Monday, February 25, 2013

Review: The Pallisers (1974) -- Episodes 7 - 14

Here is the next part of my review of The Pallisers. I was quite impressed with the first six episodes and eagerly continued to watch it. I expected the focus to still be on the Palliser family, though maybe not as a main focus, but to my disappointment the Pallisers were there only a little bit. However, there is still focus on a fairly interesting story line in that of Phineas Finn, an Irish politician, which becomes the main focus of these episodes.

Note: Unlike most multi-part period dramas, this review doesn't contain spoilers from the previous section. But I encourage you to read the first review.
Box Set

The Pallisers continues with episodes 7 through 14 recounting the events in the next two books in the Pallisers series, Phineas Finn and The Eustace Diamonds. Phineas Finn is an up and coming politician from Ireland that gains popularity quickly, though at times he can be a little naive about his fellow politicians. Later in the episodes, Lizzie Eustace, a recent widow, was given her husband's diamonds as he laid dying, but there is a question as to whether the diamonds actually belong to the estate and whether Lizzie has the right to keep them. Lizzie is determined to keep her diamonds by scheming those around her... until it all goes wrong.

Susan Hampshire (also seen in The Barchester Chronicles) continues to be present in these episodes as Lady Glencora Palliser. A couple of new additions to the cast can be seen in other period dramas, however, and the viewer has a chance to see more familiar faces.

Actor/ActressCharacterAlso Seen In
Susan HampshireLady Glencora PalliserThe Barchester Chronicles as Signora Neroni
Anna MasseyLady Laura Standish/Lady Laura KennedyHe Knew He Was Right as Aunt Stanbury
Mel MartinViolet EffinghamPoldark (1996) as Demelza Poldark
Derek JacobiLord FawnThe King's Speech as the Archbishop of Canterbury

While the Palliser family is still involved in each of the episodes in this part of the series, they aren't the central characters like they were in the first six episodes. Instead, most of the episodes focus on Phineas Finn's political career (only in the last four does Lizzie Eustace come in).

Phineas Finn visiting Lady Laura
While I didn't dislike the story of Phineas Finn, it wasn't my favorite either. I thought that there was too much politics involved: quite a few scenes take place in the House of Commons and involve policies and bill and speeches, which wasn't as interesting as other parts of the story (and some of those scenes seemed to be dragged out a little); however, the scenes that involve his friendships with other MPs weren't bad. Outside of the politics, his story was a little more interesting, but after a while, I grew to be indifferent with him. At first, he seemed like a new politician who just wanted to do his job and do things right, but towards the end, I thought he started making some bad decisions and became too much of a ladies' man. Let's face it, throughout the story, he was involved with at least four women and I grew tired of it quickly and couldn't take him seriously anymore.

Phineas Finn talking with Lady Laura (in green) and
Violet Effingham (in gold).
One of Phineas Finn's love interests, Lady Laura, proves to be a sympathetic character towards the end of these episodes. She actually loved Phineas, but since she was nearly broke after paying off her brother, Lord Chiltern's, debts, she had to marry the rich Robert Kennedy in order to secure her comfort. Overall, she is a likable character who is ultimately in a bad marriage. She does have a jealous nature which comes out when Phineas shows an interest in her cousin, Violet Effingham, but she does try to help Phineas and Violet Spoilers though it ultimately fails. End of Spoilers Violet Effingham, on the other hand, I'm not too sure about. She seemed to be to be an uninteresting character that I could neither like because she wasn't really interesting nor dislike because I had no reason to.

Lizzie Eustace reenacting her book outside.
Towards the end of these episodes, the focus shifts to Lizzie Eustace and her diamonds. From the beginning, Lizzie proves herself to be selfish, greedy, and scheming to get anything she wants... Yet she's just so entertaining to watch. I didn't want her to have her diamonds stolen from her (which ends up happening), but at the same time, I couldn't help thinking that she may not have those diamonds legally. Her story was almost like a comedy especially when she kept fainting when someone would mention the diamonds. Granted, it wasn't a comedy with a happy ending, but there were humorous elements in there.

Madam Max (in black) with Lady Glencora Palliser (in mauve).
Another addition to the cast is Madame Marie Goesler (or also known as Madame Max Goesler, after her deceased husband). She is involved with the Palliser's storyline. At first, everyone is suspicious of her since they believe that she wants to marry the old Duke of Omnium for his position, but as Lady Glencora gets to know her (and even convinces her not to pursue the Duke), everyone grows to like her. She does have a fondness for the duke Spoiler but as it turned out she does not marry him. End of Spoiler I personally liked Marie; she is respectable and clever and is likable overall. From what I saw on IMDB, she is in future episodes, so I look forward to seeing her some more.

I wasn't as impressed with the scenery in these episodes. There were some scenes that I know must not have been sets but were actually on location, but -- I don't know -- the scenery didn't impressed me as much as the first six episodes. Quite a few scenes take place in the parliament house (which is pretty dark, by the way) in Phineas Finn's story. There are also some grand estates that are in these episodes. Lady Laura's home after she married Robert Kennedy is very nice and big. And Lizzie Eustace stays in some nice places.

The costumes are still great! If I remember correctly, the men's costuming still had some plaid in them (which still did not look right, but plaid was popular back then so I guess it's okay). The ladies costumes change from the crinoline dresses of the 1850s/1860s to more of a bustle dress by the end of these episodes. Glencora is still probably the best dressed lady in the entire show, but Lizzie Eustace does have some nice dresses too. Dresses do become more and more decorated as the episodes progress and with so much lace!

Overall: 3/5
I didn't care for this set of episodes as much as the previous set. A lot of it was pretty heavy on the law, which I found myself getting easily bored with. Outside of the law, the plot wasn't bad, though I think I would have preferred more of the Pallisers in the plot since I wasn't very fond of the Phineas Finn story line. The Lizzie Eustace story was interesting, though, and kept me interested in what was going to happen to the diamonds.

Again, there isn't much content to speak of. There might be a couple of suggestive dialogue/scenes (some possibly worth a skip, others not worth it), but these episodes are pretty much TV-PG (maybe slightly some more content than the previous set of episodes, but not by much).

The Pallisers is available on DVD. There are 26 episodes in and and each episode runs at about 50 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Charm
This review (along with the other reviews for The Pallisers) is apart of the Period Drama Challenge. Come join the fun!

Read the Other Reviews!
Part 1, Part 3Part 4
Note: Some of the other reviews might contain spoilers


  1. My Dear Miss Bennet,
    I just started watching The Pallisers and wish there were undertitles.
    Maybe you have some influence, for many of us closed captions would be easier with these wonderful old movies.
    Thank you, Rena

    1. Rena,
      I'm not affiliated with any of the companies that release period dramas, so I probably wouldn't have much influence. But it would have been nice to see close captioning.


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