Figuratively speaking, I imagine that somewhere in the underground vaults of the BBC there must have been a creative team meeting where, hooked up like the precogs from The Minority Report (2002), experts with algorithms popped out pristine spherical orbs, each one etched with the names of popular shows and formats. The job of the British Tom Cruise then, is to combine this data and anticipate where future hits might occur. He’s tired, what with all the BBC budget cuts that the British government are threatening; so he needs to demonstrate that his organization is both traditional: it can still deliver prestige products which do rather well abroad, and progressive: it can still remain relevant to the license fee payers.
In this meeting, three globes roll down a Perspex tube and come to rest on a soft satin cushion: Period Drama, Fifty Shades of Grey, and Game of Thrones. Looking at these statistical gifts, Tom remembers that period dramas have always been moderately successful. “Mr Darcy sexily strolling out of the lake in the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice did rather well with the female demographic, and the 2008 film The Duchess — in which Keira Knightley played Georgiana Cavendish, a feisty Duchess from the late 18th century, also seems quite empowering and modern in it’s own way. We’ll take those parts and ditch the boring wordy bits. Also, I’m not sure how much a woman can be sexually objectified, but if we throw in a scene where she discusses Alexander Pope and writes some poetry, then our heroine might still look like she’s secretly in control because she’s intelligent.”
“Furthermore,” Tom continues, “if we also add in several garbled and jarring references to Lady Worsley being a ‘modern’ with a ‘new kind of love based on liberty [and] free will’, then the viewer at home will hopefully think to themselves: “Wow, this is just like those modern reality shows that I watch, which I can totally relate to, but with more tight britches and lace being dropped to the floor. Nice.” At the least, they might not consider how shallow a male character that can only robotically spout ‘do my bidding’ is when juxtaposed with a wife whose dastardly idea of revenge is primarily to spend lots of money on pretty hats and ribbons”…
The full 1,500 word version of this review is published at PopMatters.com, where you can read the rest of the article for free.