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.