happened? Why am I blubbering over this show? What has it done to me? Why can’t I sleep? Why do I need to buy a pineapple? Why do I have to run off and join the Sanditon Facebook Fan Group to find solace and comfort among others around the world?

Yes, Sanditon will do one of two things for viewers in the United States.  First, the purist Jane Austen camp will complain and refuse to accept this story with all the faults they can pick out. Others will lose their senses, get lost, swoon, go gaga over Theo James, and lose sleep until an announcement comes that season two will be filmed and released. After all, the story must go on! We need a ripe pineapple! Tom Parker’s debts have to be paid but not with Eliza Campion’s money. Sidney needs to come to his senses! Charlotte needs a happy ending!

Enjoy, Sanditon. Oh, and be careful.  Be very careful, of everything starting January 12, 2020.

Kris Marshall on the clamour for follow-up to Jane Austen drama

ITV’s Sanditon finished last month with a broken-hearted heroine and many loose ends. But actor Kris Marshall has confirmed that he and the rest of the cast are on call to start filming a new series.

Source: Kris Marshall on the clamour for follow-up to Jane Austen drama

Jane Austen’s Sanditon ‘Sexed-up’ in Andrew Davies Adaptation

The screenwriter says he used all the material from Austen’s work in the first half of the first episode.

Source: Jane Austen’s Sanditon ‘sexed up’ in Andrew Davies adaptation