Category: ITV

Vanity Fair (2018 ITV Television Series)

3 Kernels

(but throwing my tub of popcorn at Becky Sharp)

Vanity Fair, a classic story written by William Makepeace Thackeray in 1847-48, is back on the screen…again…as a TV mini-series, now streaming on Amazon Prime. This production is an ITV and Amazon Studios remake that includes seven parts.

Let’s be clear. This story has been portrayed in film and television more times than you can change your channel.  Film versions: 1915, 1922, 1923, 1932, 1935, and 2004. Television versions: 1967, 1987, 1998, and 2018.  I ask you, did we really need another remake?

To be honest, I find no fault in this production as it is lavish and well-acted. They’ve gone to great lengths on settings, war scenes, costumes, and outrageous hats to make this appear authentic to the time period.

Nevertheless, the character of Becky Sharp, in my opinion, doesn’t need to be memorialized again on screen. By the end of the story, I’ve had enough of this selfish, soulless, money hungry, and unempathetic woman as one can stomach. Having to watch her seven hours is pure torture.  I find Becky Sharp as annoying as Lily Langtry when it comes to female leads in a book or film production.  If you haven’t watched Lillie a 1978 TV series production, you’re missing out on another interesting female climbing the social ladder in English society who by the end of the story you grow to despise.

Okay, so putting aside my dislike of the main character, I cannot fault this new series to any great extent.  The storyline, if you know nothing about the infamous Becky Sharp, is about a poor woman who is determined to climb the ladder of success through hook or crook.  She hooks her victims, hoards her money, takes advantage of others to their financial ruin, and cares nothing deeply for the human beings around her to any great extent.

The characters in the story make their fortunes, lose their fortunes, die of strokes and heart attacks, and leave to their wealth and inheritance to the next person. Of course, what makes Becky tick as a human being is somewhat understandable. Orphaned at an early age, with an art teacher as a father and dancer as her mother, she hasn’t had the best of life so far. She suggests to her best friend in one of the last scenes she became a woman at eight years of age. Naturally, you do try to find a bit of sympathy for her plight that has her turned her into such a cold-hearted, money-hungry creature, filled with vanity. 

Having seen the 2004 Movie with Reese Witherspoon, I thought the runtime of 141 minutes was enough of Becky for me to get the picture.  Any screentime with James Purefoy is worth the watch as he looked especially dapper in his English military uniform as Captain Crawley.

If you’ve not seen any Vanity Fair renditions, I would recommend you tune into this longer version.  Should the idea of watching seven, forty-seven-minute episodes (or 5.48 hours) of Becky Sharp’s personality rubbing you the wrong way, check out the movie version instead.

 

Homefront (ITV 2012 Series)

Homefront

2 Kernels

Homefront, is another series on Britbox that didn’t keep my attention. I struggled to watch the episodes until the end, which revolves around the lives and melodrama of four army wives in the UK.  Their husbands come and go from Afghanistan throughout the series. Since I enjoyed The Last Post, I was looking forward to this series but it fell flat.

The basics are a young wife who loses her husband and the ensuing inquest into his death overseas as the family members cope with the loss.  A woman engaged to a major who can’t decide whether she’s army-wife material.  Two teenagers acting out.  Then, the usual, drama of infidelity and a wife who can’t make up her mind whether to forgive or kick him to the curb.

In order to pinpoint my disappointment, I guess it lies with the story, the acting, and the unnecessary and somewhat boring scenes that lead to a snail’s pace of a show.  There is really no empathy for any of the characters, even the wife of a dead soldier.

Sorry on this one — don’t have very much redeeming accolades to give for this poor soap opera quality.  Not surprised it wasn’t renewed.  It’s easily forgettable.

Signing off on a short and somewhat sour commentary on Homefront.

The Jury (ITV 2002 & 2011)

Jury4 Kernels

There are times that I become so overwhelmed at the absolute greatest of British television, I’m speechless.  No one does it better than the Brits.  I’ve just finished the two seasons of The Jury that first broadcast in 2002 and then again in 2011.  Both series consists of five one-hour episodes.

It begins with ordinary citizens receiving in their mail a summons to jury duty.  A few of the jurors in each case are focused upon as subplots and how the experience affects them.  Of course, the main focus is upon the accused.  The first 2002 series revolves around a Sikh teenager who is accused of murdering a classmate who bullied him.  The second in 2011 focuses on a man accused of brutally murdering three women he met on an internet dating site.

For those of you who love Gerard Butler, you will find him staring as one of the jurors, along with other familiar faces such as Helen McCrory.

The entire series engrosses you into the English jury process.  As the audience, you are given no more information about the guilt or innocence of the individual than what the jurors hear. When they retire to deliberate, no one agrees, of course, initially upon the verdict.  You, on the other hand, can cast your own vote.  In the first series there is still some doubt, but in the second it appears to be overwhelming evidence at the end of the unanimous outcome.

Needless to say, I’m continuing to rave about the excellence in writing, acting, and presentation of some of these fantastic British shows.  This one is currently streaming on BritBox and well worth the ten episodes.

Vera (ITV 2011-Present)

Vera5 Kernels

I cannot believe after searching through my reviews that I haven’t written a review about Vera. It’s probably because after watching seven seasons multiple times and now watching Season 8 on BritBox after it airs in the U.K., that I’m just forgetful, pet.

So let me take a moment to tell you what I think of Vera.  I love Vera.  I love the show.  I love DCI Vera Stanhope and Brenda Blethyn who brings her life.  I love the way she calls people “pet” and “luv” and wanders around the beautiful Northumberland landscape solving murders.  I love the way she barks at everybody on her staff and confronts every suspicious bloke on the block.  Needless to say, it’s a great show.

Based on novels of the same name, written by crime writer Ann Cleeves, Vera in herself is a complex woman.  Excellent in her job and ability to solve murders, on the personal side she is a very private and lone individual who doesn’t care to socialize.  She would rather retreat to her secluded home, once owned by her father, drink, and review case files at night by herself.

She has gone through two DS’s in the years, played by David Leon and Kenny Doughty.  Both have survived Vera’s demanding work schedule and barking orders to solve the mysteries.  Each episode runs 90-minutes in length, so these are deep-dive stories into the multiple suspects until Vera catches her killer.

As usual, British crime shows are the best.

 

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