Archive for the ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ Tag

Charlotte Bronte and Hard-to-Read Books   Leave a comment


I admit I decided to read Villette by Charlotte Bronte because of the Masterpiece Theatre program “To Walk Invisible The Bronte Sisters.” I knew some background about the women who had to first write under male pseudonyms; the show whetted my appetite for more. I thought I should read something new-to-me.

It was difficult reading for many reasons — primarily the language and perspectives. I wasn’t surprised that reading the story written in 1853 might prove a little formidable, but I expected to eventually find my groove. I didn’t.

Villette is a fictional Belgian village. Consequently, Bronte incorporated a lot of French into the dialogue, as if things weren’t difficult enough. Translations are provided among the notes in the back of the book. But who wants to keep turning pages back and forth all the time?

The novel follows Lucy Snow, a young English woman without means. She leaves England, and finds work as a nanny and then a teacher at a private girls’ school in Villette.

Lucy is an introvert and at times also appears misanthropic. She does allow a few to enter into her world. She’s reconnected with her godmother, whose son is now a doctor. He and Paul Emmanuel, also a teacher at the school, stir Lucy’s interest. The relationships with the two take many twists. Yet, none are particularly captivating. This may be due, in large part, to the era in which the novel was written: relationships moved at an aggravatingly slow pace.

Three bookmarks
First published in 1853; Penguin Books Classic Edition, 2004
611 pages, this edition includes a chronology of the author’s life; a brief history of the Bronte family, an introduction, suggested additional reading, notes and glossary.

See Food Dining   Leave a comment


I’ve seen enough Viking Cruise-sponsored Masterpiece Theatre episodes on PBS to have sailed around the world. At least it seems that way, so when the opportunity arose to actually book a Viking ocean cruise, my husband and I grabbed it.

Unlike the river cruises, Viking’s liners on the open seas, in this case the Mediterranean, are larger. With 888 passengers, plus more than 400 crew members, the new Viking Sky is a mini-city with a Norwegian flair.


Like other cruise ships, dining is a major activity. With six dining areas, plus the option for room service, the Viking Sky doesn’t disappoint. A recent tour of one of the galleys helped put a few things into perspective. First, there are 13 kitchens with more than 100 chefs, chefs de cuisine and sous chefs, who work 10-hour shifts to ensure that everyone on board gets more than they need to eat.



Everything is made fresh, from the breads and pastries to pasta. Chef de cuisine Wayan explained that formulas are used to determine how much of each food item is needed on a daily basis. This involves a heavy reliance on past experience and nationality of the guests, among other factors. For example, the kitchen goes through 3,200 eggs per day!

Much more was shared on the tour and each meal on our 8-day cruise has been exceptional from crispy calamri to grilled sea bass, from fork-tender Chateaubriand to a hamburger. The combination of well-prepared dishes and exceptional service has made each meal a special dining experience.


Producing Television Masterpieces   Leave a comment


Although I think Rebecca Eaton, long-time producer of Masterpiece (formerly known as Masterpiece Theatre) is an interesting person, I am thankful the focus of her book, Making Masterpiece, is on the series. To be honest, I knew nothing about Eaton before reading her book, but that’s how I discovered she’s so charming. Still, the show’s longstanding quality programming is what drew me to the title.

Eaton shares enough of her life to explain how she became executive producer in 1985. From there, she recounts anecdotes involving actors, producers and writers; many of whom share their own memories of their involvement in the series.

I remember when Alistair Cooke used to introduce the Sunday night programs; I also recall that Sesame Street created Alistair Cookie and Monsterpiece Theatre which mimicked the austerity often associated with classic British literature.


Eaton incorporates self-deprecating humor, which is most evident when she confesses to initially rejecting Downton Abbey as a possibility for Masterpiece. Of course, she soon realized the error of her judgment.

Masterpiece Theatre first aired in 1971. On Eaton’s watch several changes have occurred: the name has been altered and there are now three seasons: Classic, Contemporary and Mystery. She explains how this came about and also details, as much as is possible, the day-to-day duties of being an executive producer.

Among the book’s pleasures is being reminded of past programs, or learning of ones I missed. Most of all, if it’s possible, it’s made me even more excited for the next episode of Downton Abbey and Sherlock and …

Making Masterpiece
Four Bookmarks
Viking 2013
291 pages