Tag: BBC TV

An Inspector Calls (BBC 2015)

Inspector5 Kernels

Now streaming on Amazon is “An Inspector Calls,” which is probably the most profound and emotional story I’ve seen in my life.  Frankly, I never heard of it before.  Written by J. B. Priestley, it was apparently a play first performed in Moscow in 1945 and then in the UK in 1946 and has been on stage multiple times. I guess according to Wikipedia, it’s hailed as a classic. Apparently, it’s been in film and television also throughout the years.

The story is set in 1912 and revolves around a rich cotton mill owner Mr. Birling.  They are at home at dinner with his wife, son, daughter, and her fiance.  After dinner, a gentleman arrives at the door and introduces himself as Inspector Goole from the police.  He is led into the dining room where Mr. Birling and his son and Mr. Croft are talking, while the ladies are in the parlor.

It begins with him asking Mr. Birley if he recognizes a woman in a picture that he shows him, and he denies knowing her.  When pressured why the questions, he states that she has committed suicide and he’s investigating the circumstances that lead up to her death.  Naturally, Mr. Birley asks what does this have to do with us? Eventually, he confesses that she did work at his factory and the story begins.

Well, I cannot tell you the rest because it would ruin it for you.  I think I gasped a few times, got overly emotional, felt my own shame at the end, and sat there dumbfounded after the show ended.  So what’s it all about?  Here’s a short quote that might give you a hint:

We don’t live alone upon this earth. We are responsible for each other.  And if mankind will not learn that lesson then the time will come when he will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.

You’ll discover, too, that Inspector Goole isn’t everything he appears to be.

I highly recommend it because he stabs the audience at the core. It’s also intertwined with the classes of society, how we deal with each other, and the outcome of our actions that can affect others.

It’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime for free.

REV. (BBC Series 2010-2014)

The Rev. Säsong II. Tom Hollander som Rev Adam Smallbone.3 Kernels

Thanks to BritBox, REV. has started streaming.  It is a delightful comedy series starring Tom Hollander about a vicar who has transferred to the east side of London to a struggling inner-city church.  Having come from a small rural parish in Suffolk, he faces new challenges of a sparse congregation, an ever pressuring Archdeacon to increase the church’s income, plus an eclectic mix of individuals who make up his parishioners.  His wife has a fulltime job as a solicitor but isn’t involved in the workings of the church with her husband.

If anything, this sometimes irreverent and humorous show has given me a new appreciation of Tom Hollander.  He is fantastic in this role, giving you an inside look at the mind, motivation, and beliefs of Reverend Adam Smallbone.  Each episode contains his inner dialogue of prayer that is often down-right humorous, as he throws questions of why this and that to God.  He pokes at the almighty about his personal struggles and asks why Nazis live into their nineties.  It shows his humanity as he deals with his calling.

One particular episode he falters in faith, displaying the moments the faithful all walkthrough on dark days.  It is especially poignant and thought-providing story that draws him back to his calling that he cannot escape.

His self-esteem is often tested when he meets the popular vicar with a bulging congregation offering smoothies on Sunday, and the popular vicar who has a radio show he is jealous of for his success.

Whether you are a believer or non-believer, I highly recommend this insightful series that will give you a chuckle.  Don’t be surprised if it pokes at your own belief system and morals.  The fact that they make the vicar such vulnerable and honest human rather than a saint is what makes this show a great 30 minutes for each episode.  In addition to Tom Hollander, there are wonderful short appearances with such stars as Ralph Fiennes, James Purefoy,  Geoffrey Palmer, Hugh Bonneville, and Liam Neeson.

The Moonstone (2016 BBC TV)

Moonstone3 Kernels

Ah, BritBox!  My second series to binge upon was The Moonstone, which is a five episode drama based on a  detective novel by Wilkie Collins written in 1868.  This tale is a classic who-done-it that will keep you guessing until you find out who-did-it.

The moonstone is actually a yellow diamond that has been stolen by a corrupt British officer while in India. The stone is revered, precious, and outrageously big.  When he dies, he bequeaths the stone to Rachel, his niece. Unfortunately, with that gift comes problems, greed, and danger.

Upon her eighteenth birthday party, Franklin Blake, Rachel’s cousin, has been entrusted to give her the stone now that she is of age. Once again we are faced with cousins romantically entangled with one another in the series as two vie for Rachel’s affections. She has a large birthday party celebration where everyone in attendance gets to see the fabulous diamond and handle it. Insistent that she merely keep it in a drawer in a cabinet in her room overnight, she discovers in the morning that it has been stolen.

The story is an interesting premises where the audience is brought along to remember the occurrences of that evening as reflected upon a year later. Franklin returns to England, hoping to win back Rachel’s heart, but he knows he must find the stone in order to do so. An interesting group of characters are all suspects, including Rachel, and the whereabouts of the stone and its current location remains a mystery. Even traveling Indian Hindu priests wanting to return the stone to India are suspects in the missing stone.

Of course, we are back in the Victorian era of cousins falling in love with cousins, and this time Rachel has two quite dashingly handsome men wanting her hand in marriage. If anything, the story kept me intrigued trying to figure out who stole the diamond, and the end has a few surprising twists and turns as the mystery is solved.

Apparently this is the second time this series has hit television, with Greg Wise being Edward Blake in an earlier BBC version in 1997. There is even another movie version in 1934, which is an American mystery film.  Who knew?  Apparently, not me because I’ve never heard of this gem (no pun intended) until I subscribed to BritBox.

Okay, I’m off my soap box.  It’s worth the watch.

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