Parade’s End: An Alternative to Downton Abbey

I first stumbled across this gem of a mini series while browsing the HBO GO series section recently. I am a big fan of Downton Abbey, but at times the show was a little too conservative, and the love story between Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley became a bit tiresome after spanning three seasons. I still love it don’t get me wrong, but I wished there had been a riskier take in the writing of Downton Abbey as a period piece (a period I might add, very few filmmakers care to tap into nowadays). Nontheless, this is a series that no one should pass up. And with only five episodes to its name and no sequel in sight, its an easier show than most to catch up on. 

SPOILERS: Parade’s End follows Christopher Tietjens and his comfortable career as an analyst for his majesty’s government before the Great War has even begun. However, Tietjens grows weary of the dribble that his so called superiors spit out on a daily basis (not to mention his terror of a wife) and decides to join the war effort as an officer. Having a secret crush on a lower class woman, a Ms. Wannop doesn’t exactly help either. Christopher is able to successfully escape his supposed cheating spouse and makes a name for himself as an outstanding officer. Mrs. Tietjens makes multiple attempts to see him while he is training new recruits and fighting on the front, but only one attempt was not in vain (much to the chagrin of his commanding officer). Tietjens shortly finds that war does indeed change a man, and those friends Tietjens had before the war realize how battle has changed their former analyst friend. Mrs. Tietjens soon realizes she was not meant to be with Christopher, and begrudgingly parts ways with her chivalrous husband. Ms. Wannop is finally able to be with the man of her dreams, and Christopher Tietjens can finally live the life he had wanted.

If you aren’t convinced by the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch plays the lead in this tantalizing series (who is most recently famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes in the new modern BBC revival of the classic character and for playing a rather white version of Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness), consider this: Benedict Cumberbatch was also nominated for a 2013 Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of Christopher Tietjens. A nomination he had received previously for Sherlock. He has also been in the media recently for refusing to pose for the paparazzi, and instead holding pieces of paper up asking why the media is covering him walking off of the set of the third season of Sherlock and not the unrest in Egypt (full link here). If you weren’t aware of Mr. Cumberbatch before, become accustomed to him now. He’s not going anywhere but up.

-Caroline Boyd

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Filed under Summer 2013

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