The Tide of Life

Typical Cookson but Gillian Kearney is a Shining Star


This Cookson melodrama was marginally more bearable than many I have seen due to the presence of Gillian Kearney, who plays our heroine, Emily. She was adorable. Unfortunately, her character puts up with way too much from her abusive lover who beats her, steals from her, cheats on her, refuses to marry her, lies to her, etc. Why? Why? Why? As is far too usual in a Cookson pot-boiler, this farmer, who married for money, and then was cut out of any rights to his dead wife’s property, starts off as a really good guy. Luckily, the real good guy turns up in the last 45 minutes, cleverly disguised as a questionable sort, being, as he is, an ex-con, imprisoned for murder in America and the first and only true husband of Emily’s dead employer and our farmer’s dead wife. Cookson’s heroines are just too Thomas Hardy for me. A little buffeting by fate is fine, to get things going, but not all the way through the whole dang story without relief or a little self- determination.**6 stars out of 10**

June 22, 2017

The Girl

Too Much Badness

I guess the Catherine Cookson model for historical dramas just does not float my boat. This was somewhat entertaining, but I just don’t like all of the sorrow, suffering, and angst in my dramas. Her stories are just dark all the way through. Even when people are happy, there is some fly in the ointment. I do not mind some darkness in my dramas: I loved Little Dorrit, and Middlemarch for example. I love the series based on Elizabeth Gaskell novels. Loved Downton Abbey. These are just humorless. And boy there is a ton of them. I think I have seen enough to know I don’t want to suffer through anymore of these to find the ones that I do like. I did like The Rag Nymph, and The Glass Virgin back in the day. Not sure why, but they were different in some way while still being the same basic plot. I suspect it was the actors and the characters they played. **6 out of 10**

June 21, 2017

Tilly Trotter

Not My Cup of Tea

****Major Spoilers**** not only for this drama but for the trilogy of books.***** I have enjoyed other mini-series based on Catharine Cookson’s melodramas, but I guess Tilly Trotter just was not my cuppa. I liked the Tilly character: she was strong and good. But the men in her life were head swiveling-ly weak and unreliable. Her first love, the farmer, is dumber than dirt to begin with but a very good kind person. Then, when he is finally free of his unhappy marriage out of the blue, we learn in the last episode, we see him nailing the county nymphomaniac. In the barn. Instead of finding Tilly. Now, I understand, reading about the trilogy of novels, that he ends up being her enemy and a really bad guy.

Luckily, the 2 sequels were not made into movies, because, indeed, some pretty upsetting things happen there. She ends up marrying one of the children she was governess to? Hello, Mary LeTourneau? No. Just no. No wonder they stopped at the first novel. I’m not even going to start on the detour to Texas.

The man she ends up with in this drama gets set up as the bad guy by yelling at his boisterous children and having an affair. We hardly can blame him when we learn more about his evil wife. Tilly saves his life in the mine, and he becomes a good guy once he is permanently crippled and amputated. His wife leaves him, and he basically lets her take the children with her without fighting for them. Given the rights of mothers and women back then, he had a good chance of winning custody. Then he mopes about it throughout the rest of the movie. He is a great father when they visit him, but he never gets the kids back and his wife never gets her comeuppance. Their mother and their grandmother were just left to warp those poor kids, practically with the blessing of our hero and heroine.

Then we have the ending. After her childhood crush disappoints her she immediately decides to become her employer’s mistress. She gets in his bed, and the whole series ends. Just like that. Although Tilly Trotter ends on a positive note, there is little hope for a long-term happy future. By taking her as his mistress, (and in the books, getting her pregnant,) he will ruin her reputation and doom her to bad times ahead. I don’t mind tragedy, melodrama, or death in my historical dramas. Really, I don’t. But I like my heroes to be either redeemed or strong and good all the way through. They can be flawed, but their other positive character traits or good actions must vastly outweigh the bad. And I like my heroines to end up with happy secure futures. I like my villains to get justice. I like closure. Call me crazy. **5 out 10 stars**

July 16, 2017