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|Index||20 reviews in total|
There are two DVD box sets to the collection -- the first features eight episodes that introduce you to THE GRAND, the hotel and the owners, brothers John and Marcus Bannerman, and the hard-working staff. The second series features 10 episodes on three DVDs.
This is engaging and entertaining fare, and some of the storyline is repetitive and derivative, but the acting is very good and the sets and costumes are wonderful and convincing. There are some notable episodes that really stand out. One is on the second series and centers on Clive and his experience as deputy.
For the second series, the characters of Ruth and Stephen have been replaced with different actors who give slightly different edges to the characters (Ruth is more unstable rather than cold and stoic, and Stephen is more immature, albeit just as emotional).
There seems to be a consistent message present and that is that sheer luck can take you out of your social stratsophere, and no matter how well meaning or how hard you work, it's not bloody likely that you'll be able to successfully live in the world of another class.
British period soap opera in the `Duchess of Duke Street' tradition set in a
high-class Manchester hotel in the nineteen-twenties. A remarkably well
preserved Susan Hampshire plays an aging courtesan to the gentry, Tim Healey
is excellent as Jacob, the all-seeing Hall Porter with
principles and Mark McGann is perfect casting as devious, supercilious hotel
proprietor Marcus Bannerman.
However, a couple of cast changes to major characters cause confusion and some of the storylines, especially the surrogate baby issue, become extremely far-fetched.
Watch out for spunky little chambermaid Kate. She's played by Rebecca Callard, daughter of Beverley who was the lovely Liz Macdonald in the legendary `Coronation Street'. A soap dynasty in the making?
Typical English attention to production values by way of sets & costumes makes this undemanding entertainment.
Of the many extended series from England, I think this is the best conceived & written. 3 dimensional, complex characters, rejection of obvious, feel good, wrap-it-up-neatly plot lines make it the most fascinating of classy soap operas. Flawless acting, direction. Engrossing.
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed The Grand. The other review on this page is accurate in all of it's particulars but does not capture the feeling of opulence and grandeur that the series brings to the small screen. Contrary to the other comments, one does care about the characters from the original Bannerman's to the quintessential bad guy, Marcus. The writing, though smattered with some convenient dramatic plot devices, is terrific. The single best episode, when Clive goes home to see his father, is a masterpiece of writing, with compassion for someone "different", the ultimate outsider among so many others in this cast of characters. The unexpected turn at the end is marvelous. We are watching "Duchess of Duke Street" concomitantly with "TG" and the acting is so much better and deeper, the characters so much more filled out and the story lines so much better, that there is no comparison. We highly recommend that you stick with it. You will be rewarded. Incidentally, we got this out of our public library on VHS, so look for it there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What really struck me about this series was the numerous similarities between the characters in The Grand and Upstairs/Downstairs. As the Grand characters developed, I easily linked them to similar characters in the original classic U/D. Immediately evident is the sharp class distinction between the rich and poor. The Bannermans upstairs so resembled the Bellamys in U/D. Both husbands were well meaning oafs too busy to recognize the problems of their family members. They each had a despicable brother. Both wives had an affair though they claimed to love their husbands. Both sons were severely damaged by WWI and both owned a pistol. Both daughters were rebellious. Four members of each family with a strong grandmother showing up periodically. The roles of both head porter Collins and Head Butler Hudson were almost interchangeable. Both very observant, often shocked yet always subservient to their masters. Mr. Collins had Clive and Hudson had Edward as their loyal assistants. Head maid Kate was much like head maid Rose in U/D, always looking after the problem peers Monica and Sarah. Both series had one of the downstairs girls dying at the end of a rope. Each series had a villainous character downstairs, tormenting Monica at the Grand and Sarah in U/D (Lady Marjorie's ladies maid). The main difference in the two series is that few of the characters in the Grand were likable. Poor Susan Hampshire labored mightily for us to empathize with her Madam character but even her immense talents could not make Esme likable. Marcus Bannerman was a classic villain, well played by Mark McGann. While one can easily watch Upstairs/Downstairs repeatedly, The Grand is just too sordid for more than one viewing. The acting is excellent, the settings impressive and while it captures the essence of the period, it's not worth a second look.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Nothing particularly unique, fresh or new happens in The Grand, but it
succeeds because it constantly surprises and turns expectations on
their heads. Russell T Davies, that genius writer, is always good at
catching the viewer out, and the show's greatest successes are
delivered by deft overturning of what we think is going to happen next.
Casting Susan Hampshire as a prostitute? Straightaway, that's brilliant. I expected the whole series to involve Miss Harkness at risk of being caught out, struggling to keep one step ahead of propriety ... but in Russell T Davies's hands, all of that is blown away. By episode three, her trade is an open secret. This is why RTD is one of Britain's most successful TV writers, and I am not.
Series One thrives on the aspiring, go-getting maid Monica. Several gobsmacking twists on the trot lead Monica's story to an appalling conclusion: gang rape, murder in self defence, execution. Well done, Mr Davies.
It all falls apart in series two. Head transplants are always tricky to pull off in ongoing TV series, but The Grand fails in giving two key characters head AND personality transplants. The impossibly handsome, tormented Stephen becomes ten years younger and infinitely wetter. Outspoken, bitter Ruth becomes a shivering, febrile mess. These two changes are a huge failing and, with the Bannerman family granny forgotten between series, and with John and Sarah Bannerman (the irreplaceable Julia St John) written out after a couple of episodes, major driving forces are lost. Series two is very different from series one, and much weaker. Sure, there are still great episodes (Monica's revenge, Clive's dilemma), but these individual story lines are divorced from the main ongoing stories.
As is the way of these things, the Below Stairs characters are always the most interesting. While the Above Stairs characters worry about business deals and all of that old nonsense, there is a real sense that life below stairs is tough, cruel, bitter and horrible.
The Grand, at its best, really is "grand". Cliché-busting, surprising, and full of memorable characters and situations. The problem with the majority of series two is that those memorable characters aren't quite as memorable as they used to be, which handicaps the story from the very beginning.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having just read most of the previous reviews, I can say that pretty
much everything has already been said. For what it's worth I'll throw
in my two cents, which is this: Watching the series on Netflix, I've
gotten up to Episode 8, I believe it is. I'm into the second season and
find now that I cannot continue watching. They lost me after the first
episode of the second season with the change of actors in the roles of
Stephen and Ruth. I don't recall ever seeing this happen before.
Usually if an actor leaves, the character they're playing goes along
with them. But to change actors mid-way? It's crazy, to me.
At first I didn't know who the new "Stephen" was. I thought he was a new character. Likewise with Ruth. The change of these two ruined the series for me. I had grown to like it; at the very beginning I thought I wouldn't continue watching it, as, someone very adequately expressed in a previous review, the characters are almost all reprehensible. But then I got over it and continued watching, even liking it. That is, until the producers decided that we, the viewers, wouldn't notice, or care, if out of the blue, two of the main characters suddenly looked and acted different.
So, it's curtains for me on The Grand. Too bad...
I must confess I shop at bargain outlets and the best kept secrets are the DVD sections. Once you weed past the hundreds over produced fitness disks, you may just come upon a little gem marked $3.99. Such was the case with The Grand, Series Two. We were disappointed not to be able to find Series One in the stack, but have made it a quest. The costumes are beautiful and the characters little vignettes of humanity both good and bad. You endear the sweet characters and loathe the ones twisting a black mustache and plotting their next evil move. The Series does not pretend to paint a pretty picture. It promises "Secrets, Betrayal, Romance, Revenge and Danger." It delivers on each of these promises! The twenties were often seen as a wild and fun time, but they were a precursor for political disaster on a worldwide scale and I believe the series captured this well.
Man, I haven't seen so many cat fights since General Hospital, Days of
our Lives, or as the World Turns hit the mid-afternoon time slots and
infested American television way back when.
"The Grand" is a series heralding from the mid 90s about the trials and tribulations of a family owned and run hotel in Manchester England circa the first World War. It's a period piece, and full of vibrant female characters and interpersonal conflicts that should appease the most ardent of female viewer-ship. Ostensibly we're looking the social schism of English mid upper society and their servants, and the intrigues that culminate from that rift and intermingling.
Blue bloods and working girls looking for survival, life and love, all the while internecine fighting takes place with the occasional slap, punch, scratch or hair pull after a verbal confrontation conflagrates.
As a guy who, to be honest, welcomes a break from the usual guns and spaceship fare I'm so often exposed to, I do have to admit to getting a little weary of a recycling of themes here. But, when you're aiming for the classic Jane Austen like set (perhaps fast forward 50 or so years), you're going to get a little repetition in the story and thematic departments.
Still, it is a visually attractive, well written, and exceptionally well acted piece of televised theatre. Exceptionally well shot for a TV production (not to mention very well lit, and I rarely say that about any TV show), this is a show to see, if only once.
The themes are adult in nature, so parents with pre-teen girls (or even boys if they're so inclined) might want to screen or caution their young ones as they watch.
This series centers on the people involved in a high class hotel: the
family who runs it, the staff who work there, and the guests. The
setting is Manchester, England, in 1920 and thereafter.
There are 18 episodes. I enjoyed it more as the episodes progressed, and increasingly came to appreciate it as special toward the end and to its conclusion. I recommend the viewer stick with it for at list 6 episodes, before rendering judgment on the whole series.
This production is first class in all respects: storyline, acting, dress and settings, musical accompaniment, etc. The plots of each episode are quite compelling, while underlying themes that develop in twists and turns across the plots are engrossing. Some very powerful drama is therein presented. If you like psychologically valid human relationship drama this should be of interest.
I rank it in the top 10 percent of movies or series I have seen (many thousands).
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