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  • Nicole Hill 2:00 pm on 2017/09/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , TV   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 3 Recap: All Debts Paid 

    There’s no reason to beat around the bush when it comes to this week’s episode of Pain and Suffering: The Miniseries Outlander. There’s plenty to talk about with Claire and Jamie, but let’s get the biggest news out of the way first: Murtaugh Fitzgibbons Fraser. He’s here, he’s chewing thistle against his will. You may cast off your black raiment. That’s all you need to know for now.

    Everyone in “All Debts Paid” is in some kind of prison, and it’s hard to say whether Claire’s or Jamie’s is more hellish. Let’s take them one at a time, starting with the grimier of the two.

    Ardsmuir Prison, 1755
    There’s a changing of the guard underway, or at least a changing of the governor. One Lord John Grey is taking command of this dank, dismal prison swimming in rats and disheartened Scottish prisoners. It’s a real dream job. What really sweetens the pot for John is that the chief spokesman and overall mother hen for the prisoners is a cold, sulky James Fraser.

    Jamie, for what it’s worth, has reinvented himself again and picked up a new nickname among his fellow prisoners: Mac Dubh. John clearly remembers Jamie, but it’s unclear if Jamie recognizes the young man who’s now his keeper. What’s more awkward: tradition around these parts is regularly scheduled dinners between Mac Dubh and the prison’s commander. So much time for bonding and fond memories!

    But you know what does bring back fond memories? The familiar surly countenance of Murtaugh, sharing a cell with Jamie. He doesn’t look great—apparently, he’s been here since shortly after Culloden. But he’s there, and he’s well enough to gripe about things.

    Murtaugh’s health is a priority for us all, so the appearance of a rambling man on the moors is a fortuitous circumstance. The man, Duncan Kerr, has a lot to say, mostly in French and Gaelic. The babbling the British soldiers can decipher, however, seems to indicate Duncan knows something about rumored French gold sent to aid Charles Stuart and hidden somewhere nearby.

    John Grey enlists the help of multilingual Jamie to serve as an interpreter. Jamie only acquiesces after receiving a couple assurances: 1) his irons are moved and 2) Murtaugh receives some medical attention.

    Duncan provides few details about the gold, but he does seem to have a message for Jamie. Something about the MacKenzies and a “white witch.” That sounds a lot like Claire, even to Murtaugh’s jaded ears. Jamie gives John Grey the bare minimum of information and then engineers a prison break. He’s gone for three days before returning in dramatic fashion, sneaking back into the prison and catching John while he’s indisposed. He takes this opportunity to reveal he does know who the young commander is.

    “I was waiting for the proper occasion,” he says, knife pointed. Grey points out that his family’s debt to Jamie has been discharged, but Jamie’s not concerned about the debt. He wants to remind John of his promise: to kill him.

    Fortunately for us, John Grey has qualms about killing unarmed men. Besides, it’s probably nice to have someone around to compare handsomeness with. (I mean, woof.)

    Rather than punish Jamie further, in fact, John Grey seems to have reached an understanding with him. In different ways, they’re both broken men, and Jamie’s admission he went searching for Claire during his escape solidifies a bond of heartbreak and respect.

    During a heart-to-heart talk, John Grey reveals he “lost a particular friend” in the war. Jamie shares kind words and sympathy. John senses the (wrong) signals and puts his hand on Jamie’s. That’s triggering for a victim of Black Jack Randall, and the night ends with the following sentence: “Take your hand off me or I will kill you.”

    Time goes by. You live. You learn. The prison is scheduled to be closed, and you all line up in your jimjams in the snow. Most of the Scottish prisoners are being sent to the American colonies for a period of indentured servitude. Actually, all of the prisoners except Jamie, who’s pulled out of line and away from the loving arms of Murtaugh, in the cruelest joke of this episode. John Grey has made separate arrangements for Jamie, who’ll be a servant for some landed gentry. Why? “You gave me my life all those years ago,” John tells him. “Now, I give you yours.”

    But what does life mean without Murtaugh?

    Boston, 1956
    With that emptiness inside us, let us turn to the future, where Claire and Frank have an open marriage, sharing little but Brianna and vast oceans of disillusionment. As we zip through the years, things get progressively worse.

    Claire earns her degree, but even that’s tainted. It’s poor form, Frank, to invite your latest fling over without checking the actual end time on your wife’s graduation soiree. Claire seemed fine with their arrangement until she’s confronted with the infidelity on her doorstep. As always, she takes it in stride, and husband and wife have a booze-fueled fallout later that night.

    “You really dislike me that much?” Claire says. “You humiliated me in front of my colleagues!” “Welcome to the club,” Frank slurs in response.

    They both gets some hits in, with Claire bizarrely asking if Frank had slept with his “harlot” in their bedroom. After seeing their twin beds last week, I too have a question: “Where?”

    With all this bitterness, you’d think they’d both just want a divorce. But Frank won’t do it, for fear he’ll lose custody of Brianna. When Claire says she’d never try to keep Frank away from their daughter, he gets in one last blow: “Forgive me, Claire, if I don’t risk everything on your promises.”

    This tension simmers and builds and finally boils over after Brianna’s high school graduation. Frank’s been offered a position at Cambridge. He wants to take Brianna with him to England—but not Claire. You see, Frank’s been “running out the clock” to Brianna’s 18th birthday. Now that she’s an adult, he’s ready for a divorce.

    “You couldn’t look at Brianna without seeing him, could you?” Frank asks his devastated wife. “Without that constant reminder, might you have forgotten him with time?” Claire crushes that hope with one sentence: “That amount of time doesn’t exist.”

    These are the last words these two characters share in this episode—and the last two they will ever share. Frank grabs his keys and takes off, where, off-screen, he’s involved in a car accident. The last we see of Claire is in scrubs, assuring a lifeless Frank one last time that she did love him, “very much.”

    What an uplifting hour of television. The only good news? We’re essentially up to last season’s finale in Claire’s timeline, which means we’re one step closer to a Sassenach-Jamie reunion. May that hasten yet another Murtaugh sighting as well.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 3 Recap: All Debts Paid appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 10:00 am on 2017/09/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , TV   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: Surrender 

    This week’s Outlander introduces a new character to the series: Cave Jamie. We will treat Cave Jamie as a separate and discrete character because he is one.

    The show has done a little trickery and jumped us six years forward in the Lallybroch timeline. Cave Jamie has been living, indeed, in a cave, hiding from British patrols, who now refer to him as the Dunbonnet. He has used that time to become a hermit.

    Cave Jamie is both a look—like an escaped Wildling from the Game of Thrones set—and an attitude. When he does come down to the family estate for visits, he’s withdrawn, solemn, and largely silent. Minimal human interaction has done a number on him. But still he comes, even when some overzealous British soldiers haul in Ian on suspicion of harboring the aforementioned Dunbonnet.

    As Jenny says later, it’s not exactly a lie when she and Ian tell the soldiers they haven’t seen Jamie. “James Fraser hasn’t been here for a long, long time,” she says mournfully.

    Back in the 20th century, time has not moved so quickly—unless baby Brianna is the littlest 6-year-old ever cast. How is Claire doing? Well, her current hobby seems to be perfecting the art of intercentury orgasm, dreaming of Jamie while she sleeps next to Frank in her very lonely marriage bed.

    Motherhood seems to suit Claire, though. Fatherhood also suits Frank, who beams with pride when he holds their daughter. It’s just unfortunate that marriage seems to suit neither of them. There’s a sexual tension bubbling underneath the surface of their carefully crafted veneer, but it’s proving problematic.

    When Claire finally does make a move, there’s something very suburban about the whole thing. As she caresses her (first) husband’s face in the middle of the night, he stirs. “Claire, what is it?” asks Frank, a man so far removed from that loving feeling he can no longer conceive of it happening to him. “I miss my husband,” Claire replies, with a distinct lack of specificity.

    The careful, unfamiliar sex scene that follows is awkward, but seemingly pleasant, which is better than what happens when they try to repeat the act. Claire is the instigator in both instances, and her sudden insatiable appetite has a tragic component to it. Given what we’ve seen of their future, we know this story does not end well for either of them—but especially Frank, who serves as this show’s Charlie Brown, constantly trying to kick the football it places in front of him.

    This time, though, Frank knows. On the floor and half-naked, he tells his wife, “Claire, when I’m with you, I’m with you. But you’re with him.” It’s a painful truth, and one Claire doesn’t like, but it’s a truth nonetheless.

    Speaking of “him,” Cave Jamie has come down from his hideout in the hills only to discover Jenny’s in the midst of giving birth. (Pretty much every time Jenny strides into the show’s narrative, she’s giving birth.)

    This would be a joyous occasion if it weren’t for superstitious little boys like Fergus, who think ravens are bad omens and are trigger-happy. Fergus takes action and shoots the bird “to protect the bairn,” but the noise attracts the attention of nearby British soldiers. Firearms are banned in Scotland since the revolt, so naturally, the Redcoats come to search the house.

    Cave Jamie hides with the newborn in his arms. To explain the baby’s absence to the cheerless soldiers, Jenny and her maid, Mary MacNab, quickly improv that the baby died. Furthermore, Mary says she shot the pistol at the raven, which is to be blamed for the baby’s death. The lie works for the moment, but the British remain suspicious.

    Devoid of anything to hold him on, the British soon return Ian to Lallybroch, providing door-to-door service with a sneer. While there, they decide to catch themselves a Fergus, who takes them on a wild goose chase through the woods and takes every opportunity to insult them. The psychotic soldier in charge lops off the boy’s hand and orders his men to leave him there.

    Luckily, Cave Jamie overheard the scuffle and rushes the bleeding boy to Lallybroch. There, Fergus recovers and we, thankfully, see he remains a little scamp, reminding Jamie of the promise he’d made in France to support Fergus should he ever be harmed in the line of duty: “In one stroke, I have become a man of leisure, huh?”

    The episode has chastened Cave Jamie into action, however. In fact, he makes a decision, the wisdom of which you are free to question. He wants Jenny and Ian to turn him in to the British, so they can pocket the reward money and throw off the British dogs forever.

    Before he’s turned over, Cave Jamie receives an evening visitor: Mary MacNab, who does the world a favor by returning Jamie to us with a quick shave and a haircut. Oh, and soliciting him for a little desperate lovemaking. Jamie eventually acquiesces, though he’s conflicted throughout the procedure.

    A few scenes earlier, Ian had been discussing what losing a limb felt like, the pain lingering “in a part of you that’s lost.” It’s a feeling that sticks with you forever, “and that’s just a hand. Claire was your heart.” This episode is full of people saying verrah incisive things.

    Jamie is trying to fill a void, just as Claire has been with Frank’s intimacy. She’s got a new plan, however, and that plan is med school. Predictably, her male classmates and her professor are awful to her. But there is one bright spot. She sparks a friendship with the other outcast of the class: the only black student. At last, a positive development.

    Speaking of plans, Jamie and Jenny put on a show for the British forces who’ve descended on Lallybroch to capitalize on her supposed betrayal. As they cart off her brother, Jenny yells, “You gave me no choice, brother, and I’ll never forgive yah.” There’s a ring of truth to that statement, as she grits out those words through tears.

    With new … adventures … awaiting Claire and Jamie, we, the viewers, are left still to worry over the lingering question of our time: Where is Murtaugh?

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: Surrender appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 11:00 am on 2017/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , TV   

    Outlander Season 3 Episode 1 Recap: The Battle Joined 

    Welcome back, all ye Sassenachs and Scotsmen! After all those lonely months polishing your standing stone circles, Outlander has returned for Season 3. As you’ll recall, last season ended in an uncertain—but hopeful—place, with 1968 Claire’s newfound knowledge that Jamie survived the Battle of Culloden.

    In this season’s first episode, we spend our time looking backward to the events after Culloden and to Claire’s return to the 20th century and to a life with Frank.

    Let’s start with the battlefield, heaped with the bodies of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s erstwhile army. (To be honest, I spent most of this scene anxiously searching for Murtaugh through the scores of corpses that look just like him—to no avail.) In the panning shot, we see Jamie just starting to open his eyes, feebly. He’s pinned under something, a body—the body of a British soldier. Why, is that the body of Black Jack Randall?

    Through Jamie’s frenzied flashbacks we see the mixed-up events between Claire’s exit through the stones at Craigh na Dun and the strewn corpses Jamie finds himself in now. As you might expect, these peeks into the past are littered with examples of Prince Charles’s poor leadership skills and military prowess. More importantly, they also provide a glimpse into the final moments of Black Jack at the hands of Jamie’s dagger, apparently after everyone else had already died.

    I think we can safely say Culloden wasn’t a total loss. Though if we learned anything from the events of Wentworth Prison, always check for Black Jack’s pulse.

    As snow falls, Jamie has a vision of a (real?) bunny rabbit and a (fake) Claire, who saunters toward him in a flowing white gown but turns out to be Rupert—just as in everyone’s erotic dreams.

    As his comrades roll Black Jack’s corpse off him and escort him to safety, Jamie drops Claire’s parting gift, the dragonfly in amber, which signifies to you, dear reader, that we are entering new book territory. We have left the second book in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, and sailed swiftly into Voyager. Seatbelts, everyone.

    But enough symbolism. Let’s check in with the purely straightforward 1940s, where Claire and Frank are house-shopping in the good ol’ USA. Everything is uncomfortable, like, more uncomfortable than the body farm we just left. Frank is laying it on thick with the doting husband routine, hoping Claire’s pregnancy can harbor a fresh start for the two of them in Boston. Claire is trying (and failing) to play the role of domestic housewife.

    “You’re lucky,” one of Claire’s neighbors tells her, as they gab about husbands. “You won’t find another man like Frank again.” If you think this one’s a charmer, lady, you should’ve seen the other guy.

    Claire’s having even more trouble trying to fit in with Frank’s new university social circle, who are all the worst. Frank’s peers manage to be nearly as misogynistic as the gangs of unwashed men we have been treated to in 18th–century Scotland. But at least we all got to listen in on some hot gossip about the Truman vs. Dewey electoral matchup.

    Jamie, meanwhile, isn’t in much better shape. Rupert’s taken him to shelter with other Culloden survivors in a nearby barn. He’s bleeding buckets, but he does still have the wherewithal to ask the question we’re all wondering: Where is Murtaugh? No one really knows, and Rupert has the gall to say he doesn’t really care. (The bad blood between Frasers and MacKenzies is still going strong. Curse you, Dougal MacKenzie, you door-lurking psychopath.)

    Shortly thereafter, the British discover the hideout. They give the “traitors” an hour, at which point they’ll be shot. Rupert and Jamie share a goodbye, which is short on forgiveness for Dougal’s murder, but long on fondness. Farewell, dear Rupert.

    Hold on one second though: Remember John Grey? That name is Jamie’s ticket to salvation because it’s the name of the young British spy Jamie spared last season. John Grey is also the younger brother of Lord Melton, the officer in charge of this execution bonanza. Melton, begrudgingly, feels duty-bound to keep his brother’s “debt of honor” when it comes to Jamie, even though he’d make a pretty prize for the king.

    Crankily, Melton secrets Jamie (who just wants to die already) off in a wagon in the dark of the night. He thinks Jamie won’t survive the trip, but at least such a death won’t be at his hands. Well, the joke’s on your stiff upper lip, Melton, because Jamie survives. And he’s greeted by Jenny and Ian. Our boy’s made it back to Lallybroch.

    With that happy news, we head once more to Boston. After a blow-out fight in which he just barely dodged an ash tray hurled at his head, Frank is doing some late-night research. He’s penning a letter to Rev. Wakefield back in Scotland for information on some highlander, a James Fraser, when he’s interrupted. Claire’s water has broken.

    The hospital is another frustrating situation where none of the men in charge deign to listen to Claire. (Though Frank is all ears when Claire informs the doctor, and her husband, that she’s had a miscarriage before.) When Claire wakes from the C-section she didn’t want, she’s concerned she’s lost another baby.

    But Frank enters with baby Brianna. The family’s full of love and joy and canoodling until a nosy nurse swings by to ask about the elephant in the room: “Where’d she get the red hair?”

    Of course, we all know the answer to that question, unlike several others: How will Jamie readjust to a Claire-less life? Will Claire ever be able to light her stove effectively? Where is Murtaugh? Let’s hope we find out next week.

     

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 1 Recap: The Battle Joined appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Tara Sonin 6:45 pm on 2017/01/11 Permalink
    Tags: , binge-watch, , , TV   

    Fall in Love with PBS’s Victoria (and 6 More Historical Dramas to Binge!) 

    If, like myself, you’re a sucker for historical dramas, you’ve been chomping at the bit for the next big hit—especially now that Downton Abbey has made its final bow. (RIP, but at least Lady Edith got her happy ending, am I right?) That means the moment you heard about PBS’s miniseries Victoria–based on the book by Daisy Goodwin and starring Dr. Who’s Jenna Coleman!—you, also like me, have been waiting with bated breath caught in the tight confines of a corset.

    Well, call me your majesty, because I have the scoop on Victoria for you! PBS sent me a screener, I devoured it like a box of chocolates, and it is everything you could want in an historical drama and then some. Here are six period dramas you can watch and, of course, my thoughts on Victoria herself, which premieres on PBS January 15.

    Victoria
    I confess, I knew next to nothing about Queen Victoria before starting this series. But in the first episode, we learn a lot: Alexandrina Victoria, as she is still named, is still a teen, but has known since she was very young that she would become queen when the king, her aging uncle, dies. When we first meet Victoria, she finds out that day has come, and in Coleman’s hands, her transition from young girl into monarch with the burden of the world on her shoulders is subtle and nuanced. She resents the influence others try to have on her, rejecting her mother and Sir John Conroy, who wish to control her, and forming a perhaps inappropriate, but super fun to watch, attachment to her prime minister instead. One moment Victoria is composed and eloquent, and the next…she gets too drunk at a coronation ball and flirts with her most trusted advisor, Lord M. The tension between them is almost instant, and makes it immediately that Victoria’s personal happiness will often be at war with her monarchical duties. Full of lush ball gowns, gilded palaces, and some great upstairs-downstairs drama, this miniseries is your first 2017 obsession. I can’t wait to see what Victoria will do next.

    Poldark
    I JUST discovered this historical drama based on a series of novels about a British soldier named Ross Poldark who comes back to his small seaside town of Cornwall after fighting on the losing side of the Revolutionary War to find many things have changed. His father has died, leaving his mine and inheritance in shambles. And even worse, the woman he loves—the woman who promised to wait for him—is engaged to his cousin. Ross decides to spurn the gentry class that has betrayed him and open one of the barren mines, giving hope to the poor in Cornwall…and along the way, he meets a pauper girl, Demelza, and finds a second chance at love. Poldark is a gasp- and swoonworthy drama about legacy, class, love, and the catastrophe (and joy) that can happen when they all collide. (Also, Ross Poldark is gorgeous. You’re welcome.)

    The White Queen
    Based on the novel by Philippa Gregory, this historical drama begins in the midst of the War of the Roses between the Lancasters and and the Yorks—and features three women caught in the middle of the bloodshed, beauty, and love. Elizabeth Woodville’s husband fought and died for King Henry, but when he is defeated, she marries King Edward as part of a deliberate (and possibly magical) plot to gain power. Margaret Beaufort’s son was supposed to succeed Henry on the throne, but with him gone, she plots in the darkness to take back her power. And Anne Neville, daughter of the King’s most trusted advisor-turned betrayer, becomes first a pawn in her father’s game to take the throne, and then a villain herself. Soapy, sexy, and full of drama!

    Outlander
    How could I not put Outlander on this list? When Clare Fraser inadvertently travels back in time from 1945 to the 1770s, leaving her husband behind, she’s soon forced into matrimony (for her own protection) with Highland warrior Jamie Fraser, and is torn between the world and man she’s growing to love and the magic and duty that pulls her back toward her old life. The third season of the TV adaptation arrives in spring, so make sure you binge seasons one and two before Jamie Fraser’s perfect face graces our TV sets again.

    Forsyte Saga
    This is one of my favorite lesser-known historical dramas, which opens in 1874 and chronicles a family’s downfall when issues of class, love, and most importantly, vengeance, come to a head. Damien Lewis plays Soames Forsyte, who becomes obsessed with Irene Heron, despite her lower class. After a loveless, abusive marriage, betrayals, and decades of separation, he cannot let her go. Forbidden love runs rampant in this series, and you will love every second of hating the villainous Soames.

    Wolf Hall
    We’ve all heard of The Tudors, of course, but Wolf Hall, based on the book by Hilary Mantel, tells the story of King Henry’s divorce from Katherine and resulting marriage to Anne Boleyn from a different perspective: that of his adviser, Thomas Cromwell. Thomas is an historical antihero of a different sort—he did not grow up in the gilded halls of Buckingham Palace. He’s the son of a poor man, who rose up in the esteem of the Cardinal…and who, when the Cardinal fell from grace, rose from the ashes to take his place as King Henry VIII’s most trusted adviser. Full of class tension with five-star acting from Damian Lewis as the King and Claire Foy (who now stars as Queen Elizabeth on Netflix’s The Crown!) as Queen Anne. Rich and beautifully created, with drama in spades.

    Hollow Crown
    If you’re into British history, you’ll love this adaptation of Shakespeare’s plays starring some of Britain’s best actors, including Tom Hiddleston, Ben Whishaw, and Jeremy Irons (with cameos by Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and Hugh Bonneville, as well as Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch!). The Hollow Crown follows four of England’s most infamous monarchs as they try to keep power out of the hands of their enemies. This series is great if you’re into battle scenes and performances so perfect you won’t mind that romance takes a backseat.

    The post Fall in Love with PBS’s Victoria (and 6 More Historical Dramas to Binge!) appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 9:30 pm on 2017/01/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , golden girls, TV   

    Why Golden Girls Forever Was the Greatest Holiday Gift I Got 

    Now that all the entries have been collected, including the packages brought too late to the post office before Christmas to make it under the tree, I am happy to announce the greatest gift I received this holiday—or possibly any holiday of my lifetime.

    Golden Girls Forever bills itself as an “unauthorized look behind the lanai” of the seminal sitcom of our time. As someone who can track back the outfits of Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund, Sophia Petrillo, and Dorothy Zbornak to the episode, I approach anything purporting to be a comprehensive guide to The Golden Girls with skepticism. I have a spreadsheet of background actors that appear in multiple episodes, playing different parts; I am serious about The Golden Girls, or my name isn’t Water Lily.

    Even given those high standards, Golden Girls Forever surpassed each and every one of my expectations. Starting from the first spark of an idea for a sitcom about ladies of a “certain age”—Picture it: Los Angeles, 1984—Jim Colucci paints the full landscape portrait of a TV show that was radical for its time and even, to an extent, our own.

    Clocking in at 365 glorious pages, and with end sheets patterned like the finest 1980s Miami wallpaper, Golden Girls Forever is the ultimate prize for uber-fans and casual viewers alike.

    Backstories from St. Olaf (and Beyond)

    With 68 Emmy nominations, 11 Emmy wins, and four Golden Globes, The Golden Girls has a rather simple premise. Four women, later in their lives, live, laugh, and love in a shared Miami home, stocked with more wicker than the world should allow. It’s a solid idea, and one nearly unprecedented in the mid-’80s. Grandmothers yelling “condoms” in a crowded supermarket? Who would watch that kind of smut?

    Everyone, it turns out. Still, without the right people, in the right places, and wearing the right bathrobes, it could’ve been just a good premise, nothing more. The first portion of Colucci’s compendium focuses on the apostolic coming together of the perfect writing and producing team, directorial talent, and, of course, the critical actresses who would fill the shoes of the show’s central quartet.

    Though all but one of that foursome have passed on, Colucci still manages to insert insights from Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan (both deceased), alongside those of Betty White, when discussing the search to fill those famous sensible shoes. A coterie of producers, writers, directors, and key decision-makers (and a spurned Elaine Stritch, who auditioned for the role of Dorothy) also weigh in on the inception and success of the series, making Golden Girls Forever an ur-text for nostalgia biographies.

    Inside Details, Episode by Episode

    Once Colucci establishes how The Golden Girls came to be, he moves on to dissecting what it was, recapping important episodes through the show’s seven seasons and soliciting inside stories from actors, writers, and producers. No recast part, plot inconsistency, or George Clooney cameo goes unnoticed here, though the book doesn’t spotlight every episode; with 180 to cover, it could dwarf Infinite Jest if it were too thorough. I missed the opportunity to hear about gems like “The Break-In” and “The Case of the Libertine Belle,” but I guess I’ll just have to console myself with the newfound knowledge that the most letters the show received were about Bea Arthur’s various hairstyles.

    This section of the book is where I finally got answers to longstanding questions that had plagued me more than a healthy person would admit to:

    • Why is Sophia’s late husband Sal suddenly Don the Fool, a waiter at a Medieval Times–style restaurant in “What a Difference a Date Makes”? Well, because everyone really liked the actor, Sid Melton.
    • Whatever happened to all those metric tons of cheesecake in every episode? Some of the women ate it, some threw it on the floor, some will never reveal their secrets.
    • Did anyone like Dorothy’s wedding dress in the series finale? No.

    Blueprints, Sketches, and Other Supporting Evidence

    To close out the tour, Golden Girls Forever examines the series’ intangibles, from production and set design to the handcrafted ’80s wardrobes. It’s an appropriate coda, as the kitchen and Blanche’s negligees are often considered, respectively, to be the fifth and sixth main characters of the show.

    It should come as no surprise, at this point, that the revelations come quickly, even in this last chapter. You’ll learn why the layout of the Girls’ home makes no sense to anyone paying attention, and just how many ways set designers reused the same room. You’ll also hear from costume designer Judy Evans on her custom fashions and how signature pieces like Sophia’s purse came to be.

    These final details set up an epilogue that examines the show’s lasting legacy, from modern homages, podcasts, and artwork to a failed Lego campaign. The result is a loving tribute to a TV series that was far more than just a TV series, which makes this book so much more than just a book. Join me here at Shady Pines, won’t you?

    The post Why Golden Girls Forever Was the Greatest Holiday Gift I Got appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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