28 November 2012

Julian Fellowes to Create Several More Original Series

Because of course American versions of British series
always turn out so well.
(Actually, I quite liked Beacon Hill, especially Kathryn Walker’s performance as bohemian Fawn Lassiter.)

Following the announcement that Julian Fellowes is creating a new period drama for NBC, set in 19th-century New York, several critics have described the new series as nothing more than an Americanized rehash of Fellowes’ own Downton Abbey, which itself is sometimes described as a rusticated rehash of Upstairs, Downstairs. Stung by this unexpected backlash, screenwriter Fellowes today announced the creation of several new series “entirely unlike anything ever seen on television, and particularly unlike anything ever seen on Masterpiece Theatre at any point in the 1970s,” Fellowes told television reporters.

Several networks, including the BBC, NBC, and BET, are now said to be mulling over options. The series include:

Pwylldark: A dashing Revolutionary War veteran returns to his native Wales — “not Cornwall by any means, that’s right out, it’s Wales, W-A-L-E-S” — where he discovers that his fiancée has married his rival. In later episodes, Rhys Pwylldark clashes with the wealthy Leghorner family and marries his own servant, the spirited but unintelligible Welsh girl, Dementia.

Murder Must Amortise: A dashing, witty, completely original detective, Lord Peter Walmsley, goes undercover in a mortgage office to solve a baffling murder. Starring Marcus Brigstocke, whose portrayal of Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster has been much admired, “unless of course Dan Stevens suddenly becomes available,” and featuring “lots of that nattering about in drawing rooms and evening wear that I do rather awfully well.”

The Eight Wives of Henry VI: Sex, violence, and insanity at the dawn of the War of the Roses! While the historical Henry VI had only one wife, Margaret of Anjou, Fellowes insists that the series is “emotionally true, because poor Henry was mentally ill and couldn’t count. Besides, Margaret was woman enough for eight. Grrraowr.”

Henry the Somethingth.

I, Vitellius: Sex, violence, and intrigue in the court of imperial Rome! Vitellius, third of the “Four Emperors” who ruled in 69 A.D., narrates this gripping saga. A few scenes may not be unsuitable for young children. “I envision the opening credits with some sort of slithery creature, possibly a salamander or newt, or even a BBC executive, sliding menacingly across the screen,” Fellowes said.

I, Vitellius: Fiends and Romans.

Hortense: Celebrated by poets and painters, the beautiful French-born soprano Hortense Schneider soon catches the eye of the Prince of Wales. Fellowes describes Hortense as “by far the most scandalous of all the many mistresses of Edward VII, because she hasn’t been serialised yet.” He admits to wishing her name were “more euphonious,” and holds out the prospect of changing it to something like “Lilian Longtree, perhaps.”

“As a writer, I’ve always longed to make a Hortense,”
Fellowes told reporters.

Other potential series include The Forsythia Saga, The Point of Spoylton, and The Duchess of Cavendish Street, about a feisty kitchen maid who works her way to opening a chic London hotel in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Most promising of all, however, is Pride and Premises, in which a dashing writer, Fitzgibbon Dancy, clashes with headstrong Elizabeth Bonnett. Elizabeth at first believes that Mr. Dancy’s latest television scripts borrow too heavily from other people’s work, while Mr. Dancy for his part insists that he is the most original writer ever to work in television. Since the series is set in the 18th century, Elizabeth cannot disprove his claim.

Pride and Premises.

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