I had a very busy November, which means I didn’t have as much time as I usually do to sit in front of my TV. But what I did get to watch was an eclectic blend of mostly interesting movies and series. And there was that weekend I binge-watched seven Hallmark Christmas movies with my family, which is not included in this month’s tally.
OCTOBER 2019 BREAKDOWN
26 Films/Series Total
8 New Classics
3 TV Series
2 Christmas movies
3 Bette Davis and 2 John Gilbert films
Biggest Disappointment – John Ford: The Man Who Invented America – My expectations were high and it just wasn’t quite what I anticipated
England’s King Charles II occupied the throne during a fascinating time in the nation’s history. During the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell’s rule his father was beheaded and he was exiled. After Cromwell’s death Charles II returned to England as its’ king. Charles II reversed many of the rules implemented by Cromwell’s government. He also continued his father’s battle with the English Parliament. The years of his reign are known as The Restoration. Charles II: The Power and the Passion presents a portrait of this multi-faceted historical figure.
Charles II: The Power and the Passion is an apt title for this mini-series which splits its focus between Charles personal affairs and political battles. The first half of the series threatens to become mired down with a soap opera style approach to Charles relationships with his many mistresses. Barbara Villers is the most important and depraved of these, a woman who tries to leverage her influence of the king into political power. Helen McCrory gives a deliciously wicked and clever performance of Barbara. But I quickly grew tired of watching the king’s multiple sexual escapades.
Fortunately, the series eventually allows the king’s political battles to take center stage. This makes for a much more compelling and fascinating dramatic narrative.
For my full review of this surprisingly interesting mini-series starring Rufus Sewell, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.
I adore British historical series and am always on the lookout for ones I’ve not yet seen. So, it was by happy accident that I recently discovered The Indian Doctor streaming on Prime and Acorn TV.
Still recovering from a personal tragedy, Dr. Prem Sharma and wife Kamani decide to leave their home in India. Kamani encourages Prem to apply for a post in London. Instead they find themselves assigned to a small mining village in Wales.
The culture shock is immediate, both for the Sharmas and the villagers who are not expecting a foreign doctor. Nor do they expect the Sharmas to be so cultured and highly educated. Prem is content to stay in his new position. But the wealthy and well-connected Kamani has no desire to stay in a back-water town which has no appreciation for the finer things. Continue reading “Series Review – The Indian Doctor (2010-2013)”
Since my recent move, I haven’t had cable television, so I watched fewer classic films. But that’s okay. It just gave me more opportunity to view other movies and series that I might not otherwise have had time for. To be honest, I didn’t really love the few classic films I did see in September. And would you believe, I didn’t have any re-watches this month?
SEPTEMBER 2019 BREAKDOWN
24 films/series total
7 new classic films
7 foreign films/series
5 TV series
1 in theater
Favorite Discovery: Ooh, this month gave me a lot of options to choose from for this honor. Among the contenders were Ladies in Black, Jericho, The Professor and the Madman and of course Downton Abbey. But my choice is Blind Date. It is going on my list of all time favorites, hands down.
Biggest Disappointment: Except for Heartbeat, pretty much every classic film this month left me feeling meh…
This month was TCM’s annual Summer Under the Stars when they spend 24 hours each day honoring a different classic film actor. I made it a point to watch films featuring Ava Gardner, Melvyn Douglas, Shirley Temple, Buster Keaton and a couple of hard to find titles starring Irene Dunne. By default I also saw a few more of Randolph Scott’s and Robert Young’s films.
August 2019 Breakdown
29 films/series total
18 new classic films
5 TV series
Favorite Discovery:The Indian Doctor and Wee Willie Winkie
Its’ a rare television series that achieves the status of a global phenomenon. But that is exactly what the Australian historical series Miss Fisher’s Mysteries accomplished. In fact, it is so popular that its’ fans demanded and completely crowd-funded a new film after the series ended. It’s success has also led to the production of a follow up series, Ms. Fisher’s Modern Mysteries.
ABOUT MS. FISHER’S MODERN MYSTERIES
The new Ms. Fisher is set several decades later in the 1960’s. It features Phryne Fisher’s niece Peregrine who inherits the Fisher fortune when the aunt she never knew goes missing. This Ms. Fisher also inherits the same curiosity and knack for solving mysteries.
RELATED: TV Review: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries Season One
After a string of failed jobs and relationships, Peregrine finally finds her calling. She picks up where her aunt left off; as a private detective. She is assisted in her new endeavor by the members of The Adventuresses’ Club, of which her aunt was a member.
Like her aunt, she also forms a tenuous working relationship with a police detective. Though Detective James Steed doesn’t initially appreciate Peregrine’s interference in his cases, he slowly learns to appreciate her innate talent.
There’s a saying that truth is often stranger than fiction. That certainly proved to be the case for the family of actress Ruth Wilson. Wilson plays the role of her own grandmother Alison Wilson in this short series. Mrs. Wilson is based on Alison’s marriage to the enigmatic British spy and author Alexander Wilson.
After twenty years of wedded bliss and two children, Alec unexpectedly dies in Alison’s arms. Alison is devastated by his death. She goes through the motions of comforting her sons and planning Alec’s funeral until she receives another unexpected shock. An older woman arrives on her doorstep to collect Alec’s belongings. She claims to be Mrs. Wilson.
Seeking answers, Alison tracks down Alec’s intelligence handler Coleman. Alison is adamant that Alec was divorced from the first Mrs. Wilson before marrying her. Coleman is not so sure. This leads Alison to question every thing she ever knew about their life together. Not only does she explore her own memories of her past with Alec, but she also begins her own investigation into Alec’s private and professional life. She is stymied at every turn by an agency who wants to keep Alec’s work secret. Nor does she receive any help by those who knew Alec personally. As she slowly uncovers her husband’s secrets, she discovers a man she barely knew.
I’ve long been a fan of actress Romola Garai as well as British period dramas, so I was thrilled when I discovered the BBC series The Hour. Not only does it feature Garai in a leading role, but it also co-stars Ben Whishaw and Dominic West. The Hour is a tautly written political and newsroom drama set in 1960’s London.
Bel Rowley (Garai) achieves her dream when she is tapped to be the producer of a televised news program for the BBC called The Hour. Joining Bel are experienced foreign journalist Lix Storm (Anna Chancellor) and Bel’s best friend and fellow journalist Freddie Lyon (Wishaw). Also, new to the team, is the well-connected and handsome Hector Madden (Dominic West) who serves as “the face” of The Hour.
Together, along with the rest of their team, they present their weekly news program covering current events both national and international. But the investigation and presentation of this news is a fine balancing act. Not only are they constrained by the need to present proof in their stories, but also by an advisor from Westminster who wishes to censor any information not favorable to the government.