THE GILDED AGAGE
Sky Atlantic, Last Night
George Russell, railroad magnate and tycoon, is putting his foot on the furniture. He warns his wife to watch out, because ‘that table belonged king Ludwig of Bavaria.
George has a devil may care grin. “He’d had it once.” It’s mine now. He crows.
Julian Fellowes will never leave us doubting his intentions.
The creator of Downton Abbey has returned with an even more lavish costume drama in The Gilded Age (Sky Atlantic) – and it’s all about New Money.
The Gilded Age features a more extravagant costume drama by the creator of Downton Abbey. Pictured Sisters Cynthia Nixon & Christine Baranski, in The Gilded Age
The opening shot was taken in New York City, 1882.
Carts pulled by horses loaded with chandeliers, statues and antiques were transported up Fifth Avenue to the home commissioned for George and Bertha (Morgan Spector & Carrie Coon).
Old Money, however, is located across the street. Spiteful widow Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and her fluffy-headed younger sister Ada (Cynthia Nixon) are surrounded by footmen and butlers – and the servants are even bigger snobs than the ladies.
The Gilded Age budget remains a secret. However, judging from the stunning computer graphics which recreate New York 140 year ago, you can see that this production could make an enormous hole in your family’s wealth.
Downton fans will hope for complex romantic entanglements and Cupid, as they say.
Sisters Marian Jacobson and Louisa Jacobson have accepted their little niece. Marian brings her new best friend to stay – the young black writer Peggy, Denee Benton (both pictured)
Marian Jacobson, the niece of their brother (not their papa) is now a penniless victim.
Meanwhile, the Russells’ raffish son Larry, played by Harry Richardson, is enjoying the high life – and Marian has already caught his wandering eye.
The emphasis here is on older women characters. Bertha, a social climber, is not ashamed to admit that she wants to be the queen of New York’s party scene.
George boasts that his wife has “imagination, taste, and nerve.” His chief task is to laugh at the excesses of his wife and then sign the checks.
Bertha, at the conclusion of this double-episode, threw a lavish soiree. She piled her tables high with lobsters, and served them on sushi kebab swords.
Nobody came – certainly not Agnes and Ada. Mrs van Rhijn stated, “We only view the old people here, not the young.”
What a mess her stifled nose will look when she discovers about Oscar her son. Oscar keeps an ugly, barrel-chested blonde sportsman in the apartment to have frisky fun after all the partying.
Agnes is confronted in other ways by the changing times, as Marian brings her new best friend to stay – the young black writer Peggy, (Denee Benton) an aspiring novelist twice as clever as any of the other characters.
Peggy takes only two minutes to charm Agnes and secure a position as Agnes’ secretary. She must still sleep in her servant’s quarters. One or two maids may not be sure of what to do.
Celebrities, billionaires and pots of money – this is reality TV from the steam railway era
In the midst of all this bustle, it was difficult to make contact with our below-floor staff. Simon Jones is the van Rhijn resident’s butler, Mr Bannister. He already has an adage: “It’s not up to us to have an idea.”
Conniving Mrs Turner (Kelley Curran), a housekeeper, seems to be looking out for Mr Russell.
Bertha might be the one to spear her servant with a lobster stick if she notices it, as she will undoubtedly.
The story took too much time to move forward because of all the scene setting. The story is quite different than Lord Fellowes’s Belgravia drama which contained the Battle of Waterloo plus a wedding as its first sequence.
However, the good lord loves all of the fancy dress history so greatly that it is almost impossible not to take along.
“Did you hear that they shot Jesse James?” Russell cries. “Good evening Mr. and Mrs Roosevelt,” calls a footman.
Celebrities, billionaires and pots of money – this is reality TV from the steam railway era.