Binge-Watching The Pallisers: A Guilty Pleasure

From a late episode of The Pallisers, a 26 part TV series available on DVD. Picture copyright of BBC via the International Movie Database.

A Guilty Pleasure ….because I couldn’t watch just one!

I took a hard fall in September and wasn’t able to sit at a desk for several weeks. Fortunately, I had purchased the first six episodes of the 1974 BBC series The Pallisers and finally got around to watching them when I was spending my days in the recliner. After the first six, I definitely wanted more!

Thank heaven I eventually found the entire series on YouTube — all 26 glorious episodes.

If you want better picture quality, the 40th Anniversary reissued edition won’t fit in your Christmas stocking, but ask Santa, anyway. (Under $50 for over 20 hours of entertainment.)

It may take you a few episodes to get addicted to the plot; meanwhile the excellent costumes will keep you intrigued — although I was hooked by an early episode in which two horrible old Victorian ladies explain that, after her forced marriage produces an heir to the dukedom, a married woman is permitted to follow her own inclinations….

The novels on which the series is based cover several decades of fictionalized English history.  Anthony Trollope, who published them between 1864 and 1879, was as cynical about the workings of Parliament as he was about romance.

The costumes, therefore, progress from crinolines to bustles, and (surprisingly) through several pregnancies. Yes, the ladies have zippers down their backs — They are wearing costumes, and costumes are made to be re-used as rentals. But they are lavish and character oriented, as well as befitting a duchess and her circle of acquaintances. (And Susan Hampshire has always worn period costumes  — any period! — with complete naturalness.)  Raymond Hughes is the only costume designer credited. It was a massive undertaking.

Cover of the re-issued DVD series — 26 glorious episodes. Image copyright BBC and Acorn via Amazon.

Will passionate, romantic Cora give up the man she loves to marry the stiff, unemotional heir to a Dukedom, as their families have arranged? If so, will she be faithful? Will her husband survive a career in politics and marriage to Cora with his (and her) honor intact?

Can the son of an Irish country doctor afford to be a Member of Parliament — and how many women will be sacrificed to his ambition? (Money and Politics — still a timely topic! Ditto, Love and Loyalty.)

Will a slimy newspaper editor with political ambitions ruin men and women while paving his own way to power? (Long before the internet!)

Will the next set of costumes be even more lavish than the last?

I started watching for the costumes, and ended up unable to ration myself just one episode per day. (“I’ve been sitting her for three hours? even though I haven’t had dinner? How could I?”

But I regard those 20 hours in the recliner as time well spent. One quibble: not all the actresses were corseted properly. Nevertheless…. I loved it.

(P.S. I am walking normally now.)

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3 Comments

Filed under 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Costumes for the 19th century, Late Victorian fashions, Maternity clothes, Menswear, Mid-Victorian fashions, Musings, Resources for Costumers

3 responses to “Binge-Watching The Pallisers: A Guilty Pleasure

  1. Glad you’re walking okay again!!! Sound like an interesting show. I’ll have to check it out. 😀

  2. Firstly, I am happy you are recovered. I had a recent knee replacement and am also recovered! I first watched The Pallisers when it was released in the 1970s on PBS. Having devoured The First Churchills, with Susan Hampshire and John Neville, it wasn’t a stretch to become addicted to The Pallisers. I must search out the dvds. Also of note, the current movie The Favourite, covers some of the same historical period as The First CHurchills, but the TV series is a lot more tame.

    • Congrats on your new knee! On a plane years ago, my husband met a man on his way to hike in the Andes mountains — he was celebrating having two new knees! And he told my husband about his pair of hiking poles (said they take 15 to 25 lbs off your knees) — inspiring my husband to give me my favorite present ever! I have a pair and love them. (Too bad I was running errands, not taking a brisk walk with them when I fell!) They have saved me from many “trips” on uneven surfaces. I was lucky — “Just” some pulled muscles and bruises this time. If you haven’t tried the “two pole” walk, which makes me swing my arms from the shoulder and limber up my back on a 30 minute walk, ask your doctor about them. I walk in the city and get asked if I’m going skiing….

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