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Favorite Costume Dramas


Morning, all! So… here’s the deal. I have a ton of reviews and ideas for posts; it’s just the sitting down and writing them that is playing havoc on my sanity right now. It’s not that I lack the time – although I do feel as if I am going C-R-A-Z-Y right now because I am letting deadlines creep up and nearly destroy what little organizational skills I thought I possessed. That being said, I love writing posts that I don’t lament over, re-write and let my perfectionist self continue tweaking to the point that I question even publishing said post. In other words, easy posts such as this are always a blast to share. 


That brings me to the purpose of what’s on the schedule for the day. The lovely Rebeka (who just discovered the greatness that is John Thornton – she deserves a big party for finally joining that fan club *wink*) and I were chatting the other day about costume dramas and she requested that I write a list of which would be favorites, and here I am doing just that!
Even though there are many an American film that could be coupled among favorites, this list will mainly consist of more “serious” drama from across the pond. If you are interested, read ahead to see which gems made a lasting impact on my cinematic personality – and which earned a spot on my shelf.  


Bleak House (2006)
BEST. DICKENS. ADAPTATION. EVER.
Call the Midwife 

One of BBC’s most recent seasonal series, the show based on a series of memoirs starts out “rough,” I won’t fib. The premise is interesting but the execution was horrible. Fortunately, writer’s got wise and ended up balancing out the midwifery duties by expanding the medical cases to involve more than just weekly clinics and home visits to their expectant mothers. Here’s a snippet from the season two review: 
Every nuance in this series is full of nostalgia and delights. From the costumes (pattered slacks and gorgeous full a-line skirts) and settings to the old-fashioned phrases and language, each installment swept me up into its genuine heart and the wonderful moments these characters share. Every episode comes full circle; breathing new life into what otherwise may have been a dull series that focused more on being a biopic than adding heart and emotion to every corner of its storytelling.

Is anyone really surprised this would make me list? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Since I’ve sufficiently gushed over it – and am likely to do so again this fall, I won’t bore you again with ramblings that in all likelihood, you’ve all heard. 

Emma (2009) 

 Going Postal

I cannot help it – this one is more satire than drama… but, it begged to make it onto this list. Quirky is the only way I know how to describe it and even that may not be saying enough.
Great Expectations 

Penned by well-known author Charles Dickens, each time I watch an adaptation of this, I think it grow on me. Its dark underpinnings are also one of its strength as it grows into an impressive story of one heroes journey of self-discovery. Conflicted which version I like best – it’s down to the 2011 BBC adaptation or the more recent version that made the rounds at film festivals.  
Sweet continuity that aired for four seasons about two hamlets – the common folk in Lark Rise and the more prosperous Candleford. Not only did it coin one of the most unforgettable phrases, it also featured a lovely cast of characters and some brilliant British talent!
The Making of a Lady 

North & South 
Beautiful! There isn’t much more to be said regarding this miniseries. With an all-star cast, a smoldering hero and a look at 1800’s politics as related to the working class, North & South is perfectly unforgettable – and worth watching for its ending alone.
If I shared my first impressions reaction to the first season of The Paradise with friends, it wouldn’t have been glowing. Needless to say that changed by the time BBC’s first season of this gem was complete.  
Persuasion 

Jane Austen has plenty of wonderful stories, and this is one of them. While still not quite “right,” judging from a cinematic perspective, the Sally Hawkins/Rupert Penry-Jones version is the best yet. Now if only that whole bit involving Anne running through the streets of Bath had been scrapped, it’d have been nearly perfect.

Pride and Prejudice (2005) 

Sense & Sensibility 

There is a “great debate” over which version of Austen’s timeless tale of sisters and tragic love is best. I am on the ITV 2008 miniseries team. While the big-screen adaptation (from the 90’s) boasts some lovely merits, it didn’t quite capture my ideal Edward nor did it suit the needs of its character's by who it cast in the respective roles.
Victoria & Albert
Of all the historic biopics that chronicle the life of a past monarch, I think it’s safe to say, this is the most beloved I own. It’s a bit outdated but the story is timeless.
Wives & Daughters
Based on North & South’s literary author, Elizabeth Gaskell, this is another sweet British drama. Plus it stars Anthony Howell of Foyle’s War fame – he makes a pretty awesome love interest for the kind-hearted Molly Gibson. Just sayin’. 
The Young Victoria   
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...and the comments section is now open to you...
Tell me, what costume dramas rank among your favorites?
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Rissi
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53 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this list, Rissi! I adore "The Young Victoria", "Emma", "North & South" (of course)and I enjoyed the mini-series of "Pride and Prejudice" more than the movie. Have you seen any of the "Jane Eyre" adaptations? If so, which was your favourite of those? "Jane Eyre" is one of my favourite books ever, and I love finding new retellings of it.

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    1. Hello Rebeka, I'm just jumping in here. I love Jane Eyre a great deal and have watched some 5 adaptations of the story. For my favourite I'm wavering between the 2006 BBC or the 2011 movie adaptation. The 2006 one is longer and therefore more complete, but the cinematography of the 2011 one is really pretty.

      Do you also watch The Autobiography of Jane Eyre on YouTube? It's a vlog-like adaptation of Jane Eyre (modernized as you might expect) and it's quite good.

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    2. Rebeka - It was fun to do, thanks for the inspiration - though I will admit that since I put it together quickly, in all likelihood, I missed some titles. :)

      You have some great picks - Emma is a gem (need anything more be said about Mr. Knightly putting Emma in her place!?) and of course, I KNOW you love N&S. ;)

      To be honest, the A&E P&P miniseries used to be my favorite also. Now, each time I watch the Hollywood version, it claims that favorite spot a little more - most people consider me a "foe" when I say that hence I left my "reasons" for preferring it blank. It's also a nicer length when one wants a Mr. Darcy "fix." ;)

      You know, I meant to put Jane Eyre on this list and then, left it off. Total fail on my part. So, the favorite version I've see is the most recent, the 2011 adaptation - it's GORGEOUS! The cast is decent though my favorite "lengthy" version is the 80's miniseries - weird since usually I don't go for the "dated" movies. Either way, I hope that was helpful!

      Birdienl - THANKS for helping out! Really appreciate that. :)

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    3. birdienl--I've seen the 2011 movie and part of the 2006 adaptation. The movie was indeed quite beautiful, but I found it too short for my liking. I've seen the 1986 BBC version and loved it despite its datedness; perhaps that was part of the reason I couldn't quite get too into the 2006 version, though I hope to finish it one day! :)

      Rissi-- You're welcome! And it's true--the movie is a much better length for viewing with impatient friends who wouldn't want to sit through a mini-series. My sister loves the movie, too. I adore the music and costumes from it, too. So much fun to watch as a group. :)

      And the '86 version is my favourite, too! WHOOP! More things we can gush over together! ;)

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    4. I've not seen the '86 version, but quite a lot of people seem to favor this one, so maybe I should watch it.

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    5. Rebeka - once viewers get over the "shock" of the Hollywood version of "P&P," I think it can rival the A&E series. I know... that is an impossibility for most fans. ;)

      Cool! Knowing someone else likes the "oldie" version is fun to hear; the cast is really quite good.

      Birdie - keep us posted! :)

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  2. Great list Rissi! Isn't writing lists always a good resort when you've got a 'writer's block'?

    I love all the ones you mentioned, though I have not yet seen Victoria and Albert. I would add Our Mutual Friend (it's my favourite Dickens adaptation), the WWII miniseries Island at War (though it's not very historically accurate, it's got great stories and performances) and Jane Eyre (2006 or 2011 or any adaptation really...)

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    1. These are fun, birdienl - couldn't agree more! And so easy, right!? ;)

      Ooo, you must see Victoria & Albert! It's wonderful - if you liked The Young Victoria, then this A&E series should be fun for you. There's "more" to it and even if the end is bittersweet, it's also holding to the history of Victoria's reign. Hope you like it if/when you see the series.

      LOVE the 2011 Jane Eyre adaptation. It's lovely.

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    2. I put V&A on my list, Rissi. I had it somewhere in my head already as a 'should watch', but now it's also on paper!

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    3. Awesome-tastic, birdienl. This means I'll be anxious to know what you think - hope you like it. For me, it's definitely a "keeper." :)

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    4. He, something quite different, I wanted to let you know I've finally taken the jump and posted my very first post at my blogspot blog! lady-ofthe-manor.blogspot.com Hope to see you there! Have you got any ideas as to promotion?

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    5. YAY! Congrats to you. So happy.

      When I first started, really the only thing I did was join blogs I was interested in. I didn't really ask people to follow but I know lots of bloggers do stop in and leave their link to let fellow bloggers know. What I do now is tweet my blog (review) links and leave my reviews on Pinterest. It takes time but eventually, you'll earn a nice readership.

      You better believe I am going to come over to Lady of the Manor! So excited for you. :)

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    6. Alright, thanks for the tip! I might leave my link at some places where I've already spoken to people about maybe starting a blog, like you!

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    7. Sure, go for it! Lots of bloggers use that route to "get the word out." Sitting here, I am thinking if there is anything else I did...

      *thinking*

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  3. You picked some great ones! =)

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    1. These British dramas capture something the American cinema rarely can. Glad they share with us, Natalie. :)

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  4. A lot of your favorites are mine, too. :) I love Pride and Prejudice (2005), Emma (2009), the newer Little Dorrit and Bleak House, 2008 Sense and Sensibility, newest Persuasion, Downton Abbey, The Young Victoria, Cranford, North & South, the 2006 Jane Eyre, Lark Rise to Candleford, the first two Anne of Green Gables films, Miss Potter, etc.

    ~Kristin

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    1. Wait... you like the 2005 P&P!? Yay! Earns you a big high five, Kristin. Can you tell it's rare I come across anyone who liked that version!? ;)

      Little Dorrit is also good, however it's a bit long to watch frequently. Adore Bleak House and each of the rest you mention. 'Anne' is a classic delight as is Miss Potter despite its bittersweet-ness. Great picks!

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  5. Hurray for costume dramas!! A lot of these are my favourites too; Emma, North & South, Downton Abbey, Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, The Young Victoria, Wives and Daughters, Sense & Sensibility! All of these are so great. I've heard that Bleak House is superior to all Dickens adaptations, but unfortunately I've never seen it, because I'm holding out for reading the book! Good post!

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    1. My sentiments exactly, Leah. Costume dramas are one of my weaknesses. ;)

      You must see Bleak House - it's a gem. Don't read classic lit so I never compare them literally, just cinematically and this 2008 version is superior in EVERY way.

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  6. "Emma!" Mr. Knightley is awesome! *grin* I also like the 2005 "Pride and Prejudice," and if the adaption of "Persuasion" is the most recent BBC one, I remember liking that one when I watched it. I've also seen a few versions of "Great Expectations." I find the characters of Miss Havisham and Estella quite interesting.

    Thanks for sharing, Rissi :-) .

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    1. YES! Another fan and friend of the 2005 version - where have you been all these years, girls!? ;)


      Indeed the females of Great Expectations are quite the mysteries, Grace. Never sure what to make of them myself - clearly Miss Havisham transferred all her rage (all she wished she had been) onto Estella. There is a moment in the newest adaptation where she almost breaks when she first meets Estella. Sad that she didn't - she could have lived a full life raising Estella and instead she turns her into a bitter, cold soul.

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  7. I guess I'll have to check out Bleak House! I adore Downton Abbey. <3

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    1. Absolutely, Heather - it's EPICALLY good.

      Me, too. I will be one of those "forever" Downton Abbey fans. :)

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  8. Boo for creeping deadlines!! Although, I know your pain. School has really been taking priority lately. :(

    Ahhh! So many favorites on this list! Just recently, I watched a bit of North & South- it reminded me terribly of Pride and Prejudice. I enjoyed every second I watched. Going to have to place a hold on that one at the library. :D

    Did you hear about the Downton cosmetics line? They're going to release lip gloss in the UK (and maybe US??) this fall in line with the new series.

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    1. Thumbs down for those deadlines - I detest them, Rosie. Wishing you good luck with school. You can do it, girl!

      GASP! You've never watched North & South it its entirety!? Girly, you must remedy that. Perhaps when school lets up? :) It's such a gem of a miniseries.

      YES! I did hear about that - how fun! Perhaps I'll snag a few items from the cosmetics line just because I am an avid fan. How about you?

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  9. I love your list, Rissi! We share many favorites, like North and South, Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Emma, and Persuasion! :D I've got to see Bleak House as it's my favorite Dickens novel so far! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Alyssa - love to find new friends to share fandoms with. Let the silly gushing begin! :)

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  10. I love "Bleak House," need to see it again! I like the 2009 "Emma" very much, but I felt the end kind of fell flat... the 1996 "Emma" is very good, also. "North and South" is wonderful! It's very near to the book also, until the end... it takes me a few seconds to get over the impropriety of such behavior in a public train station, and then I just smile. You know what I think of "Persuasion" and 2005 P&P. ;) I completely agree about "Sense and Sensibility" - the entire cast was a general upgrade, and I particularly loved Dan Stevens as Edward! I didn't like "Wives and Daughters" as much as I wanted, but I think "Cranford" (another Elizabeth Gaskell) is very good! I highly recommend it (but not so much "Return to Cranford.") I enjoyed "The Young Victoria" so much, Emily Blunt is fabulous and Rupert Friend was so sweet! I'll have to look for all the others I haven't seen yet (still desperately eager to see "Great Expectations"!)
    I'm sorry this got so long! I could ramble on about costume dramas all day. ;)

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    1. You know, Lizzie, one of my other blog friends and I just talked about Mr. Thornton's appearance not long ago - and like you, she doesn't like the scene. I don't mind it in the least though I am not saying it was "proper." I think it was done that way to make John seem more "approachable" (to charge the scene with emotion while keeping it "proper") after all his pride and rigidity through the entire movie. It's a theory anyway.

      The 2008 "S&S" is brilliant (Dan Steven's could play Edward in any version - love the guy). Sorry you didn't care for Wives & Daughters, I thought it was sweet same as with Cranford. Those movies grow on me more each time I watch them (I'm in the middle of a rewatch now as a matter of fact) and I loved them from the start.

      Never apologize for long comments - we'll ramble together. Love it!

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  11. I've been curious about Going Postal. I saw something about it soon after it came out and really wanted to see it. But then I never did. Still haven't! Quirky seems like a good description of it, from my limited understanding. Since you like it, I'll have to give it a try! :)

    Definitely yes to pretty much all the others! There's still a couple I haven't seen yet. But you know my feelings on North and South, correct? ;) And of course any of the Austen adaptations! (I totally agree about the newest Persuasion! :( That run through Bath was ridiculous. If only that could be erased, but Rupert makes an awesome Wentworth.)

    I saw someone else mention Cranford and I'll add Return to Cranford. Both are so lovely! Also I admit to being fond of An Ideal Husband and Miss Potter. Not sure if they count on this list, but I'm adding them anyway. :)

    Fabulous list, Rissi! Can't go wrong with period dramas. :D

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    1. Oh, my! KARA, Going Postal is hysterical! It's another one that is quirky though so not everyone will "fall in love" with it or even tolerate it. I liked it, my parents tolerated it. (My dad in particular thought it was nuts - mom liked it better.)

      Hmm... your feelings on N&S? Yes, I think I do know them. ;) Always makes me smile when I seen a new pin from you or tweet.

      Sadly Persuasion still needs improvement. For now, this 2008 version will do - in large part to the "new" Wentworth. ;) Both "Cranford" movies are wonderful. And lovely. And bittersweet. Guess that comes with their genre.

      OH. MY. WORD. LOVE An Ideal Husband. It counts - for sure. Just didn't add it because it's more Americanized and "less serious" than British drama. Nonetheless, I still remember laughing myself silly when first seeing it.

      Nope. Period drama speaks for itself. :)

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  12. SO yah I'm SO saving this list as a reminder of the films I need to see. I did loove love love Emma, S&S, and P&P. But many of the other's I've yet to see. Including N&S. I must fix that.

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    1. Yay! Hope you enjoy some of these, Juju - all are excellent for their own reason.

      Emma is a special kind of charming. Need to rewatch all of the adaptations - it's been forever.

      GASP. Girl, jump on the North & South fandom - it's EPICIALLY good.

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  13. Omg, I LOVE Going Postal!!!! Just recently discovered it and I was shocked that I had never even seen it advertised!!! I started reading Terry Pratchett novels too... The sequel to Going Postal is Making Money which is just as hilarious... :)

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    1. Isn't Pratchett hysterical? He has another book coming out in October, about the first steam engine's arrival in Discworld...

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    2. Tory - me too! AWESOME miniseries that it is, methinks it's really unfair to its peers. It's SO clever.

      Thanks for the book tips. Perhaps someday BBC will make a sequel to accompany Going Postal. *fingers crossed*

      Charity - hoping BBC gets smart and produces a sequel...

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    3. They seem to do a different Pratchett every time, so I doubt they'll do Making Money. Next up, I think, is his book with Neil Gaman...

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    4. Yeah, I figured they wouldn't but... a girl can wish. :)

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    5. I giggle like a little girl when I read his books... My favorite character is DEATH... Absolutely hilarious :). I read somewhere that the next movie they are doing of his books is going to be Unseen Academicals. Should be a good one... ;)

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    6. Hopefully, no matter which book is adapted, it'll be memorable! :)

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    7. Tory -- Death is an awesome character! CATS. CATS ARE NICE. I also love Death's granddaughter, Susan. She cracks me up.

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    8. Haven't read anything with Susan, though I did watch Hogfather. Susan was pretty funny in that, but the movie as a production was less than satisfying...

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  14. Pretty much... yeah, to all of the above. I can't think of any you left out, although I do have a few favorites I can't recommend because of R-rated reasons! =P

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    1. Really!? I was thinking in all likelihood I did since it was put together in a bit of a rush. Glad it seems complete. :)

      Yeah, there are some "good" R-rated costume dramas - sad they go and ruin it with such horrid content. These writer's are messing with brilliance. Not cool.

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    2. I think my favorite costume dramas have a line down the middle that divides them -- the ones I love for the plot, and the ones I love for the costumes. Stuff like "Dangerous Liasons," "A Royal Affair," "Anna Karenina" are pure eye candy, but don't have the greatest morals in the world. :P

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    3. Indeed. I've not seen any you mention though I think I did see part of Dangerous Liasons once. I love those costume dramas that are pure "eye candy" but cannot make myself recommend them because... yeah, they are far from morally acceptable. Makes me sad. :/

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  15. I have seen most of those movies and I agree they have DREAMY costumes:)
    I also like the outfits in Little Women (1996).

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    1. YES! Little Women is gorgeous also, Ella. Great pick. :)

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  16. Has anyone seen: "Cheerful Weather for the Wedding"!? I saw it over the weekend, and must confess, it ended up rather differently than I was expecting!? What truly touched me, was the featurette that was included,... not only the tipping hat to the more experienced member of the cast, but the dedication of the film-makers with a smaller budget than normal!

    Meanwhile, I have the boxed set of the *2005* version of *Pride and Prejudice* yet I haven't yet viewed it! Reason? I hadn't yet read the BOOK when my Dad surprised me with the gift! Oy. Since then, I read said book and saw Ms. Knightley in the role and have become endeared to that version, which Rissi I can understand your frustrations over even acknowledging because it's the same with my friends! :( Oy.

    Some, no, MOST of the adaptations (via BBC) I want to hold off seeing until I read the books, not that I make that a rule to abide by, but generally speaking I do like to soak up the narrative first. Which is why Elizabeth Gaskell's films I have held off with, as much as the rest of Jane Austen! :) One I did start to watch ahead of the novel: Cranford! It nearly broke my heart, so I had to *stop!* watching it! :/

    The Jane Eyre I saw that I love right now is the {1996} version, yet I want to see other editions after I get to read the book! I saw the adaptation by complete accident one early morning whilst I was ill! It was the perfect distraction, I must say!

    Downton,... we're one episode away from concluding Series 3, and I must say, it went by far, far, FAR too quickly! Wells, of course, it would feel that way if you watch *6!* episodes in one day! Cheeky grins. Such a long wait til the next season, and I am still missing my dear Sherlock's Series 3,...

    I am in the process of reading Lark Rise to Candleford and Call the Midwife, so of course those have not yet been seen. I daresay I could speak about this particular subject for a long while! I love period dramas! Including: Howard's End, Remains of the Day, Gosford Park, Enchanted April, The King's Speech, Little Women {1994, yet I've seen at least 3 others I love too!}, Anne of Green Gables, Titanic, The Duchess of Duke Street, Goodbye, Mr. Chips {1930s}, Gone With the Wind, A Christmas Carol {multiple}, Master & Commander: the Far Side of the World, Ever After, Cleopatra {Claudette Colbert},...

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    1. No, I’ve not seen ‘Wedding’ yet, Jorie! It looks adorable though in a quirky sort of way. Now your mention of it has reminded me that it’s one I still need to get a hold of. Unless they are really poorly done, I like small-budget films.

      Ooo! I adore the most recent version of “P&P.” It’s lovely, really. Especially once viewer’s come off the high of the A&E version of the classic story, this Hollywood version is just as good. (*Cue gasps*) The version is just legitimately good plus I liked the reduced length and that it was done so well given the time constraints – glad you liked it also!

      Well, my goodness, you’ll have to read all these books soon then because these BBC adaptations are gorgeous, Jorie. All of Austen’s have their good and bad moments, while Dickens are more mysterious and poignant. Elizabeth Gaskell has some great film adaptations also. Cranford is wonderful (despite the sadness) and of course, “N&S” is lovely as is Wives & Daughters. Glad you liked the earlier version of Jane Eyre; is that the one with William Hurt? Or A&E’s version? I prefer the former over the latter if given a choice between those two.

      Glad you like ‘Downton’ so well, too – it’s one of my many weaknesses. Adore it. (Let me know what you think once you finish!) Yay for Sherlock also! That contemporary series is BRILLIANT!

      Oh, you’ll enjoy ‘Lark Rise’ and Call the Midwife, I think. Haven’t read the books but I know those who have read and seen the latter enjoyed both book and its series.

      Great movies you list! I often forget about Gosford Park - it’s a “fun,” interesting mystery. :) Ever After is another old favorite – it’s so sweet!

      Glad you stopped by, Jorie!

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  17. Hallo again, Rissi,

    I must confess,... I felt absolutely shattered with the final scene of Series 3, and I will not mention what it is in case others' have not yet seen it, but you have and therefore you know what it is,... emotionally it gutted me to the core! And, when we watched the featurette I had mixed feelings on what Mr. Fellowes had expressed about it, until I ran a search online and discovered who was behind the choice, as it wasn't the writer as I first had thought! :( I have no words to express, because it was singularly one of my favourite matchings in a couple on screen and I will surely miss you know whose's presence in Series 4-onward.

    Yes, the Jane Eyre I have seen stars William Hurt, so I must deflect to the fact I haven't seen another as of yet! And, I know! How quickly I do need to read those other books! Laughs. Ooh, no "Cheerful Weather" is rather aptly executed by production, costume and art directions, as well as acting,... its simply the ending I was rather betwixt over! Small or large budgets I do agree with you -- it's the quality I look for not the budget that produces it!

    Did you now that Julian Fellowes wrote Gosford Park!? As well as Vanity Fair? I saw the first, but the second I want to read! Laughs. He also wrote The Young Victoria AND The Tourist which I simply adore! I haven't seen The Young Victoria, but the latter was quite smashing in such an elegant way!

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    1. You and millions of other fans know EXACTLY the emotion you are describing, Jorie in regards to Downton Abbey. Knowing who was really "at fault" helped methinks though I get why fans are so disappointed. After waiting two years for that happiness, it's hard to reconcile the conclusion. :/

      The version of Jane Eyre you've seen used to be a favorite then I saw the 2011 Hollywood version and prefer it over the 1996 version and definitely it's the preference over the A&E adaptation. Glad you liked the William Hurt version. :) Oh, yes! You'll have to get to those books so that you can see all these lovelies.

      Regarding Julian Fellowes other works in cinema - yes! I did know he wrote all those other films (save for perhaps Vanity Fair which I likely forgot - the film was good, just not my favorite). He's pretty awesome at what he does; The Young Victoria is lovely whereas 'Gosford' is entertaining, and oh my! I adore The Tourist. It may not be the cleverest film ever, but it took me by surprise and that's cool. :)

      Thanks for all the information on 'Cheerful Weather.' Certainly am anxious to see it - and the cast!? For sure, it has one impressive list. :)

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