Titanic Real-Time Review – Television Review

Do we really need another of these? Mad Men, why did you have to go and win all those awards? And then you too, Downton Abbey? These days we can’t move for 50s midwives, 60s flight attendants and even time-travelling prison inmates from the past. So who wouldn’t want to go back for a two hundredth re-telling of the Titanic story in full period drama awesomeness?

After all, this year is the 100th anniversary of the tragedy so naturally every living soul on the planet now feels obliged to open their heart once more to the sad tale. All those lives lost when the unsinkable became sinkable, and all those dollars earned when sinkable became the profitable (you make up a better rhyme, then!) as James Cameron gets ready to earn another billion dollars when he re-releases his 1997 movie in time to celebrate all that tragic death once again (IN 3-D!!).

Of course, we Brits wouldn’t want Jim to have all the attention so to challenge him is hot property in America right now, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, who has penned a new four-part miniseries about the legendary doomed voyage to air over the next four Sundays. (With the final episode airing on the night of the actual ship’s demise – grim.)

In turn, we here at Mild Concern don’t want to take such drama too seriously lest we succumb to actually enjoying one of these period shows that are all the rage right now, but just so that you know what you may (or may not be) missing out on I am here to take you through the show minute-by-minute (depending on how much it enthralls). I’ve got my measuring jug full of caviar (you’ve got to mix the posh with the poor to mirror the uniting of the inevitably contrasted characters in the show, obviously) and a watered down sherry on the rocks so let’s get this boat on the road… or sea, whichever, really.

Reviewing begins after the jump.

8:54
@caitlinmoran has just retweeted @MatthewEyre who declared that the mini-series should be called Drownton Abbey. Kudos.

8:55

My housemate is watching Avatar on Channel 4. I don’t know why – but then I don’t know why I’m writing a real-time review of Titanic either. Either way, it almost seems like a conspiracy that Cameron’s blockbuster would be on before the latest Titanic tale.

9:01

Cor, check out the production value on these titles! Let’s hope the ship is just as good.

9:02

This ensemble look too happy, they obviously don’t know what’s going to happen. So far, so majestic and kitsch. Also, Batman’s dad is heading to get his daughter out of jail. We’ve got our Rose, folks!

9:04

There is too much talk of not enough lifeboats on the ship. (More room for dancing and not scaring the ladies, so Thomas Andrews says.)

9:06

Someone has just tweeted “why am I watching a rip-off drama of #titanic ?!?! #Boring” It seems that the education system has failed to inform this girl that the Titanic was a real ship and James Cameron owns nothing (I will probably contradict myself with this as I compare his with Fellowes’).

9:07

A maid just had a flirtatious encounter with a dashing man and ended their flirt with “and next time, don’t use these stairs!” I’ll be damned if that nugget isn’t brought up between the two when the ship plays footsy with an iceberg.

9:07

The ship has abruptly set sail already (and the CGI is very pretty). Good to know there’s no hanging around. I’ve done my math and this mini-series will actually be shorter than Titanic (1997) so if there is no SMASH CUT from gawping passengers to the iceberg by the end of this episode I will be very displeased.

9:12

Our first American just appeared on the screen and he didn’t like the way the English were being modest and gentleman-like. But there’s a dinner now so we get to watch even more flirting and awkward encounters as the foundations of who we root for to live and die are made.

9:13

Batman’s dad really has aged in these 7 years since Nolan’s first take on the franchise.

9:13

I’m not American but even I know that accent is atrocious.

9:15

If all this flirting keeps up I expect we’ll be seeing some of this before long –

9:15

ADVERT BREAK! I’m calling a Titanic 3D trailer.

9:18

I must be Mystic Meg.

9:19

END OF ADVERT BREAK! Not a single cruise-holiday advert. What a disappointment.

9:22

Constant (yet timid) flirting aside, nothing has happened yet. But there is plenty of hand-shaking and nodding going on between the men whilst the women pull sour faces. This is just Downton Abbey without Maggie Smith. What despicable trickery, Julian Fellowes.

9:23

Politics and snide one-upmanship have come in properly now, I feel like I’m at a party I have no right being at. It’s all a bit of a bore but at least it’s not Rose’s thinly-veiled self-comparison to being a slave traveling to America in Titanic (1997).

9:25

There is a distinct absence of the Irish and exterior shots.

9:27

@AndyMartindale just tweeted “Judging by everyone’s tweets , #titanic is not going down well.” This is humorously cynical and accurate on both levels.

9:28

The hats that 87% of women in this show wear look as large and as unsinkable as the Titanic itself. Well done, costume department, you’ll be saving folks by the lifeboat.

9:30

There has been a sudden abundance of people strolling around the decks with babies and dogs. I am now emotionally committed to this program. I don’t want the dogs to die.

9:32

ADVERT BREAK! You would never guess that this was set on a boat. The most water we’ve seen since they left Southampton was in an advert for cologne that featured a man surfing for some reason. I’m not exactly asking for action on a Roland Emmerich scale but silver-spoon idiots babbling about nothing and giving each other sex-eyes is hardly gripping drama.

9:37

END OF ADVERT BREAK! They heard my moans, there was a glance at the water before more flirting between the Jack and Rose of this incarnation.

9:38

“You seem to know me a lot all of a sudden.”

“I seem to like you a lot all of a sudden as well.”

This script is… stellar.

9:40

I’ve either fallen asleep or the Titanic has hit an iceberg after only being on the water for a couple of hours. Again, I’m not asking for Roland Emmerich disaster-film styling but even this is condensed. At this rate, there won’t be any need for three more episodes.

9:41

Everyone is already making their way to the deck. Everyone knows they’re going down and the five compartments are already flooded. By gum, abrupt is not the word, here.

9:43

Well at least there’s a bit of character drama now. Thank you, impending death!

9:44

ADVERT BREAK! These adverts for hoovers and the such are not as tongue-in-cheek as they could be. At least there was an insurance advert. Hur hur.

9:48

END OF ADVERT BREAK! We’re watching an Irish family we’ve not even met before, did ITV just play adverts over the actual programme or does Julian Fellowes just like to jump around?

9:50

Everyone’s gone crazy, but in a very calm, very British way. Their anger at the unfair lifeboat situation is more reminiscent of a long queue waiting at the cinema than that of 1,500 people about to die.

9:51

Yes! The band is here; ready to sombrely play the ship into the seabed. Their ten seconds of play-time has been better than the show’s own score so far.

9:53

Harry (Jack) has come to save Georgiana (Rose) but they have known each other for only ten minutes. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be crying for them, he hasn’t even drawn her naked yet.

9:55

There’s the iconic shot of a half-sunk ship that feels both un-affecting and underserved, too.

9:58

Batman’s dad sent off his wife very unemotionally.

9:58

What? It’s over? Well, just like the word ‘abrupt’, ‘disjointed’ springs to mind. In the space of approximately 42 minutes we met at least 900 people; 800 of them appear to have the hots for each other but don’t want to do anything about it and the remainder of passengers simply stroll around calling things “ghastly.”

Ghastly is definitely what Titanic is so far. From the looks of things, next week’s episode is going to re-hash what’s happened tonight as well as showing us some scheming businessmen in rooms full of books. I’m not quite sure that I want to tune in to three more hours of Downton Abbey but on lifeboats (I assume that’s the only place they can go from here). My earlier assumption that chatter would be dragged out until the final episode was completely wrong since everything has happened in the first episode – but is also noticeably lacking any kind of action at all. I neither like nor hate any of these characters enough to care whether they live or die but I’m sure that we will all end up watching the mini-series in its entirety, simply so that we can all have a very British collective moan about the whole thing. Sigh.