Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: The Pallisers (1974) -- Episodes 1 - 6

My mom and I have started on another series a while ago! This will also be the first period drama that I will be watching for Miss Laurie's Period Drama Challenge (which if you're not participating in, you should be). I'm splitting up the series into multiple reviews since there is so much that is going on, but all the reviews will count as one period drama for the Period Drama Challenge.

But anyways, my mom and I started watching this series a little while ago. We had already seen three period dramas based off of the books of Anthony Trollope and we enjoyed them (some more than others). My mom happened upon this at Amazon and had asked if I had heard of The Palliswers (which I had heard of a while ago) and she bought it for us to watch. We didn't know too much about this series (I knew it had Susan Hampshire in it, who was also in The Barchester Chronicles, and that it was about politics), so we sat down to watch it without knowing very much of it.

Box Set
Adapted from The Pallisers series written by Anthony Trollope, the first six episodes follow the events in the first book in the series Can You Forgive Her?. Pressured by her aunt to marry the rich and future duke of Omnium, Plantagenet Palliser, Lady Glencora M'Clusky marries the older Mr. Palliser though she is still in love with the roguish Burgo Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, Glencora's cousin, Alice Vavasor, is engaged to John Grey, but she begins to fall back in love with her cousin, George, who she was engaged to but rejected due to his being unfaithful.

There aren't many characters that I recognized in this part of The Pallisers. Susan Hampshire, who plays Lady Glencora, can also be seen in another Trollope period drama, The Barchester Chronicles, as Signora Neroni. Anna Massey, who appears briefly at the end of Episode 6 as Laura Standish, can also be seen in yet another Trollope period drama, He Knew He Was Right, as Miss Stanbury.

Plantagenet and Glencora's wedding
As you watch The Pallisers, you grow to like Lady Glencora. At first, she was a bit frivolous which got on my nerves, but as I continued to watch, she does improve and is even endearing. Sure, she has a bit of a weak constitution at times where she numerously almost goes back with Burgo Fitzgerald, but she ultimately does what is right (though this is often with the help of Alice Vavasor).

As with Lady Glencora, Plantagenet also takes some getting used to. He oftentimes seems very cold to everyone, even Glencora, but he does become more caring. When Glencora tells him how she is unhappy that she was not able to give him a son, he does what he can to make her happy even by turning down a promotion. Ultimately, he is a gentleman who cares for his wife and is determined to make his marriage work.

Alice Vavasor (left) and Lady Glencora Palliser (right)
I had mixed feelings about Alice. Overall, I liked her, but I often wondered at why she would even consider calling off her engagement to John Grey to get herself re-engaged to George Vavasor, who already behaved improperly. And you could tell from almost the beginning that George was not someone to be trusted (and in fact, him and Burgo Fitzgerald often worked together on schemes). Sure, John Grey was supposed to be a boring man, but he was a gentleman! George was a jerk from the start! Spoiler I was happy that Alice ended up marrying John Grey. He was so much better for her. End of Spoiler

The film quality is surprisingly good for a series filmed in the 70s. While there are some scenes that are obviously filmed on a set (especially one scene where Glencora and Plantagenet are riding a carriage through Switzerland), there are others that are out on location and look really nice. The first scene of the garden party was very obviously a scene that must have been filmed on location since everything looked real and nice.

Wow! The costumes were great! And very, very elaborate! From the looks of the costumes, The Pallisers appears to be set sometime in the late 1850s or in the 1860s.

George Vavasor with Alice and his sister. Notice the plaid.
I'll start with the men's costuming (which is shocking for me because I almost never comment on men's fashion). The men's costuming was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, most of the gentlemen looked very nice in their usual Victorian suits and what not: they looked neat and very nicely dressed. But on the other hand (and this could be a fashion trend from the era, but I'd have to do more research on it), some of the men wore plaid! And it looked weird/bad. The plaid mostly appeared on pants or waistcoats, but it just looked so strange! The pants were almost like those loud, plaid golf shorts that you sometimes see around. It just didn't look right.

Alice Vavasor and Lady Glencora at dinner
Now onto the women's fashions. Glencora was probably the best dressed lady on the show (especially her wedding dress!). Her dresses were very nicely decorated and ruffle-ly and were simply gorgeous! She wore mostly bright colors which reflected well on her bubbly personality. Alice Vavasor was dressed more plainly; while her dresses had more muted tones and weren't as decorated as Glencora's, she still had some nice dresses.

Overall: 4/5
The Pallisers is off to a great start! I still have to review the other episodes of this series (there are 26 in all and I'll try my best to divide them up according to the books in the series). I do have a complaint that the sound isn't the best at times and the DVD does not have subtitles (my mom and I use subtitles frequently so we don't miss anything in the plot), so if you watch The Pallisers, you may want to turn your volume up loud (though don't forget to turn it back down when you're done). But nevertheless, The Pallisers is great so far!

There's some suggestive talk (though not very much) and maybe a couple of double entendres (though fairly vague), but other than that there really isn't much content to speak of. I would say that The Pallisers is about TV-G for the most part.

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 -- soon to come, of course) is apart of the Period Drama Challenge. Come join the fun!

Read the Other Reviews!
Part 2Part 3Part 4
Note: Some of the other reviews might contain spoilers


  1. Hmm, I might try this one if I can find it on Netflix. Or maybe I'll just look up the books!

    Checks were fashionable in men's fashion from the 1830s/40s, but you don't see it that often in contemporary period dramas as (I assume) we associate it with the 1970s; if a guy is dressed in a checked suit, it's usually because we're meant to see him as rude and obnoxious.

  2. I had tried watching this series some fifteen years ago and gave up on it. Recently, I started watching it again, and much to my surprise, found it fascinating . . . so far.


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