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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pros and Cons of this Series
I am a historian, but I have also fairly accepted all Titanic movies and TV shows. So I will tell you about the Pros and Cons about this series and you can decide if you like it or not.

First off, let me say that I liked it. This series presented a new dynamic to seeing the Titanic and it also presented new real people who were on the ship (the Wideners, the...
Published on April 17, 2012 by JMGraber

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Drown-ton Abbey: The Fellowes Formula Falters Due To Uninspired Personal Drama
I was quite excited when I heard that Julian Fellowes had signed on to write a new miniseries exploring the legendary Titanic tragedy. Fellowes is the reigning champion of upstairs/downstairs drama as evidenced by his Oscar winning screenplay for Altman's "Gosford Park" and his wildly successful production of "Downton Abbey." While that upscale soap opera is currently...
Published on May 17, 2012 by K. Harris


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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pros and Cons of this Series, April 17, 2012
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I am a historian, but I have also fairly accepted all Titanic movies and TV shows. So I will tell you about the Pros and Cons about this series and you can decide if you like it or not.

First off, let me say that I liked it. This series presented a new dynamic to seeing the Titanic and it also presented new real people who were on the ship (the Wideners, the Duff Gordons, and Dorothy Gibson are some examples). However, the first thing I will talk about is how the series is set up. The first three episodes have generally so many different points of view that are happening on the show. This is an awesome new way to look at a TV show, but you may not like this new style and thus the whole way the series is filmed will not be good for you. So in the end I liked this new dynamic, but depending who you are you may not like the way it is filmed with various point of views.

Now what are the plots? The good news is that this series did not generally rip off the popular James Cameron Titanic movie. This series does not really have a person from one class falling in love with another. Instead, there is a story in each class. The first episode will be off course first class where the wealthy elite of society are. The main character is the Earl of Manton is travelling with his wife Lady Manton and daughter Georgiana. Before the the voyage, Georgiana had ended up in jail and her father had to get her out. So Manton hopes to keep his daughter away from England while he goes to business in New York City. He also hopes she finds a husband. They also end up in conflict with some people who work for them in second class.

The second class story stars John Bately and his wife Muriel. John finds out his employer, the Earl of Manton, will be on board travelling first class. Bately is an attorney hired by Manton to hide a bad incident in his past. Muriel does not like her husband's business with people like the Earl of Manton.

Another story stars a perspective from the crew. Paolo, an Italian immigrant is travelling as a waiter in the first class dining room. He ends up falling in love with Annie, a maid for the second class passengers. The questions is if she will come with him to America and leave the ship when it docks in New York.

There are far more stories including one for third class, one for the captain and officers, and one for the private servants who work for the Mantons.

In terms of realism, the people a Titanic historian would know are all in the crew and are travelling first class and I will say some of them are not portrayed well as they seem really angry. That is one of the main problems with several characters. The other problem is that there might be too many for someone to remember. Another problem is that we don't really see the fates of everyone and that can be a problem. I felt it was a sign that Fellowes eventually knew he had too much to work with.

Also don't expect to see a big Grand Staircase, or the lookouts before hitting the iceberg. Some of the effects are a little moderate. The most major problem in my opinion is how it is filmed. I can keep up with the different points of view, but others may not and I can understand that.

Overall, I liked the series, but I can see why it would be a problem for some.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Drown-ton Abbey: The Fellowes Formula Falters Due To Uninspired Personal Drama, May 17, 2012
I was quite excited when I heard that Julian Fellowes had signed on to write a new miniseries exploring the legendary Titanic tragedy. Fellowes is the reigning champion of upstairs/downstairs drama as evidenced by his Oscar winning screenplay for Altman's "Gosford Park" and his wildly successful production of "Downton Abbey." While that upscale soap opera is currently all-the-rage, it seemed a prime opportunity for Fellowes to branch out. Without a doubt, the class divisions, struggles and tensions aboard the Titanic certainly appeared to match his previous themes. And yet, while the idea seemed like an easy home run, "Titanic" (for all its elegance) is lacking in character drama that makes one actually care. The passengers on this ill-fated voyage are only superficially presented and their back stories are largely uninspired or entirely predictable. While there are still some good elements to "Titanic," therefore, I never felt the time investment in watching the four part miniseries paid off in any appreciable way.

The shortcomings of this particular trip rests almost squarely on the unimaginative screenplay. While I liked the idea of the overlapping structure of the show (each part presents different characters during the same pivotal time frame), it was an interesting narrative device that really didn't amount to much. The huge cast is impressive, but the characters lack dimension. A few stand-outs include Linus Roache (perhaps my favorite character, seen only sporadically after the first episode) as a progressive Earl, Toby Jones (always reliable) as a second class passenger dealing with a disappointed wife (The Tudor's Maria Doyle Kennedy in the series' most thankless role), and Glen Blackhall as an Italian immigrant working on the ship. But these and many more great actors are given an array of lackluster cliche's to serve up.

Plotlines include undying new love in the upper class, undying new love in the lower decks (two characters spend about 30 minutes of real time together before committing to a future), a married woman with an unexplored attraction to an enigmatic stranger, and all the class snobbery that one might expect. A few of the story threads showed signs of life but never get developed beyond the most perfunctory way. And if you're just waiting for the climatic sinking sequence, it lacks any type of visual impact. In the end, it's all about who will live and who will die. And as the show drew to its conclusion, I realized I didn't really care much one way or another. Truly a disappointment! KGHarris, 4/12.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My honest opinion, May 11, 2012
This review is from: Titanic (DVD)
I do not understand the complaints this is getting. I will try to explain reasons I loved this while addressing complaints I've seen. Before I do that I will say it is not accurate, it is not perfect--I'm not saying it is. But it is a brilliant, wonderful fictional series of what might have been going on. And I enjoyed this more than I did the Cameron film.

1. Fictional characters. Yes, it is about fictional characters. At first I was annoyed but then I loved it. By using fictional characters, they were able to tell these different stories. I would LOVE a movie about the real people on the ship, but the fictional thing did not bother me.

2. The complexity. In the first episode I got a little bit confused at all the jumping around but then the next three episodes fixed that. I was able to follow the different story lines easily and I loved, loved, LOVED the jumping around as it started showing explanations. I started getting very intrigued realizing what they were doing with that. In episode one, for instance, it showed Batley for a couple seconds seeing the iceberg. Then in episode two we saw WHY he was out on deck and it was like an "oh, I get it!" moment. And this happened... a LOT. There were so many "a-ha!"s going on for me that it kept me very interested and glued to the TV.

3. The characters. Oh, goodness, how could anyone be bored? These characters were for the most part many times more interesting than the ones from the Cameron film. At first I pretty much disliked most the characters and thought they were one-dimensional. Then the iceberg hit and things started unraveling, and the characters started changing. You get to see the hidden layers that they all would have. In the Cameron film I could pretty much guess how Rose would act, how Jack would act, how Rose's mother would act, etc, etc. In this one, there were so many hidden depths to the characters. Sure there were a few I didn't really care about but they still surprised me.

4. The ending. This was... so emotional. I cried more in this one than I did the Cameron one. It may not show a character drowning, or freezing to death, but I can't imagine how anyone watching this can see the final moments of a character and not understand what happened to them. Even the ones that you didn't see in the water or whatnot, I still understood what happened to them. The final episode was just... very intense... and so emotional.

Addressing some other issues people seemed to have with it: the iceberg hitting the ship was very clear to me and though not as "dramatic" as the Cameron film, it certainly wasn't over in "the blink of an eye". The setting? No grand staircase, but I really didn't miss it. Plus the "Victorian sitting room" style seemed suiting, as the Titanic was a luxury ship and would probably seem that way in first class.

As long as you understand that this is about fictional characters, and have the attention span to follow complex, intricate drama--give it a try.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Julian Fellowes Lost At Sea, April 16, 2012
By 
This review is from: Titanic (DVD)
The DVD hasn't been released here yet but the 'mini-series' is now over. It is difficult to call this amalgamation of snippets about an historic tragedy a miniseries because it was spread out so unevenly (3 hours on first night, one hour on second night) and we are now informed that the film is a total of 184 minutes which means that the fourth hour was completely filled with the most distracting and disrupting of commercials. Why this new version of TITANIC wasn't place on cable television where it could have been enjoyed on one uninterrupted three hour showing is beyond understanding. Perhaps when the DVD is released and there are no loud and ugly commercials every 5 minutes the story will hold together.

Julian Fellowes, so respected for his writing of such series as Downton Abbey, etc. seems to have the urge to tell the story of the event through quick snippets of personal stories among the passengers - a commendable idea, but when the tiny tales are buried in the almost immediate collision with the iceberg and the attempt to flesh out the story by making it about how tragedy affects people's relationships come as little disconnected pop-ups, it is difficult to care about anybody, much less get to know them well enough to remember them at picture's end. Granted there are some moments before the ship is finished that emphasize the fact that the unsinkable Titanic was rushed to completion before it was safely ready, and those flashbacks to offer some interesting moments.

But basically the story is the same as all the other TITANIC movies - a study about class distinction not only among the peerage of Brits but also the differentiation among first, second and third (steerage) classes - with a hefty dollop of snubbing the crass American passengers. Jon Jones directs this amalgamation of ideas. There are some brief but tasty moments for actors such as Glen Blackhall (a memorable Paolo) and Antonio Magro (Paolo's brother Mario), Peter McDonald, Steven Waddington, Ruth Bradley Linus Roache and Geraldine Somerville as the Mantons, Toby Jones and Maria Doyle Kennedy, Celia Emrie, James Wilby and Dragos Bucur (the stowaway Russian). The rest of the cast is so little used that they all but disappear.

The film was apparently shot on digital video. Some of the effects are fine, but the whole film lacks cohesion - at least on the American release on commercial televsion! Grady Harp, April 12
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing When You Are Drowning In Plots, April 16, 2012
I watched this on ABC and recorded it without the commercials and watched it again. I had high hopes for this mini-series but I really felt it didn't work for several reasons which had little to do with production values or poor casting. The casting was really quite good and for a television production which didn't have a billion dollar budget and mega special effects, it was really quite well done and rather impressive.
My problem with this production gravitated around issues such as continuity, character development, and something that is virtually insurmountable --- the legend of the Titanic itself.
I think it is difficult to play around with anything that has its basis in fact because too much has been written about the Titanic. While the subject is being overworked right now due to the centennial of the disaster, the event has been in the public eye for decades and got a new life when the wreckage was located and explored 26 years ago. Traveling Titanic shows, books, documentaries, and James Cameron's films have stoked public interest and has provided at the very least a common perception of what occured on April 14-15, 1912.
This production attempts to mimic the formula that has made Downton Abbey a phenomena. Julian Fellowes has written a screenplay that mixes real people and events with fictional characters that represent all classes of people present on the ship and creates multiple personal storylines for his ficticious characters. The problem I had with this is a mini series of less than four hours doesn't allow the viewer to get invested in the characters and their stories as well as an epic disaster. This production also hops all over the Titanic roadmap, bouncing between multiple narratives and the actual sinking. I even think some scenes (or at least parts of scenes) are reused throughout the story. I found myself flipping between flooding corridors and lifeboats being loaded and scenes that had to have occurred earlier. It tends to be somewhat confusing, though I concede that when I viewed it a second time without commercials it did make more sense.
There were some areas where this story managed to remain true to the original event. There was the feistyness of Mrs. Margaret Brown, the model/actress Dorothy Gibson flightiness, the wealthy Philadelphia Wideners private dinner on the night of the sinking, Benjamin Guggenheim was traveling with his mistress, officers Murdoch and Lightoller were accurately portrayed as they were involved loading the lifeboats. All of this added a sense of authenticity to this production which is focused on a fictional study of a class system. The Titanic is an excellent metaphor for the class system that was in place at the time and ultimately resulted in the overwhelming number of third class passengers that died. However, I really didn't get the way Captain Smith was portrayed. He came off as a pompous incompetent and seemed to be jockeying for the mantle of ultimate villain with J. Bruce Ismay. This is obviously a dramatic conceit to place blame on someone for the disaster, but I am not sure it worked or was even necessary. Titanic sank because there was a convergence of many isolated events/flaws that came together to create the ultimate disaster. Really isn't that dramatic enough? Something that wasn't supposed to happen did.
In retrospect, I think the thing that sunk this production was the lack of time to develop the characters properly, the choppy editing which really lost me for the most part, and the endless commercial breaks. It was really difficult to feel invested in the fictional characters. The only plot that was simple enough to work was a romance between a maid and an Italian waiter. It was simple and direct so it worked.
The dvd release should be better ---- no commercials, but I think more would have to be done to pull this story together. What works so well with Downton Abbey doesn't seem to work in this instance. Time wasn't on the Titanic's side and the same is true regarding this screenplay. It was far to ambitious given the amount of air time this project was given. There were far too many ficticious characters and far too many story threads to present the rarified world of Titanic given its frenetic pace.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars no commercials, please, April 23, 2012
This review is from: Titanic (DVD)
We watched this on our dvr...thank goodness! The movie was very good, and it was interesting having the story told by different classes of patrons/employees. I would advise anyone who is intrigued by the Titanic's sinking, however, to rent or borrow the dvd; that way, you won't have to be annoyed by so many commercials. The bottom line: ABC should be ashamed of itself for destroying what could have been a very pleasant viewing experience, with the interruptions.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Desecration of the dead, April 22, 2012
I don't know about other people, but when I am lied to, I feel angry and cheated. We were promised that this version would "set the record straight"; furthermore, Julian Fellowes then appeared on many a talk show junket decrying the inaccuracy of the James Camerons' version ... and then he comes up with this drivel, the errors of which are described on many a website, such as Paul Lee's collection of gaffes. Fellowes is described as a Titanic nut (he provided the foreword for the new edition of "A Night To Remember") and wrote the scripts over an 18 month period, so how can he have made so many glaring errors? Did he do any research at all? I am not blaming him for the film restarting from scratch on every episode, as this was the decision of the producer, but for the writer to populate the ship with caricatures of real people, or by people with whom this reviewer felt no empathy (Paolo and Annie possibly excepted) I felt this Titanic was doomed like its namesake.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars WAS THIS REALLY ABOUT THE TITANIC? COULD HAVE FOOLED ME, April 18, 2012
By 
Peter M "cinerama" (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
I was going to buy the bluray but after seeing the first 2 episodes ,I cancelled my order. I was at a loss to get any feeling whatsoever that I was watching a film about the Titanic. It could have been about any ship. A lot of outstanding acting talent was wasted in this mediocre production. Surely someone must have known how it would turn out after reading the script before putting the film into production? The really great filmmakers ,Hitchcock for example, could visualise in their minds beforehand ,just how their films would look when completed. If the producers of this abomination did the same , the film would never have been made. For me, the series sunk in the first episode.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mixed and muddled and, oddly, disrespectful, May 23, 2012
So I was curious about this. Never watched Downton Abbey (maybe I'm the only one?) but I knew it had a good rep so I went into this expecting it to be pretty decent. I get the feeling it was going for historical accuracy, a snapshot of Edwardian society that just happened to be compressed into a doomed ship. In the end I think it said more about the writers than the people on the Titanic.

What I liked:

I actually thought the approach was bold. I didn't warm to the characters because if it but I admire the non-misty eyed approach. Not everyone was the Titanic was likeable, after all, and not just the obvious villains would have grated against our modern sensibilities. There was a lot of snobbery, class lines were rarely crossed and fear of the masses drove the whole thing along, sending many to their doom for reasons that seem horrifying to us. I also thought it production looked pretty good considering its TV budget. A few of the characters were likeable and Toby Jones is always watchable.

What I didn't like:

Maybe it went too hard for the realism or maybe it was OTT, slipping into caricature, but it was very hard to care about the fates of many of the people depicted and, well, the thing about the Titanic is it was a loss. When you have a cluster of nasty people you mostly want to slap it's hard to see their loss as a tragedy. Having the story hang off such characters was a bold move but I am not sure it paid off.

The non-linear story telling didn't bother me. The fact it ended where it did didn't bother me, I just found it utterly lacking in any emotional impact aside from a desire to smack most of the people in First Class (and a number of crew).

I didn't like the demonisation of Captain Smith either. It was an inaccurate portrayal based on all accounts I've read on the man and was utterly unnecessary. I am not a fan of being controversial for the sake of being controversial. I know it's not that well respected but I was far more moved by the James Cameron effort, imperfect though it was.

The red card for me, though, came as the great ship went down. People were falling, jumping, into the ice water. Jumping to their deaths and I was... appalled to hear a very distinctive sound. The Wilhelm Scream is a well known sound editors in-joke. It tends to appear in action films (George Lucas likes to slip it into his) and tends to accompany some on-screen calamity suffered by some back-ground, fictional, henchman. It's a little game, played for laughs for those in the know.

It is HIGHLY disrespectful to assign it to the death cries of an actual person being depicted in a historical drama such as this. I don't know whose idea but they should be reminded what was being depicted. It was crass and lowered the tone of the whole production for me. Disbelief was all I had left then.

Over all this just made me want to watch the James Cameron version.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lackluster, but could have been great!, April 16, 2012
By 
Steven Keller (Fairview Heights, Illinois, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Titanic (DVD)
With all of the talent aboard and behind this miniseries, what could have been an extraordinary piece of filmmaking turned out to be a lackluster, dull four hours. The eagerly awaited Titanic miniseries penned by Julian Fellowes of Gosford Park and Downton Abbey fame, introduced several interesting characters; however, the four-hour allotted time didn't allow any of these characters to develop. Sketches and black and white outlines of Lords, Ladies, Molly Brown, stewards, maids and an early film star are all we were left with. If the series had been six or more episodes it may have worked, but alas, four hours was not adequate time to get to know at least twenty major characters. Let's face it, Fellowes forte is the character study and sadly, he was not allowed to do that in Titanic.

Two performances sparkled - Glen Blackhall as Italian steward, Paolo Sandrini and Jenna-Louise Coleman as Annie Desmond, his love interest. These two young actors brightened the screen and stole every scene in which they appeared. I dare say that these were the only characters that seemed real and sympathetic. These talented young actors are ones to watch! Several great actors like James Wilby, Celia Imrie and David Calder (as Captain Smith) were all but wasted. The character of Captain Smith basically walked on and then walked off - too bad, for history relates Smith as a remarkable fellow.

The issue of social class was handled rather heavy-handedly, making it seem as if one social class looked upon the other as pariahs. This may have happened in certain circumstances, but not to the extent the film portrayed it.

Costumes, sets and the ship all looked authentic, but without the flesh and blood characters, just not engaging enough to make the four-hour series entertaining.
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Titanic
Titanic by Jon Jones (DVD - 2012)
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