At the mo, I’m trying to make a lot of personal changes without TALKING about all the personal changes I’m making, because as soon as I hear someone else talking about their personal changes/challenges/health issues/internal see-sawing over some decision/sock collection, I want to pull my ears off and mail them to Abu Dhabi. So that leaves me with something of a limited range when it comes time to you know, talk about stuff.
So! I’m going to tell you about some delayed reaction BBC Bingeing I’ve been doing! Though a recent Bollywood relapse has left me revisiting Shah Rukh Khan’s greatest hits (if you watch nothing else, try to find the musical number with all the fire and rain from Om Shanti Om. More like Om Shanti ZOMG).
Cranford is based on three books by Charlotte Bronte’s well-known frenemy, Elizabeth Gaskell. Set in 1840s provincial England, it features a town run by the women who dominate and maintain it – ladies of class and distinction, ladies of trade, younger ladies coming to escape their young stepmothers – and their efforts to resist modernization while simultaneously making room in their hearts and crinolines for the new young bachelor doctor in their midst and sundry new neighbors.
It came out in 2007, so I must have missed it in the scramble of graduating, moving home and moving here, and for a lifelong BBC series watcher, it’s kind of like Saved By The Bell College Edition. You know EVERYBODY in the cast from somewhere. Lydia from the BBC Pride and Prejudice – check. Willoughby from the pitch-perfect Emma Thompson Sense and Sensibility – check. Judi Dench in a blond wig – wtf/check. Aunt Ada Doom from Cold Comfort Farm – check. St. John Rivers from the Certified Good Jane Eyre – check. Half the cast of the period drama series Aristocrats (not the filthy joke one) – check. Imelda Stanton – check. Every single middle aged bald man with mutton chops who was loitering on the BBC lot when shooting began – check check check.
It’s like a reunion crossover special arranged by the Make A Wish Foundation for thousands of terminally ill Austen/Bronte/Gaskell/Dickens fans.
And oh the drama!! I’ve only watched four episodes so far since I’m trying to replace my Western commercialism buying habits with Zen Netflixing, and I have to say if I lived in Cranford and realized I was having special mushy feelings for someone down the road I would quash that pronto because every single time someone falls in love, someone dies. Usually it’s one of the two people, sometimes it’s someone tragically close to one of those people that makes the thought of marriage impossible for the present.
Cranford has everything you need – in addition to the love and death and dramz, there are class difficulties, income issues, social mores and morality woes, the railway may be coming through the town soon, the Lady Whatsit has no heir for her property except for a ne’er-do-well son named Septimus who I have to resign myself to not being the character from Arcadia (although with Stoppard’s time traveling ways….hmmm). And it’s got humor. Being based on a series that hasn’t been read by every English literature student since the dawn of English literature means they can have more of a sense of humor about themselves. Nobody is going to need the smelling salts if Unremarkably Named Neighbor Lady #3 is wearing a BLUE bonnet to Lady Somethingsomething’s garden party when noone has any idea she wore SAFFRON.
I like it. If you like old stuff with British and occasionally Scotch accents, you will probably like it too. Just….try not to get too attached to anybody in particular because they’ll probably be dead soon.