Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Netflix Period Drama Gems!

I finally gave in and subscribed to Netflix. I would like to say that although you won't find every title you may be looking for (far from it), there are enough fine choices to keep me busy all winter long. My first indulgence was watching North and South again. I loaned this DVD to a co-worker and have yet to urge it's return. So it was like visiting an old friend to watch one of my fave miniseries (from a fave book) and swoon over Mr. Thornton again. If you haven't seen this one, you must and if you already love it, it is well worth another viewing. It is hard to describe, but just trust me. It's awesome.

My first weekend of Netflix also included I Capture the Castle which is hard to find elsewhere and so I had been meaning to see this for ages. This one is wonderful and only a film not a miniseries. A few hours with Romola Garai and Bill Nighy. What more could you ask?

Speaking of Romola Garai, The Hour is a miniseries about a fictitious newsroom television show on the BBC in the 1950s where the producer is (gasp!) a woman. There is also a great mystery/spy plot going on and of course a romantic liaison or two! This series consists of 6 hour-long episodes for each of two seasons. Bet you can't watch just one!

Mansfield Park 1999. Frances O'Connor and Jonny Lee Miller? Heaven!! I see this one at least once twice three times a year. Mmmmmm.

The Buccaneers is another miniseries that flies under the radar but which deserves a much wider audience. 4 nouveau riche American girls (well, one is South American) can't break into the Victorian New York elite and so go to London for "The Season" and end up marrying into the British aristocracy with mixed results. One of my all time faves.

I like A Room with a View. It is not on my very top list but it is well worth seeing if it has been a while. A bit offbeat but the Italian scenery and the acting is top notch. And Maggie Smith is in prime form as is Helena Bonham Carter.

Little Dorrit is a true masterpiece. Andrew Davies is at his best when adapting Dickens and you couldn't get better acting. It will leave you riveted and your family will wonder why you have stopped cooking and returning phone calls for a week.

George Eliot can get a little unusual sometimes but her Daniel Deronda is amazing, both in novel form as well as in this spot on miniseries. Romola Garai (again! You could have a Romola fest on Netflix) and the ever gorgeous Hugh Dancy. And you have never seen Hugh Bonneville in a role like this. Wow!

Under the Greenwood Tree will give you a lovely little dose of Thomas Hardy's Wessex. Keeley Hawes is adorable. Light and sweet!

The Way We Live Now, a miniseries adaptation of Anthony Trollope's novel (also well worth reading) is a tour de force saga of a Victorian Ponzi scheme. Matthew Macfadyen as the drunken bad boy is reason enough to see this but the story, the acting and the drop dead gorgeous costumes and locations make this one a must see too.

The Damned United is a sports film about Leeds United, a football team (soccer) set in the 1970s and starring Michael Sheen as Brian Clough, the manager of the team. I saw this in our local art house theatre with my husband. Neither of us know anything about British football but both of us enjoyed it thoroughly. I loved the fact that it was set in the 70s, an era I remember well as a child. Oh, the furniture and fashions!

I am thrilled that I can see the latest Jane Eyre on Netflix. If I have the time for a miniseries, I prefer the 2006 miniseries, however this wonderfully made film from 2011 with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender is a great way to spend a few hours. I don't have this one on DVD so I will really enjoy seeing this again for the first time since I saw it in the theatre.

Vanity Fair is another film which is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours. Again I prefer the miniseries (except for the music and cinematography which is much better in this one) but if you only have 2 hours, this one is great. And along with Reese Witherspoon, Romola Garai appears in this one yet again! I have to give a shout out to the novel (Vanity Fair: a novel without a Hero) by William Makepeace Thackeray which stays with me to this day. Watch and then read!

An Education is a trip to 1960s England following the trials of a young, gorgeous and extremely bright woman who gets accepted to Oxford University but who then gets waylaid by an intriguing but dangerous man. This one sucks you into the 60s and keeps you transfixed.

If you have never heard of 7 UP, it is a series of documentaries following a group of 7 year olds of different socio-economic backgrounds in England in 1964 and checking in on them every 7 years thereafter. I admit to being fascinated by this concept, especially living in Canada where we don't have the same kind of class system and private schools are fairly rare even now. Unlike in England, most of us have very similar accents (eh?) whereas in the UK your speech pattern can determine your future to a certain extent (although this seems to finally be changing). Fascinating! I will watch this whole series. I just started the first one and I am hooked!

Other good bets:

Kingdom with Stephen Fry
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding with Felicity Jones
Wings of the Dove with Helena Bonham Carter
The English Patient with Ralph Fiennes and Kristen Scott Thomas
The Last Station with Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer
My Brilliant Career with Judy Davis and Sam Neill
The Importance of Being Earnest with Colin Firth and Rupert Everett
The Young Victoria with Emily Blunt
Dean Spanley with Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill
Anna and the King with Jodie Foster
A Royal Affair with Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander
Midnight in Paris with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams
MI5 (Spooks) - the entire series!!
Mr Selfridge
Downton Abbey (1 &2)
Foyles War
Made in Dagenham with Sally Hawkins
Shakespeare in Love
The House of Cards (both British and American versions)
Upstairs Downstairs
Doc Martin
Pirate Radio
Tamara Drewe
Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow
Fawlty Towers
Little Women with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder
The Winslow Boy with Jeremy Northam and Rebecca Pidgeon

And this is just Netflix Canada. Apparently in the US, you have many more choices and I think Netflix UK is different again. Let me know your Netflix favourites in the comments below. Looks like a good winter to me!



  1. I simply adore North and South, I have to watch once every year, just to swoon over Mr. Thornton - that man's voice gets me every time!

    My other favourites are Little Dorrit, Jane Eyre and Daniel Deronda.

  2. Dear Jenny,
    I had the opportunity to see Jane Eyre 2006 on the French television this summer! Toby Stephens is really very good Mr Rochester.
    I bought a few years ago the series Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett! My favorite one !
    Of course, I have the entire series of "Spooks" !
    Did you see Victoria and Albert (Directed by John Erman. With Victoria Hamilton, Jonathan Firth) ? It is a very romantic version !

  3. Some good stuff - and starting off a post with North & South can never be wrong. ;)

    But I'm going to be OT as per usual - you'd suspect it wasn't really me but an impostor, if I wasn't!

    I just saw these Saving Mr Banks interviews, and I thought you might enjoy them too:

    LRK, or Lark :)

  4. We've had NetFlix for years, and while they don't have as much as they used to, your list shows they still have a respectable number of outstanding period dramas. I would love to watch An Education, and 7-Up sounds fascinating. I've watched just about everything else you highlighted except Daniel Deronda, The Way We Live Now, and Under the Greenwood Tree (I have to read the book first).

    I love the VF mini-series so much I simply can't watch the Reese Witherspoon one again.

    I've been longing to watch N&S again myself--maybe over the holidays!

    Enjoy your wealth of movies!

  5. I'm in the U.S. so I don't know if you can get it, but I just got The Hanging Gale from Netflix and watched it in one night. It's quite sorrowful, but some really good drama and acting. All four of the McGann brothers and Michael Kitchen give great performances.

  6. Hey Guys!! I also wanted to know about the good sci fi movies on netflix. I am not aware about these movies. Is it good to see that type movies. Give suggestions.

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  8. Hi guys - these are current as of May 2016. The List: 100 Period Dramas Streaming on NETFLIX Right Now




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