Sumptuous costumes, lavish sets, addictive plots: small wonder costume dramas are so captivating. This splendid collection features four Masterpiece Theatre favorites: Doctor Zhivago (with Keira Knightly, written by Andrew Davies), Lillie (with Cranford's Francesca Annis), Lost Empires (Colin Firth, Laurence Olivier), and Series 1 of the original Upstairs, Downstairs. A 5-part documentary features interviews with the writers, directors, and stars of landmark period dramas. 15 DVDs, about 36 hrs, CC or SDH, some B&W. Mature audiences.
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Episode 1: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
Costume dramas have shaped television tastes of today through explosive stories of yesteryear. In 1978, Edward and Mrs. Simpson rankled royals, and 1971's Upstairs, Downstairs served up issues that resulted in a partial ban in the States. Brideshead Revisited and The Jewel in the Crown brought cinema-quality production to 1980s TV.
Episode 2: The Stars
Costume dramas ignited young performers' careers and benefited from the glow of established stars. Alex Kingston's Moll Flanders led her to ER, and Keira Knightley's Lara in Doctor Zhivago got Hollywood calling. Conversely, Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall and Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe defied typecasting in My Boy Jack.
Episode 3: Affairs of the Heart
The "bodice rippers" of the 1990s helped costume dramas shed their staid reputation as quickly as characters doffed their period garb. Colin Firth's wet-shirt scene in Pride and Prejudice and the romps of Moll Flanders epitomized a slew of saucy literary adaptations. Earlier dramas like Edward the King exposed royal infidelities.
Episode 4: Picture Perfect
The pursuit of high production values drove costume dramas out of the studio and into real castles and countryside. Castle Howard attracted tourists after appearing in Brideshead Revisited, rugged Cornwall lent local color to action-packed Poldark, and a Lithuanian river became a Renaissance-era Thames for Helen Mirren's Elizabeth I.
Episode 5: A Call to Arms
Costume dramas spawned an army of dashing heroes in uniform, but not all fought with the aplomb of Sean Bean's Sharpe or Ioan Gruffudd's Horatio Hornblower. The Monocled Mutineer opened a controversial chapter of World War I and A Piece of Cake's flying stunts rewrote the Battle of Britain.
Packaging: Boxed set
Run Time: 225 minutes
Number of Discs: 2
Color or B&W: Color
Region Code: 1
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
"The costume drama remains the greatest of escapes." --Daily Mail (UK)