on first viewing:
A bit tiresome. I was actually quite excited to see it. Well excited is an exaggeration. Interested is more like it., Cool. An old English village pre-World War I. Set in the Lake District where my or some of my ancestors once lived.
But oh woe is me. There is something about an English historical drama that doesn’t always make it for me. Its when the people don’t seem to fit, the village was like a whole few van loads of middle class drama school kids was emptied out onto the screen as filler.
Even the main character of the Dad, David Sims, didn’t seem completely of the land. As in a farmer, nor did he seem of that time. He just seemed to have the most enormous hump all the time over his farm. Well maybe its from watching Amish programmes but it seemed surprising that he hadn’t figured out the farming lark out yet and more importantly taught it to his son.
He seemed like he was cross at the non-arrival or mis-delivery of an important and trend-ful furnishing than devastated at the mildew on the stacks of corn incorrectly facing South North instead of East West. The way his errant son should have laid them in order to resist the growth of mildew apparently.
I wasn’t huge on the voyeur scene by which an episode set in Edwardian England manages to squeeze a flash of bare bum and not quite bosom. Glimpsed through the gap in the Bath house shed roof. Where most of the village women, if not all, including the officially feisty and dreamy suffragette, bathe. The Suffragette/Missionary lady has flounced up to the snooty seeming Lady of the Manor like Lucy tripping out in the sky of diamonds. that is how spaced out the character is.
Mind you, like a lot of the women in such dramas the suffragette lady has incredibly beautiful blouses. I mean really, to die for. A symphony in lace, small flounces and the softest silhouette, cream ruffles around the neck or bow tied and dangling. The white Edwardian Victorian blouse is a thing of beauty.
Did i mention that one minute suffragette lady is announcing to the lady of the house that she is the new school Marm/private tutor or Nanny there at the Manor then she is off again to float about the fields with no jacket or coat on and her long hair down. Slightly unusual behaviour for Victorian/Edwardian times.
Presumably this is to show us that she is oh so terribly wild for her time, which she goes on to show by roaming the countryside for blackberries with handsome hunk Joe and darling little brother Bert.
Nb. Perhaps i should mention that the story of The Village is related or rather introduced to us as a memory or flashback by Bert, the young lad who is the hero of the story and through whose eyes we mostly see the action. In a dramatic device which could well have floundered we are party to the appearance of living 80 something Bert who is telling us his story now at the beginning of each episode of The village.
Actually Bert rather steals the show with his joie de vivre, chuckling and sparkling eyes like bright starlings on a sunny day.
Back to the action:
Then droopy Dachsund kissing aristocrat young lady appears in the forest, kisses handsome hunk Joe who is rather un-impressively wondering about said forest with a 12 bore shot gun dangling from his hands. One minute he’s a filler up of beautiful red-haired lady aristocrat’s bath, the next minute he’s the gamekeeper!
Well he certainly earns that name when it turns out he bad another type of gun in his pocket for Lady Caroline..O la la. & So it goes on. Like one long Hovis TV advert with a touch of Lady Chatterley’s Lover thrown in.
Oh, forgot the rather ludicrous yet enjoyable turn by the head aristocrat man. Who seems to have half of a burnt face with scars and wears a black head dress that looks decidedly odd. Likes some ancient religious or official notary from centuries ago. He appears to be out of his mind in that his speech makes no sense. We wonder what dreadful thing must have occurred to leave him like this.
As mentioned in he TV reviews of this 1st episode:all the servants in the big house belonging to Lady and Lord so & so well they all have to turn and silently face the wall whenever black interesting head dress aristocrat man goes by in his house. Kind of like stopping, silently & frozen for the National Anthem when you’re American.
Well by the second episode of The village you get the idea that its really rather depressing. As in tragic and depressing.
Yet there is more. Each tragic, dreary and depressing moment or event is stretched out, interminably in some kind of doomed silence. In which a bit or a lot like Made in Chelsea used to be, the two protagonists in the scene stare at each other in silence.
OK sometimes one of the characters in The Village is weeping, sobbing hysterically or has a hand covering their own mouth in order not to cry out loud. That’s mostly the women, oh yes and there is the howls of wounded animal pain involved in having a baby in a stone cottage on your hands and knees with your perpetually clean and terminally middle class drama school boy son in attendance:
“Hand me them scissors Joe” “Hurry, that’s it” Mum request him and then manfully cuts the umbilical cord and then cuddles her infant and grins.
Considering the kerfuffle in which Harry generally finds himself by virtue of being a young boy its amazing he hasn’t gone deaf. That was back when childhood wasn’t invented yet. Not for the working class anyway.
Then there is the scary eyed suffragette who appears to be accepted for vastly interfering wherever she goes, in everybody’s business by being some kind of fervent, and staring Missionary who saves the alcoholic Dad from himself by just standing and starting at him a lot!
Update on The Village:
So The Village finally grew on me. Just as I was considering finally defecting to The Voice. Instead of The Voice being my guilty secret that ended half-way through The village. I saw watching The Voice as a necessary girding of metaphorical loins. Since The Village is just so damn miserable and depressing. you need to have a little fun and light relief before you start watching it.
hey do all look impossibly clean, well styled and remarkably under dressed for the weather. I couldn’t help but ponder a lot on just how cold most of them must have been and how likely it was that they would swan about with just a shirt and thin jacket on in the cold looking countryside and hills of the Lake District. Maxine Peake, as Bert’s mother was the most believable character for me and the only one to hug herself in the cold.
All the young lads including Bert spoke with posh rather than Lancashire accents. Some of the happenings appeared to be so unlikely which means that they were likely to have happened. The series was based on research & real life accounts and I believe that there is more to come. Possibly taking us up to the present day and the ever chuckling Bert.
Could it get more dreary? even after all that?
Sure it could.