Monday, May 30, 2016

Doctor Thorne (2016 TV Miniseries)

Doctor Thorne (2016) was a miniseries that I've been interested in because it is based on an Anthony Trollope novel by Julian Fellowes and stars an amazing cast. It has been pitched as the new Downton Abbey  but with it's sweet story and Victorian Era time period reminds me much more of Cranford and Wives & Daughters than Downton Abbey. It is also free from scenes of War and other questionable scenes and themes, another difference from Downton.
I watched Doctor Thorne (2016) this past week on Amazon Prime with my father and sister who both enjoyed it as much (or more, my dad laughed his head off!) than I did. This is such a refreshingly awesome miniseries and I can't wait to watch it again soon!

Story: In 1850s Barsetshire kindly doctor Thorne has brought up his niece Mary, following her father's mysterious death twenty years earlier. Handsome Frank Gresham is in love with her but his snobbish mother Arabella and his aunt, the Countess de Courcy, are aristocrats who look down on her, causing the doctor to reveal to her her lowly origins. Frank's sister Augusta is marrying a boorish older man for money, not love, and Arabella, unlike her more reasonable husband, wants a similar match for Frank with eccentric heiress Miss Dunstable. For all their apparent wealth the Greshams are in debt to Dr Thorne's most illustrious patient, the drunken, dissolute parvenu, Sir Roger Scatcherd, who makes an enigmatic statement to Thorne, regarding his beneficiary and allowing the doctor to identify them.

Costumes: Gorgeous late Victorian dresses in beautiful fabrics. Something unique in this film is the amount of young ladies wear flowers on their heads, they look similar to fashion plates of the era or paintings of young Queen Victoria, but at the same time it looks quite ridiculous on some of them.

Scenery: Filmed in some amazing historic manor houses and country villages that will familiar from many other period dramas. The scenery is just exquisite!

Questionable Content: When I watched this on Amazon Prime it was rated TV-14 but I'm not sure it deserves that rating because I felt it had a lot less questionable scenes and themes than Downton Abbey (to which it keeps being compared) had. The opening scene shows one man confront another and push him down in a street, he hits his head on a stone and dies but no blood is shown and almost all of the scene is shown from a distance. One of the main characters discovers the truth behind their birth and it is discussed a bit (heir father seduced their mother and she gave birth out of wedlock). Another old man character is an alcoholic and sickly, he dies and is mourned rather loudly by his wife. Another male character is also an alcoholic and behaves rudely at a dinner party, his servant is also ungentlemanly and it is explained how he bothered a female servant and was punched in the nose making it bleed. In a fit of madness a drunk man rides a horse at top speed and hits his head on a branch, he is later shown having difficulty breathing before he dies. There is only mild cursing, nothing R rated and nothing crude is shown or talked about.

Recognizable Actors: There are several amazing British actors in this mini-series that make it very enjoyable to see pop up, but also there are many new faces that do a wonderful job in the roles of the young people.

  • Tom Hollander as Doctor Thorne - This is by far my most favorite role that Mr. Hollander has portrayed so far! Doctor Thorne is such an honorable man in medicine and business as well as with his his friends and family. People trust him with secrets and there are so many times throughout the story where he could have withheld the truth but he usually breaks it gently and is kind in all of his dealings with other characters. Also known from: Wives & Daughters, Pride & Prejudice (2005), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2001), The Lost Prince, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
  • Richard McCabe as Mr. Frank Gresham Sr. - Mr. Gresham may be my favorite character in this miniseries, not because he's featured very much but because he is a man of sense and has a wonderful practical outlook at life. His wife is a social climber who isn't very nice to him but he does have the last word and makes the last three scenes my favorite parts of the whole series! Also known from: Persuasion (1995), Cinderella (2015), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Foyle's War.
  • Rebecca Front as Lady Arabella Gresham - Lady Arabella is a comical character but a frustrating one. She is a social climber who is constantly trying to make good matches, and discourage bad ones, for her three grown children. Also known from: Death Comes To Pemberley, Poirot: Dead Man's Folly, War & Peace (2016, I haven't seen this and couldn't recommend it).
  • Penelope Nicholls as Countess de Courcy - She is the ultimate melding aunt and gives Lady Catherine DeBourgh a run for her money! Definitely an unlikable character but interesting none the less. Also known from: Persuasion (1995), Downton Abbey (Series 5), Foyle's War, FairyTale: A True Story.
  • Tim McMullan as Earl de Courcy - He has very few lines and is rather a fop, I mostly include him here because I recognized his face and had to look him up to see that he played Mr. Palmer in Sense & Sensibility (2008). Also known for: Foyle's War, Granchester, Endeavour, The Hollow Crown: Henry IV Part 2, Princess Cariboo.
  • Ian McShane as Sir Roger Scatcherd - He's an interesting character, an alcoholic but with a dark past that makes him who he is in the present day. He's fairly likable under the thick crusty layer. Also known from: Jack the Giant Slayer, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Wuthering Heights (1967).
  • Janine Duvitski as Lady Scatcherd - She's a very lovable character, so motherly and kind. She was a nursemaid before marrying a man who made his fortune and she still has that practical nature. Also known from: Little Dorrit (2009), The Young Visiters, Foyle's War, Vanity Fair (1998), and she's Ruby Bentall's mother.  

My Thoughts: I loved this miniseries! It keeps being pitched as the new Downton Abbey and of course it is adapted by Julian Fellowes from an Anthony Trollope novels. But to me Doctor Thorne (2016) feels and looks more like Cranford and Wives & Daughters than it does like Downton Abbey or even The Way We Live Now or He Knew He Was Right. The characters' stories are so engaging that even though you have an idea of what might happen you are at the same time surprised at the way it happens. Also when I watched it on Amazon Prime the screenwriter Julian Fellowes introduces and recaps each episode, his commentary is delightful and very fun to watch. I would watch Doctor Thorne (2016) again in a heartbeat and have already informed my family that I want the DVD for my birthday!

My Recommendations: I highly recommend Doctor Thorne (2016) to anyone who enjoys period dramas in the style of Cranford, Wives & Daughters, The Young Victoria, He Knew He Was Right and The Way We Live Now. Parental supervision suggested for those under age 14 but nothing very horrible happens. In short, if you haven't seen Doctor Thorne (2016), go watch it now!!!

Have you seen Doctor Thorne (2016)?

Who is your favorite character from this miniseries?


Naomi Pitts said...

Oh yes, I've heard of this! The costumes are beautiful. In the trailer, I immediately recognised Lacock Village (Cranford/ Meryton) and Lady Ludlow's yellow house. :-) This looks GOOD!

OldFashionGirl said...

Oh, thank you! I am so happy to hear this review, being a non-downtown fan. I love the pictures and how your wrote this up. Thank you again!

The Girl with the Gold Pen said...

This sounds wonderful. I'm extremely excited to watch it!

Catherine said...

Tom Hollander is always so good, but got to say I wasn't impressed with the costumes in this - and like you said they went mad with the flowers!

HeatherMavis said...

Thank you for this review - - so helpful! I've put it on our watch list. My husband and I will enjoy !

Anonymous said...

This blog is dead! :'(

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