Thursday, June 9, 2016

Jullian Fellowes presents "Doctor Thorne"

Upon finishing "Downton Abbey" this winter, the same question was on many minds: "What do we watch next?" Amazon, being the nifty business mind that it is, anticipated this and swiftly contracted "Downton Abbey" writer Julian Fellowes to write and oversee a 4-part adaptation of Anthony Trollope's "Doctor Thorne."

"Doctor Thorne" is deliberately filmed to envoke the "Good Old BBC Costume Drama" feel, while maintaining rather better quality. It is a delightful summer story, with conflict but no plot twists that could be deemed too distressing. Although a key plot point is the illegitimate birth of a central character, and although Amazon gave it a TV-14 rating, there really is nothing in the least objectionable about any part of this drama.

Indeed, it is great fun, with delicious eye candy in the form of costumes, setting and actors. And the actors do the piece justice, with Tom Hollander carrying the film's emotional center in the part of Doctor Thorne himself. Although most of us will remember Hollander as Mr. Collins from "Pride and Prejudice" or his villainous turn in "Pirates of the Caribbean", there is no doubt that he is superbly cast here (no surprise, as it is a fairly common truth that the actors who often play villains are typically extremely kind and lovely people IRL).

The talented Ian McShane plays a pivotal role reminiscent of Dickens, and Alison Brie ("Community") is charming in the supporting role of a highly sought after American Heiress. But equally delightful are the relative unknowns cast as the young people in this drama, and roles which could have taken an overly-dramatic stock character route are consistently lent gravitas and depth.

Although the end of the story is most predictable, the execution is done so well that the viewer is not likely to mind. I finished the four installments FAR too quickly, ending with great laughter and wishing that Amazon and Fellowes will reuinite in the near future to adapt another Trollope work. In the meantime I may just have to investigate the original works of this prolific author myself!

"Doctor Thorne" is an Amazon exclusive, free for Prime Members. If you don't have Prime, this may be a good incentive to take advantage of their free monthly trial for their video-only streaming service

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