Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Might I Recommend...

I like to have some sort of noise while I work. Music, yes, but also shows-- preferably light series that I can cue up to play one after the other. Not to sound too hipster-ish, but I'm not one for sitting & watching much of anything. I don't like going to the theater for that reason-- I simply must be able to move around or I start feeling unbearably restless. Anyway, I am a fan of simple, classic shows that don't require constant attention {with a few, rare, exceptions}.
On the off chance that some of you out there on the interwebs are of the same viewing ilk, I found two such series I am happy to recommend.


This series of Miss Marple is beyond delightful. Geraldine McEwan is what I've always pictured Miss Marple to be-- a cute, disarming, seemingly harmless "woman-next-door" who is much, much sharper than anyone takes her to be.  I've been a Christie fan from a young age.  My grandmother had a few copies of her books that I would read when we visited her during the summers when I was in elementary school, then later, when I had a standard teenage job-at-the-mall, I would pick up a paperback Christie to read over lunch break {I never was one for socializing}.  I call them "bathtub books"-- which means they are light enough to read while relaxing & easy enough to replace if they should accidentally take a plunge & this series is the television equivalent~*
In the 4th season, McEwan is replaced by Julia McKenzie, who also does a fine job in the part.  Added bonus? Guest celebrities {think of it as the BBC/ITV version of Murder She Wrote as far as casting is concerned}.  The atmosphere & costuming is perfect {& inspiring-- such great 40's & 50's chic} & the performances are good.  The scripts do take a few liberties-- endings were tweaked to add a modern twist {in one story, Christie's male/female lovers turned murderers were morphed into a female/female killer couple, for example}.  But all in all it is well done & perfect to put on while you are ironing {or in my case, painting the bathroom}

Next?  For the more romantic minded, this version of Vanity Fair is just about perfect.




American film & television, in my opinion, has a nasty habit of making everything too shiny.  Take Reese Witherspoon's turn as Becky Sharp in the film version of Vanity Fair.  I don't like it.  The book is gritty & witty & a fierce commentary on how difficult & compromising life was for women in 19th century England & the movie made everything plastic & perfect & not right at all.   I've always found it terribly silly that so many people over-romanticize certain novels {like the works of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters} when the authors intended to expose how ridiculous the rituals, ceremonies & traditions were.  Every time one of my students sighs wistfully & wishes she lived in such a time, I cringe on the inside.  Novelists wrote those books so that women would not have to live like that anymore!  They wanted us to be honest & open & unafraid, like we should be today. & now that we have that hard fought freedom, people bemoan it & call us rude & wish us back to when people lied & denied their feelings & wasted years of their lives struggling to maintain an illusion of civility.  
Anyway...
This series strikes just the right tone.  Unlike the movie, it does a great job of drawing the parallel between Becky's life & her friend Amelia's {both women sacrifice their happiness and security for the sake of social status-- Becky by recklessly climbing the ladder into the ruthless upper class & Amelia by clinging to her false but socially acceptable fantasies of what her life was}.  
Natasha Little plays it perfectly-- the viewer alternates between sympathizing with Becky as a victim of circumstance & seeing her as the worst sort of manipulator.  Frances Grey, as Amelia, is equally well cast-- so saintly sweet & blindly devoted to her self-martyrdom that you really want to slap her {or at least shake her soundly}.  
And the costuming, oh the costuming!  

  

I don't know who does the research for BBC's costuming on historical series, but I wanna kiss them.  The Miss Marple series is the same way... but I can't find pictures of the dresses, so you'll have to watch.  Trust me, if you are in to mid-century fashion, you'll be in heaven~*

Now I'm off to touch up the bathroom & work on an art project-- hopefully it'll be in a state fit for pictures tomorrow!