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The Durrells In Corfu

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First I heard of it was tonight after Indian Summers :)  Yes, looking forward to it -- I remember reading Gerrard Durrell's books when I was but a young thing.

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Out of curiosity I watched the older adaptation, a movie with a young Matthew Goode and Russell Tovey as Lawrence Durrell and the gun-crazy Durrell boy respectively - it was okay, a bit too broadly funny for my taste.  This new version looks more attractive to me.

I am looking forward to tonight.

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Interesting anachronism in episode one with the reference to the daughter's bathing suit as a "bikini", when the term wasn't invented until 1946.

Also, apparently Larry was married and his wife was part of the entourage that moved to Corfu, although this story is based on Gerald's memoirs, which didn't mention the wife, so she has conveniently disappeared.

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I think this show is hilarious! This family is so quirky! Some of the stuff does make it seem a bit unbelievable that this is set in the 1930s though, but I don't really care! Or maybe I don't know anything about the 1930s. *shrugs*

The mom and the son have been in stuff and I can't think of any of it. 

My favorite characters so far are the mom, Jerry and his new fellow animal enthusiast friend (I don't know his name :P). Spira (?) is pretty great too and the new old housekeeper (?) is totally going to be a hoot. 

I really need to learn the characters' names!

**Looked up the names and apparently Jerry is Gerry and Spira (?) is Spiros. I was close :P And Gerry's friend is Theo.

Edited by HoodlumSheep
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I had never seen any previous version of the story, so was charmed by this. I can easily see how, if told from Gerry's pointy of view, it becomes a fun kids' show about cool animals. I think they wisely decided to focus this adaptation on Louisa, with enough time parsed out to each of the kids. They are indeed quirky, and I like that each is permitted to be annoying and human, and that Louisa is both rightfully exasperated by the lot, but clearly wants the best for them. It will never cease to amuse me that Leslie stole the letter "X" from Larry's typewriter to keep him from writing about sex.

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I wish I could run off to Corfu at the moment.  I like it, the ever luminous Keely Hawes is terrific as the mother and I love little Gerry and his passion for animals.

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I think I first noticed Keeley Hawes in,  "Under the Greenwood Tree,"  but she's been in many, many UK productions.  American Masterpiece viewers saw her as the lead in the new, "Upstairs Downstairs," but she does the modern stuff, too, like their MI-5 series and occasional movies like, "Death at a Funeral."  My husband has been addicted to the Lara Croft video game for the past 18 years so he's used to Keeley's voice as Lara.

Edited by JudyObscure
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The mom and the son have been in stuff and I can't think of any of it. 

If you mean the younger son, he was in the Ian McKellen movie Mr. Holmes.

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What else was Keenly Hawes is

Keeley has also been in Ashes to Ashes, Wives and Daughters, an episode of Doctor Who and the Vicar of Dibley among many other things.  And we will see her in December in the US when the Hollow Crown: War of the Roses is shown (she is playing Queen Elizabeth).   And, fyi, she is married to Matthew Macfadyen.   

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I thought this first episode was pretty wonderful.  For the first 20 minutes or so, I was blown away by the colors!  Seemed like everything from the sea to the clothing to the architecture, everything was teal or blue, gorgeous!  The family is enchanting, not sure who my favorite will be, but I suspect it will be Gerry with his love of animals (pelican!).  Popeye the sailor-man who came a-courting was hilarious, and I think Spiros is a worthy suitor.  Can't wait til next week.

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One of Keely Hawes first major roles was as the female lead in a wonderful adaptation of Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend". That was the first time I ever saw her.

I bet the actors had a wonderful time filming this on location.

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5 hours ago, Brattinella said:

For the first 20 minutes or so, I was blown away by the colors!  Seemed like everything from the sea to the clothing to the architecture, everything was teal or blue, gorgeous! 

As well as a wonderful deep peach. Corfu is definitely the star of the show for me.  I could stay all day on the beach, smoking with the young monk.

 

5 hours ago, M. Darcy said:

And, fyi, she is married to Matthew Macfadyen.   

 Oh dear, I can just picture them at home.  Keeley chattering on in her  posh and plummy voice while Matthew sits and looks like he's about to cry. I hope they have amusing servants to keep them from becoming depressed.

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It was gorgeous, but I found it a bit too frantic for my taste, although I will tune in next week in the hope we're given more reason to actually like and care about these people. I have only vague memories of the 2005 series which I liked immensely (it was only a one-off).  (There was also apparently an 8-part 1987 versions)  For "the dirt" on the real story:  daily mail

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I'm such a fan of Gerald's books that the series is a little off in that "not how it was described" way, but hopefully I can let that go and enjoy this as a separate entity. Although Gerald lampooned his family mercilessly, he always portrayed them with deep affection and good humor, and it looks like the series will carry that through.

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Saw this before through 'ways and means' and wanted to smack ALL the kids. Keely Hawes was also unrecognizable in the  'Line of Duty'. Maybe I will give it another try.

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I liked the version of it they did about 10 years ago. That version was more in line with the books.. The books are from Gerry's point of view, which make them delightful and his family is portrayed as eccentric. 

This appears to be the morose, realistic version of things.

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Good:  I wholeheartedly agree that shrugging off my life and moving to Corfu suddenly seems irresistible.

 

Bad:  I'm considerably less enchanted by three adult children who are all about indulging their own whims as long as Mum's stipend arrives each month with sufficient drachmas to pay some ancient impoverished day-labor to help her keep them in beer 'n skittles and freshly ironed clothes.  And I appreciate the Mother actress, but it's tough to cheer for the person who raised bulldozers and is frustrated to find herself constantly flattened.

I liked the rapport between the kid and his bird-watcher friend, but when he dropped his new tortoise off in the middle of the food prep and scampered out again in search of other creatures, it crossed my mind that he could be well on his way to becoming a knob like his sibs--has this mother ever corrected any of her children and made it stick?

 

On the other hand, several of my favorite posters loved it, so maybe I have a big stick lodged aft.  I'll readjust that and try to see these people as more charming than irresponsible.

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I dunno. This show seems to just reaffirm my childless state. (Not that I am in any danger of relinquishing it, but still.)

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@attica  I get that reaffirmation every day from TV commercials (and shows) that let children order their parents around and get away with murder.

Especially when the parents coo and praise their rotten children for misbehaving "Oh, it's their creativity!".

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1 hour ago, attica said:

I dunno. This show seems to just reaffirm my childless state. (Not that I am in any danger of relinquishing it, but still.)

 

47 minutes ago, Brattinella said:

@attica  I get that reaffirmation every day from TV commercials (and shows) that let children order their parents around and get away with murder.

Especially when the parents coo and praise their rotten children for misbehaving "Oh, it's their creativity!".

Let's move to Corfu and get a tri-plex on the beach!

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2 hours ago, candall said:

I liked the rapport between the kid and his bird-watcher friend, but when he dropped his new tortoise off in the middle of the food prep and scampered out again in search of other creatures, it crossed my mind that he could be well on his way to becoming a knob like his sibs--has this mother ever corrected any of her children and made it stick?

“It's all your fault, Mother,' said Larry austerely; 'you shouldn't have brought us up to be so selfish.'

'I like that!' exclaimed Mother. 'I never did anything of the sort!'

'Well, we didn't get as selfish as this without some guidance,' said Larry.”
― My Family and Other Animals

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2 hours ago, candall said:

has this mother ever corrected any of her children and made it stick?

Really.   When they first got there, I expected to see them all  pitching in to clean and paint their new house, but no, it was all, Later Mum  We're off to do fun stuff and buy cigarettes with our mysterious money source. 

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What does 'ways and means' mean?

Sneaky methods.  Secret Websites laden with ads and virus that show every single wonderful shows that air in Britain - which I find much, much better than American shows.

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I like the animal loving youngest boy.  I don't have much use  for Larry aka the later famous author Lawrence Durrell (quite a piece of work in real life from what I read), and the gun crazy son and the teen daughter come across as annoying caricatures in both this and the older adaptation. 

Pity Mum can't ditch them all for her own sanity. But for my own entertainment this is fun to watch. Since I don't have to live with these brats I just chuckle and roll my eyes at them.

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I haven't see this (yet), but I read My Family and Other Animals a few years back.  I was laughing so hard I scared the people around me.

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Brattinella some of them make the effort to clean out their websites. Seriously that's where I can catch good BBC shows like Our Girl, Line of Duty, The last unseen season of The Musketeers, Poldark, Indian Summers and I am sure I can see Victoria before it airs. And of course this show.

Edited by skyways

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Had no idea what this was about, but I'm so glad I watched!  My, the children are BRATS (except the youngest), but I think this move to Corfu is already starting to affect them positively.  The boy with the gun is trying to learn the language (for a girl, but still, at least he's making an effort) and the girl has had a lightbulb moment about how very different men and women are treated in the world.  

Why is the sex-crazed writer trying to set his mother up with Popeye when she has two yummy appealing options in Gerald's new animal-loving friend and the taxi driver?  I don't know which way we're going there, but I like both men at this stage.  

I hope this continues to be as charming and hilarious as it has been so far because I'm loving it.  

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In the first episode when they arrived on Corfu, the  youngest boy looked at a lizard on a tree.  It looked to me like a bearded dragon, native to Australia.  Is there a similar species on Corfu, or was that a blooper?  (Possibly an escaped pet, but a Corfu lizard would be more appropriate.)

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Didn't need to see Larry spew his guts. Ick! And then that lady was going to bury the puppies alive! :(

Theo is totally turning into the jack of all trades. Zoologist, ornithologist, surgeon...

Spiros is definitely one of my faves. He's ultimate best friend goals.

margo, girl...Max is clearly not worth your time. 

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rewatched episode #1 -- tired, cold in need of a break -- and liked it better. I think viewers -- or rather "me", I have to accept that "quirky Englishmen" and "adorable moppet" will be recurring themes and just.get.over.it.  There's a lot else and it's lovely seeing Keeley Hawes playing someone for flesh-and-blood (it may be the 30's but she feels quite real). 

Someone above mention the somber versus  lachrymose Mr. Macfadyen ... and I must defend the man -- he was hilarious in Anna Karenina (the best thing in that movie); see also The Designated Mourner .and all his work with  S. Poliakoff   I wish them both a happy marriage though a two-career marriage on their level is difficult to manage.  Challenges seem to be few these days, so many A-list actors not working from year to year.  I miss Mr. MacFadyen since Ripper Street is generally too violent for me to manage (I can try and try, and I still fail). I've seen Hawes as stuck in amber, in period roles, so this is a great chance for her to be vivacious and I think she's doing a bang up job. 

Edited by SusanSunflower · Reason: misspelled
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9 hours ago, HoodlumSheep said:

And then that lady was going to bury the puppies alive! :(

I know farmers used to do this to litters of puppies and kittens to keep the farm from having a hundred animals running around, before spaying and neutering became a thing, but I'm pretty sure it was done immediately after birth, before everyone had a chance to get to know them.  It's all horrible, but somehow drowning the half asleep newborns doesn't seem quite so bad as six week old squirming, yapping puppies!  Come on show!

I'm glad Larry made some money for the family, but his desire to set his mother up with a sex life is getting  more and more squicky.  Leslie just disgusts me for some reason, he's the type I would cast as the evil, Nazi youth.  The daughter's lack of any pride whatsoever was getting very hard to watch, too. I'm just hoping the farmer/ surgeon hobbyist will set a good example for one of them.

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Maybe I have been watching too many sickeningly sweet families on TV, or else the families I am around in real life are quite horrible, but i kind of love how realistic the Durrells seem to be with each other. They DO pull together during a crisis, but I got a kick out of the boys each being pushed into supporting Margot's self-esteem and failing miserably.

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Last week I gave the children some credit for seeming to make an effort, but nah, they're terrible shits (except for Gerald, who is a precious puppy-saving cupcake).  The girl was WAY too desperate for Max's attention (sorry, but I found it hilarious when he gave Margie-Bargie a resounding NO), and the one with a gun was a turd to his mother (when she needed help with the ceiling) and his sister (whom he called fat!).  And I don't think I was supposed to have this reaction, but I laughed when the eldest boys shot the gun, fell down the hill, and nearly killed himself.  LOL.  

I love that Louisa wrestled that book money out of her recuperating son's hands because frankly, he should be expected to step up and help his widowed mother, who is raising a family of five (plus pets) ALL ON HER OWN.  And I love that Louisa made Spiros take a puppy, despite his objections.  

Speaking of Spiros...yeah, I totally ship him with Louisa.  I know that in the first episode, one of the kids pointed out that he had a picture of his family in his taxi.  But I think that was a misdirect.  I don't think he's married, and I think he'll end up with Louisa.  When he was comforting her during the son's surgery, it looked like there was one second where he thought about kissing her (or maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, ha)!  I've not read spoilers, but I'm hoping she ends up with him :) 

Edited by SonofaBiscuit
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I have Bratty TV Kid exhaustion from several other shows, but I'm going to give this one a chance. Plus Corfu, and animals.

The writing son is a bit fey; seems like he belongs in a different show. What is the family's social and economic background? Were they wealthy or working class? The mother said they only ended up in Bournemouth after her husband's death. Anyway, they don't seem to belong together, possibly because the show is portraying the siblings as so insufferable while their mother is in such desperate straits. At least she's got some great eye candy in all the fellas that are trying to help her.

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1 hour ago, pasdetrois said:

What is the family's social and economic background? Were they wealthy or working class?

 

I think Keeley Hawes's accent, the oldest son's obvious education and the general expectation that money will appear when needed, are all supposed to tell us they're upper class.

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Why Corfu?  One of the older sons suggested it as a place to live cheaply, but did not say why. Was Corfu often mentioned in the 1930s? 

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It's helpful that the youngest kid is the "cutest" (the camera is a bit too fixated on his appearance rather than his character or "essential nature") but I have no idea how old the other "kids" beyond MUCH TOO OLD to be so selfish and oblivious ... The sister seems old-enough to worry about indecent encounters with strangers who are men and quck-draw-McGraw acts like a 12 year old who's never had a safety lesson (another thing casting the mother in a dim light). 

Corfu -- as we have met it thus far -- seems to have a tiny but real ex-pat community, if not a British ex-pat community, and may have alway, like Morocco, been a bolt hole for people needing a place to lie low while scandals fade. No one they've met seems particularly suprised or curious wrt "how'd you all end up here" although they seem to regard themselves as exceptional. 

from Wiki: 

""When, by the Treaty of Paris of 5 November 1815, the Ionian Islands became a protectorate of the United Kingdom as the United States of the Ionian Islands, Corfu became the seat of the British Lord High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. The period of British rule was a prosperous period for Corfu because the Greek language became official, new roads were built, the water supply system was improved and the first Greek university was founded in 1824. On 29 March 1864, the United Kingdom, Greece, France and Russia signed the Treaty of London, pledging the transfer of sovereignty to Greece upon ratification. Thus, on 21 May, by proclamation of the Lord High Commissioner, the Ionian Islands were united with Greece.[37]"" 

I didn't realize that Corfu was at the northern edge of Greece (now border with Albania) ... with ferries to Bari at the top of the boot heel of Italy ... probably fairly easily accessible to trains and other "continential" services 

Edited by SusanSunflower
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7 hours ago, pasdetrois said:

What is the family's social and economic background? Were they wealthy or working class? The mother said they only ended up in Bournemouth after her husband's death. Anyway, they don't seem to belong together, possibly because the show is portraying the siblings as so insufferable while their mother is in such desperate straits. At least she's got some great eye candy in all the fellas that are trying to help her.

The Durrells were upper middle class, not upper class, and famously eccentric.  The father was an engineer in the Raj (think "Indian Summers" and Anglo Indian families who had lived there for several generations).  He died in his early 40s and left a substantial amount of money.  Louisa returned to England briefly and bought a house in Bournemouth.  They were miserable there after living in India so they moved to Corfu until WWII broke out and they returned to the UK. 

This TV version is exaggerating the money situation and making other changes that mildly annoy readers of Gerald Durrell's fictionalized autobiographical writings and is also inconsistent with real life facts.  The Durrell family was fascinating, and fascinatingly dysfunctional in many ways.

2 hours ago, SusanSunflower said:

I have no idea how old the other "kids" beyond MUCH TOO OLD to be so selfish and oblivious ..

The children were quite young and irresponsible when they lived in Corfu.  They first moved there when Gerry was 10, Margo was 15, Leslie only 18.   Larry, who was married in reality at the time, was about 23.  He was already a published poet when they moved to Corfu and became a very famous novelist.

I'm slightly irritated that this version is so obsessed with Louisa's sex life, and quite annoyed that it felt the need to make Sven the gay accordion player straight.   I also think the latest episode should have been more accurate when it comes to Dr. Theodore Stephanides who was rather an amazing person.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Stephanides

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In the novel that this series is based on, the author says he wrote his family as he saw them then.  So he was viewing them through the eyes of a 10 year old boy (hence the boy crazy sister, the dramatic brother etc).  And hence the characterizations.

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19 minutes ago, MostlyC said:

the author says he wrote him family as he saw them then.  So he was viewing them through the eyes of a 10 year old boy

Yes, absolutely, and Gerald Durrell apologized to his family for that portrayal.  He really needed to apologize to poor Margo, in my opinion.  He absolutely skewered her!

Nit-picking here:  My Family and Other Animals (and the rest of the trilogy) are not novels so much as they are fictionalized autobiography.  "True" experiences with some things omitted, some things exaggerated, some composite characters, and some things absolute fiction - to make a cohesive narrative that people will read.  It's rather like Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books.

I'm watching this series, as I have other attempts at fictionalizing the Durrells for TV, because the original books were so mesmerizing and in many ways so ahead of their time.  The books were so funny, so open-minded, and so avant guard for the 1950s and 1960s when they were written.  They sent the message that you can be weird, eccentric, irresponsible - and friends with gays because they are good people too.  

I'm looking forward to what this TV series does with the material but I may well criticize it a lot.

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I'm not sure a TV series could ever do the family justice since they are described in the books from Gerry's perspective as a 10-year-old, and his characterizations were deliberately written to be humorous. That isn't coming through in these scripts, maybe because the show is primarily seen through Mrs. Durrell's eyes? The older kids do come off as very bratty, which isn't very fun to watch.

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The Imelda Staunton version was 90 minute from Gerry's POV and although I barely remember it, my impression is that it was "charming" .... I don't think that a child's-eye-view for 6 1-hour episodes would be charming and the production does "seem" to understand some of the difficulty ... Adults are more interesting than goggle-eyed nature-enthralled moppets so -- with 4 more hours to go -- I'm hopeful that it gets less cringingly "charming" and "eccentric" with the addn of more character development. The mother, so far, is still not entirely or even particularly sympathetic. How can they possibly have no money for food, no larder of food, and -- briefly mentioned -- money to pay the doctor? Why are the children foraging and why is dinner somehow one small haunch of rabbit for 5 people (kill more rabbits)? 

I'll keep watching, but the irritating moments that "take me out of the story" are frequent.  The not-gay accordian player is dishy, but I think I like the taxi driver better (and he has a car!!!)  

Edited by SusanSunflower
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On 10/25/2016 at 7:50 AM, pasdetrois said:

I have Bratty TV Kid exhaustion from several other shows, but I'm going to give this one a chance. Plus Corfu, and animals.

The writing son is a bit fey; seems like he belongs in a different show. What is the family's social and economic background? Were they wealthy or working class? The mother said they only ended up in Bournemouth after her husband's death. Anyway, they don't seem to belong together, possibly because the show is portraying the siblings as so insufferable while their mother is in such desperate straits. At least she's got some great eye candy in all the fellas that are trying to help her.

What do you mean by fey?

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