thief of time

Monday, May 24, 2004

TV Musings

I've actually got a break in my day for the first time in a long time. I knew it was coming up, but I didn't allow myself to expect it, as counting your breaks before they're hatched can be a very disappointing habit indeed.

l've popped into McD's to use their facilities and now am sitting in my car with a tall cup of black coffee and my PDA to try and get a start on another blog.

I was rather tired last night, but thought I'd have a quick look in on a mini-series on Charles II that was supposed to be the show of the week. It was only going to be a quick glance before heading off to bed, but I was stuck there fascinated and ended up seeing the lot.

Being a BBC production, it was very well done indeed. Production values were high, the costumes were gorgeous, the actors were well cast and the script very well written.

None of that is what stuck with me today, though. What struck me was the very strong sense of ''otherliness'' I felt about the characters and their motivations and the whole time period. I don't think you could do a show about aliens and ET's and convey the same sense of The Other as they managed to do in this show.

Even though our civilisation comes directly from this era via 300 years of history and a lot of our institutions found their birth here, I felt very disconnected from these people and their concerns.

Charles was very charming, but so weak and indecisive when you wanted him to show a little backbone, that ultimately you didn't care what happened to him. Everyone in the court seemed to be out for themselves and they schemed so much and took offence at so much that you couldn’t really see the point in it all. Decisions of state seemed to be made for no particular reason at all. People of common sense weren’t listened to and petty nationalistic pride took precedence over national interests (maybe not so alien, after all). The hatred, the anger and the bigotry went from the top of society all the way down. These people that were shocked at the savagery of North American First Nations peoples had very unpleasant ways of dealing with their enemies themselves. The whole court was filled with such nasty, unsympathetic creatures, except for one or two characters, that I felt totally divorced from the whole works of them.

Maybe I’m too used to seeing Hollywood style costume dramas where all the characters are basically modern people in fancy dress expressing all our modern ideas of truth, justice, freedom, tolerance and spunky independence.

We smile at medieval and Renaissance paintings of biblical scenes where the biblical characters are all got up as people from the era of the painter and think “how quaint that they don’t realize how anachronistic they are”, but really, if we look at most movies and series, whenever they’re set, from the far past to the far future, the characters are all recognizably Twentieth Century (now 21st Century) in attitudes, motivations and reactions to situations. I guess we’re all like the old painters that try to fit everything into our mold so we feel more comfortable with what we’ve created.

I’ll have to try and catch the end of the series next week, but I’m afraid I cheated and reread an old history book to refresh my memory about what happened to some of the lesser characters. It’s not exactly like reading the last page of the book. Honest.

Divine right of Kings. Bah, humbug. It’s enough to turn you into a Republican.

Charles II, the Power and the Passion. Try it.


  • I have done a vast amount of research in the area of Biblical Genealogies and have found it to be a fantastic study. There is so much to be learned and the more you study the more areas you find to study. I worked out the entire lineage as well as researched the name meanings in Hebrew and Greek. I then compiled the Ancient Dynastic history of the Middle East so I could compare the Biblical Characters with contemporaries of the time. If you are interested, you might want to check it out at

    By Blogger Dennis Day, at May 10, 2006 at 9:31 a.m.  

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