Droughtlander Survival Guide (February 2021)

Hello out there to all of my Obsassenachs! We are now 9 months in to this VERY long Droughtlander, and I’d be lying if the upcoming release of Men in Kilts is equal parts joy and despair. Joy because, well, who isn’t going to enjoy seeing Sam and Graham joyride around Scotland taking jabs at each other and generally having a hell of a good time? Despair because I have the sinking feeling that the February 14th premiere date on everyone’s mind was originally meant for Season 6 of our beloved Outlander.

All is quiet on the home front, and I’m holding tight to the old adage “No news is good news.” John Bell and a myriad of other actors whose homes are spread across the UK and Europe have had their Instagram locations tagged in Glasgow, and a recent article in Parade about the new COVID testing facility at the Outlander soundstage in Cumbernald was released on January 23, 2021. All of that being said, I’m optimistic that the first block of filming is well underway, and I can’t wait for Starz’s official announcement — hopefully coming soon. Come on, throw us a bone here!

While we’re waiting, somewhat impatiently for that bone to be thrown, I thought I’d put together a new Droughtlander Survival Guide for all of you good people. Normally, I try to theme these entries, but let’s face it, most of the time life is not some neatly organized list, and my interests very greatly depending on my mood, so here are 4 things I’ve been entertaining myself with during Droughtlander.

Bridgerton

8/10 — Recommend

I have a confession, I’m quite a stubborn individual. So, when I had Bridgerton recommended to me by not one, or three, but FIVE people (you know who you are), I dug my heels in a little bit. I couldn’t see what the obsession with it was. Yes, it looked charming, but I’ve never been one for Edwardian period dramas, and quite frankly, I like to be against the grain. I wanted to give the show some time to breathe and watch it because I wanted to — not because everyone expected me to. But, after about three weeks, I finally gave into all the peer pressure and here are my thoughts on Netflix’s newest hit.

Outlander is the measuring stick to which I hold everything these days, and let’s be frank, MOST shows fall below that golden standard. Where Bridgerton is concerned, the acting had moments where it was only so-so, and the entire plot,  reminiscent of “Mr. Malcolm’s List”, was a bit too predictable for my tastes. To be honest, I don’t think Bridgerton is “obsession level”. However, it’s shiny, new, sexy, and has some great moments in the latter half of the first season, where I’d be lying if I said it didn’t pique my curiosity.

Overall, my initial impression was correct; it IS charming–in a myriad of ways. The score pulls from both classical and modern music to create a timeless feel. If you don’t believe me, just check out the soundtrack on Spotify. The costumes are TO DIE FOR. Honestly, it gives Outlander’s Paris costumes a run for their money–although, to be fair, I don’t think they were as historically accurate as Outlander’s pieces. And while the computer graphics left quite a bit to be desired, the show all but made up for it in the GORGEOUS set design and decoration. Overall, the story was cute, and I must admit, the finale hit me in the feels in a way that is extremely rare. So, moral of the story, Bridgerton is NOT perfect, but if you give it a chance, those final fews episodes can definitely sink their hooks in you.

Gilmore Girls

7 / 10 — Recommend

Remember the days when television shows had 20+ episode seasons, and they actually took time to consume? Good times, right? Well, during Droughtlander I’ve rediscovered one of these gems: Gilmore Girls. Now, it’s not a “binge worthy” show for me. I’ve been digesting all seven seasons since August, but it’s something extremely lighthearted and funny that sometimes, I just need in my life.

Having been born and raised in the small town life with festivals, town meetings, and the general “everybody knows everybody” hoopla, this show makes me nostalgic for the good ol’ days. The relationship between Lorelai and Rory is downright adorable, and seeing them stumble through life and picking each other up when they need it most, warms my heart. I adore the cast in all its many facets, and I’d be lying if I didn’t get a kick out of seeing so many famous faces before they were famous. I’m looking at you Milo Ventimiglia, Jared Padelecki, and Melissa McCarthy.

I’m not generally a fan of starting shows on streaming services that have 100+ episode, primarily because it makes me feel like I’m stuck in a black hole — never making any progress on my endless List, but Gilmore Girls has been something I can return to when I need something light to fill my time. The plot isn’t overly complex, and it doesn’t leave my mind running long after I power off the TV, which in this time of Pandemic, is exactly what the doctor ordered  🙂

Star Wars

6 / 10 — Take it or Leave it

It may have taken me the first 27 years of my life to get to this moment, but I am FINALLY watching the Star Wars franchise, and I have to be honest, I’m not overly impressed by what I’ve seen so far. One of the biggest questions most Star Wars fans ask me is “What order are you watching them in?” And to save all of you the trouble, I will come out and say, I’m watching them in release order, as I feel this was how they were originally intended to be absorbed. Now, why George Lucas chose to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker AFTER we all find out what happens, is beyond me, but there it is.

I know that the Star Wars universe has a cult following that rivals any other fandom I have ever encountered, and I’ll be honest, there is A LOT to unpack in these films, but having JUST finished Attack of The Clones, I’m also struggling to see what everyone is raving about. Granted, the special effects are incredibly impressive given that these movies got their start in the 70s and 80s. So, without a doubt, I can appreciate that feat for what it is. Each of the trilogies have their own identity with a relatively new cast of characters, and a completely new vibe to the plot. So the good news is, if you don’t like one set of movies, chances are you’ll like the others!

I’m finding that I’m a fan of the first three movies (Episodes IV, V, and VI) at the moment, but in all honesty, I think I’m going to like Episodes VII, VIII, and IX the best — and I say this, having been warned that I may have a few Star Wars fanatics knocking down my door and burning me at the stake for this blasphemy… I AM curious to see where the story goes, but I think I’m regretting not watching them in chronological order just a wee bit. It kind of takes the mystery out of the plot knowing where the story ends up.

The Spanish Princess

7 / 10 — Recommend

During Droughtlander I’m always looking for things to do with my Starz subscription, but something that was never up for debate was watching the second season of The Spanish Princess. I read Phillippa Gregory’s novels years ago, and absolutely loved them. Catherine of Aragon’s story immediately drew me in, and when I heard that Starz was continuing the story of The Tudors with The Spanish Princess I was thrilled.

Let’s face it, Starz knows how to do a period drama. If you run down the list, MOST of their moneymakers fall into that genre: The White Queen, The White Princess, Outlander, so on and so forth. The sets and costumes are complete eye-candy, and they never fail to discover fresh new faces and put their talent on display for the world! In the first season of The Spanish Princess I was completely enthralled by the characters and their stories as Catherine and her ladies tried to make their way in a new country with enemies on all sides.

However, the second season strayed a bit too far off the beaten path for my tastes. It wasn’t historically accurate — which on the whole doesn’t bother me. I have been a fan of historical fiction long enough to accept that some shows and books are less historical and more fiction. However, I felt like the writing was a lesser quality this go around, and the characters were far less enigmatic in the second season. I honestly got the feeling that The Spanish Princess was only renewed for a second season BECAUSE it hit the sweet spot in Starz’s target audience, not necessarily because the content was there. That’s not to say that The Spanish Princess isn’t worth watching; if you have a Starz account, why not get some use out of it during Droughtlander?

Well, if you’re like me and ALWAYS searching for new and exciting things to explore, check back here at The Sassenach Files blog regularly as I dish on all my new discoveries.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for a special, Valentine’s Edition of The Sassenach Files in the coming days!!

Until then, Cheers!

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