June 25, 2009

Justify My Netflix: The Duchess of Duke Street

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

The Duchess of Duke Street

Today's movie: The Duchess of Duke Street, 1976 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this is an older, well-regarded TV series from the BBC that I've never watched before; and as regular readers know, this year I've been using Netflix as an excuse to finally get caught up with more and more of these old BBC shows I've never seen, if for nothing else than to feed my insatiable Anglophilia.

The reality: Very...'70s. Yet another Edwardian-period drama from John Hawkesworth, creator of the much more well-known and highly regarded Upstairs, Downstairs from the same years, The Duchess of Duke Street was loosely based on the real story of Rosa Lewis, and her rise in the early 20th century from Cockney maid to the owner of one of the most posh hotels in London; and so that results in something interesting in this case, a situation an artist could get away with in the '70s but probably not now, where the first four episodes are in actuality more like a mini-series (full of one-time events and one-time sets that get our main character from maid to hotel owner); but then the other 25 episodes of the show are much more like a weekly serial drama, where the action takes place almost exclusively within the hotel itself, and the storylines based mostly around whatever guests are staying there that particular week. But there are other '70s aspects as well that might be more troublesome to viewers, such as the highly noticeable slowness to the storylines' pacing; in one episode, for example, an entire ten minutes is spent doing nothing but watching the hotel's staff wordlessly cook a grand meal, in an almost comically languid way that one could certainly never get away with in a television show now. That's a reason to be charmed by a show like this, but also a reason to be annoyed, depending on who you are; for sure, though, this show is very much a reflection of the times in which it was made, despite the entire thing being set in the first two decades of the 1900s.

If I had watched it when it first came out: I probably would've been a casual fan, like I'm a casual fan now of Law & Order, for example.

Worth your time? Depends on what kind of person you are

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:21 PM, June 25, 2009. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |