|Index||7 reviews in total|
Riddled with clichés, this daytime drama about the land girls (women
conscripted to work on the land during World War II) is in five parts
and boasts a competent cast in a sanitised script - a very PC and
simplistic view of a country under siege.
We first meet the four new land girls at the start of the first episode - snooty Nancy (Summer Strallen) who wears high heels and expects a soldier to carry her luggage from the station, sisters Annie (Christine Bottomley) and Bea (Jo Woodcock) - one bitter, one naive, and salt of the earth Joyce (Becci Gemmell) whose family were wiped out in the Coventry bombings. We also meet Esther (Susan Cookson), who keeps the girls in order, black-marketeer and farmer Finch (Mark Benton), and the Lord and Lady of the House (Nathaniel Parker and Sophie Ward).
There's also a Home Guard Sergeant, Tucker (Danny Webb) who likes the feeling of being in charge, and in town there's a group of GIs.
From here it is very much ticking the boxes - there's an illicit affair, a soldier going AWOL, suspected collaborators, a marriage based on hate, and a bit of political correctness about black GIs and segregation. It's watchable enough but somehow I was expecting a bit more.
Although it looks great and as if a bit of money has been thrown at it, Land Girls is historically shaky and very much has the air of 'we've seen all this before'. A bit of a missed opportunity.
Well, despite what has been written I thought this was a smashing little series, or three. It is a bit 'soapy' but I don't like soaps yet I like this. It does lean on sentimentality, but in my opinion not too much. More than anything it's a character study, where few characters are either all good or all bad. Mark Benton provides the comic relief and it's something he expertise's in. It does stand as a drama though, the trials and tribulations of a set of decent women in an harrowing time. I've just watched it daily on bbc, and have felt cheer for the characters at a personal time where I need something to believe in. The acting is excellent, the story lines strong. It can be disappointing when characters or actors drop out between series'. But I presume that's a testament in itself. As with all wartime dramas (as opposed to war dramas) it shows the best of British resolve. All I know is, when good things happen to the main characters I feel glad, and when bad things happen I feel sad. And if a drama manages that, it's more than halfway home.
This program has very fine actors doing their best with woefully
inferior scripts. Every character is a stereotype of others we have
seen before. Time and time again they behave stupidly in order to
advance the plot and intensify the false sense of drama. Sorry, but it
just rings hollow and false. There are precious few honest steps taken
through the course of "Land Girls." Instead, the audience is
manipulated, often with the use of modern PC sensibilities. I have
forced myself to watch all fifteen episodes, and it has not been an
easy chore. The scripts of Dominique Moloney, Dale Overton, Paul
Matthew Thompson, Jude Tindall, Joy Wilkinson, and even series creator
Roland Moore fall flat, dumbed down to the shallowest of viewers.
And then, in the midst of all this mediocrity, there comes a single brilliant episode that shows what might have been. Rob Kinsman has written a terrific script for "The Enemy Within," which is episode 3 of series 3. Here the dialogue crackles with intelligence. Suddenly, we are confronted with real people, not television templates. After watching "The Enemy Within," I thought perhaps "Land Girls" had finally found its stride. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Back to the same old predictability we go, and our patience is tested by stupid characters behaving stupidly. Clearly, this production should have hired Rob Kinsman from the start and stayed with him for the entire run. Then they might have really had something to be proud of. As it is, all too often the result is embarrassingly bad.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This series has some fine actors and those familiar with the BBC will recognize them by face if not by name: Mark Benton, Nathaniel Parker, Danny Webb, and Sophie Ward. Unfortunately they are cast in a series that lacks imagination. Set in WWII, the series follows several land girls, city women who volunteered to work on farms as the men were off in the war, and their clichéd lives. Will the status grubbing one be able to push out the current Lady of the manor and snag her husband; will the incredibly naive one get through her petition to integrate the American troops and deal with her one night leg over and inevitable pregnancy by a roguish American soldier; will the plain married one survive the loss of her handsome flier husband? It is hard to care about any of these characters and contrived hardships. I suggest you spend your time with the vastly superior Call the Midwife.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I enjoyed "Land Girls" well enough but got a little tired of the
"obnoxious American" stereotype. The character development of specific
roles was fleshed out a fair amount, some more than others, but
all-in-all pretty well.
The young American corporal that takes advantage of the young WLA girl was a little forced, as were most of the American roles. The imposed American segregation was hit over the viewer's head like battle-axe; and the loud, demanding American ordinance defense contractor wore thin. It seemed it would have been a good opportunity to show how generous the American GIs were famous for being when contributing to local British families or throwing benefits for the numerous orphans moved to the country-side.
The shining stars were definitely the leading ladies of the series. Especially of note was the fine acting prowess of Susan Cookson as Esther Reeves, the senior WLA lady, and her specific moral challenges she encounters. In contrast, Celine Hizli (Connie Carter) performed her role with the finesse of a D-Day invasion. Interesting to watch Mykola Allen (Martin Reeves) mature through the series as his real-life puberty developed in real-time on screen.
I binged watch on Netflix so Land Girls had little more impact than watching it as a weekly TV series. I think it would have moved a little too slowly if I had to drudge along week to week.
I've watched Land Girls to the bitter end, and feel several IQ points
less intelligent now. Really, as other reviewers have said, the series
is rife with historical inaccuracies. But as one BBC spokesman said,
period pieces don't have to be accurate. Really?
Most annoying to me, though, were the episodes in which Martin, the young boy, gets hit in the face by a barn door. He gets up and walks home, with a bit of a headache. But later, he mentions that he "can't see" a page of writing, although somehow he has no problem getting about.
Some days, or weeks? later, he goes to the doctor and finds out he has "detached retinas" (although he can still see), which means he'll go blind without an operation.
Apparently no one did a blind bit of research on this: In order to have both retinas detach, you'd have to be hit extremely hard on the back of the head, and would have not been trotting around soon after. Also, if your retinas are detached, you simply would not be able to see, and after waiting for weeks for the "operation" it's unlikely that there would still be any viable tissue left. 20 years after this period piece, retinal surgery was still in its infancy, with low rates of success.
Of course the "operation" was a plot device that had consequences that took the series through several episodes.
But really, is it that difficult for script writers to do a bit of research? I think they must count on people being so ignorant about history and other facts that they don't notice glaring errors. Perhaps they think we all have retinal detachments.
I knew we were in trouble when we borrowed the DVD from the library and
saw that it had won awards for best daytime drama with the keyword
there being 'daytime'. It's a soap opera. Nothing more and nothing less
and should be treated as such by anyone prepared to sit through this
Why would an actors as talented as Nathaniel Parker or Sophie Ward want to demean themselves by appearing in this dreadful series? One can only wonder.
The acting is decent but they are all left trying to do their best with an awful script. The characters are stereotypes; the plot twists fully predictable and we've seen it all over and over again many times in the past. No attempt has been made by the writers to come up with anything original. In short, it's rubbish and nonsense.
The soap opera conclusion we had quickly reached was only reinforced by the closing line from one of the lead characters in episode 1 being "what shall we do now?" ... making one presumably keen to find out by watching the next episode tomorrow? Well sorry, I just didn't care by then.
Incidentally, the plot of black American soldiers being barred from British pubs etc at the insistence of the American military so that white American soldiers didn't have to mix with them was covered (I'm tempted to say copied exactly!) in an earlier episode of Foyle's War and which did it far more justice.
My wife and I watched the first episode of series 1 and felt that was far more than enough as the 45 minutes felt more like a tedious hour and a half that could have been better spent doing something else. I'd suggest others save themselves the wasted time and watch something like Foyle's War if you are looking for a quality British wartime drama.
Perhaps the most mysterious of all is why the producers made two further series of this. I'd hate to think the British public so undiscerning in its tastes that they actual enjoyed this production!
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