Category Archives: Television

“What is a week-end?” – About Downton Abbey

D2_Ep3_LadyVioletI finally finished watching the third season of Downton Abbey last Sunday. The first thing I have to say is that I read a spoiler about the last episode accidentally, and I absolutely hatted it. One might say that it was a good thing so that I was prepared for such happenings, but I’d rather have been surprised. That said I must follow by saying that I actually liked this show.

What got me to watch Downton Abbey at first was purely a historical interest. I am fascinated by the English society of the 19th century. I love the culture, the literature, the lesser amount of meaningless work and, if we could fix women’s situation at the time, I think I would have liked many things to be like they were back then (yep, like having more time to read or walk among nature and less time wasted in traffic). Yes, I know the story is not happening in the 19th century, but it represents the transition from the way the English society was organized to a completely new form and it is wonderful to watch this.

It’s very interesting to see the older and more traditional characters struggling to keep the beliefs they were brought up with alive and still survive in a world that is changing too fast for them to follow. Don’t ask me why these things fascinate me so much, I cannot explain, but I really enjoy watching the conflicting ideas of the landed gentlemen of the time in trying to keep their states and not knowing how to do it without accepting the new ways of the economic and social organization of England.

Historical aspects aside, I also enjoyed all the drama in the show. I’m not going to talk specifically about anything here because I do not want to give spoilers to anyone who might want to watch Downton Abbey. There are many compelling characters, there is no doubt about that, although I think not all of them are explored as much as they could.

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One of the highlights of the show for me is Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. Could she be any more perfect? Smith is astounding in her role. Her character, Violet, is one of the most interesting too. She believes in the old social conventions and traditions, and she will do all she can to keep them alive. But she also seems aware that things will change, and there’s not much she can do. In my opinion, Violet is more open to new ideas than her son, Robert. The title of this post “What is a Week-end?” is one of my favourite lines from the show. This is from the first season and the Dowager Countess of Grantham asked this question at the dinner table after Matthew says that he has got a job, but will have time to learn about the estate on the weekends. The scene is just hilarious and delightfully well done!

Another aspect that I want to bring attention to is that, in my opinion, the show seems a bit too much sometimes. That is probably because everything, and I mean everything, that could possibly happen to a landed family that is part of the English aristocracy at this time of change, happens to the Crawley family. There are just too many coincidences sometimes. Once again, I won’t mention any specific events, but if you have watched all the three seasons, you know what I’m talking about.

All in all, Downton Abbey is a show worth watching, especially if you are interested in historical aspects of the beginning of the 20th century! And if you are not interested in history or in the dramas of the English aristocracy, then you should still watch it because of Maggie Smith (I’m serious, she is great!).

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Pride and Prejudice: Adaptations

There are countless adaptations and works based on Pride and Prejudice. From comics to vlogs, Jane Austen’s novel is probably one of the most retold stories ever written. The 1995 BBC mini-series adaptation of the story has certainly brought Austen’s work back to attention and set off a movement of adaptations that has yet to stop (not that I think it ever will). I will list only some of these because, as I said before, they are countless and I’m sure I am not aware of everything that was done based on Pride and Prejudice.

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The 1940 film adaptation is a must see for every Pride and Prejudice fan. The plot differs from the original in many points, but the focus on the comic make up for it! The BBC productions are excellent and you should watch in case you have not done so yet. Of course, the 1995 adaptation is the most beloved (might have something to do with Colin Firth).

The Marvel adaptation of the novel to comics is fabulous; everyone should give it a try! There are five magazines that tell the whole story!

The 2003 film adaptation is not so good, but if you want to watch something just to relax and not have to think about it, that’s your film. The Bollywood adaptation is one that I have not watched yet so I cannot express an opinion about it. If you have watched, please comment the post and tell us what you think of it!

The 2005 adaptation is a favourite of mine, of course! Besides the fact that I think that Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen made a great couple on screen, there is the fact that the score for this film is absolutely beautiful, one of my all-time favourites and my 2nd most listened album, according to my LastFM. Dario Marianelli got the feeling of the novel and made it into sound, there is no way you’ll not love it. Try reading the book listening to this score, I promise it will be amazing.

Amanda Grange’s novel Mr. Darcy’s Diary is a very interesting work telling Mr. Darcy side of the story. It follows the original plot from beginning to end, but from the hero’s point of view. Definitely worth reading!

“Lost In Austen” may scare off some of the most traditional fans, you know, those who do not like plot twists. But if you are comfortable with some, maybe not so small, changes in the plot, you are going to like this a lot! There are four episodes that will make you laugh a lot.

The adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is another one that I have not checked yet, so I will abstain from judging it for now!

And here it comes: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”. If you are not watching this yet, then you have 89 videos to watch and you better do it soon because another one is on the way! This adaptation in a vlog format is simply amazing. I confess that when I heard of it I tended to think that it was probably not such a cool think, but then I started watching and was very pleasantly surprised by the amazing quality of this work. Besides the videos, all the characters have Twitters, Tumblrs, the companies have pages on the internet. It is all very interactive. “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is definitely going to be remembered was the production that changed the way we interact with literature. I’m sure that after this many other classics will appear adapted in a similar way on the internet. Way to go “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” cast and crew!

Watch the first video below. But I warn you, do it when you have a lot of time to kill because you’ll want to watch all the videos once you get started!

To know more about each adaptation just click on the images!

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Filed under English Literature, Literature, Television, Women Writers

Merlin is over

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One of the coolest things I discovered lately was the BBC show Merlin. I am a big fan of Arthurian legends, so this was an amazing finding for me. The series was in the middle of the third season when I started watching. The fourth and fifth season I followed weekly, truth be told, this was the only show I managed to really keep track of.

Last November, BBC announced that the fifth season of Merlin would be its last, which was unsurprising for me. After all, Merlin could save Arthur only a number of times before it started to get boring. The last two episodes, “The Diamond of the Day – Parts 1 and 2” were aired before Christmas last year, but I only had the courage to watch last weekend. Not that I was afraid of the ending, just that I did not want it to end. But, all good things must come to an end, and so did Merlin.

[SPOILER ALERT – Do not keep reading if you don’t want to know what happens at the end]

The last episodes showed the battle of Camlann, where the prophecy of Arthur’s death by the hands of Mordred would come true. I liked the episodes in general; the battle would have been incredible if BBC had money to invest in the production; Morgana’s total transformation in villain was amazingly portrayed. But I must say that Merlin’s confession to Arthur about being a sorcerer was not given the proper attention, even if the subsequent dialogues were interesting, the scene itself was so unremarkable that you could have missed it if you were not paying close attention to the show. I was expecting Arthur’s death to happen but I was still moved by the scene. The true friendship that grew between Merlin and Arthur was a beautiful thing to watch throughout the show and Merlin’s attempt to save the life of his friend, and not of the king, in the end was the culmination of this process and could not have failed to be emotional.

The final scene of Merlin, shows the sorcerer in our times passing by the place that was known as Avalon long ago and stopping for a brief moment, probably thinking about the day Arthur died in that place. Some may thing that this was a bit too much, but I actually liked it because, as the dragon says, Arthur will rise again when Albian need is greatest, so the final scene keeps the legend alive in our days.

If you like Arthurian legends and have not watched Merlin yet, you are missing out on a very good series!

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