The jewel is India.
April 22, 2015 11:56 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend and I have watched the full run of The Jewel in the Crown (minus the last episode, which is next week) on our local PBS affiliate, and we are entranced. We tried to get the "flavor" of the show by watching other adventure films with similar themes-- Out of Africa was a bust, though The Constant Gardener was pretty good. Maybe what we're looking for is more period British drama, or miniseries with romance and gorgeous locations but also a sense of weight and seriousness?

The other miniseries we've heard lives up to JitC is Brideshead Revisited, and as two lapsed Catholics we're happy to add that to our list. What other shows-- especially multiparters and miniseries-- or even movies might provide similar satisfaction?

The main elements I can identify are: beautiful locations, questions of political and social significance, admirable characters one might wish to actually be, romance and drama without pointless schlockiness (i.e., Downton Abbey). Britishness is also a fun perk, and I think I'm more likely to be ignorant about non-American shows and miniseries. What else will we like?
posted by easter queen to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Movie, not miniseries, but I can't imagine you wouldn't want to watch the Merchant-Ivory movie A Passage to India. If you like that, you may like other Merchant-Ivory/E.M. Forster films as well--I'm particularly fond of A Room with a View, although it might be a little fluffier than you'd like.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:15 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Haven't watched it recently, but I remember liking Fortunes of War with Kenneth Branagh and Emma THompson. I think it hits the things you are looking for.
posted by readery at 12:20 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The Forsyte Saga

The Pallisers
posted by travertina at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's been on my watch list forever, but I, Claudius sounds like it somewhat fits the bill. Though judging by the trailer there won't be many 'beautiful locations.'

Outlander (a WWII combat nurse somehow gets thrown back in time to a Scottish rebellion in 1743 ; trailer) is currently streaming on PBS. It's got the romance and the beautiful locations, though I'm not sure how deep it goes into questions of political significance. I'm only on episode 2, though ... it might get deep. I think the episodes only stay up for a few weeks at a time, so check it out soon.

If you're ok with subtitles, I thought that Isabel (about Isabel of Castile's rise to power; trailer) was amazing. It's on Drama Fever (two seasons) and Hulu (one season).

From Italy, La meglio gioventù (Best of Youth; a miniseries that follows the life of two brothers from 1966-2000) (clip) was also fantastic. Beautiful locations (Tuscany! Norway! Sicily!); great actors playing complex characters, and deals seriously with issues like the counterculture, the Red Brigades, mental illness, etc.
posted by kanewai at 12:37 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Besides Merchant Ivory, there's also White Mischief.
posted by Nevin at 12:46 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: A Town Like Alice is very gripping, but you don't get so much in the way of gorgeous costumes and scenery that you get in earlier period dramas.
posted by puddledork at 1:17 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: The Flame Trees of Thika, Elspeth Huxley’s memoir of colonial Kenya right before the First World War was made into a Thames series in the early 80s. Not nearly as dark or deep as JitC, but otherwise similar in terms of stunning exotic locale, colonial themes etc.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

The French movie The Horseman on the Roof comes to mind.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 1:39 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: The English Patient.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: Seconding A Town Like Alice - you want the Bryan Brown/Helen Morse version. Trouble is, there is no official release of that (that I'm aware of).
posted by plinth at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: 2nding A Room With A View

Adding The Golden Bowl and (slightly more modern) The Remains of the Day
posted by Mchelly at 1:51 PM on April 22, 2015

Also (not British, so may be off base, but hits all your other "main elements") Monsoon Wedding
posted by Mchelly at 1:54 PM on April 22, 2015

Classic 1980 mini-series, Shogun (Englishman in 17th c. Japan). To a lesser extent, The Thornbirds, set in Australia, which might be a little too melodramatic and schmaltzy for you.
I agree that The Horseman on the Roof is a beautiful and romantic movie. Around the same time that was released, there was Queen Margot, also French, and also an epic, romantic adventure.
Beautiful locations and epic stories: The Last Emperor (Early 20th c. China) and Reds (Revolutionary Russia). The Last Emperor, especially, is a beautiful, visually stunning movie.
posted by hiker U. at 2:09 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: Neither of these hits all your criteria, but since I think they're among the best miniseries ever made I'll mention them anyway: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Singing Detective.
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark at 2:17 PM on April 22, 2015

How about a Bollywood remake of a British novel? Bride & Prejudice has a British feel and the location shots are drop-dead gorgeous, if it lacks the political significance.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:23 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

You might enjoy Lagaan: Once Upon a time in India, about an Indian village that rebels against excessive taxes by challenging the British to a cricket game.
posted by mogget at 2:27 PM on April 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

The original Elizabeth R
posted by canoehead at 2:37 PM on April 22, 2015

A strong second for Lagaan: Once Upon a time in India. Serious, yet fun, with singing and dancing tossed in.
posted by cccorlew at 4:09 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: Flambards --series set in England around WW1. Poldark - set in England after the Revolutionary War. Adam Bede - another beautiful series.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 4:23 PM on April 22, 2015

And Lagaan, Monsoon Wedding and Bride and Prejudice are most awesom movies.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 4:26 PM on April 22, 2015

Indian Summers is set in 1930s Simla (actually filmed in Penang), running currently in the UK (or maybe it's finished already? I've lost track) and will be on PBS at some point.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:04 PM on April 22, 2015

Best answer: A Town Like Alice - same time period but in Malaya and Australia. I loved Jewel in the Crown but A Town Like Alice was even better. Hard to find though. Someone put the entire thing on You Tube in increments but I'm hoping PBS will bring it back like they did JITC.

The book, originally titled The Legacy but later called A Town Like Alice, is also very good. (As is the Raj Quarter that JITC is based on.
posted by knolan at 9:28 PM on April 22, 2015

Not British, but I liked The Painted Veil.
posted by naoko at 9:38 PM on April 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lost Empires (1986), with an ancient Laurence Olivier and a scary Brian Glover and a baby Colin Firth.
posted by pracowity at 4:49 AM on April 23, 2015

Best answer: Seconding "The Flame Trees of Thika." My wife and I watched it back in the 80s and it stuck with us. We watched it again on DVD fairly recently and felt it held up well.
posted by maurice at 8:52 AM on April 23, 2015

Maaaaaybe you'd want to try Wolf Hall? It's obviously neither the same time period nor location as JiTC, but it is certainly visually sumptuous, deeply serious, and very sexy, all at once. Currently airing on PBS.
posted by artemisia at 9:22 AM on April 23, 2015

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