Reviews on Period Dramas in 2016

I think I broke my own record with all the period dramas that I managed to watch in 2016! Below you’ll find my reviews (mostly thoughts) of my top 10 period dramas that came out in 2016, as well as older period dramas that I finally caught up on.

Top 10 Period Dramas of 2016

  1. The Crown – I declare this the best drama of the year! This royal drama is definitely the new Downton Abbey. Claire Foy did a wonderful job as our young Queen.
  2. ITV’s Victoria – If The Crown doesn’t count as a period or historical drama, then Victoria wins as the best period drama of 2016. You’ll fall in love with the costumes, film locations, and, of course, Victoria and Albert. So looking forward to S2 later this year.
  3. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride – This is my favourite Sherlock episode because it’s set mostly in the Victorian era. Mind-blowing, full of surprises, and almost every scene gave me reason to laugh. I love how there was also mention of the suffragette movement in the year 1895.
  4. ITV’s Doctor Thorne – Only Julian Fellowes knows how to cheer up Downton fans with a tale of classes, inheritance, and romance. So if you want an all ends well period drama, it’s this one.
  5. BBC’s War and Peace – I really enjoyed this adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel! I thought the casting was very well done (although Pierre appeared younger than I’d expected), the costumes were beautiful (albeit a wee bit modern at times), and the music and film locations were sublime! My favourite Natasha, however, is still Audrey Hepburn.
  6. Medici: Masters of Florence S1 – I initially watched this for Richard Madden but the best character, in my opinion, was his character’s wife, Contessina de Medici. Also, great music theme.
  7. BBC’s To Walk Invisible – The Bronte sisters come to life and you can see the characters of some of their heroines in them. But I didn’t study English lit so don’t take my word.
  8. ITV’s Mr Selfridge S4 (TV series) – I wasn’t ready for Mr Selfridge to end! I think the characters could have been aged more. I was also impressed that at least two characters of visible minority were added although both were fairly minor. The final speech had me choked up but it was interesting that the series ended on a happier note, with Mr Selfridge and Mae walking off together. In reality, poor Harry spent what little he had left just to visit his baby department store. Until he died.
  9. The Hollow Crown S2 – Best actor in my opinion was Benedict Cumberbatch as Shakespeare’s Richard III.
  10. The Collection – It’s not just about the glamorous New Look dresses of the late 1940’s and 1950’s and it turned out to be darker than I’d expected.

  • YTV’s Anne of Green Gables – This was the first AGG film that I watched from beginning to end. It’s short but I really enjoyed it and loved Anne.
  • ITV’s Beowulf – I watched part of E3 and liked how diverse the casting was (at least from what I’ve seen). I didn’t see anyone of Oriental heritage but that’s probably expected? Anyways, too scary for me.
  • BBC’s Call The Midwife S5 – Every episode is sad, as usual. Although we were ready for another person to pass on, I certainly did not expect to see this character leave so soon. On another note, I loved the new uniforms!
  • ITV’s Churchill’s Secret – This was very well done. My favourite scene was actually the Churchill family conversation because it was so realistic and I’m sure many of us could relate to it!
  • BBC’s Close to the Enemy – I was enjoying this series until the last two episodes when I just wanted to roll my eyes. One of those WWII films were the Allies are being self-righteous.
  • BBC’s Dickensian – This started in 2015 and ended in 2016. It can be quite confusing if you’re not familiar with Dicken’s novels. Otherwise, really exciting and fascinating. It would have been nice to have a S2 but then we already know what happens because Charles Dickens wrote it all.
  • ITV’s Endeavour S3 (TV series) – The first episode was my favourite because it was very similar to The Great Gatsby. The finale was quite sad but I’m hoping S4 will be happier.
  • ITV’s Home Fires S2 (TV series) – I watched this even though I hadn’t watched S1. All HF fans were extremely disappointed that it would not be renewed as that means we’ll never know what happens after that *scene*.
  • ITV’s Jericho (TV series) – I’m not a Western fan but I’d rather watch a British Western than an American one.
  • ITV’s Maigret Sets a Trap – I had to force myself not to think of Rowan as a comical character but a serious one. He’s a marvellous actor!
  • ITV’s Maigret’s Dead Man – This one was much darker than the first movie which was probably the only reason I did not enjoy it as much but it’s nice to see Rowan play a serious detective.
  • ITV’s My Mother & Other Strangers – I was a little confused as to what this series was about and the ending felt rather abrupt.
  • BBC’s Peaky Blinders S3 – The series began with the wedding I wanted but then dashed my dreams by the end of 3 episodes. But I’ll still watch it for Cillian Murphy.
  • ITV’s In Plain Sight – Any crime series based on actual events is disturbing… The first episode was quite hard to watch.
  • Rebellion – I expected a lot more from this series – I’m not sure what – and the ending seemed like it could possibly continue. Who knows. But the accents are beautiful!
  • BBC’s Rillington Place – I had to google Rillington Place just to make sure that the building is no longer there. I think Tim Roth (who plays John Christie) played the perfect gentle character whom you’d never suspect to be a murder.
  • BBC’s The Three Musketeers S3 – So… I didn’t expect this series to end in 2016. There’s also a story line that reminds me of The Man in the Iron Mask movie, which I didn’t mind.
  • BBC’s Ripper Street S4 – I was shocked a major character would die in this series but sometimes, this has to do with an actor’s availability.
  • BBC’s The Witness for the Prosecution – I was too frightened to finish last year’s Agatha Christie Boxing Day film but this year was less frightening but surprising.

Previous Period Dramas

  • Albert Nobbs (2011) – Albert Nobbs may be fictional but there were women throughout the centuries who’ve had to disguise themselves as men in order to protect themselves and also to give themselves a better future. Quite sad.
  • Bertie & Elizabeth (2002) – I thought this was a sweet movie about the parents of our current monarch.
  • Daniel Deronda (2002) – Since I didn’t read the book, I can’t really judge this movie except I loved the costumes, locations, and I’m a fan of Romola Garai and Hugh Dancy.
  • Devil’s Violinist (2013) – Thanks to this movie, I’ve discovered a new favourite composer, Paganini, and the violinist, David Garrett!
  • Dracula Untold (2014) – I like Dracula movies and this was one that I found romantic and not so revolting.
  • The Dresser (2015) – I haven’t seen the play and I rushed through the movie so I shouldn’t review this. But can’t say no to Ian McKellen and Anthony Hopkins!
  • Effie Gray (2014) – I didn’t love this movie but you really feel for Effie. I also disliked John Ruskin after watching this movie.
  • Empresses in the Palace (2012) – I learned that it would be horrible to be the wife or concubine of an emperor. The ‘Western’ version of this Chinese historical drama was severely truncated that we lost the plot and we didn’t understand what was going on sometimes. However, these dramas are usually 100s of episodes long so it would require a lot of work to translate every single one of them. But beautiful costumes!
  • Great Expectations (2012 – movie) – I really enjoyed this adaptation and I think Ralph Fiennes was phenomenal as Magwitch. However, this was the first time I’d seen Estella portrayed as someone who wasn’t so cold or cruel, so I didn’t really see Holliday as Estella. I also thought Helena (I love her) made Miss Havisham more of a Tim Burton-type of character.
  • Hans Christian Andersen – My Life as a Fairytale (2003 – TV movie) – I never expected HCA to be hyper active and quite eccentric… but I liked how the actor retold fairytales.
  • Mr Holmes (2015) – I really like Ian McKellen and it’s interesting to see what an older Sherlock would be like. I certainly liked to see the softer, more paternal side to him.
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989 – movie) – I think this is my favourite Indiana Jones movie, mainly became Professor Henry Jones was hilarious!
  • Lady Chatterley (2006) – I watched parts of this French movie but didn’t like it. There’s a lot of sex and nudity, the sort of scenes you don’t want to remember.
  • A Little Chaos (2014) – I thought I was going to love this movie but I was so tired and bored. I didn’t enjoy it until half way through the film. I loved the Baroque ballet at the end of the film.
  • Maison Close S2 (2013) – This was a lot more violent than the first one. It seemed like something was going to be revealed in the end but now we’ll never know as it was axed.
  • The Nun / La Religeuse (2013) – This was very sad to watch but also quite inspiring. Apparently the film ending was much happier than the novel’s (by Diderot).
  • Queen and Country (2015) – I was so confused. It was funny and parts of it were disgusting (I thought the sister was rather incestuous).
  • A Royal Night Out (2015) – Don’t take this ‘royal drama’ seriously. It’s a great comedy!
  • Serena (2015) – I didn’t really understand this movie and I lost interest pretty quickly.
  • ITV’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher –  The Murder at Road Hill House (2011) – I didn’t expect this to be based on a true story but since it was so, I found it disturbing.
  • ITV’s The Suspicions of Mr Whicher –  The Murder in Angel Lane (2013) – I had to rewind after watching the TV movie just to remember the relationship between all the characters.
  • War and Peace (2007) – After watching BBC’s 2016 remake and Audrey Hepburn’s, this version was not my favourite but there were definitely parts I really enjoyed – plus the score. I think Alessio Boni was the right Prince Andrej Bolkonsky.
  • Wolf Hall (2015) – Not my favourite Anne Boleyn portrayal but I suppose this is also how some people viewed her. Mark Rylance was superb as Thomas Cromwell.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1947) – Finally watched the entire film and loved it! Good reminder to think of the impact we have on others’ lives.
  • The World of Suzie Wong (1960) – This was sweet and funny at times but there was one part I didn’t understand so it must be a 1960’s thing: why did the American man want the Hong Kong prostitute (a halfie cast as a HKer, by the way) to dress only as an Asian (i.e. in a cheongsam / qipao)?
  • Wuthering Heights (2011) – This film made me feel like I was in the windy moors. I thought the casting was right. Withering Heights, however, looked much smaller than I’d imagined. Disappointed that the ending didn’t unite Cathy and Heathcliff!