Friday, November 12, 2010


For me, the ultimate feel good TV: Masterpiece Theater's CRANFORD returned this week to PBS for an encore. What's the attraction many of us have to English country village life in the Victorian era? Me, I'm re- reading 'Nicholas Nickelby' in time for Christmas. It used to be that all the old MGM Dickens based movies aired around Christmas, even though few of them except the obvious had anything to with Christmas. And neither Dickens's nor Elizabeth Gaskell, author of the Cranford novels depict phony jollity of unrealistic dippy lives. But there's also a gentleness in the story telling, as if its understood we are all to be forgiven for our foibles by book's or TV program's end. Mistakes are made, tragedies occur but the sense that people are for one another the best they can (some better than others) is always front and center.

Case in point. Here's one of the lovliest scenes: In Cranford, Miss Matty, a beloved lady in the village, loses all her money when her bank fails. The other ladies, at times finicky, petulant, silly, wise and strong get together and decide, no nonsense now, to establish a fund for Miss Matty. She must never know of this so she "is not compromised in any way." All happily agree to give what they can. And for many it can't be much at all, but no one refuses (joyful givers all). One of the older ladies runs after Miss Matty's young protege to tearfully apologize that her own contribution must be so little "but I haven't more than one hundred pounds to live on". She would be mortified if her small contribution was seen to indicate a lack of regard for Miss Matty. Like I said, lovely. Beautful TV and beautiflly acted. CRANFORD. Go find the DVD in the library. Both volumes. Elzianeth Gaskell's novles from the 1860s are a joy to read, as well. Cuddle up.

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