Belgravia (2020 Epix Mini Series)

3 Kernels

Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, Dr. Thorne, Gosford Park, and many other fine television screenplays and books, has returned with this latest – Belgravia. Based on his 2016 novel, it’s titled after an affluent area in London of the same name, and a hidden secret regarding the man named Charles Pope.

The story starts out twenty-five years earlier, introducing viewers to the cast of James and Anne Trenchard, and their daughter Sophia. Trenchard is a tradesman who supplies the army during the war against Napoleon. Now facing the final battle at Waterloo, the families in Brussels enjoy one last night at a ball.  Sophia has fallen in love with the son of an aristocrat.  Her father, who hopes to rise ranks in society sees nothing wrong with her affections for the handsome Lord Edmund Bellasis, while her mother, Anne, is more realistic that nothing came come of the affair.

Well, young people will do what they do when in love or lust, and Edmund secretly marries Sophia in a private ceremony, which Sophia later believes to have been a sham. He is killed on the battlefield, and Sophia is left pregnant carrying his child. When she dies in childbirth, the male baby is placed with a vicar and his wife to raise. But, alas, not all is as it seems.

Fast forward in the story twenty-five years later when the paths of Anne Trenchard and Edmund’s mother, Lady Brockenhurst, cross paths. Unable to keep the secret any longer, Anne tells her that she has a grandson. The news sets in motion the events for the remainder of the story.

It wouldn’t be Julian Fellowes if he didn’t have antagonists that you’d like to strangle or antics of the downstairs servants to get under your skin. The story, of course, involves a budding romance between the daughter of an aristocrat, and the young Charles Pope, who is supposedly the illegitimate son of Sophia and Edmund. It’s a rather unpassionate romance, so don’t expect too much in the way of emotions as everyone remains very prim and proper.

The story is predictable, but it’s villains and worthless characters keep it interesting. The acting is somewhat dull, but the setting and costumes fill that period-drama need for the ladies. My biggest complaint was the soundtrack, composed by John Lunn. It sounded so much like Downton Abbey that it drove me nuts. I would have liked something a little more original. I’m not the only one to complain about that score. Read Here

I enjoyed the series but wasn’t exactly enthralled. While watching it, I read the book, and they match closely. I found Julian Fellowes writing quite interesting. His point of view is all over the place when it comes to characters, and you often have to switch it up to follow along.

Hopefully, the forthcoming The Gilded Age will be a delicious series with more meat to it. This one was sort of bland.

 

HBO Grabs Drama ‘The Gilded Age’ From NBC – Broadcasting & Cable

‘Downton Abbey’ principals look at American Gilded Age of 1885

Source: HBO Grabs Drama ‘The Gilded Age’ From NBC – Broadcasting & Cable

Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne

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4 Kernels

Originally aired in the U.K. on ITV, Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne is now available for streaming on Amazon and is free for Prime members.  CLICK HERE

Doctor Thorne, a novel written in 1858 by Anthony Trollope, has been adapted for the screen by the twenty-first century Julian Fellowes. Should you watch it on Amazon, you will also enjoy Julian’s armchair introductions and commentary about Trollope and his story at the beginning and end of each episode.

Starring Tom Hollander, Stefanie Martini, Harry Richardson, and a host of other familiar faces consisting of British actors, I found it to be a delightful tale with a happy ending that waltzed me into a tear or two.  The story centers around Mary Thorne, who is raised by her uncle Dr. Thorne.  However, Mary is not privy to secrets that Dr. Thorne has kept from her and many others regarding her true identity.  Born out of wedlock and sired by Dr. Thorne’s brother, who is later accidentally killed, her mother gives up the baby.  Thorne raises her, and she turns out to be a delightful and kind young woman.

The story, of course, as you can see from the trailer is all about money.  The Greshams are broke and they need their son, Frank Gresham, to marry wealth in order to survive.  However, Frank is in love with penniless Mary with a questionable background.  His family continually pressures him to wed because they have mortgaged Greshambury to the hilt and much of it is owned by Sir Roger Scatcherd.

The premises of marrying for money is the central theme in the first two episodes, but as it continues the secrecy of Mary’s identity is slowly revealed to those involved. Her Uncle carefully protects her in many ways, and Tom Hollander does a stellar job in this period piece. I enjoy him and his character immensely.

Period dramas wouldn’t be dramas if there weren’t corrupt characters, alcoholics, bullies, and lustful intentions. I won’t give away the story any further except to say there are a few twists and turns that eventually lead to a happy ending.

Having read some of the reviews from the audience in general, it appears that there are mixed feelings.  Boring and miscast are a few words I’ver read, as well as slow and in no way compares with Julian’s Downton Abbey.  Of course, this isn’t meant to be Downtown Abbey, and it’s not a story that Julian Fellows wrote. He merely adapted the tale from a book written in 1858 by an author that most in the audience never knew existed in the realm of 19th-century novels.

The costumes, manor houses, and quaint village (Wiltshire) are all scenes we’ve seen in other films or in tourism pictures. Here is a link to the houses they used in filming Dr. Thorne on RadioTimes.

For those of you who love period drama, you may absolutely adore it while others might be let down because of your high expectations.  Frankly, I found it endearing at the end.  As long as ITV or BBC or whoever keeps making period dramas, I’m a happy camper.  Several more releases are on the horizon this year, and I can’t wait to be taken back to a time of conversational intercourse between the sexes.

Amazon Prime Video Picks Up Julian Fellowes’ British Period Drama ‘Doctor Thorne’ | Variety

Amazon has acquired rights to British period drama series “Doctor Thorne,” from “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.

Source: Amazon Prime Video Picks Up Julian Fellowes’ British Period Drama ‘Doctor Thorne’ | Variety