Friday, August 27, 2010

Ten Highlights from Favorite British Dramas


Some use British dramas the way some people use wine - to nicely finish off a day. Here are a handful of highlights worth finding, even if the genre broadly holds no appeal.

10. Inspector Lewis: Oxford in High-Def; Hathaway's expressions in High-Def.

9. Midsomer Murders: Where not only the murderers and the murderees, but also the owners of the sporting dogs who find the bodies, are wearing Barbours and wellies.

8. The Queen: Two commentary tracks - Director Stephen Frears and Writer Peter Morgan, and British Historian Robert Lacey.

7. Prime Suspect: Helen Mirren.

6. Miss Marple (Joan Hickson period): Women’s wardrobes - Gwenda from Sleeping Murder, and Miss Blacklock from A Murder is Announced; Men’s wardrobes - Giles from Sleeping Murder and Squadron Leader from The Moving Finger; Mr. Pye’s diatribe on people and taste from The Moving Finger.

5. Inspector Lynley: Lynley’s 1968 Bristol 410; his dressage acumen.

4. MI - 5 (aka Spooks): The doorway to Harry’s flat.

3. Monarch of the Glen: Molly's and Hector’s wardrobe; Golly’s (the ghillie) pipes; Duncan’s kilts; Big Eric.

2. Inspector Morse: Even more than his 1960 Jaguar Mark 2 and his exquisite taste in music, Morse’s flat.

1. Gosford Park: Commentary track - screenwriter Julian Fellows (who also played Kilwillie in Monarch of the Glen).

(Almost) Morse's 1960 Jaguar Mark 2

23 comments:

Marie said...

I so agree with you. There is nothing like curling up in the evening with a British show, especially a mystery.

chessie8200 said...

There was an Adam Dalgleish movie (Roy Marsden period, I think it was "Cover Her Face") set at an English country estate that was also very aesthetically pleasing in this regard. Many handsome women with turned-up collars and sweaters tied around their shoulders.

Curt McAdams said...

I haven't seen Inspector Morse in a while, but I need to revisit that show. Love his car!

LPC said...

And thank you for doing such a great job of delineating the regional characteristics. New England prep is its own thing. Like New York, Dallas, Miami, and even Silicon Valley.

Elle said...

I see Match Point in the basket. Was it a runner-up? I enjoyed that film but I like Woody Allen...

Wharf Rat said...

Veering wildly off the subject from mysteries, there is nothing like the sitcom "Keeping Up Appearances" to give you an insight into UK humor.

If you haven't caught it, check it out on your TV schedule.

If you enjoy this blog, you will love it. The writers and actors have satirized social climbing to the point that you can't help but laugh out loud for the entire show.

I'm glad to see another fan of Woody Allen here. Many people tune him out because of his neurotic personality, and weird life style. He is definitely an acquired taste.

Although getting married to your step daughter is admittedly something that is impossible to understand, his humor is priceless, IMO.

colleen said...

Solid but by no means exhaustive list of great English dramas. Suggest you add Inspector Poirot, the current series starring David Suchet, as an asterisked #11. Although the protagonist is Belgique, the current series by London Weekend Television is indeed a masterpiece.

michigan said...

Ms. Aldrich,

Firstly, I must say I love your blog and have read every single one of your posts. I have nearly responded numerous times before but this is the first. You will love Foyle's War it is bar none one of the best English Dramas out there. Last of the Summer Wine is also great. Flambards is also tops.If you like mystery, A Touch of Frost is great but not in a fashion sense.

Sometimes I feel like we were seperated a birth. Or perhaps I wish you'd been my mother. I mean that in the best possible way. Keep up the good work. And thanks.

contentedofdulwich said...

It is now official - I love this blog!

Excellent dramas, I love them all, and Morse is my favourite (RIP the wonderful actor John Thaw).

lottie said...

Inspector Morse is my all time fav; love John Thaw. Our local PBS is *finally* playing some Lewis that I haven't seen...can't wait to watch tonight!
I love everything else on your list except I haven't watched Midsomer Murders.
My husband likes Foyle's War a bit more than I do but it's pretty good. He's a military guy so this is right up his alley.
I hope to see another post on British Comedy! :) Fry & Laurie, Wooster & Jeeves, Good Neighbours &c.
Oh, and don't forget All Creatures Great and Small!
Btw, have you read Julian Fellows books?

Cheers!
lottie (Anglophile) :)

Jonathan said...

Gosford Park is the best! Maggie Smith's throwaway lines never get old.

j.mosby said...

For your viewing pleasure may I suggest adding these to your collection of British goodies: Up Stairs Down Stairs; To Serve Them All My Days(Very similar to Goodbye Mr.Chips!); Jewel In the Crown; Jeremy Bretts Sherlock Holmes series; All the James Heriott series;
Houses of Cards(Wonderful series about a over ambitious Prime Minister and his way to the top); Lastly, The Irish RM.

teaorwine said...

Have you tried: Rosemary and Thyme and The Buccaneers?

Phyllis Bourne said...

I watch my British mysteries with shortbread cookies and tea.

Love your list. Nothing caps off the day like an episode of MI-5.

Have you tried Murder in Suburbia?

Party People said...

Re: Jeeves and Wooster- the books are excellent as well. Also, for some Americana, how about "The Gilmore Girls?" In addition to the fashions and sets, one can play a game of identifying the numerous allusions in each episode. I adore "As Time Goes By" and "The Vicar of Dibley" as well! Love your blog and so agree with you! Unfortunately, add the additional challenge of being extremely petite!

Jeanne said...

I am with you on all of these and agree that any of these are a perfect way to end the day. We are just getting into an the BBC version of Life on Mars and really enjoy it...a throwback to the 70's, 1973 to be exact but you look to young to remember those days!

Fun blog you have here...an east coast girl myself from long ago. Hard to let of some of the preppy favs...but time and living in other countries has a way of changing your wardrobe.

Have to say I am an blue jean's girl...can't let go!
Still love my pink and green too :)

Jeanne :)

Chippy's Ice Cream Parlor said...

Just found your blog and am enjoying it immensely. As a librarian, I appreciate you movie roster, but would have to add the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes and the child in my loves Wallace and Grommit cartoons.

Karen said...

What fun to find this post! I couldn't agree more—across the board. It's easy to have favorites among the favorites as well:
-Miss Marple with Joan Hickson (the other versions really pale in comparison)
-MI-5 (the Adam Carter seasons, 3 through 6 or 7)

While not a huge Poirot fan, the film version of Death on the Nile is broad and campy and great fun.

An enthusiastic yes to some of the other posts/comments:
-Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes is brilliant, particularly the episodes with Edward Hardwicke's Watson
-Rosemary and Thyme has its charms, and grows on you

While not mystery, there is always some intrigue and suspense in Jane Austen, and the BBC Pride and Prejudice is perfection (please don't watch the re-make).

And for style alone (but the acting is also superb) And Education is excellent—Rosamund Pike's entire wardrobe, and Carey Mulligan's dress with the Monet inspired print.

Looking forward to discovering Midsomer Murders. Many thanks!

old said...

Muffy - Hope you and friends are having a wonder Summer 2911.

I offer my belated response to this most interesting thread.

I agree that all of the British drama films and television programs cited by you and the other contributors are "spot-on A list" Best of Class Favorites.

I offer four personal favorites that I did not see in any of the previous contributions:

1. The Remains of the Day. Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same title. Superior performances by Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jsmed Fox, Christopher Reeve, and Emma Thompson.

2l A Handful of Dust - The 1899 film based on Evelyn Waugh's 1934 novel of the same name.

3 The Shooting Party The 1985 film of Isabel Colegate's covel of the same name. I believe this was the last acting role of one of my perennial favorite actors Jsmes Mason. Grest supporting roles by Edward Fox and Sir John Geilgud.

4. Henry V by the work of the Bard of the same name. Stellar performance by Kenneth Brannagh. Contains of my two favorite "motivational" speeches of all time. The other being George C. Scott's modest homily that commences Patton.

Have a great summer all!
Old School Prep

Unknown said...

How about Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? or Smiley's People?

Anonymous said...

Downton Abbey is the creation of Julian Fellows, who has made the English Country House his life's wrk as a writer.
It's a first cousin to Godford Park.

Nick M said...

Sorry to be so late to add.

I think you might like at least the glorious countryside settings, and probably the gentle plots of the 80s/90s comedy-drama series "Lovejoy", about an antique dealer and his chums in rural Suffolk and Essex.

It was a little lifeline with home when I lived on NY's Upper East Side in the late 90s.

Step said...

I just discovered your blog and what a pleasant surprise! And you are RIGHT, Gosford Park is the best and Morse is second. Got the complete Morse for Christmas last year. My whole family watches it now. (My dad actually got me started when I was a kid in the '70s watching Lord Peter Wimsey - The Nine Tailors is great.)