BBC/ Master Piece Theater & Period Piecs


I don’t really know when I started watching BBC and Master Piece Theater, we watched a lot of public television growing up. Some where along the way I started watching epic mini-series and fell in love as so many young girls are prone to do, when they first encounter a story about a Victorian man.

As I got older I can to appreciate the complexity of story line and character development. Now I watch then or read them because I am interested in how the author made them different from the other novels being written at the same time.  So here is a huge list of ones that I love the book, love the movie or have issues with interpretation. If you new to the whole genera, don’t worry I know the way.

Mini- Series

Middle March

I just recently watched this  mini-series, haven’ tread the book yet. At first I was a little confused; it had the typical ensemble cast and multiple plot lines going on but the way the author has used her archetypes there cannot e the typical ending and all the characters seemed equally important.

I came to find out that the book was written by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans and that she used this fake name to avoid having to write your typical type of novel. She was very interested in politics and the plight of the everyday man. Once i knew this the story made perfect sence. I would not recommend this for a newbie to the genera, for seasoned lovers of it though this is a pleasant change from typical plots and set ups.

Daniel Deronda

I just recently watched this series not realizing that it is a novel also written by George Eliot. I have not read the novel on this one but I am going to have to after watching this. The story revolves around a compassionate young man who saves a woman from drowning. He later comes to find out that she is a Jewess and is looking for her mother.

The acting is very good and the story takes on dimensions about race and class that are usually stripped from stories like this one. The ending was a bit unusual to my 20th century thinking but then a lot has happened since it was written. This is one for every body, easy to follow but interesting.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Another that I recently watched, haven’t read the book. This is a more traditional type of story line: woman moves to new place saying she’s a widow. Everyone is so bored that no one will leave her alone, which seems to be what she desperately wants because she has a secret.

I especially liked Toby Stevens as the guy who falls for the snarky widow. This is good middle ground,  I found myself hoping that it would all work out and that is a good thing.

The Buccaneers

Loved this one, haven’t read the book. This mini-series centers around four friends who are about to get married off and start their lives. There are love affairs, betrayals and true love. It is nice to see a story totally devoted to the women and not how a man saves them. If you up for a girl centered story, this one is for you.

Our Mutual Friend

This is not the version that I watched but the story is what matters. This is what I love about Dickinson, his stories are complex, you think you know and then you don’t. This is the story of a young man learning to find his voice in a society of lies and power games. I really felt compassion for the main character and his struggles. It was interesting to see a piece with so much character development.This is a good one, that if I remember correctly is not so mushie and all about the love story.

Great expectations

Love, love , love this story! Bitterness, forbidden love, secrets galore. If you have never read or watched this story you should. It follow a young man with and unknown benefactor along his journey to the truth. There are many twists and turns and you will be lead astray a time or two but the ending is worth it. This is not a light film and I would not watch it if that is what you are after, but if you like mystery and fate than this is for you.


Bright Star

Technically this is a bio-pic about John Keats the famous poet and the love of his life. I added it because it is so outstanding and moving that if you like these types of movies you will love this one. But it comes with a big “bring the tissues warning.” This is a wonderful love story, great for those curl up, drink coco and sigh kind of night.

The Duchess

This one comes with a warning. I liked this movie it is unflinching in its depiction of marriage and the duties of a woman. That said it is brutal at times, I would not let anyone young watch this and if you are not prepared for that kind of depiction you might want to skip this one. That said I was pleased that in all the opulence of costumes and balls the tragedy of how limited and controlled women were at this time is being looked at. This is defiantly for those who would like to see something different and can take violent content.

Age of Innocence

This is an interesting movie. I thought I knew what it was about – forbidden love- and then it went and surprised me. It is a little slow and Winona Rider is almost ghostly as “the little wife.” This is a mediocre piece, not my favorite but not bad either. If you are looking to expand your index this one good one.


This is the story of an implosive girl who falls in love with a visitor to her home. Being a gentleman he is affronted by her forwardness and later comes to regret his decision. I like this movie, it is understated in many ways and Liv Tyler uses her huge eyes well. This movie may be a little slow for some of you but if you like Ralph Finnes you’ll like it.

Les Miserables

Part of me loves this movie because I love the musical by Webber but the story has wonderful merit on its own. Ultimately it is a story of unrequited love and redemption. A man imprisoned for stealing bread has his soul bought back for a candle stick and goes on to become the major of a small town, but you can’t escape your past so easily. This is a beautiful story about compassion and choosing to be the best people we can be regardless of the costs. There are aspects of this story that are not appropriate for children- one of the characters becomes a prostitute and there is some nudity and violence. But if you are old enough to see an “R” this is one I would not miss.

Miss Potter

Technically this is a bio-pic about Beatrix Potter. I watched it because it seemed to have a whimsical nature about it and it did, but what I did not expect was the wonderful performances by the two main characters. Beatrix wants to do something that women don’t do -write- and the only person who believes in her is her publisher. This is a wonderful, heartfelt story about being true to your dreams. I would recommend it for any of you, p.s bring tissues.

Becoming Jane

This is another bio-pic but if you love period pieces knowing more about Jane Austin is right up your ally. Anne Hathaway does a wonderful job of portraying Jane’s life and one great love. If you love sentimental and a good sigh this one is for you, but bring the tissues.

The Painted Vale

This is the movie that made me fall for Edward Norton. A social light and a reserved doctor get married, it is disaster in the making. But somewhere between the fights, cholera epidemic and a small nunnery, they find there is more to their spouses than they realized. This is a wonderful story about miss-matched people, the acting is really good from both of the leads. It is not appropriate for young people as there are several sex scenes and adult content. If you like flapper era culture this one is for you.

Jane Eyre

This is the classic story of the scrappy girl who makes her own way in the world and finds love in unexpected places. Only this time it comes with a lot of baggage. Jane falls for her dark and grumpy employer, but his secrets stand to tear them apart.

This is a wonderful story with twist and turns. I personally love the scrappy type, so if you like your female leads with a brain Jane is for you.

Mansfield Park

Let me just say that I am an Austin person, lover her writing but the 1999 version of her story is such a distortion of the that I feel I cannot represent it well without saying this first.

To begin with Fanny is unwanted and living with distant relatives, she is quiet and afraid. Edmond is a proper gentleman and thinks nothing about her except as a pet. The older brother is a useless fop and burden to the family. the director of this film takes a totally feminist/ anti slave trade tack with this file. The families involvement in the slave trade is cursory in the book and has been blown way out of proportion here. Read the book don’t watch this movie it has nothing to do with the book.


This is the movie that I watch when I want to believe in true love and the power of love. I must admit that I have a sentimental attachment as this is one of the first period pieces that I ever watched. They fall in love when they are very young and she is persuaded not to marry him because he has no name for himself. Some thing like ten years later they meet again…If you want to become a big puddle of sigh watch this one.

Sense and Sensibility

This movie has had such an effect on so many people who I know. My “girls” have an inside phrase based on one of the characters in this movie “Colonel Brandon,” this is a code word for the perfect guy and if you watch this I dare you not to fall in love with Allen Rickman- love him any way, but in this he is wonderful. So you have to sisters polar opposites: one is responsible and sensible and the other is a dreamer and throws her heart into everything. Of course it becomes the story of balance, how does the quiet learn to speak up and find love and how do the passionate find temperance with out loosing themselves. Along the way there are many a scandalous side story and the beautiful relationship between these two sisters. Absolute MUST see.

Pride and Predigest

Ah Darcy, just so you know the whole movie is about him not Elizabeth Bennit. Well in my mind it is any way. I don’t usually like Kira Knightly but she does okay in this. If Sense and Sensibility is about opposites this one is about presumptions. Elizabeth thinks that she knows Darcy and Darcy thinks that he know who she is and they are both very wrong. Elizabeth is poor and Darcy is rich both have secrets. This is a classic kind of odd couple and so worth watching then fight it out. If you like spunky girls and tragically sweet guys this one is for you.

Far from the Madding Crowd

I have to admit that it has been quite a while since I have seen this one and I have foggy recollections. I do remember that I dearly loved Shepard Oak and kept wondering what the heck was wrong with that girl. But you don’t have a story if you don’t have an issue. I think this one can be a bit slow a in places and there is a love triangle thing going on. But really I can’t give you a solid review on this on, I’ll have to re-watch it soon.

Anna and the King

Can I just say that I love Chow Yun-Fat when people let him act! Jody Foster plays a wonderful, smart and brittle Anna. Together with the beautiful scenery this movie is lush and understated. They manage to create a believable bond and attraction to one another with out all the easy ways most films use. There is no kiss, sex or heated moments there is only a dance. This is a wonderful story about a single mother doing what she can to provide for her son ins a far away country. This movie should not be missed.

Vanity Fair

I really thought I wasn’t going to like this movie. Reese Witherspoon plays a self-serving social climber with an uncanny skill for getting what she wants. But like people whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs she doesn’t know what to do with it once she gets it. I was surprised the range she was able to portray and found myself liking her character in-spite of her baseness. This story has a good but unusual ending. It is a nice change from the “happy, happy happy” ones. So if you are in need of a slightly different flavor this one is for you.


2 responses »

  1. Yay! for Colonel Brandon. He is so fantastic! Love, love, love him. Love all period pieces, but Sense and Sensibility most of all. Sigh.

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