Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Historical Has It (the sequel)

What do you mean this has little to do with this post. You don't get more historical then Mr. Darcy!
Last year, on this day, I wrote a post called "The Historical Hast It" in which I enumerated the various books, authors and series that influenced my love of historical fiction.  Or well my love of a certain section of historical fiction.

I thought to return to that topic today, but discuss the shows, movies and serials that influence my taste.

United States History

"Little House on the Prairie" (late 19th century)
Granted I was bound to be interested in this show since a) I love the books and b) I grew up watching Michael Landon on such shows as Bonanza and Stairway to Heaven, but there is something very comforting about watching this show.  Family goes through some terrible hardships, but they pull through it every single time.  It of course ended before I was even born, but re-runs have been constant (even now).

There has also been a number of versions, but I'll take the Michael Landon one over any of the new movies any day of the week. 

Canadian History

"Road to Avonlea" (1903-1912 or so)
I enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables series as well, but while I have fond memories of Anne Shirley I have fonder memories of Sara Stanley (aka The Story Girl) and the King family.  I'm currently in the middle of a rewatch of this complete series (which aired on the Disney Channel for a time and has not been re-run since, to my knowledge at least, domestically).  As a child I identified with Sara quite a bit, but now as an adult I find myself identifying with Felicity in her search for self and growing pains.

This is also one of those 'omg fandom!' shows as so many big names stars guest starred at various points throughout its run.

"Love Comes Softly" and "Love's Enduring Promise"  (19th Century)
While I'm not terribly fond of the books these are based on, nor of the movies after Enduring Promise (Love's Long Journey, the 3rd movie, is tolerable mostly), I enjoy these two for Katherine Hiegl.  At this point in time I only really knew her from Roswell, so it was a change of pace to see her in this setting.  These are also an interesting contrast to my favorite series of hers, the Canadian West books, as they depict a more pioneer experience.

This is however the preachiest movie on this list - but then that's to be expected.

British History

"Blackadder" (multiple time periods)
While this is a comedy series and primarily pokes fun at everything British, the important thing to remember here is that because of this series I became interest in Elizabeth I (season 2, pictured above).  Also its important to remember this is where I first met Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.  This is hilarious even now a couple decades later and oddly accurate at times.

"The Onedin Line" (1860 onwards)
This is the odd duck in the list, though considering my strange fascination with Maritime English (thanks to Road to Avonlea) and crabbing (thank you Elizabeth Ogilvie) I guess this would wind up here.  My dad watched this show that was meant to span generations of the shipping family Onedin, led by the crabby, autocratic James Onedin.  There are few likeable characters, even less likeable secondary characters, but there's a certain intriguing aspect of watching the decline, rise, worse decline and faster rise of this family through about 2 decades.

European History

"Hercules: the Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess"
Before you argue these are about as historically accurate as a goldfish's memory, pray remember this is what influenced my interest in history.  These two shows alone proved a way for me to become intrigued by events in Greece, Rome, Syria, Egypt and countless other places.  I know these shows mess with history but they made history interesting enough for me to look further into.

Also I'm possibly the biggest Iolaus fangirl you will ever find.  Seriously.

Current State of Interest

I would like to say that Jane Austen movies/serials influenced my interest...but that's just not really the case.  I tend to enjoy those movies for the actors moreso then the setting.  Now of course Downton Abbey is a huge historical draw for me, as is shows like "Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End".  "Rome" on HBO was a show both I and my dad enjoyed (though me after it ran its course).

And thanks to dramas like "Jade Palace Lockheart", "Startling With Each Step", "Mystery in the Palace" and "Empresses in the Palace" I'm really interested in the Qing Dynasty just before Yongzheng (5th Qing Emperor) takes power.  (sideline this guide to the Princes of Startling With Each Step, which chronicles the events leading up to Yongzheng usurping taking the throne is hilarious and informative)  They all pretty much are about the same time period, but approach it in different ways (well technically Jade Palace and Startling are the exact same story but I'll talk about that in a separate post).