This miniseries aired last weekend, on Saturday and Sunday nights on ABC. For some reason, ABC chose to air three of the four episodes on Saturday night, and only one on Sunday night. I am not sure if that was a great idea, as each episode was structured to start before the ship sailed and end as the ship went down. So watching three in a row was like taking 3 steps forward and then 2 back, again and again.
So, my thought on this miniseries, are sadly more in line with Gosford Park than with Downton Abbey. From the depths of my heart, there is a resounding sentiment of ‘meh’.
For one thing, it took way too long to comprehend who people were, and by the end I still had a hard time remembering who was who. In typical Fellowes’ fashion, we are confronted with 20 or so characters with a quick and perfunctory introduction to each. It works in Downton Abbey because a-he went a bit slower introducing everyone and b-there is more time to learn about people. But for a big ensemble cast, 4 hours just wasn’t enough time to go slowly or to let characters evolve and develop. We, as the audience, didn’t have enough time to bother to care about most of the people.
The other problem I had, and this is a problem I really have with a lot of Fellowes’ work, is the women. The men are smarter, more compassionate, and more capable than the women. All of the women are sheltered, moronic, incredibly catty and prejudiced, and not very fun to watch. I don’t understand why Fellowes does this, or what particularly makes him do this. The women in Downton Abbey aren’t like this–even O’Brien, who is the true bitch of the piece, has had a redemption of sorts and is, from that point on, very empathetic. But his novel that I read had a really skewed set of women as its stars. So I’m really not sure what to say, except Downton Abbey is his one-trick pony, at this point. All of the rest of his stuff seems to just be a disappointment to me.
I will say that there were a few parts that I enjoyed: Gli Italiani (Paulo and Mario) and Annie the cabin steward were cute and sad. Also, I got to use my deteriorating Italian language skills, which is always a plus. I also liked the Wideners, or their son at least. But the real key moment for me was when John Jacob Astor (IV) freed the dogs from the bottom of the ship. That made me love the man so much! I would have a-never taken a trip where my dog had to be in steerage in a cage for days on end, and b-punched anyone in the face if they tried to keep me from saving him. If I’d ended up in the water, I would have been holding my dog above my head to keep him dry. But those are just my priorities. So, needless to say, JJA is my new hero.
Since that was a short and unsatisfactory review of an unsatisfactory miniseries, I am going to share some great news I discovered today. Apparently this was announced months ago and I am just very slow to hear about it. But, I’m thrilled regardless. Ricky Gervais’ next project, instead of a third series of An Idiot Abroad, is something called The Short Way Round. This is, essentially, a spoof of The Long Way Round, which was an awesome documentary that followed Ewan MacGregor and his friend Charley Boorman as they rode motorcycles from London to New York, going East. So, this show of Ricky’s will feature Warwick Davis and Karl Pilkington riding a moped around the world. According to Ricky, the plan is to have Warwick ride in a basket on the front, but I’m hoping this is a joke. I don’t think they’ve started any filming yet, since I heard about this from a tweet Warwick …tweeted about getting preparatory inoculations. IMDB has air dates for this in December, but I’m not certain if that will be in the US or just the UK. Still, it’s something to look forward to. Unlike Julian Fellowes, Ricky Gervais has never put out a show that I didn’t like.