Thursday, March 30, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #142: TV Period Dramas

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This is one of the monthly TV-themed editions, looking at TV shows set in a period past. Now, period drama usually has a specific meaning, but I decided to stretch it by picking a western as well since I don't watch too much episodic TV.

The Rifleman (1958-1963). Chuck Connors plays Lucas McCain, who has a way with his rifle, while teaching his son a moral lesson in under a half hour. This one is currently on MeTV during the Saturday dinner hour, at least if you eat early like old people. I helped Dad take care of Mom for quite a few years before Mom died, so I live with him and we eat an early dinner every night, so this one is always on during Saturday dinner. (Well, I also work the 6:00 AM - 2:30 PM shift, so I have other good reasons for eating an earlier dinner.)

The Waltons (1972-1981). Family drama about a family living in West Virginia during the Depression era. Former movie star Ellen Corby played Grandma Walton, with Will Geer playing Grandpa. The movie was based on the works of Earl Hamner; the material had already been turned into the movie Spencer's Mountain starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O'Hara. If you've seen the TV show The Waltons, you'll recognize some of the scenes in the movie, especially the one when everybody goes to bed for the night. Except that the eldest son in the movie is named "Clay-boy", not "John-boy".

All Creatures Great and Small (1980s, BBC). Based on the books by James Herriot (real name James Whyte), a veterinarian in northern England in the 1930s, the end of the era when veterinarians were more involved with agriculture and less with people's pets. Herriot wrote several books, which did have plots although they're generally thought of as being collections of short stories. Mom had the books (formatted differently in the States from the UK) when I was a kid in the 1970s, and the TV show showed up on PBS. I think there are some PBS stations that still run it.


joel65913 said...

Interesting picks that show how many different directions the theme can go. I like Rifleman well enough but I'm more inclined towards Wagon Train, The Virginian and The Big Valley. A decent show though.

I could never quite get into The Waltons. I watched episodes from time to time but it all seemed too precious at times and never made the time to be a faithful viewer.

Never watched All Creatures. I know the books have their devotees but I never found them that involving, hadn't realized they had been made into a show of any type.

I went all British with mine this week.

Poldark (2015-present)-In the 1780’s Ross Poldark returns to his ancestral home on the Cornish Coast of England after fighting in the American Revolutionary War to discover in his absence the advent of several distressing facts. His father has died leaving their lands in disarray, he himself had been presumed dead and Elizabeth, the woman he loved in despair has married his cousin. Times are hard and Ross has to find a way to rise out of penury, resolve his feelings between the now out of reach Elizabeth and Demelza the woman he has turned to while dealing with a despicable and shameless foe. Brooding and frustrating at times but consistently interesting.

Call the Midwife (2012-present)-Wanting to help others young, well to do Jenny Lee becomes a midwife in London’s East End during the late 50’s and early 60’s. To do so she must live in a convent among sisters trained in midwifery as well and slowly loses her naivetĂ© about the way the world really works. Terrific mix of pathos, joy, triumphs and sorrows played by a cast of great British actresses with nice period detail. Based on Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and narrated by Vanessa Redgrave.

The Grand (1997-1998)-As WWI comes to a close the Bannerman’s reopen the family’s hotel The Grand in London after a refurbishing done in hopes of revitalizing business in the postwar boom. They are also hoping to provide a comfortable return for their soldier son who has come back from war with what was then termed battle fatigue. However problems quickly arise forcing the inclusion of an unwanted partner. From here the series deals with the conflicts that arise within the family and the guests, some of whom are there for a day and others long term. The excellent ensemble includes the great Susan Hampshire and as the shell shocked son Stephen Moyer who is better known as Bill Compton from his years on True Blood.

Birgit said...

I went with The Waltons also and it was not one of my favourite shows. I found it boring even though I know it was well written and acted. I enjoy the Rifleman and watch it on Saturday mornings as well. If I went the Western route I would have chosen Bonanza and High Chapparel. I have seen a couple of episodes of All Creatures and always wanted to see it from the beginning.

Brittani Burnham said...

I haven't seen these shows, but I've at least heard of the Waltons. Interesting picks!

pilch92 15andmeowing said...

I had forgotten about The Waltons that was a great show just like Little House on the Prairie.

Katie Hogan said...

I used to watch bits of The Waltons on Sunday afternoons after my parents made me to go to church. My nan used to watch it. I don't remember any of the storylines though.

I've heard alot about All Creatures Great and Small but never saw it...