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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'The Village' DVD: This British Boy's 100-Year Life

The Village Series One DVD
The good news regarding the recent BFS Entertainment DVD release of the first series (my people call them seasons) of the brilliant 2013 Sunday night BBC One drama "The Village" is that it continues the excellent BFS track record of making some of the best British programming available in North America. The bad news is that this highly addictive program being so new requires a painfully long several-month wait for the second season of this presumably multi-season effort of love.

The ambitious premise of "Village" is that each season depicts roughly a decade in the life of 100 year-old Bert Middleton, who provides a modern-day prologue at the beginning of each episode. We first meet young Bert as a 12 year-old lad, who is living on the farm of his family in 1914.

This farm is in a rural Derbyshire village, and young Bert has a tough life that involves verbal and physical abuse from both his father and his school teacher. Much of the pleasure that Bert derives revolves around spending time with 17 year-old sibling Joe, who arguably is the best-ever big brother on any show on either side of the Atlantic.

Predictably, the Great War (a.k.a. World War I) soon takes center stage. Instituting the draft directly affects Joe and virtually every other man in the village within the very wide net that that initiative spreads. It further impacts the lives of the wealthy Allingham family, who must balance their own desires with the need to maintain at least reasonably good will regarding the village population.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene from "Village" wonderfully conveys the drama and overall quality of the show.

First season developments include an unplanned pregnancy with a strong ripple effect, the arrival of the crusading daughter of the local minister, opening a boot factory and related labor/union issues regarding the female workforce, the impact of the war on the young men who bear the brunt of its burdens, and the resentments and general hostility that characterize life in small communities in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

John Simm, who shines both as The Master in "Doctor Who" and as  Sam Tyler in "Life on Mars," is perfectly cast as Bert's father John. Simm does a wonderful job portraying the weakness of John regarding the addictions that plague him throughout the season and his associated inability to cope with either the dramatic aspects regarding how Joe responds to a traumatic event or to the presence of a new member of the household who suffers his own war-related agony.

Bill Jones, who may become the Jamie Bell of his generation, is not asked to do much with the role of Bert but does what is asked of him well. He is very expressive and is perfectly cast as a typically curious and slightly emo village British boy growing up during wartime. One of his best scenes involves spying on the village women in a bathhouse.

All of this makes "The Village" a community well worth visiting. It also creates strong hope that the program will last long enough for the story of this town to catch up with the elderly Bert who sets the scene each week, sometimes with something as simple as discussing the purchase of a cow.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "The Village" is strongly encourages to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.