105 of 110 people found the following review helpful
This is 15 hours (18 episodes) of delightful English storytelling that takes place just after WWI. You will be glad you have the complete series with no need to wait a week between each episode. Each segment builds upon the next drawing you into the story as though you are part of the family of The Grand hotel.
It ranks along side series giants like The Pallisers, The Barchester Chronicles, and Monarch of the Glen. Part of the reason might be that Susan Hampshire (3-Emmy winner) stars in all of those. She is outstanding in The Grand, playing Miss Harkness, a resident of the Grand, a prostitute, and proud of it. It takes a bit of acceptance, at first, seeing her as a lady of the evening,, instead of someone like Lady Glencora Palliser. Hampshire scores a perfect 10 for this performance.
Mrs. Harvey, played by Christine Mackie, is the Grand's head housekeeper. She acts and sounds quite like Gemma Jones in The Duchess of Duke Street. In my opinion, Mackie performs equally as fine with her character as Harness, as Jones did as the Duchess. She keeps the downstairs servants in tow and in their working class place--or tries to (similar to Upstairs, Downstairs). She and her counterpart, Mr. Jacob Collins, the hall porter (Tim Healy) are a huge part of the success of the stories linked together by the interconnected lives of the people who own, live and work at the Grand.
Marcus Bannerman (Mark McGann) is a ruthless owner you'll soon learn to love to hate.
It would take 18 reviews for the 18 episodes to tell the story. Since that is impossible, let me say there is something for everyone: romance, rape, costumes, sex, blackmail, lavish sets, arson, child selling, comedy, prostitution, murder, elegance, greed, gays, a hanging, class struggle, embezzlement, gossip, lust, child selling, and fun 20's music. If it's a sin or a pleasure, you'll encounter it through The Grand series. There are stories within a story. Overall it's about the Bannerman family (3 generations) and their attempt to save the Grand from failure. For some the cost it to high. For others, success will come at any cost necessary.
If you worry about the cost, divide the cost by the 18 episodes. Each one is a movie in itself and every segment is top notch. This is another of a long line of outstanding productions of British drama. The box calls it ADDICTIVE. That is TRUE.
That's the Pros. Now the Cons: The Grand ends with episode 18. You will want more.
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2012
I am a fan of Downton Abbey and was looking for similar titles to keep me happy between episodes. The Grand came up on my recommendation list and I watched with interest.
The Grand takes place in a high class hotel in Manchester and examines the relationships between the family that owns the hotel, the staff that works at the hotel and the guests that stay in the hotel. Made over ten years ago, The Grand doesn't have the magnificent production values of Downton Abbey but replaces that with a gritty realism that is at times disturbing.
WWI has recently ended and England is in the midst of the social changes that will transform the world by the end of WWII. People in service are not only daring to dream of something better, they are actively pursuing a better life and questioning the class system that has held all of Britain for centuries. The tension between these strivings and a normal fear of change by those in the middle and upper classes provides the narrative tension for this drama.
None of the characters are particularly likeable but they are realistic and their struggles to better themselves or maintain their style of life ring true and are very emotionally affecting. Unlike Upstairs, Downstairs or Downton Abbey, The Grand examines the differences between the middle class and the working class rather than between the aristocracy and the working class. Lord Crawley wouldn't have the family that owns the Grand to dinner.
Other reviewers have commented on the political agenda and the lack of likable characters in the series. These criticisms are fair only up to a point. Life was very difficult in post-war England, a fact that many English dramas minimize. Gentlemen of the middle and upper classes still considered girls of the lower classes as amusing prey to be discarded when the fun was finished. Prostitution was still an avenue of both desperation and a way to materially better a working class girl's circumstances. Working in service still made you old before your time. The horrors of WWI had shattered the young men of all classes. People in the middle and upper classes were still driven by greed and the desire to maintain their privileged position. Could all of these truths have been better balanced with the human virtues in the character portraits? Yes, but even with that said, I very much enjoyed watching The Grand and it gave me more food for thought than the glossier British dramas do. Recommended to fans of the BBC, Masterpiece Theatre and British Period Dramas. A solid A.
123 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2009
I think my negative reaction to this series was a result of my unrealistic expectations. I had just finished watching Upstairs Downstairs and thought The Grand was along those lines, or at least more like The Duchess of Duke Street.
Instead, this was a seamy (and at times steamy) and trashed up soap opera. I failed to like or even feel sympathetic for the majority of the characters and, in real life, I would NOT have cared to stay an hour at a time with any of them. Why, then, would I sacrifice an hour of my time watching them?
Within the first two episodes, we're "treated" to someone blowing his brains out (focus on all that blood on the wall, please), a masochistic pervert being serviced by a former whore, and a swarmy villain who might as well have had a handlebar moustache to twirl.
Another reviewer noted, "This series has everything one could want: love, hate, war vets, lust, deceit, betrayal, money, and power." The problem for me was that it lacked compassion, affection, likeable people and all the other positive characteristics and activities that make a show worth viewing.
So, if you go into it knowing beforehand that it is a melodramatic dip into the dirty end of the pool, you may like it. If you are hoping for something with more smiles than sneers, or something closer to the "old style" Masterpiece Theater, you may -- like me -- decide that it just isn't that grand.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2013
I enjoyed Series One (first eight episodes) of The Grand. It had all the makings of a top-notch Edwardian period mini-series: a captivating story (with some good, albeit "adult" subplots), interesting characters, good acting, the requisite costumes and scenery an such. Even if it wasn't historically accurate, it was entertaining. (That said there was a bit of violence and gratuitous sexplay that I could have done without.)
Then I started to watch Series Two and two of the main characters had been replaced by different actors (for the worse), which really disrupted the flow of the program and it never quite recovered for me. The first few episodes of the second series carried on with the main story line, but lacked the style and quality of Series One.
Then THREE other main characters (and a few minor ones) were written out of the script completely leaving the plot floundering. The next several episodes struck me as somewhat disjointed in terms of story and style of writing, focusing on subthemes with individual characters and nearly ignoring the overall story of the Bannerman family.
Towards the end, the focus shifted back to the main storyline and was building up to what I thought would be a good finale, but sadly I found the final episode lacking in every aspect - a true disappointment.
I don't know the history of this story - if it was based in a book or what, but Series Two really felt like an afterthought or a poor attempt to carry on with something that had run its course. If you can be happy watching Series One and stopping at that, it's worth seeing, otherwise I'm not sure I could recommend it.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2012
The first season was fairly entertaining. The Grand Hotel owned by a family, troubled children, and rivalry brothers, topped off with a dysfunctional staff filled with their own issues. The first season started off well, but I soon tired of Marcus and his less-than-honorable intentions. The epispode dealing with the young maid raped and hung for defending herself left a bitter taste in my mouth. It seemed frankly...pointless.
The second season went from fair to just plain bad. Two of the characters were switch out with a different actor and actress. The personalities changed dramatically in the husband/wife couple, and the soap opera became boring and unbelievable. I didn't finish the second season, but just flipped through the descriptions not really caring how it ended.
Not the best.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2010
This British soap opera had enough good actors to keep me watching through all of the episodes! My favorite was Mark McGan, an anti-hero to rival J.R.Ewing. He is the bad brother who we are supposed to hate, especially because he has the hots for his brother's wife, Sarah. He plays most of the series with a captivating smirk, and his hands in his pockets. Sarah, the good wife, is played by Julia St. John and I have to wonder why she was cast in the role, since she seems an unlikely person to capture the attention of her playboy brother-in-law. She does seem to be ideally mated with John, the good brother, who is equally unattractive, boring, and self-righteous. Marcus has a gorgeous, rich, smart girlfriend and again, one wonders just why he keeps letting his attention wander over to plain, dismal Sarah.
Sarah and John have a son, Stephen, who has returned from WWI with a bad case of what we would now call PTSD, or at least we can blame the war for his erratic behavior---sometimes sympathetic but mostly just a jerk. His parents adore him and enable him to continue his irresponsible behavior, which is just one of the many annoying things about the plot.
Then there is the staff, headed by a noble Jacob Collins, excellently played by Tim Healy. He was one of the few characters who grabbed my genuine sympathy. Another was the indomitable Kate, a tiny dynamo of a housemaid, with enough heart and soul to make up for the rest of the sorry bunch. She was wonderfully played by Rebecca Collard.
It was a pleasure to see the wonderful Susan Hampshire again, although her role as an honorable prostitute is sort of a stretch.
The plot includes all sort of senstational trash, as other reviewers have mentioned. The ending, which I won't divulge, was really disappointing. It's too bad that some very good actors' talent was wasted with this drivvel.
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2010
I love movies, and I have seen just about everything from the BBC so I was looking for another interesting British film. The Grand was not the right choice. First, you can pretty much predict where the story line is going from the first episode - a husband (nice but stupid) and wife (smart, ambitious, dissatisfied with her husband) run a hotel and are in major debt. The husband's sinister/envious brother loans him the money to save the hotel, which enables him to move in to the hotel in order to spend all of his spare time trying to divide his brother and sister in law, in order to have her all to himself. The wife knows his game and just barely puts up a small amount of resistance. There are lots of problems between the husband and wife and their children, snore... There were several R rated scenes, I guess with the absence of a good story and decent lines...The most interesting characters are the hotel staff - and there is a ridiculous, long in the tooth, prostitute who lives in the hotel and espouses the virtues of her profession to any maid that will listen. Unfortunately she recruits a girl and around the fourth? episode there is a very disturbing rape scene. I would not recommend this movie. Poorly written, poorly acted.
33 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2011
After the 3rd disc, I had had it with this series. I like Susan Hampshire (Monarch of the Glen was wonderful!) After the 17yrs old girl is hung for being raped and brutalized by 3 men-after she kills one of the attackers, that was it for me! Tragedy after adultery, prostitution, homosexuality, violence and arguments and sarcastic remarks. Never a funny or bright moment. I couldn't take it anymore! horrible. I wanted to like it-hoping it would get better.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2012
I have mixed feelings about Russell T. Davies as a writer. He is extremely talented but I don't like his twists. Particularly some of the pedantic chaos he has brought to the new Dr. Who series. I did read an interview about his experiences with The Grand and I will cut him a bit of slack because he said there was supposed to be a team of writers but that fell apart and he was left writing it all without having a plan. I love the settings and costumes. I don't like the fact that no one gets ahead, as others have said someone seems to get torn down or killed in every episode. That's monotonous. Give me a break, sometimes someone has a good ending in their life. But then I didn't realize when I first started watching that this is considered soap opera, where catastrophe is constant. I think the cast changes in Episode 9 really stink. The new Ruth is not the same person at all as if the first season didn't exist. The new Stephen is a wimp. He has no presence at all compared to the original character. Clearly the casting could have done better, and RTD should respect the audience and coach the new characters to get into form rather than write to their weaknesses, which is what I believe he did. I grew to dislike St. John (Sarah) because she has only one expression on her face 90% of the time. This is a failure of the directorship. There is a good lesson here though about quality of life. The Victorian '20s were a time of opportunity between the wars. But the workers had no rights, unions weren't there to protect them, womens rights were scarce, and truly you could sink or swim at any social stratum as a result of a few mistakes.