my favorite period drama miniseries

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Popular183 Comments

I’ll just put it right out there.  This post is a complete change of pace.

A few weeks (months) ago, I mentioned my love for period drama miniseries on Instagram stories and I received a bunch of requests to share my favorites.  So, I started a list and I finally hunted down all of the images and details to share with you.

Since this is a long post, I just share a little blurb about each one and a thing or two that I love (my favorite moments).  Some of them will sound cryptic if you’re not familiar with the story, but my “thing” can be like a little Easter egg to hunt for as you’re watching the series.

Oh, and most of these can be found on Amazon Prime, Netflix, or one of the Amazon add-on channels, like Masterpiece or Acorn.  Series that can’t be found in any of those places can be purchased on iTunes.

MISS MUSTARD SEED TV

So, let’s lace up our corsets and brush up our British accents and talk about my favorite period drama miniseries…

NORTH & SOUTH

I avoided watching this one for ages, because I thought it was related to the old (somewhat cheesy) civil war drama of the same name.  It’s not and it’s wonderful. I probably watch this one a couple times each year.

I’ll say two things – Richard Armitage and the ending.  That’s all you need to know.

WAR & PEACE

I tripped across this one night and I always thought of War & Peace as a tedious, boring story about, well, war.  And peace.  But, it’s an epic story of friendship, love, betrayal, forgiveness, and so much more.  There are scenes in this movie that are so powerful and beautiful, they make me cry every single time.  And I’m not usually a movie/TV cryer.  This is definitely one of my favorites.

Two things – The dance and “I love you more.  Better than I did before.”

SENSE & SENSIBILITY

I watched this one with some hesitation, because Sense & Sensibility, the movie with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, is one of my favorites.  This miniseries was such a treat, though.  It’s well cast and beautifully made.

One thing – “I shouldn’t have come here.”

VICTORIA

I looked forward to this series and it didn’t disappoint.  Season two just aired in January and I’m already looking forward to season three.  Jenna Coleman is great.

Two things: Rufus Sewell and the story of the rooks.

BLEAK HOUSE

I absolutely love Charles Dickens and Bleak House is such a fine example of a well-woven story.  There’s always an honesty in his writing; a balance of humor and sorrow.

Three things – One… Guppy is awesome.  Two…  “Shake me up!”  Three… “If she’d only known how much I loved her and how little I cared about what the world would think of her.”

LITTLE DORRIT

This is another Charles Dickens series and another great one.  Claire Foy, of The Crown, is so good in this and there are so many classic Dickens characters like Sparkler and Flintwinch.

So many things in this one, but here are two…

“I have nothing.  Would you share my fortune with me now?”

“I would throw myself off that parapet if it would bring you a moments joy.”

DICKENSIAN

It took me a little bit to “get” this one, but once I saw where it was going, I thought it was brilliant.  It’s a prequel for several Dickens’ novels, telling the stories of Bill Sikes & Nancy of Oliver, Honoria Barbary and Nemo of Bleak House, and, perhaps the most heartbreaking, Compeyson and Miss Havisham of Great Expectations.

While there are so many great parts, I couldn’t think of a specific moment to highlight.  All of these characters are pretty tragic in their stories, so it’s hard for the sweet moments in this series to not be tainted by their future.

MERCY STREET

I loved this one and I’m so sad they didn’t renew it for a third series to continue to flesh out the story.  So, there are some shortfalls in this one due to an early end, but it’s wrapped up enough to keep you satisfied.  The lead characters and actors in this one are fantastic.

Two things – “If you have become unmoored, then you must anchor yourself.”

and

“You did all you could.”

WIVES & DAUGHTERS

This is one I didn’t expect to like as much as I did, but it’s so good.  I love watching how the heroine grows throughout the story.

One thing…  “Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.”

EMMA

This is definitely my favorite version of Jane Austen’s Emma.  The four installments really allow for the story to be fully told and appreciated.  I love the cast as well.

One thing – “If my heart is in the right place.  What does it matter where I live?”

LONDON HOSPITAL

I absolutely love this series, but I will say it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  Some of it is choppy and a little awkward, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.  It’s a period medical drama based on medical journals and diaries, so they try to tell the medical and social stories as well as the personal ones.This is another one that was cut short before the story could be properly wrapped up, but I would still suggest it.

One thing – “What are you thinking now?”

DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLY

I was so skeptical about this one.  I mean, come on.  You cannot touch Pride & Prejudice.  Just don’t.  But, they did and it worked and I loved it.  I think the characters are very true to the original novel and it was so fun to see Darcy and Elizabeth together now they aren’t proud and prejudiced anymore.  It does explore some interesting ideas, like the family dynamic Darcy has to deal with and the feelings of inadequacy Elizabeth struggles with.  As the title suggests, it is a murder mystery, but it really is more than that.

One thing: “Marry for love.  Marry the person your heart cries out for.”

THE CRIMSON FIELD

This is similar to London Hospital in that it’s a period medical drama and, I think, a little known gem.  It did only survive one season and, you can understand it in a way.  The story can feel a little jarring at times, throwing out information about a character without supporting or resolving it, but I still enjoyed it.  The characters are interesting and the storylines are compelling.  It’s also beautiful to watch.

Two things:  The Scottish accent.  You’ll know what I’m talking about.  And, “I’ve been alarmed since the moment you arrived.”

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

This one is different from the others in that it’s a pretty dark, Agatha Christie mystery.  It was excellent, though.  So well made and suspenseful.  Aside from the fascinating characters, the house and the island are fun to watch.

There are so many more, but this list was getting crazy long, so I’ll stop it here.  Maybe I’ll share another list down the road.

And, I know some of you will be shocked at some of the biggies that are conspicuously absent.  I’ll explain two.

Pride & Prejudice – I love the story and Colin Firth is the ultimate Darcy.  No doubt.  I’m just not in love with the cinematography (I know it was made a while ago, so I shouldn’t judge it too harshly) and I don’t like some of the cast.  I’m hoping BBC remakes a P&P miniseries.

Downton Abbey – Okay, I loved the first season and I felt like it slowly slipped downhill after that.  I mean, how many times can the sweetest man in the story, Bates, be fingered for murder?  Also, you’re rooting for Matthew and Mary to get together and then Mary seems so aloof towards him.  Anyway, I watched the whole series and there were elements I liked, but it’s not a favorite.  Sorry!

 

Oh, and, Little Women is coming to Masterpiece this May!  Can’t wait for that.

Any other period drama favorites?  I’ve watched tons of them, so I challenge you to find one I haven’t tried!

my favorite period drama miniseries

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183 Comments on “my favorite period drama miniseries”

    1. I love Lark Rose to Candleford! To me it is like an English “Little House on the Prairie”

      “It is my one weakness.”

  1. Great list! Watched Bleak House in the fall and adored it.

    We just finished watching Our Mutual Friend (more Dickens – 1998 version) and loved it, too.

    I thought Persuasion from 1995 was quite good (Jane Austen).

  2. Not sure if this counts as a period series but I’ve really been surprised by “Anne with an E “ (Netflix)! Story of Anne of Green Gables but with a more realistic/darker take than the original series. The scenery is BEAUTIFUL and it’s pretty clean, as in my six year old daughter has been able to watch most of it with me. My husband enjoys it too so it’s fun to watch as a family

  3. Agree with many others – Larkrise to Candleford, Cranford, Call the Midwife (I just binge watched the 6 previous seasons), and the Durrells of Corfu. Unfortunately, I also loved two that were cancelled and never got a chance to tie up the plot so I won’t recommend because you will be disappointed that they did not continue…Indian Summers, and Home Fires. I love Victoria, and will be checking out some of the others on your list. Thank you!

  4. `Loved Dickensian and Bleak House especially, and most of the others and will watch out for those on the list I haven’t seen yet. I was very disappointed that Indian Summers did not continue, it was so good. Thanks for the list.

  5. Outlander is my favorite!! It is visually beautiful and the books are equally amazing.

    I started Howard’s End on Starz this week but not sure how I feel about it.

    Been wanting to watch North & South, thanks for the reminder.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I have never found another person who loved this kind of drama the way that I do! Will definitely need to dip into the many you shared.
    I have loved the series on TNT called, ‘the Alienist’. It is a dark and ugly murder mystery, but the settings, costumes, and time period are so well represented!

  7. What, No Poldark? I adored it when they made it in the late 70’s early 80’s and I love it now. I love Jane Austen’s Persuasion with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds. The Jewel in the Crown, I watch it once a year, was made in 1984 and filmed in India…it is still amazing. Two fav Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (fantastic) and Nicholas Nickleby. Jane Eyre, the 6 hour with Timothy Dalton or the newer one with Toby Stephans and Ruth Wilson both excellent. They are remaking Pride and Prejudice but I don’t think I’ll like it as well as the Andrew Davies version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. I love Foyel’s War, all 9 seasons of it.

  8. So very glad to hear of someone else not enamoured with Downton Abby. I too liked the first season well enough, but the shift to more modern times, as was nesessary, was not what I wanted for entertainment. Oh, to be allowed to be as firmly rooted in the past as Tasha Tudor.

  9. Another one I loved from PBS now on Netflix is The Paradise. I think I’ve watched it over and over for the merchandising alone!

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  11. Add Foyle’s War and Poldark for me too. The Sense & Sensibility pictured above is far better than the one with Winslet and Thompson, IMHO. A new Pride & Prejudice will never be as good as the one with Firth and Ehle. Looking forward to Little Women.

  12. I’m so on board with many of these! Did you know that Elizabeth Gaskell passed away before she finished Wives and Daughters?? So crazy. I remember watching that with my mom when it premiered on PBS! I stopped watching Call the Midwife cause ugh, too intense. But I’d recommend some good Spanish language ones: “The Time in Between” and “Morrocco: Love in Times and War.” English wise I would definitely suggest “Grantchester.” If you watched “The Tudors” I’d recommend Versailles. BUT there’s a lot of nudie bits in it. “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,” “The Crown,” also recommend! I have yet to watch “Father Brown” but I have a sneaky suspicion that I’d enjoy it. Have a great day! Trust in Him!

  13. I loved The Paradise, as well. Just started Anne with an E and find it surprisingly good. Finished The Grand and enjoyed it immensely. Beautiful clothing. Looking forward to watching the others recommended.

  14. You and I share a love for the same movies! After watching many of these same stories on movies, I listened to the books on audible and it filled in the gaps, so to speak. I could watch North and South 20 times a year and not get tired of it. Also, like THAT version of Sense and Sensibility and most everything you listed I’ve seen.
    You should check out The Magic of Ordinary Days. It is a Hallmark movie and one of my favorite things to watch over and over again. I own it along with many of the movies you listed in your post.

  15. We are binging on Lark Rise to Candleford. It truly is my one weakness. We feel like the characters are members of our family. Love seeing “Mr. Bates” from Downtown in the role as Pa in this series. He’s everything a girls needs in a dad. How we love this series. I hope it goes on and on!!

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