Our Girl (BBC 2014-2018)

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Now streaming on Britbox is Our Girl, a British military series that is now in Season 3 in the UK.  Seasons 1 and 2 are now on Britbox, and I must say it’s pretty good.  I’m not much for military dramas, but taking this journey is worth the time.

The two-hour pilot sets the background for the heroine’s life before joining the army.  Lacey Turner plays Molly Dawes, a young woman from a dysfunctional family situation in London.  Pressured and unhappy about her home life that is a dead-end scenario, and the fact that she has no idea what to do with her life, she glances across the street at a recruiting station.  From the time she walks through the door, the pilot takes you through her application, her acceptance, her boot camp experience, and her eventual career as a medic in the British army.  Her family turns her back on her because of her decision, but she finds a place she belongs and perseveres.

I’ve only watched five episodes so far, but am impressed with the storyline. As Molly is deployed to Afganistan, it’s an interesting look into the lives of the young men and those who lead them.  Molly is far outnumbered and the only female at her post. Of course, she needs to earn the respect from the male soldiers and commanding officer but eventually does so after she saves one of their own.

I’m looking forward to continuing the series.  If you have BritBox, check it out.


Viceroy’s House (Movie 2017)

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Streaming on Netflix is the Viceroy’s House, a little historical gem for those interested in a bit of history you may not know.  Released in September of 2017, it focuses on the 70th anniversary of Indian independence from British rule.

If you didn’t realize, at one time Britain ruled a quarter of the world, coining the term, “The sun never sets on the British empire.”  For any of you history buffs, I highly recommend watching BBC’s EMPIRE that aired in 2012.  I found it on YouTube and it consists of five episodes in documentary form.  Fantastic series.  You probably should check other streaming services too.

Okay, back to the Viceroy’s House.  Bit by bit Britain’s empire shrunk worldwide as countries they dominated won their freedom.  In 1947, a new Viceroy arrives, Lord Mountbatten played by Hugh Bonneville, to oversee the transition of power.  His wife and daughters accompany him.  Unfortunately, India is in religious turmoil, filled with violence, and no one has an idea how to bring the fighting factions together which consisted of Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims.  It is a sad state of affairs.

Unable to bring about the peace needed after much negotiation, Britain decides to split the country into two – India and Pakistan, which gives the Muslims their own country in Pakistan.  The result is absolute chaos as millions of people partition to either side.  The movie’s romantic undertones are between a Hindu and Muslim who fall in love and struggle with the impossible situation of being together.

Naturally, the story is filled with negotiations from all the factions involved, including Gandhi’s bid for a unified India that falls on deaf ears.  To mitigate further deaths and violence, Britain decides to move ahead with the partition. It leaves an unimaginable 11.2 million displaced persons in a massive population exchange.

It’s an interesting movie that looks into a critical time in history.  If you’re into these types of stories, I recommend you check this one out for educational purposes.  Of course, at the end, it leaves you scratching your head over why we can’t just live in peace with each other regardless of our faiths.

Line of Duty (BBC 2012-Present TV Series

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BBC films. Acorn TV posts. I binge.

It’s as simple as that scenario to keep me glued to my recliner. My latest binge, when I should be writing and editing my books, Line of Duty – now streaming on Acorn TV.

The show is from a different slant about DS Steve Arnott (a short man who has a lot to prove), who is transferred to the police anti-corruption unit after a dastardly stint in another. Series one focuses on the officer of the year, who tells enough lies to wrap himself up in a sticky spider’s web with no way out.  

It’s well done, well acted, just the right amount of suspense, not too boring that you fast forward, and keeps you guessing and entertained until a surprising and inconclusive ending.  I’m afraid to start season two because I will probably waste the entire day getting nothing done.

As usual, British television does it again. The show apparently started in 2012 and is now in season five in 2017.  I suppose that tells you it is good enough not to cancel.

Check it out if you’re a crime-crazy nut that would rather watch the corruption from inside the force, rather than the force fighting the corruption outside.

UPDATE:  As a side note, I’ve watched Season 2 and Season 3, and they continue to be extremely engagement, to say the least.  Great show!  Keeps you guessing.

Escape to the Country (BBC)

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Have you ever had a dream that you knew in your heart would never come true?  Are you brave enough to watch a show about that dream and torture yourself by seeing others live it instead?  Well, click your heels three times and say with me, “escape to the country in England.”

Currently streaming on Netflix is this wonderful BBC insight into country living.  It’s a reality show where individuals or couples are seeking to leave the bustling cities and find a property in a quaint village in the English countryside.  The host shows them three properties that fit into their desires (i.e. budget, number of bedrooms, size of lot/land, location), with the last one termed as the “mystery home.”  After viewing each of the properties, the home seekers guess the price before being told the actual listing.

The show covers a variety of counties in England.  What is nice about each location visited, is that the host introduces interesting tidbits about the small country village’s history and what they may be famous for in the way of special goods, i.e. leather, lace, candy, etc., and then shows examples of how these are made. (The lace one blew me away! I never knew the intricacy and hours of work for one piece of handmade lace.)  It gives the guests and the audience the flavor of the locality, along with stunning views of national parks, rolling hills, dramatic coastlines, etc.

Frankly, I’ve only been through three episodes shot in York, Wiltshire, and Devon.  Future episodes are Dorset, Shropshire, Scottish Highlands, West Wales, East Midlands, North Dorset,  Gloucestershire, Northumberland, Cornwall, Somerset, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire.

Usually, my mouth doesn’t drop open while watching television, but I’ve had a hard time keeping it shut while entering some of these properties.  From the typical country thatch roof to converted barns to small estates to Georgian-style houses, I’m green with jealousy wishing I could live in one of these fabulous places, in a country village setting.  Alas, life will probably never grant me that dream.  (Perhaps, I should be glad based on the murder rates on so many fictional British crime shows.)

On the downside of this series, you are left with the knowledge of which house the guests like but not given the knowledge of what house they actually purchase!

If house hunting bores you, this is not the show for you.  However, if you’re curious about English properties in the country, their cost, etc., you’ll love the show even though it’s not a five-star British period drama with a handsome duke to sweep you off your feet.  Instead the properties will enthrall and cause your heart race to increase.

Oh, you lucky Brits!  I’m green with envy.

Desperate Romantics (2009 BBC)

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Artistic license – to watch this six-part series, you absolutely need to know the meaning behind that term because at the beginning of each episode you will read:

In the mid-19th century, a group of young men challenged the art establishment of the day. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were inspired by the real world about them, yet took imaginative license in their art. This story, based on their lives and loves, follows in that inventive spirit.”

Desperate Romantics is an interesting look into the young lives of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais, who were a group of English painters (and poets).  To learn about their painting and inspiration, you might want to read the article on Wikipedia.

This particular series is a bit raunchy, to say the least, with explicit sex scenes and lots of nudity.  Definitely in the “R-Rated” category.  However, beyond the bare skin and sex, is a complex set of characters from painters, models, art critics, prostitutes, and admirers of these three talented men who go about London with their radical ideas of artwork.  If you’ve seen the movie and read my review of Effie Gray you’ll see a semi-repeat of the story of John Ruskin (played by Tom Hollander) and his wife who eventually has their marriage annulled because her husband would not consummate it.

The rakish of rakes is Rossetti, played by Aidan Turner, who is quite the character (and often copulating and nude).  He’s lazy, a womanizer, unrepentant liar, and disloyal to close friends, yet eventually becomes a brilliant artist in his own right. His love affair and subsequent marriage to his model, Lizzie Siddal, is heartbreaking.  Here is her true story on Wikipedia.  One of his art pieces is below.

Lady Lilth
“Lady Lilith” (1866) Dante Gabriel Rossetti

John Everett Millais’ story (played by Samuel Barnett), who painted Ophelia is quite interesting. Lizzie Siddal models for him while floating in a bathtub of water. Millais is so engrossed in his work that he doesn’t realize the water has gone cold and she nearly drowns and later becomes ill.  Millais is the youngest of the three, innocent, and endearing in nature.  His career is launched early but falls into ill favor with his former patron, Ruskin, because he marries Effie.  His famous painting of “Ohpelia” is below.

“Ophelia” (1852) John Everett Millais

William Holman Hunt (played by Rafe Spall) is attracted to fallen women but wrestles with his spiritual beliefs and subsequent guilt. He’s an odd character to say the least, having attempted to reform a prostitute that he wants to marry. When she breaks his heart, he’s so pathetically sad that it’s quite funny.  One of his works is below.

“His Rienzi” 1848 – William Holman Hunt

Then there is a fourth character, Fred Walters, who is excited to hang around these talented individuals. He finds Lizzie Siddal by accident and approaches the brotherhood to introduce a perfect model.  Throughout the story he struggles with his emotions and love for Lizzie, and is constantly at odds with Rossetti and for good reason.

The series is delightful, to say the least, and well acted.  Unfortunately, it didn’t fair very well in the eyes of the critics and dwindling audiences while it aired.  It’s a shame, frankly, because I think it could have gone on for a few more seasons with an entertaining story line. The last episode brought me to tears of sorrow but then led me to laugh at the final declaration from Fred Walters, who narrates the story as well.

I’m not quite sure why this series tickled my fancy.  It is rather scathingly risque in many scenes, but the characters are all so vastly interesting and intriguing with their nuances. I suppose as an author, I’m always fascinated with human behavior and this series is filled with characters and their oddities.

You may or may not like this BBC release, which is now streaming on Britbox.  It’s not for the sexually faint, but if you like complex characters with their many foibles with incredible talent, you may like it quite a bit.