Oh the Bad Movies & TV You’ll Watch 4!


Each of us at Frock Flicks HQ have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, broadcast TV (including Turner Movie Classics), and even some, ehem, other sources to watch historical costume movies and TV shows. Hey, we can even see movies at the old-fashioned theater with live people ‘n stuff! So we spend a lot of time in front of a screen, attempting to watch our backlogged queue. Alas, not every flick set in the past is worth our time (though for ones we DO review, use the search box or menus to peruse the archives!).

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes info: There are a lot of crappy historical costume movies and TV shows out there! We’re not talking Snark Week-worthy travesties — we LURVE watching those. But some stuff is just weak tea. These are boring movies, the dull shows, the ones with mediocre costumes and stories that can’t even rise up to the level of camp entertainment. Or the ones that are mildly entertaining, maybe have ‘good-enough’ costuming, or are moderately snark-worthy, but we can’t be arsed to work up a sweat about it.

Thus, this is an occasional series with our one-line reviews of things we’ve tried to watch but just don’t care enough about to write a whole blog post or podcast. Your mileage may vary!


Before the Rains (2007)

Linus Roache (Wings of the Dove) is a married British guy living in 1930s India who has an affair with a local Indian woman (the gorgeous Nandita Das); Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice) is his sometimes-away wife. Things don’t go well. Colonialists can be assholes. — Kendra


Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)
Semi-interesting look at the lead-up to and massacre at Wounded Knee, told from the perspective of a Native American doctor. Anna Paquin gets about two shiny bustle gowns before transitioning to frontier-wear. I appreciate the film for focusing on the Native perspective and for showing that some whites (misguidedly) saw reservations and forced integration as the only way to save Native peoples. Oh, and Aidan Quinn? Still hot. — Kendra


Copper (2012-13)

Copper (2012-2013)
1860s New York gritty police drama, first episode opens with a pop-rock soundtrack, jump cuts, and a teenage hooker propositioning the main character. Sorry, I don’t love you enough to watch that crap. — Trystan


Demons (2014)

Demons (2014)
WT-ever-loving-F is this show about? I could deal with subtitles, but apparently Dostoyevsky is required reading beforehand, and the miniseries is already over four hours. Thanks for nothing, Amazon Prime. — Trystan


Great Expectations (2012)

Great Expectations (2012)
Even Helena Bonham Carter‘s OTT Miss Havisham can’t save this hot mess of Dickens (who, admittedly, is my absolute least favorite Victorian novelist ever, and I specialized in Victorian novels in grad school). — Trystan

I actually loved the costumes in this, so I’ll probably review it at some point! — Kendra


The Great Fire (2014)

The Great Fire

A four-part miniseries that’s more education than entertainment. It tries too hard to give “insight” into how the London fire of 1666 started and how people of different classes were effected, but semi-decent costuming (though a shocking lack of headgear) and a cast of British historical drama regulars can’t save this mediocre history lesson. — Trystan


Gold Coast aka Guldkysten (2015)

Gold Coast (2015)

The fuck did I just watch? Guldkysten is a Danish film about an “idealist” botanist who goes to what was then the colony of Danish Guinea in 1836ish, thinks that all the indigenous people are simple but is still noble enough to be anti-slave trade (which had been banned in Denmark and its colonies since the 1790s), discovers slave trading going on and does something about it, sort of figures out that the indigenous people aren’t total idiots, and doesn’t end well. Why make a movie about colonialism and slavery in which there are no developed African characters? Why use a real historical person (botanist Wulff Joseph Wulff) who had a local (i.e., no legal/Christian ceremony) marriage with a mixed-race woman and fathered children, therefore obviously integrated into African society to some degree, only to rewrite him to be in lurve with some perfect Aryan blond back home? Why? There are a few pretty 1830s costumes on a missionary woman who has an impact on Wulff, and some lovely dreamy sequences from a cinematic angle, but that doesn’t compensate for making a movie in which the people who things really affect are just background. Fuck off. — Kendra


Rebellion (2016)

2016 Rebellion

Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916 as seen through the eyes of several women in a five-part miniseries. Seems like a GREAT idea, right? Close, but no cigar. The story borders between compelling (the essential parts women played in the uprising and how they were not treated as equals despite their contributions) and cliche (English boss knocks up his Irish secretary and unsuccessfully hides her from his snooty wife). At least the costumes are decent and not half so boring as they could be. — Trystan


When Calls the Heart (2014-)

When Calls the Heart (2014-)
You’ve probably had Netflix recommend this to you too. Well, I fell on the grenade and can report that it has nothing but a goody-two-shoes, Little House on the Prairie, “family-friendly” story, with snoozy and not particularly accurate Victorian-esque costumes. I could find neither enough to snark nor enough to praise. If you’re over 14 and/or you swear like us, don’t bother adding to your queue. — Trystan

Do you love one of these movies or TV shows? What other stuff should we remove from our queue? Have you searched our site recently to see if we’ve already reviewed your faves?

19 Responses

  1. Stefanie

    I’m from Denmark and I have never heard about Guldkysten. Now I need to find it just because!

  2. Charity

    Agreed about WCTH. Atrocious acting, too.

    I’m gonna have to disagree about “Great Expectations.” I’ve seen many different adaptations over the years and think that one is fabulous — in two hours, it hits all the high points of a complex story. It’s way better than the ITV ? version from the same year, where the actress LEANED BACK on her corset. I wanted to slap her. (Tho, in that one, Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham was amazing!)

  3. mmcquown

    I watched “Copper,” which was OK, but just. I note that it didn’t get renewed. There were a lot of Irish accents.

  4. ladylavinia1932

    There were a lot of Irish accents.

    The main character, along with a good number of supporting characters were Irish immigrants. That’s why the show’s main setting was the Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan.

  5. Anon

    I actually liked “the great fire” (though I mostly watched the court scenes and ignored the baker storyline), Catherine of Braganza was such a sweetheart in it. And I liked the sorta friendship between Barbara Palmer and Frances Stewart.

  6. Susan Pola

    Only three I might watch: Great Expectations (love Holliday Grainger), Rebellion (Irish Easter Rebellion is an interest of mine) and Great Fire (sounds like a film that Barbara Castlemaine nee Villiers comes off not as a beotch)

  7. Rachel

    So “When Calls the Heart” is my totally guilty pleasure. It’s what my lit professor termed ‘Fascination of the Abomination’- you know when you can’t really watch, and can’t look away. The acting is terrible, the costumes are ridiculous, and there is a severe lack of hairpins. But I’m emotionally invested now, and can’t escape.

    • Gina

      I agree with you Rachel, I binge watch both season of When Calls… and was full of self loathing, while loving every minute of it. It reminded me of my liking Eddie Money, even thou I was a proud and in your face Punk Rocker. I blame my unholy attraction on the Mounty uniform. Gotta love a man who can ride a horse.

      • me

        I’ve never watched the movie, although it’s on my list. Janette Oke wrote the series, along with a bunch of others, and she was one of my favorite authors in high school. Also, she was the author I could read without mom fussing about bodice rippers. :D :D So, if you want to turn it into a guilty book pleasure, there ya go.

  8. Kathleen Norvell

    I watched all of “Copper” and was disappointed that it was cancelled (although they tied up the main story arc — then dropped another one in at the end). It reminded me of “Gangs of New York,” which I think was deliberate. The men’s clothing was decent — usually dirty or frayed, in keeping with the general poverty of the Irish immigrants — but the women’s bordered on fantasy in some cases. I’m by no means an expert on 1860s women’s clothing, but when my squirrel alerts kept going off, I knew something was wrong. Wrong kind of material to go over hoops; no corsets; totally “off” silhouettes. It was interesting, however, to contrast the clothing of the upper class women (usually the more fantasy-based) than that of the hookers-putting-on-airs who wore a combination of cheap clothes with tatty hand-me-downs and tried to look tony.

  9. Karen K.

    I have not seen a single one of these, and the only one I’d even heard of was Great Expectations (and I thought you were referring to the BBC/PBS version with Gillian Anderson. Which I stopped watching because Douglas Booth is much too pretty to play Pip.) Thanks for the anti-recommendations. Un-recommendations? Warnings?

  10. Lin

    They made a series about ‘Demons’??? *heavy breathing*
    Honestly, though, that book was messed up. Halfway through it and I started to think it was a comedy. Then it all went belly up in the last fifty pages. I’ve been on a self imposed break from Dostoyevsky ever since.

  11. red*razors

    We were keeping the fingers crossed here in Ireland for Rebellion, but it was disappointing as most historical dramas seem to be these days. RTÉ are doing a second season, apparently. Not sure why. Didn’t think it was popular enough and I got the distinct impression that even non-history fiends were questioning a lot of the content.

  12. Susanne

    I quite enjoyed Rebellion, once I’d read enough Wikipedia articles on The Troubles and the Easter Rebellion to be able to figure out what was being referenced. And i thought the costumes were well-done.

    I tried two episodes of When Calls the Heart, and was like “ohgod my IQ just dropped 20 points in 90 minutes.” no more. :) (Also, dear god, avoid The Pinkertons for all the same reasons.)

    I was meh on Copper, but a huge fan of Ripper Street, which does grimy-London & middle-class toffs & well-to-do-but-whores all very well. Good plots, decent characters, quite-sexy Victorian men being all butch coppers and tecs. :D

  13. Annie

    I tried When Calls the Heart, since cheesy, sugary-sweet stuff is my guilty pleasure. Plus, it has a good-looking Mountie. They tried at the beginning, but pretty soon the main girl didn’t bother putting her hair up and then things just went (even further) downhill from there. By the 2nd season they didn’t even bother. None of the women had their hair up, it was all cut and dyed, and curled in beachy waves. One coal miner’s widow had a light blue coat! Light blue, with fancy trim, on a poor widow in a coal mining town. What? They were adding bits of trim to old prom dresses at one point, I’m sure of it.

    Another show I tried and gave up on was Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. In one episode, she was wearing her hair down while at work, and let it drag through someone’s open wound! Even if they don’t know accurate hairstyles, it’s easy to just put it up in a bun. At least look like you’re trying, people!

  14. Constance

    I loathe Dickens due to his treatment of his wife, and how he portrays women, also the sickening sweetness of his poor characters is demeaning. The only one I can tolerate is Bleak House and love Gillian Anderson in it.

  15. Claire

    I have a 14 week old and have somehow found myself obsessively watching When Calls the Heart. It is dire but absolutely brilliant for mindless slush. Baby + crochet = bearable.

    Now I am hooked. Will Elizabeth (adorable) and Mounty Jack (not cheese but DOES have a face like a sad marshmallow) get together? Will Abigail (just stepped put of Real Housewives of Somewhere Tacky) keep her cafe? Will the miners memories be revenged?! Will those weird fake Victoria culottes ever take off? Why are they all wearing their hair down and are they in the US or Canada?!? WHY DO I CARE?