Tuesday, November 5, 2013

BBC Mini Series

By a quirk of my Netflix queue, I started watching two BBC mini series last week.

First, Robert and I are watching "I, Claudius," a 1970's production based on the book by Robert Graves.  (I didn't remember that there was a book of this title until we saw the intro to the series; I read the book about 10 years ago and don't remember anything about it.  A couple days ago, I had the thought that I did remember something that was going to happen later in the story, but then realized I was confusing a scene from a book about Cicero I read about 5 years ago.)  The series stars Derek Jacobi (who will always be the monk from the Cafael mystery series) as Claudius.  There were a few other familiar-looking faces, but I'm not really up on British actors of that period.  However, one guy kept reminding me of someone, and after a bit, I realized he was reminiscent in manner, if not in appearance, of Brian Blessed, who played the king in "Black Adder."  I mentioned this to Robert and let it go, but then a day or so later, I thought, If there are only 50 British actors at a given time, and this actor reminds me of someone and is of the right time period, it probably is that person.  And indeed it was.  Looking up the cast list on Wikipedia informed me that another Extremely Well-Known British Actor will be appearing later in the series.  I will keep mum for now about this individual's identity so Robert can be appropriately surprised when he or she makes the first appearance.

UPDATE:  In  my 50 British Actor mode, I forgot to mention that when Robert and I first started watching it, we were somewhat unsure about it.  I was unhappy about the lack of subtitles for a British show, and there was something about the feel of the show that seemed weird.  But luckily, the show stars a bunch of classically-trained actors speaking Queen's English with the excellent enunciation and projection you would expect of stage actors, so after we turned off the nearby air filter and turned up the TV volume, we were able to understand 99% of what they were saying.  As for the weird feel, after a bit I realized that it seemed weird to me in exactly the way certain British and Australian programs I saw in childhood seemed weird to me -- that particular look and feel that comes with programs that are staged, lit, shot, and edited as though they are simply filming a stage play, not making a TV program/movie.  Once I thought of it as a film of a play, the weird feeling abated.

As a bonus, it is fun for me to continue my Roman history-lesson-through-television that started with the HBO show "Rome" -- the events of "I, Claudius" take place after, but not terribly long after, the events of "Rome."

Second, I am watching the recent mini series "The Hour," about an investigative news program at the BBC -- love triangles, murder, spies, intrigue, absolutely gorgeous dresses (I basically want to own every single thing the news producer Bel wears).  It stars Dominic West (who was so totally believable playing an American police detective in the best TV show of all time, "The Wire"), Ben Whishaw (whom I remember from the film "Perfume"), and a female actor who did not seem familiar to me, Romola Garai (though I have seen a few things she's been in).  In 50 British Actor news, I was happy to see the actor who played the pathologist George on many seasons of "Midsomer Murders" in a bit role.

Speaking of "Midsomer Murders," I think the police drama "Waking the Dead" (about a cold case unit) is joining that program as a heavily target-rich environment for 50 British Actor sightings.  Last week, I saw the pathologist Frankie from the first seasons of "Waking the Dead" and the balding Mr. Mosley from "Downton Abbey" as a married couple who owned a bar on "Midsomer Murders."  I also saw previously-discussed 50 British Actor Ronan Vibert, who I had already seen on "Midsomer Murders," playing the friend of a murder suspect on "Waking the Dead."  


mom said...

It always cracks me up when I see one of the 50 British actors and know I've seen them in something else. It seems to take a while to figure it out, but it's so satisfying to finally know who it is.

Sally said...