Downton Detox: Parade’s End isn’t Cutting It
It's no secret that I am a rabid fan of Downton Abbey. I can't help but be transfixed by Edwardian period drama, so when I saw HBO was broadcasting the BBC's epic miniseries Parade's End, I was on board... until I started watching.
Parade's End is based on the critically acclaimed novel of the same name by British author Ford Madox Ford (pretty sweet name, right?) and was adapted for the big screen by the one and only Tom Stoppard (yes, fellow Lit majors, the dude who wrote Rozencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead). With such stellar literary genius in the mix, It should stand to reason that Parade's End would be one of the greatest miniseries on both sides of the pond. This, however, is not the case.
I started watching Parade's End this weekend as I had recorded all five parts of the miniseries event to the greatest invention known to man, my DVR. I am now two episodes in and am bored to tears. I literally fell asleep while watching Part Two last night. I know critics have smothered this miniseries with praise; it's heralded to be an intellectual masterpiece... but it's just not working for me.
I mean, maybe I am just too dumb to enjoy its splendid refinery and what-have-you... but watching this miniseries is PAINFUL. It's like being shown an educational film in high school and forcing yourself to take notes because you're not sure if any of the things you're watching will be on the test. I had to force myself to finish Part Two last night and found myself only mildly interested by the episode's tail end.
It's just... ugh. Parade's End stars the dashingly handsome Benedict Cumberbatch (has there ever been a more "British" name?) as protagonist Christopher Tietjens. The miniseries revolves around Christopher's involvement in World War One and a love triangle between himself, his wife, and a young suffragette. It sounds great on paper, but man...
First of all, I can't understand a dang WORD that Benedict says. He has a freakishly baritone voice and, as a proper Englishman, his character is soft-spoken. This means everything that comes out of his mouth sounds like someone is running a vaccuum in a distant room: it's just "hhhmmmmm hmmmmm hmmmm war hmmmm hmmmm hmmm ladies hhmmm hmmmm honour." I was screaming at the TV, "ENUNCIATE, dude!"
In between scenes of Benedict's indistinguishable babbling we meet his insufferable wife, Sylvia, his love interest and suffragette Valentine, and a host of other characters. The story line jumps from scene to scene so quickly that I can't keep up with what's going on--which is humorous, as more than half the scenes lack any real action.
I still have three more episodes to watch. Maybe things will get better? I know now that Parade's End is no Downton Abbey in terms of entertainment, but I'm two episodes in and determined to finish the dang thing. Because I'm not a quitter... and also, I have nothing better to do...
Here's the miniseries trailer. Check it out and let me know what you think...and if you can understand a single word Benedict says.