Monday, June 29, 2015

"Cranford" (2007) and "Return to Cranford" (2009)

Cross this off my summer to-do list!  I've finally watched these.  Took me three weeks, because I got one disc at a time from the library, so I'm not going to do a really in-depth review here.  Just more of a "here's a bunch of stuff I liked" post.

I really liked the general feel of the miniseries -- how we got immersed in this eccentric little village.  I got to feeling like I was kind of a resident myself, which was fun.  The idea of a town where the women run everything and the men just kind of go along for the ride was quite amusing, and I like how it was not turned into feminist propaganda for the most part, but was simply allowed to be a quirky entity unto itself.

Basically, it's about the daily lives of people in a small English village and how their lives change as progress (and the railroad) encroaches on them.  Some embrace the change, some resist it, but none can ignore it.

The characters, of course, were my favorite part.  Get me to want to be friends with the characters and I will be a fan.  You want to know my favorites?  Good, cuz I'm gonna talk about those next.


Miss Mary (Lisa Dillon) was overall my favorite.  She was kind and cheerful and sensible and helpful -- everything I like in a character.  And then!  She became a writer!  I was very pleased by that, though I wish it hadn't meant she left.  I would have been much happier if she'd stayed with Miss Matty.


Speaking of whom, Miss Matty (Judi Dench) was a close second in my affections.  She'd believed all her life that she wasn't very bright, or very sensible, when in fact she was plenty of both.  Seeing her come into her own more in the later episodes was a joy.  The only time I cried during either series was at the very end of the final episode, when she opened that black box.  So happy for Miss Matty!!!


Then there's Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton).  If, before I watched this, you had told me that one of my favorite characters would be played by the person who played Delores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies, I would have made some very unladylike snorting noises.  But Miss Pole made me laugh.  Often.  And heartily.  She was so convinced of her own rightness, all the time!  Especially when she was completely not right at all!  Loved her.


And William Buxton (Tom Hiddleston) was sweetness and light personified.  I will freely admit that the two reasons I wanted to see this were Tom Hiddleston and Judi Dench, and that I was mighty pleased by the characters both played.  I think one of the things I liked best about him was that he was so smiley and sincere.  He's pretty smiley as Loki too, but he's not sincere.  Or kind, or nice, or good and kind.  William is all of those, so hooray!

I also really liked Martha (Claudie Blakley), Jem (Andrew Buchan), Miss Galindo (Emma Fielding), and Sir Charles (Greg Wise).  And I was endlessly amused by Tim Curry's surprise (to me) appearance :-D  He did a marvelous job of playing Tim Curry, as usual.

And I find that I don't really have much else to say.  Actually, I have a zillion other things to say, but they're just scattered thoughts and I'm too tired to sort through them at this point.

Are these family friendly?  Mostly, but not for young children.  I think there were a couple mildly objectionable words, a few faintly suggestive moments, and there were some unsettling scenes involving various injuries with blood shown.  People died (including one in childbirth), children died... like I said, not for young children.

16 comments:

  1. Very sweet movies, but very sad -- too many people die, so I don't watch it all that often. But I love how unlike most period dramas it is, by centering so much around the old gossips in town. And I say that with affection, because all of them are wonderful.

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    1. Yes, they're such an interesting mixture of funny and sad. Definitely different from most period dramas! Especially since a romance isn't the main focus.

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  2. I only saw these once two winters ago; I really want to see them again! Such quirky, sweet stories. ;-) (And I'm the queen of quirky.)

    Mary Smith was always my favorite character too. And I love Miss Galindo! And Jem Hearne! And Miss Matty! When my sister and I first saw the trailer for the series (on the BBC Emma, which we watched overmuch), we squealed to see Judi Dench and Michael Gambon together. I was kind of disappointed when he died so early on. :-(

    There's so many memorable moments in this series, so many quotable lines...it's just classic. I'm glad you finally got to watch it!

    ~Emma

    P.S. The Virginian rode in yesterday! ;-) Thanks again!

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    1. I was surprised by Michael Gambon turning up! I think I didn't pay a lot of attention to the opening credits during the first couple eps. The whole thing, though, is an exercise in "guess what other period drama you've seen this actor/actress in," which was added fun. And I was so sad for Miss Matty when he died. Poor thing.

      PS Good for him! And he rides so well, doesn't he?

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  3. Oh, I'm SO glad you got to see these and that you liked them! Yes, yes, I agree with pretty much everything you said about the characters. Miss Pole is so delightfully funny, Miss Matty is the dearest, sweetest lady ever, Mary is just so kind and thoughtful, and William is simply splendid. I really love William. He inspired one of my characters in my current WIP very much. :)

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    1. I can see how William could be very inspiring :-) He's definitely confirmed me as Tom Hiddleston fan.

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  4. This is one of my family's favorites- we loved them so much we actually got both DVDs for Christmas one year :) Aren't the characters just wonderful?

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    1. I have put these on my Christmas list, Hayden! Though I might end up buying them for my mom for Christmas, hee.

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  5. It sounds a little like St. Mary Mead, where Miss Marple lives :)

    Judi Dench played Lady Catherine in P&P 05, right? She was pretty scary in that movie--so I can imagine it must be awfully interesting to see her play a kind, sweet old lady! But that's the thing about a great actor or actress--they can turn themselves into pretty much ANYBODY and you never know the difference.

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    1. Jessica, yes, Judi Dench played Lady Catherine. I am heartily amused by her in that too! I first saw her as the new M in GoldenEye, where she's also very unyielding. And then I saw her in Chocolat as a free-spirited curmudgeon. And as Mrs. Fairfax in the recent Jane Eyre, as M in ever so many James Bond movies, and in oodles of other things too. She's totally a favorite of mine!

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  6. I just watched this a couple of weeks ago too, how funny!
    Yes, I completely agree, the feel of this series and the characters are wonderful! So many great British actors gathered in one place always make me giddy.
    It's one of those stories that you just want to jump into and live in yourself.

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    1. Rose, what funny timing! And yes, I want to go live in Cranford and help everybody out.

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  7. The first time I saw this, my mom and I watched it together—we didn't know too much about it and had no idea it was going to be so funny. When it got to Miss Deborah's line, "You're not in London any more, Dr. Harrison...you are in Cranford," we just broke down in shrieks of laughter. And then of course later on we were in tears—I don't think I've ever seen another movie/series that can switch from hilarious to tear-jerking so deftly.

    My whole family loves the first series (though we skip a couple of those medical scenes), and quote lines from it at each other all the time. We were pretty disappointed with Return to Cranford, though. The Lady Glenmire storyline was done well, and I liked the parts with the Buxton and Bell families, but I didn't care for the way they handled the plots continued from the first series and I thought some of the character deaths were totally unnecessary. In the original Cranford, the deaths are tragic, but they do have important bearings on the plot.

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    1. Yes, Martha's death did feel rather... peremptory? And not entirely necessary. On a whole, though, I think I liked them pretty equally well.

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  8. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed them! I just love how all this non-dramatic stuff always becomes super-dramatic in Cranford. Especially if any of the Amazons are involved! (Like the pajamas for Mrs. Forrester's cow? Or the birdcage/corset? Hilarious! :)

    The characters are so lovely, aren't they? Mary's probably my absolute fave as well. And Miss Matty of course. Oh my, isn't Tom just adorable?! This was actually the first time I'd ever seen him in anything and I fell in love with his smile immediately. His William is simply good and kind and so sweet to Peggy! Their romance....yeah, definitely a fave bit for me. But it's all the characters that make these series what they are. Everyone is so quirky and funny and heartbreaking and wonderful. I don't think there's really one character that I don't like.

    Oh and in case you didn't know, I read somewhere that Tim Curry loved Cranford SO much that he told his agent if they ever did a sequel to do anything they could to get him a role. Or something like that. He really wanted to be a part of it! :)

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    1. Yes! I love how over-dramatic they get. "Do not eat another bite! For when you hear what I have to tell you, your food will positively turn to ashes in your mouth and you will choke!" I laughed and laughed and laughed.

      And yet, though they are ridiculous, they're so lovable! All of them.

      Tom Hiddleston has such a nice smile. So twinkly and genuine. This was just like his smile in so many "real life" pictures I've seen. So unlike his evil smiles as Loki!

      And that is the coolest thing I have ever heard about Tim Curry. Awwwww!

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