So you’ve might of noticed that I’m a geek. I like lots of “geeky” things such as comics, video games and pro wrestling but I have another love, English period dramas. There’s something about the early 20 century that really interests me for some reason. It might be the set’s or the King’s English but I love it. This brings me to Parade’s End a mini-series based upon a Ford Madox Ford book series.
The show star’s Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens, a rich, intelligent and old fashion man who is trapped in a strained marriage to his wife Sylvia played by Rebecca Hall. To be frank Sylvia is a bitch…she’s winny, spoiled and frequently engages in adultery. The two are held together by old English pride and their son Michael.
As the show progress Cumberbatch meets the daughter of an old family friend and suffragette, Valentine Wannop played by Adelaide Clemens. Wannop represents what Tietjens wants in a lover: a beautiful women with a old soul who is just as smart as he is.
During the course of the show both Tietjens and Wannop fall in love and try and try to fight their feelings as their personal honor and the honor of those around them is called into question in a time period that is constantly changing and will change a great deal more with the end of WWI.
If I had to compare this show to something, it would be a smarter Downton Abbey. Not to say that Downton Abbey is a dumb show but there is a lot more going on in Parade’s End. There are more themes at play here.
The series focuses on the progression of the time period as the idea of divorce was still disgraceful to most people. Tietjens doesn’t want to put his wife through a divorce because he thinks it will ruin her, but when he lets her walk all-over him his life goes to hell.
In the series, he describes a marriage as a parade, meaning that they must put on a show for everyone despite it being clearly nothing more than a lie. This is an old fashioned way of looking at things as it seems that Tietjens is the only one still living by those ideals as the “parade” has ended.
While this might make some viewers hate the main character, for some reason is makes him more interesting. Cumberbatch adds a level of respectability to Tietjens with his very English look and deep voice but he also makes the guys pain very real as he slowly let’s the pain show during the five episodes. His wife continues to taunt him and he joins the army to fight in war, which he becomes injured multiple times in.
One of the knocks against this series is that it can be a bit monotoned at times. Cumberbatch does play the character very low-key so that the moments that he does break down it has more of an impact but it could bore some viewers after a while.
As a historical drama it’s great. The sets are nice and there is good detail to the era as a whole. There’s a nice Canadian connection to the story as Tietjens trains a group of Canadian soldiers before he is forced to fight on the front lines.
If you’re the type who likes a like bit of culture in their dramas or you’re looking for an interesting historical drama, then Parade’s End is a solid watch. While it can be a bit dry, it features great dialogue and nice sets. If you’re not a fan of English Period drama’s than…why are you even reading this?
Parade’s End is a mini-series produced by Mammoth Screen in association with HBO miniseries. The series was directed by Susanna White, with a screen play done by Tom Stoppard. Executive Producers were Michel Buck and Damien Timmer with David Parfitt and Selwyn Roberts credited as Producers. Cinematography was done b Mike Elley. Parade’s End was originally broadcast by BBC in England, HBO in North America and VRT in Belgium.
The original book tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford are easily available in most book stores.