Flesh & Blood (Masterpiece 2020)

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Welcome to Flesh & Blood. An ITV British series now showing on Masterpiece. Beware. It’s another series with no promise of season two as of writing this review, that brings another cliffhanging ending that causes your mouth to gape open and utter, “what the heck.”

One of the perks of donating to PBS, is Passport. I don’t have to show up every Sunday evening to watch new shows. I can binge.

Meet the family. A widowed mother and three siblings all living secret lives of screwed-up dysfunctional existences. Oh, and then there is the neighbor. We cannot forget Marry Bennet living next door, who is quite the character as the episodes continue.

The story is not unlike a recent one GoldDigger, which I apparently watched and was too lazy to write about. Here’s a link to the Guardian about the series. Slightly different, Flesh & Blood focuses upon a seventy-year old woman finding love eighteen months after her husband dies, while GoldDigger focuses upon an sixty-plus woman finding love after divorce with a younger man. In both instances, the grown children are not too keen on the idea and dig into the pasts of these men, looking for dirt to change their mother’s mind.

Flesh & Blood follows the same trail, but focuses upon each of the grown children as well. One daughter, with marriage problems, is deep into her career, stirring up problems for herself. The other is in a five-year long relationship with her married boss going no where. Then there is the son, separated from his wife because he gambles and spends his time prostituting himself out to make money. When their mother falls in love with Mark, played by Stephen Rea, they don’t like it. They are suspicious of his motives, and the story does lead you down the trail, questioning whether he’s a good or bad bloke.

Of great interest in the story is Mary Bennett, the neighbor, played by Imelda Staunton. A sweet old lady, for the most part (wink, wink) that has her own issues of wanting to keep her neighbor around. She is part of the entertainment factor if nothing else.

It’s an okay series for what it is. Nothing special, frankly. An overused trope lately rehashed elsewhere. Nonetheless, it will fill your Sunday night and leave you wondering if there will be a season two.

Death Comes to Pemberly (PBS 2014) Review

Death-Comes-to-Pemberley-1920x10802 Sad Kernels

The controversial Death Comes to Pemberly by P.D. James aired for two episodes.  Rated at 3.1 out of 5 stars in book form on Amazon (for the outrageous Kindle price of $8.64), the story isn’t exactly popular.

I had hoped that Masterpiece Mystery could resurrect the hated sequel in two “thrilling” (PBS’s words-not mine) episodes, Sundays, October 26 and November 2, 2014. Filmed at Chatsworth House with men in ascots, how bad can it be?  Well…

Of course, it is a universal fact that every woman is in want of a handsome and engaging Mr. Darcy. That, of course, is the true test of anything that has to do with Pride & Prejudice. Did Matthew Rhys live up to his multiple predecessors?  Not exactly.

I can see why so many do not care very much for this continuation of the infamous story.  Our first introduction to Mr. Darcy is his screaming voice yelling through Chatsworth House, accompanied by his gloomy persona. He’s not exactly enthralled with Elizabeth’s family, and turns cold even toward her in one scene that frankly made me want to slap him. Where’s the romance? Where is the happily ever after?  If you’re looking for it, you’ll have to assume it arrives at the end of the second episode as it comes to a close.

The story is frankly a bland one, revolving around another one of Wickham’s indiscretions and the consequences.  Elizabeth, believe it or not, stays in the same colored dress the entire two episodes.  If I missed her changing into a different color, perhaps it was because I was blinded by the ugly green she constantly wore.  Her mother, father, Jane, Lady Catherine, all have minor parts and a few lines here and there. Lydia is around more often than the others and air-headed as usual.

Elizabeth, for the most part, seems to agonize over her new life, lack of acceptance in society, Darcy’s embarrassment over her family, and his stubborn, aristocratic airs.  Georgiana is sweet and obliging willing to sacrifice herself for the Darcy name rather than hold out for true love. If I enjoyed anything that gave me a thrill, it was seeing the gorgeous interior of Chatsworth House.  I had planned to visit the Duke of Devonshire’s estate when I last went to England in 2011 but missed the opportunity. Even though the story was dull, the furnishings and interior were breathtaking.

All in all, the Death Comes to Pemberly cannot be categorized as a romantic continuation by any means of the beloved story. It is, after all, on Masterpiece Mystery, set amongst favorite characters, but it’s not exactly an intriguing mystery either.

All in all, I found it mildly boring and unmemorable in the world of Darcy-ism. I suppose one must be happy for Wickham that he escaped the gallows. Perhaps his close call will straighten out the rascal, but I sincerely doubt that he and Lydia ever find a happy ever after.

POST NOTE:  On November 27, 2014, it was announced that P.D. James passed away at the age of 94.  She was well known in the United Kingdom for her crime novels.  Read about her here at BBC News.