Monday, 28 August 2017

A few quibbles

Last night I watched the first episode of the second series of VICTORIA ... and there were one or two things that jarred with me.

This series is what can best be described as being soap-opera history. This is not to say that it isn't enjoyable to watch, but it tends to simplify events and motivations, and some of characters seem to have an element of caricature about them.

So what jarred?

Firstly the uniforms worn by the soldiers of the British Army didn't look right. The Guards seemed to be wearing uniform coats that only fitted where they touched, and didn't impart the sort of smartness one would have expected. In addition, in one shot I saw bandsmen wearing spiked helmets from much later in the nineteenth century.

Secondly Doctor William Brydon - the first survivor from Elphinstone's abortive retreat from Kabul to reach to British-controlled territory - was brought before Queen Victoria to tell her about the Battle of Gandamak. Despite having travelled all the way back from India (a journey that would have taken several months), he appeared with a bandage wound around his head. Now I know that the Victorians seemed to take exaggerated care when it came to illness and injury, but this defied belief.

Finally the good doctor related that his good friend Captain Souter of the 44th Foot had died singing the National Anthem, and his body was shown lying in the snow. The truth of course is that Captain Souter was one of nine soldiers of the 44th who were not killed by the Afghans.

This all sounds a bit nitpicking on my part, but as far as I can see these are simple points that a half-decent researcher/script adviser should have spotted.

(If anyone from the company making this series reads my blog, I am available to act as a military advisor for a very reasonable fee!)

20 comments:

  1. Historical (hysterical) TV dramas, don't watch them.

    I don't or should I say I'm not allowed to watch them if my good lady is in the same room. I complain too much.

    Watch fiction instead, its usually more credible.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim Duncan,

      Without the enforced melodrama this had the potential to be a good, historical drama ... but then the scriptwriters decided to chose to go well over the top.

      That said, they did put in some wonderfully silly lines that I found hilarious! For example, when a Prince Albert was trying to discuss army reform and his new uniform designs, Victoria replied with something that the 'Carry on ...' films would have been proud of ... 'I am fed up with Albert and his helmet!'

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Gave up half way through the programme - TV don't do good historical drama nowadays , Tony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Good Soldier Svjek,

      I stuck it to the end, mainly because my wife was enjoying it. That said, neither of us take it seriously.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. I too find these qibbles bloody annoying!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ray Rousell,

      These were things that could have been corrected ... had someone done even a minimum amount of historical research.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. I draw your attention to the Digital Spy Forum on UK TV Shows, the thread on Victoria series 2, where viewers are carefully picking the first episode to pieces. Entry number 26 is interesting. One of my followed model boat forums has a thread debating which vessel was used for the warship segment, so it appears everyone has a quibble on some aspect. No doubt series 3 is on the cards.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joppy,

      I shall certainly take a look at that thread on the Digital Spy Forum. It sounds very interesting.

      As to the ship used ... I'd assumed that it was HMS Trincomalee which is preserved in the north east of England.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  5. Movie-makers always answer complaints about accuracy that they are offering entertainment, not history lessons. Well, yes, but why not do both? Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" showed the Tarleton character burning down a church full of civilians. Besides being totally ahistorical (and disgusting), it added nothing to the drama, either.

    Those of us familiar with history know it needs no exaggeration to be dramatic, but apparently the show-biz suits don't. A shame.

    Best regards,

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris,

      Like you, I see no reason why a historical drama cannot be both entertaining and accurate. To give you an example, I am currently reading a book about the life of Valentine Baker. His life story reads like a novel, and if turned into a TV drama or film it would not need any embellishment to make it more dramatic or entertaining.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  6. Someone needs to do it. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. James James,

      Writing down my quibbles helps to stop me making comments whilst the TV programme is on ... and thus avoids annoying my wife!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. My wife refuses to go to any historically based movie with me nor such a TV program. It means that I have to watch a lot of romance to placate her. At 83 romance movies just make me jealous!!

      Delete
    3. Dick Bryant,

      This is a very familiar story ... and one that I could have written myself!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  7. I watched Victoria for the first few episodes of series one simply to look at the lovely Genna Coleman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      I had hoped that they would use her as the first female Dr Who ... but it was not to be. Perhaps one day ...

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  8. Dave Chandler stayed with me for a short time back when he was in the US many years ago. He told me of his experience as adviser on the film "Waterloo". He told me that the director ignored most of his objections except for authenticating various quotes from either Wellington of Napoleon. They didn't even seem to care that just about all the quotes attributed to the two principals during their lives were used for the short time of the battle. I don't believe that he ever accepted another such task.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dick Bryant,

      I think I could just about live with having my suggestions for authenticity rejected ... just as long as they were paying me enough! (I am a mercenary cove at heart!)

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  9. I just look at these types of productions as historical based fiction. If done reasonably well, with good acting (something the BBC is pretty good at), then fun to watch. If not, there is always the abysmal local sports teams or even a good book in the off stage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. William Stewart,

      Yours is a very sensible way to look at this type of TV programme. In this case it is what I should have done ... and just ignored the obvious errors I saw as I watched.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete