Everything I liked lately wasn’t set in modern times.
Victoria on PBS. Season 1 just started with Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne. If you liked Netflix’s The Crown, you will like this. Stream for free online (although it won’t last forever).
I found Kurt Seyit ve Sura on Netflix. It’s a 40+ episode Turkish drama in Turkish or Spanish and English subtitles. It starts with Tsarist Russia and takes you through the end of the British occupation of Istanbul. Did Seyit and Sura’s love for each other survive? The two leads had great chemistry. It was quite dramatic and I was glad when I was done with it. (Warning: Turkish dramas are time consuming, especially since it’s hard to multi-task with subtitles!)
Amazon’s Man in the High Castle Season 2 dropped not too long ago. This show is set in the 1960s and takes you down the path of alternate history — what if the Axis Powers won WWII instead of the Allies. I like being able to binge through it but am sad that I need to wait a while for Season 3. Not enough to read the book though.
Magnificent Century was the first Turkish drama I watched on Netflix. It’s similar to the Chinese Empresses in the Palace (甄嬛傳/Zhen Huan Zhuan) which is also on Netflix in a few condensed episodes (watch it all on Youtube). It takes place inside the sultan’s harem of the Turkish palace circa 16th century. I only watched the first season — the rest are scattered on Youtube and to my relief, hard to find with English subtitles. Women in Turkish dramas like to faint.
Another PBS show – Secrets of the Six Wives – is based on the wives of Henry VIII. Historian Lucy Worsley steps in to narrate some scenes so it’s like a hybrid documentary. (If you like historical British documentaries, you may have seen her before.) Stream for free online (although it won’t last forever).
I have loved PBS since I was young – They brought C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables to life for me.
Mr. Selfridge is on air every Sunday through May 19. As someone who loved Selfridges in London and can’t resist a good period drama, I’m eating up the premiere episode. You can watch it online.
While I was in Beijing, a few girlfriends and I booked a private room for massages at a nice, non-Westernized joint after dinner. My girlfriends snoozed off while I was captivated by the documentary on the television screens, showing the far regions of the Great Wall and the Silk Road. I did some research after that — this documentary series, Wild China, was produced by the BBC and China’s state-owned CCTV and debuted in 2008 (right before the Olympics). It covers off-the-beaten-track parts of China. Wild China is available on Amazon (free for Amazon Prime members) and Netflix. I’m assuming it’s only available in Chinese in China. BBC has a pretty good narrative on the series here.
If you’re into natural beauty and sweeping landscapes, this series is not to be missed! I’m looking forward to when I have time to head out to Western China. The Yunnan restaurants in Beijing and Shanghai piqued my interest. I visited Guilin in the 90s and I was too young to appreciate it.
I cut the cable television cord in mid-2012. Then, I got a Roku and it changed my life. I already had Amazon Prime and have been supplementing with Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Aereo. There is some slight overlap with these and I watch Amazon Prime the least. I used to watch a lot of reality television and I can’t say I miss it. On the other hand, it’s so easy to binge on any single show and I’ve been catching up on some TV shows including some British period dramas and other bad ones that are not worth mentioning. If you like Downtown Abbey, check these out:
Upstairs, Downstairs (2011, 2012)
I never watched the original and this is supposed to be a continuation of the original. You don’t need it for background. It is a bit glitzy and is set around the World Wars. Watch both seasons for free with Amazon Prime.
VPN is a great thing — those in China cannot watch Youtube videos without it!
My calendar reminded me that the new Petit Bateau x Tsumori Chisato collection was out, so I googled and found this video. It is whimsically chic and set in Tokyo. However, the collection doesn’t pique my interest in the least. The quality of the last one wasn’t that great (think flakey/stretched prints).
Woody Allen’s next film is set in Rome, a charming, crazy place perfect for a random, crazy host of characters. To Rome with Love will be released in theaters on June 22.
Season 2 of Downton Abbey has come to an end. I can’t wait for Season 3! The closing to Season 2 was the two hour Christmas special and they didn’t actually air it until Christmas. I will resist from posting any spoilers…
In case you haven’t found Season 2 online yet (it was released in the UK during the fall), PBS will start broadcasting Season 2 on January 8, 2012. Catch up on Season 1 here.
Image source: ITV.
I’m not sure how long it will stay on Youtube, but watch the Christmas special here:
Lately my attention has been shifting from reality TV to period dramas. Downton Abbey to be exact. I had a strict upbringing in that the Simpsons and 90210 weren’t approved entertainment. There were plenty of movies you would find on TCM’s 100 and PBS.
Downton Abbey is set in the early twentieth century and balances between the “upstairs” family of the Earl and “downstairs” servants. The first episode kicked off with the sinking of the Titanic and closed with England entering WWI. I read about Downton Abbey on Apartment Therapy, an interior decor blog, of all places, but for good reason. The series is chock full of amazing sets – the interiors, immaculate English gardens, architecture, and fashion! The quality of acting doesn’t hurt either.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can stream Season One for free. Season Two is in progress in the UK and won’t hit stateside until February 2012. If you’re impatient like I am, I’ve been streaming Season Two episodes at mopvideo.com. They’re timely with updating after every Sunday evening broadcast.
Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris opened in NYC yesterday. We caught it at the Angelika in Soho – I’ve never seen such a long line! I believe this is Woody’s first movie fully filmed in Paris. I read that Woody wanted to film this back in 2006, but it was too expensive. The movie was a visual sensation and made me miss Paris! I watched the trailer ahead of the movie, but hadn’t read anything about the movie. I was surprised that Carla Bruni (France’s First lady) made an appearance. She looked amazing. Owen Wilson was perfectly casted for his character. This is a perfect movie for those who wished they lived in a bygone era.