Monday, November 27, 2017

Winter is Coming: Period Pieces for Snowbound Souls

With only a couple more of weeks of autumn to enjoy (and New Yorkers can’t complain, we’d had decent weather this fall) we must brace ourselves for more at-home nights, all bundled up, in front of tv screens. For us, historical fiction freaks, there will be no lack of good material to enjoy this cold season, starting with Ragnar’s sons wreaking havoc in Saxon land and further away, and ending with Tom Hardy and his ship of the damned, bound to a land where there is no “Taboo.”

End of November has had us reconnect with the dysfunctional family of Ragnar Lodbrok, or what’s left of it. Fans are either wondering which of her stepsons will do away with Lagertha, or are looking forward to Jonathan Rhys-Myers debut as Heathmund, the warrior-bishop that will give Ivar, the Boneless, some humble pie to eat, at least on the battlefield. To be quite honest since my favorite characters (Aslaug, Echbert and Helga) were killed, I only care to know what is Rollo up to in Paris and about Bjorn’s explorations in “sunny places.” November the 29th will be the date for the “Vikings” to land on History Channel.

“Vikings” shall not be History’s only venture in historical fiction this winter. December 6th will bring us the awaited arrival of “Knightfall,” a tale of the Templar Knights. Starring Tom Cullen as Sir Landry, a Templar Master, the story merges the last days of the Order of the Temple with the search for the Holy Grail. Combining fact and fiction, this series will take place in 1306, a year before the downfall of the Templars.  “Knightfall” pretends to show us how wealth, power and a clandestine lifestyle brought a tragic end to the powerful monastic order. The Templars harbored secrets, they knew too much, they represented a hazard for the Papacy as well as for the King of France.

Although we are still months away from the eight-season of  “Call the Midwife, ” PBS will bring us its Christmas 2017 special, appropriately on December 25th. It will take place during the 1962 Big Freeze, the coldest Christmas in British history. Heavy blizzards had the country at a standstill, but as we know, you can’t put a standstill on labor. Chances are that the midwives will have to brave weather and waddle through snow to bring babies into the world.

New Year takes us back to Buckingham Palace to rejoin Victoria and Albert on a new season that will bring new babies and new troubles for the royal couple. Here are some spoilers:  Lord Melbourne departs for good, but the Queen of Thorns resurrects when Dame Diana “Olenna” Rigg joins the Queen’s entourage as a new lady of chamber. Albert will run into his old papa, but poor old Ernest will have his heart broken again by prudish Duchess of Sutherland. There will be romance upstairs and downstairs,  and even a hint of gay love among Victoria’s retainers. Season 2 of “Victoria” debuts on PBS, on January 14th.

After New Year,  we can count on TNT to bring us the perfect historical thriller, “The Alienist, ”based on Caleb Carr’s bestseller . On January 22th  we’ll meet Dr. Lazlo Kreisler (Daniel Bruhl), proper Viennese psychiatrist,  who is summoned by Theodore Roosevelt (then Manhattan Police Commissioner) in turn-of-the-century New York to solve the crimes of an American Jack the Ripper. Dr. Kreisler will be assisted by crime reporter John Schuyler Moore (Luke Evans) and genteel secretary Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning).

FX just drops hints  that “Taboo” fans must translate. It may happen sometimes in  late February or perhaps in early March,  when snow is still on the ground. Then, we’ll get to know where James Keziah Delaney is bound with that crew of freaks he managed to wrangle up. Will the East India Company ever give up the Nootka Sound? Will Robert find out he is the cannibal’s son? Will James learn what made his late mother try to murder him? Is Zilpha, James sister-lover, truly dead? So much to know, please  don’t keep us waiting!

I don’t usually dwell in what the streaming world brings, but since I have become a crownie (e.g. one who is addicted to  “The Crown”), I might as well review Netflix’s basket of period pieces. November has started unloading it with the 4th Season of “Peaky Blinders,”  in BBC, but Netflix will run it complete after December the 21th. For those of you who are following Jason “Drogo” Momoa’s adventures in fur trapping in Colonial Canada, you can enjoy the second season of “Frontier” after November the 24th.

Michelle Dockery is really shaking Lady Mary’s shadow off her and she shows it by moving to the Far West, in “Godless,” Netflix new western. Set in New Mexico, “Godless” tells of a mining town where all miners are killed, and it is left to their widows to wear the pants and sling the guns, especially when marauding bandits lurk nearby. As of November 22, you can follow this seven-part series.

On December the 8th, the second round of “The Crown” begins. Reconciliation and new babies are in store for Lilibet and her Duke (he will be called “Prince” at some point this season,  and his children will get his last name too). Nevertheless, hideous scandals will rock the monarchy. The troubles shall not come from within the royal family but from misguided ministers and their cabinets. Margaret, the family minx, will marry and settle down (of sorts), and Elisabeth II will entertain Jackie (Jodi Balfour) and President Kennedy (Charles C. Hall). Get ready to see Dexter playing Jack! This incoming season will dwell more on Philip’s early life, a subject that Peter Morgan, the brains behind “The Crown,” finds fascinating.

Netflix will go big time in January when it becomes a streaming platform for the hottest and most expensive series made in Germany.  Based on a historical whodunit series by Volker Kutscher, “Babylon Berlin” deals with the adventures of PTD sufferer and morphine addict, police Inspector Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch) who will solve crimes in Weimar Germany.

Now that sounds pretty much like Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series, right?  But even as a Kerr-Gunther fan, I must agree that something written by a German, in Goethe’s language and made in Der Vaterland is bound to be of better quality. Or so we hope. So far, the series has been available only to Sky’ subscribers (in Germany, Austria, Italy and the UK). Therefore, I’ll be looking forward to when Netflix decides to gift us with the properly subtitled version of “Babylon Berlin.”

Which one of these series will you be following?

No comments:

Post a Comment