Season 1 of PBS’ Masterpiece series “Downton Abbey” is available on DVD and offers the best place to meet the multitude of characters in this period serial. World War I is featured in Season 2, airing Sundays at 9 p.m. on KCET in the Northwest. Season 3 is highly anticipated with the addition of its second American, played by Shirley MacLaine, to the cast. Currently, Elizabeth McGovern is surrounded by the aristocrats of the Crawley family residing at or near Downton Abbey and, as the lady of the manor, oversees the expansive household staff that serves their every need.
Not since “Upstairs Downstairs.” the popular miniseries of the 1970s, has this historical time period and lavish lifestyle been so eagerly embraced by the viewing public, and deservedly so.
Lord Crawley reigns over the estate that cannot be inherited by any of his three totally different daughters, who find themselves in all kinds of interesting situations with various suitors at the ready.
Matriarch/dowager Maggie Smith brings so much to the small screen that a mere raising of an eyebrow or perfectly timed quip adds intrigue with every appearance.
The “help,” while on duty throughout the manor, rarely make a misstep; however, their lives are no less complicated or fascinating.
The settings are spectacular, the costumes divine and the story lines well written enough to contribute to stimulating water cooler conversation in the morning and anticipation of what drama the next episode may bring. “A”
If you avoid “family movies” or “animal films” or “based on a true story” films, you might want to reconsider and rent “Dolphin Tale.”
Sawyer Nelson is a lonely young boy who befriends a dolphin tangled in fishing lines on the beach. The saga that unfolds involves a myriad of interesting personalities, including a girl his age who spends most of her time at a rescue aquarium, her father (Harry Connick, Jr.), his father, (Kris Kristofferson), Sawyer’s mother (Ashley Judd), a feisty vet (Morgan Freeman) and a tail-less dolphin named Winter (Winter).
Even with that cast of talented actors, there’s no doubt the star of the film is Winter. If this tale unfolds predictably for adults, the movie has wonderful messages for youngsters.
“Dolphin Tale” offers a genuine glimpse into the survival instincts of people and animals in an entertaining way. “B”
Matt King has all kinds of bad luck. He’s being pressured to sell valuable property in Hawaii his family has claimed for years, his wife is in a coma with a head injury after a boating accident and he finds out (from his daughter, no less) that his wife has been cheating on him.
All of that is revealed in the oft-screened trailer of the movie, so there is no “Spoiler Alert” in this review. There are pluses and minuses to “The Descendants.”
Plus: The scenery of Hawaii is tough to beat. Then add the graying but perpetually handsome George Clooney as Matt King, who figures in nearly every scene.
Minus: Clooney doesn’t play a handsome bon vivant. He plays a befuddled, bland, preoccupied husband who only wakes up to the world around him when confronted with parenting responsibilities he’s ignored for years.
Plus: Alexander Payne directed and wrote the script and even won an Academy Award for his adaptation of the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.
Minus: The movie opens with a voice-over by Clooney that doesn’t quite work. If you need to get
then try something else besides an opening voice-over.
“The Descendants” focuses on a dysfunctional family. It was marketed as a comedy but truly isn’t funny. “C”
Grading this week’s DVDs: the ABC’s
Mon, Mar 19, 2012
Politics, political figures and spies
Tue, Mar 6, 2012
Tue, Feb 14, 2012
And now, reality
Mon, Jan 30, 2012
Looking back on the year that was (Part 1 of 2)
Wed, Dec 7, 2011
Film buffs should revisit ‘Northwest’
Wed, Nov 2, 2011
Conspiracy theories played out on film
Tue, Oct 18, 2011
Mix-ups, marriage and horse management
Mon, Oct 3, 2011
Going ‘Grease,’ locally and on DVD
Tue, Sep 13, 2011
It’s All About the Music
Fri, Sep 9, 2011