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Posts Tagged ‘costume drama’

We open in a fancy room strewn with white flowers and assorted pretty girly things. A maid’s fussing about with a suitcase while her mistress goes to answer a ringing telephone in the bedroom. The mistress answers the phone and, in French, tells the person on the other end to tell the gentleman he’s too late. With that, she hangs up. She’s played by Rebecca Hall, and I have to admit, I’ve never been a big fan of hers. I think that’s more because of the roles she tends to play than her acting ability, though. I spent all of Vicky Christina Barcelona wanting desperately to punch her in the face.

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Now that Downton Abbey has made the corset-and-cravat period cool again, it was only a matter of time before one of the American networks decided to do their own version of a pre-war-rich-people-and-their-servants story. Enter Gilded Lillys, which has just been greenlighted by ABC and will revolve around a wealthy New York family facing scandal in 1895. Naturally, the cast will include a sharp-tongued matriarch (played by Blythe Danner) and a rebellious young daughter (named Violet, no less, and played by Sarah Bolger).

Ok, so far, it sounds like it could be good, right? Maybe it will be. But consider the creative team behind this: the show’s creator/executive producer is Shonda Rimes, the successful creator of such nuanced dramas as Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. The writer is K.J. Steinberg who penned some of the (admittedly better) episodes of Gossip Girl. So, just imagine the types of stories that make up Grey’s Anatomy and Gossip Girl and apply them to Downton Abbey. I’m envisioning a lot of crazy bedhopping and stupid, unnecessary plotting that leads to nowhere. Oh, and adults acting like children all the time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total fuddy-duddy. I actually watch Grey’s and Gossip Girl (though the latter’s fallen off a lot lately and I think I’m just watching out of habit). And everyone who’s read my Tudors recaps knows I love Sarah Bolger, but I just don’t envision this show working out, no matter how fabulous it might look (and it probably will). Period shows don’t seem to do too well on network TV (just look at what a candy-colored mess Pan Am turned into in short order). They’re expensive to produce, and they have trouble finding large enough audiences to justify renewal. Die-hard costume drama fans are usually turned off by stupid titillating sex-fueled subplots and anachronistic speech and behaviors, while your average Joe viewer really isn’t usually into watching a bunch of people running around in crazy outfits ordering servants about.

So, my expectations are low, but I’ll still tune in and check it out. There is at least one glimmer of hope (besides Bolger): The director is Brian Kirk, whose got some pretty good dramas under his belt, including My Boy Jack, an episode of Boardwalk Empire, the new Great Expectations, and three episodes of Game of Thrones. So, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I can only hope.

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Previously on Downton Abbey: Matthew and William were wounded and returned home to Downton Abbey. William came back to marry Daisy and die a few hours later, which made me sad, and Matthew found out he’s probably going to spend his life in a wheelchair. He also won’t be able to have kids, so he cuts Lavinia loose, despite her pleas to stay with him. Mary’s only too happy to step into Lavinia’s place as Matthew’s caretaker, even though she’s now officially engaged to Carlisle.

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It’s New Year’s Eve, and a gathering of middle-aged friends is counting down the last few seconds to 1926. They toast the New Year as three children—two boys and a girl—watch secretly from above. The host—Andrew—thanks his friends for being there and reveals he’s pretty darn rich, thanks to his incredible luck of having happened to buy a farm on top of a copper seam. His lawyer takes the moment to announce that Andrew’s drawn up a will that heavily favors a local medical foundation of which another guest—Dr. Pritchard—is chairman. Pritchard promises to use the money well. Two bequests are left to the young boys upstairs—Robert Siddaway and Peter Baker. Their mothers thank Andrew, but another guest points out that Andrew’s left nothing to his ward, young Violet. Andrew shrugs that she’s a girl, so she’ll get married and doesn’t need money. Yes, marriages come cheap, you know. His lady guest is disgusted.

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Previously on John Adams: John got to be president, which ended up being an exhausting, endless fight, so he more or less willingly handed the position off to Jefferson and headed home, a private citizen once more.

It’s 1803, and John’s at his bucolic home, Peacefield. Dr. Rush arrives and is happily greeted by John, who thanks him for coming as he shows him upstairs to Nabby’s room. Seems the daughter of the house is having a health crisis. Rush sits down with his new patient and John and Abigail excuse themselves, closing the door behind them. Once they’re alone, Rush asks Nabby to tell him what’s bothering her. She informs him she feels a lump in one breast that pains her. Oh, dear God. Early 19th century breast cancer?! Yikes!

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Ahh, springtime. When a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love, and other people’s fancies turn to thoughts of murder. At least, that’s how it is in this case.

We start off with a good closeup of the Soviet flag, flying over the Soviet embassy in London, presumably. A woman in a totally covetable gray coat strides purposefully inside and meets one of the officials, whose office is primarily decorated by a HUGE portrait of Stalin. She doesn’t get to admire the décor, because he comes downstairs to meet her in the hall, where they have an exchange in Russian that, unhelpfully, is not subtitled, so it’s anyone’s guess what they’re talking about. He sounds annoyed (though I’ll admit, Russian always sounds annoyed or angry to me), and she seems to be pleading. That’s all I’ve got. At the end, they exchange smiles, and she hands him an envelope. As he heads back to his office, he opens it and pulls out a ticket to the Chelsea Flower show that, for some reason, has WTF stamped across it in big, red letters. I know it didn’t meant the same thing back then as it does now, but I still laughed when I saw that.

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Previously on Game of Thrones: Ned’s idiocy got him thrown into prison, which pissed off Robb, so he gathered a big ol’ army and started marching on the Lannisters. Up on The Wall, Jon proved his worth by saving Mormont from a zombie. Oh, and Drogo got a scratch on him in a fight that I’m sure will somehow wind up being fatal.

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Previously on Camelot: Morgan found out that everyone at Camelot confides in Igraine, so she shape shifted, took her prisoner at Magical Manse, and took her place in Camelot.

We start off tonight with some gratuitous nudity. At Camelot, Morgraine luxuriates in her bath, lovingly sponging her breasts, while at Magical Manse, the real Igraine is more roughly rubbed down by Sybil, who refuses to tell her why they’re keeping her prisoner. Morgraine dresses herself in her extremely luxuriously appointed room. Seriously—what’s up with that place? Isn’t Camelot still a roofless wreck? Where’d the big canopy bed and all the rich drapes and things come from? She practices saying “good morning” in the mirror for a while, then Merlin pokes his head in with breakfast.

Magical Manse. Vivien asks Sybil if she should wake Morgan. Hang on—wasn’t she in on the little ritual they did last week when Morgan shape shifted into Igraine? Did that happen later? Why was Vivien suddenly kept on the outside?

Sybil asks Vivien how loyal she is to Morgan, and Vivien promises she’s totally loyal, Team Morgan all the way! So Sybil tells her Morgan’s at Camelot.

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Previously on Game of Thrones: Ned and the others arrived in King’s Landing and discovered that the place is a hotbed of lies and spies (I know, I was shocked too!). Up on The Wall, Jon took a pudgy new recruit under his wing, and in Dothrakiland Daenerys finally gave her brother the bitch slap he’s been begging for.

Ned finally makes his way to his own tournament, where dead Hugh is being cleaned up and stitched up for burial. Ned observes that young Hugh was wearing brand new armor, and he wonders how a kid who was just a squire until recently could afford new armor. Like me, he thinks this death is mighty suspicious. He chats a bit with Ser Barrister, who tells him Robert wants to join the joust.

Ned next goes to the king’s tent, where that poor young Lannister lad’s trying to squeeze fat Robert into armor that just won’t fit. Robert barks at the kid to go find the breastplate stretcher, which doesn’t exist, but the kid scuttles off anyway, probably happy for an excuse to leave. Ned and the king tease each other a bit, and then Ned tells him not to joust, because everyone would just let him win. Well, maybe this would be a good way to avoid more bloodshed, then. Robert puts up a bit of a fight but ultimately agrees not to ride.

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Previously on The Borgias: The French rolled in and totally trashed Lucca, which made the rest of Italy basically wet itself. Giulia paid a visit to Lucrezia and found out dear Lu is pregnant, and the kid’s not Sforza’s.

In the middle of the night, Giulia steals out to the stables, where she gently wakes Paolo. She asks if he’s “the one” and he readily admits to it. She tells him he’s not to say the same to anyone else, or she’ll see him hanged. He understands. Giulia orders him to prepare two horses for the ladies, so they can leave at dawn.

Alexander’s getting dressed and telling Cesare that he had a nightmare that everyone had abandoned them, and he found himself dressed as a peasant as the French army swarmed through Rome. He tells Cesare to summon the Spanish ambassador, because he and Alexander need to have a talk.

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