‘TITANIC’ (2012)

April 16, 2012 18 Comments

100 years later, the fated voyage of one ship is still remembered. Unless you’re living on another planet, in all likelihood news of the RMS Titanic’s 100th anniversary is familiar to you. To coincide with the anniversary, British scripter Julian Fellowes adapts the tragedy into a four-hour miniseries in which a new set of fictional character’s lives unfold. Tragic or not, this is a memorable series.

Titanic (2012) ABC TV Review

As a part of the upper-class aristocracy, the Earl of Manton (Linus Roache) is used to getting whatever he wants. He books passage on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic for himself and his snobbish, aristocratic wife (Geraldine Somerville) but not their daughter. That all changes when his suffragette daughter, Georgiana (Perdita Weeks) finds herself on the wrong side of a jail cell, and he scrambles to secure passage for her. En route to the ship, the family meets John Bately (Toby Jones), an attorney travelling with his wife, Muriel (Maria Doyle Kennedy). Bately is employed by Lord Manton with a purpose of seeing that his past sins remain buried; secrets that he’d rather his proud wife never hear.

‘TITANIC’ (2012). Reviewing the 2012 ABC TV miniseries with Perdita Weeks, Linus Roache, Jenna Louise Coleman and more! All text is © Rissi JC

In steerage, the Manton’s manservant, Barnes (Lee Ross) teases the quiet, bookish ladies maid Mabel Watson (Lydsey Marshal). Just prior to the ship’s sailing, 2nd officer Lightoller (Steven Waddington) offers Paolo Sandrini (Glen Blackhall) the chance for a new life. When the pretty Annie Desmond (Jenna-Louise Coleman) catches Paolo’s attentions, life with the hard-working maid becomes a dream. 

I have a confession to make. I have never seen any version of Titanic nor read a book solely based on the events surrounding the sinking. Years later I still haven’t rented the 1996 adaptation. It’s this Fellowes (creator of the charming Downton Abbey) series that piques my curiosity most. Much like the lush Downton Abbey, this latest to come from Fellowes pen explores the world of the aristocracy from their perspective as well as their servants.

‘TITANIC’ (2012). Reviewing the 2012 ABC TV miniseries with Perdita Weeks, Linus Roache, Jenna Louise Coleman and more! All text is © Rissi JC

Let me just get this out of the way right away: I actually do love this series. Although not surprised, it still made me sad so many people didn’t find this worthy of its programming time. Perhaps I should preference this with the fact that I’m looking at it strictly from a cinematic point-of-view, not historical. Since I know next-to-nothing about the exact events it would be unfair to view this from any other perspective. Granted, I also have nothing to compare it to, but in my opinion, this is exactly how I want to see a story about the Titanic. When first I heard all four one-hour episodes would end with the terror of hitting the iceberg, my first thought is horror.

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Then I saw it on film. True, reliving it times four is not ideal but it also keeps up the pretense of drama, and us glued to the television screen; this instead of merely watching an alternate version of “Downton” set at sea. Unfortunately, if there is one failing, it’s the characters. None of them ever managed to grip me or elect my sympathy. Naturally, there is sorrow because of the impending doom that keeps us in a dreaded state for every single person on the ship because they knew nothing of what was to come. This is both an advantage and disadvantage.

‘TITANIC’ (2012). Reviewing the 2012 ABC TV miniseries with Perdita Weeks, Linus Roache, Jenna Louise Coleman and more! All text is © Rissi JC

It’s “good” because we don’t want these people to be the next “Jack and Rose” who we shed legions of tears over. There is a moment between the Bately’s that is touching, and a heart-wrenching scene between a man and his daughter. Annie and Paolo are adorable together and I love the spunk Perdita (sister of Honeysuckle Week’s) bring to her role; reflections of Lady Sybil anyone? Those of you who are scholars will probably be annoyed certain character’s depictions is that of a coward. Such a vast array of characters is confusing but for the most part, each episodic story tries its hardest to break everything down. At the same time, the repetitive patterns of scenes can be annoying. On the one side, I accept why filmmakers do this and even appreciate it. However I think it could have allowed for new perspectives rather than so many frames that we had already seen. 

Perhaps what most surprised me about this series was the fact that I did like it. It was lovely in a tragic sort of way. The costuming is pretty to look at and this is a story about the infamous Titanic that I actually “enjoy.” Plus the cast list is impressive beyond anything else. There is a vast sense of loss even without connecting deeply with the characters. We mourn for the loss of young love and those who didn’t get a chance to say good-bye. Even with its flaws (such as poor special effects), I would revisit this occasion. It isn’t perfect but then, what is? For the most part, it’s a beautiful film that is in many ways, unforgettable. 

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can find the four-part Titanic (2012) miniseries digitally on Amazon Video

CONTENT: there is one scene of an unmarried couple lying in bed in the nude. Rumors fly about them not being married. There are a few tense moments [a group of men are locked into a room, another’s neck is broken] and many people die [mainly off-screen]. A man punches someone who “steals” kisses from his wife; an old affair is uncovered. This is TV-PG.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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18 Comments

  • Ruth April 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    I'm glad you enjoyed this, Rissi — I'd rather begun to despair of hearing that anyone liked it, to tell the truth. ;) I watched the final hour and while I thought it hinted at problems in the series overall (mainly too much crammed into too little time, etc.), I liked it as something different from usual broadcast fare. Not great by any stretch but somewhat passable? That was my initial impression anyway.

  • Meghan April 16, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    This was a great mini-series. It was very, VERY well done–and Julian Fellowes had his own unique, awesome stamp over all of it. Which I loved…as Ruth said, it was a tad too fast paced for my preference, so much so that you didn't really get to the know the characters as well as you really wanted to…but it was a good evening watch and the producers did well to commemorate the tragic sinking of Titanic 100 years ago.

  • Sierra April 16, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Hmmmmm it sounds good. I haven't seen Titanic and I don't know if I ever will…I fear it might be too sad :P Thanks for the review! Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)
    Philippians 4:8

  • Ella April 16, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    Thanks for the review.
    I heard about this today and it sounded intersting.
    Is the one quesionable scene very innaporpriate and long?

  • Charity April 16, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    The lack of character development for me is really what killed this series. We spent more time with Annie and Paulo than anyone else, so they were really the only ones I felt that were even remotely "fleshed out" — but even they were a bit lackluster. Where did Thomas Andrews go? For me, the structure of the narrative wasn't ideal, and when you have a small budget, you have to nail the characterization or it doesn't work. I'll give it a watch on a DVD rental to see if the longer version fleshes it out more, but otherwise… nah.

  • Rissi April 16, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    Ruth – so am I… because honestly, I wasn't expecting much! LOL!

    Me, too! As I was doing some quick reading on it this morning (I've not read much yet because I wanted to get mine written), I was disappointed to find most didn't seem to like it. Definitely will plan on buying it (love those Blu-Ray combos!), and as Charity pointed out, I think watching it on DVD will improve everyone's opinions. Hope to someday know your thoughts on the series as a whole.

    Meghan – YAY! SOMEONE ELSE LIKED THIS SERIES!!!!! =D

    O.k., sorry about that over-zealous display of caps, moving on…

    I agree, it was well done. I "get" that viewers wanted to connect more with the characters but for me, I appreciated not knowing them well. Had I been allowed to know them better, I'd have likely been all the more sad at the ending. Really enjoyed it. =) Overall, it was five stars.

    Sierra – it was. It might not be the "best" ever miniseries, but I really liked this one. As for the '96 feature film, I am right there with you. This one isn't nearly as sad (even though there are some deaths) because you don't connect with the characters like you do Jack and Rose from the feature film. I may rent that one at some point, but it doesn't appeal to me that much.

    Have I mentioned how much I appreciate your comments today, Sierra!? LOL! Thanks again – I had to give you a shout-out on my Twitter for all your great thoughts. =)

    Ella – sure. =) With the 100th anniversary, news of the Titanic was everywhere! This series was better than most people gave it credit for – or that is my opinion.

    The one scene you are referring to is in E4, and it lasts no more than 60 seconds – it is probably more like thirty. It is very brief and doesn't "ruin" the flow of the film.

    Charity – I figured you weren't going to be "into" this one AT. ALL. The thought was in my mind as I watched this one unfold.

    I understand why viewers would want more character development (believe me, I am usually a champion of that) but in this case, I liked it. Knowing the characters as a "Jack and Rose" scenario wouldn't have sat well with me because I would have been devastated at the ending. (Yep, I am such a romantic.) This way, apart from the impending disaster, it was "easier" to accept the fate. (Does that sound horrible!?)

    This may be the first / only version of Titanic I own. It is something I could see myself re-watching on occasion even with its flaws. Plus I found out today that its Blu-Ray has a DVD copy with it. All the more incentive.

    Sorry you didn't like it all that well.

    Great thoughts / comments, everyone – as always keep them coming. Anyone else you wants to chime in is most welcome.

  • Ella April 16, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    I, alas, was unable to watch it. However, I am hearing mixed reviews on it. You see, I like getting emotionally invested in something and when a movie doesn't completely offer that opportunity, I feel robbed. (At least with miniseries where I expect good things, since they have more time to work with.) Still, I look forward to renting it.

  • Charity April 16, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    The entire point of taking characters and placing them on "Titanic" is to remind the audience of what a horrific tragedy it actually was — if you cannot engage the emotions of the audience, you have failed on an epic scale. It is a truly horrible thing that I cried more at the end of a Thomas Andrews / Harland & Wolff / Titanic documentary last night than I did the miniseries. If you can reach the end of a movie about the Titanic without feeling devastated… there's something wrong with the movie.

    Julian Fellowes wrote an amazing first season of "Downton Abbey" but his writing has gone downhill ever since. I think that is what disappoints me most of all.

  • Sierra April 17, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    ~Rissi
    You are welcome! I'm sorry I hadn't been commenting…life on blogger can be busy :P But I'm getting to those posts I saw you did but hadn't gotten to read yet. Thanks so much for the twitter shout out :) I don't have one but I still went and saw it :) Made me feel special :) Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Because You Are!)
    Philippians 4:8

  • Rissi April 17, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    Ella – aw! I am sorry. Most of the time I want to be invested in the character's lives also – don't mistake me. However… I think this series focuses more on the knowledge that the Titanic will sink – and therefore elects sympathy, taking everyone with it rather than picking out characters for us to root for, cry over and fall in love with.

    Will be interested to know your eventual thoughts, girl. =)

    Charity – agree… but disagree with you. By watching this, I was reminded of what a tragedy it was. Fellowes did that (for me) all without relying on character's emotions. That is awesome…

    Aw! I am sorry you are so disappointed in him. Have I wished certain things of his were written
    different? Sure. But then, I am not the one with awards to my name. ;D

    Sierra – I hear you! Sometimes I feel bad if I haven't made the "rounds" in a couple of days but hey, it is good to step away every now and then. =) Whenever you are able, I enjoy your comments. (I also know sometimes, there just isn't time to read a long post… and let's be honest: I write loooong posts. ;-D lol!)

    Twitter: Yeah, I was sure you didn't but that is okay – it is fun to "interact" with some of the bloggers I've gotten to know via commenting, and I re-connected with someone else so that was great fun.

    You ARE special – thanks for your encouraging words. =)

  • Ella April 17, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Thanks!
    It sounds like it would be easy to fast forward.

  • birdienl April 17, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Well, here's someone else who did like the series. I was on the verge of not liking it after three episodes (I watched it in the British format), but the fourth episode made up a lot. It had it's flaws ofcourse and was not as good as Downton Abbey, but was very nice in it's own right.

    I don't know if I've introduced myself here before, but I've found your blog through Charity's place and I've written an article for Femnista myself for the first time in the Dickens edition under my real name Tryntsje Cuperus. Unfortunately, as I don't have a blogger I can't 'follow' you, but know that I do read your blog regularly!

    I'm probably posting a review about Titanic in the next few days on my LiveJournal. If you're interested, you could read it.

  • Rissi April 17, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Ella – it would be an easy "skip." =)

    Birdienl – AWESOME! Since so many reviewers didn't like it, I get a little excited when I find someone else who did. ;D

    Charity made the comment that she thinks the DVD will reveal scenes ABC cut, so that will be interesting if true. I'll have to watch for good prices next week.

    Hello, Tryntsje! I do remember you from Femnista – it is lovely to "meet" you! Thanks for reading; I appreciate you following along even if you can't follow via the little follow "button." =)

    Your review: Cool! I'll have to check back later this week – thanks for the heads up!

  • jennifer blair April 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    The Brits always do drama better! I will HAVE to check out this version!

  • Rissi April 19, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    So true, Jennifer. Some people didn't like this version AT ALL (as evidenced by the comments section of this review ;D) but I found I quite enjoyed it. (Something that was unusual.) Still, I think it is worth checking out. =)

    Enjoy if / when you see it.

  • Anonymous May 27, 2015 at 1:31 AM

    Prepare yourselves for a very long comment!!

    As apparently the only one to have felt any kind of visceral connection to these characters, I thought I would add my two cents. I was over the moon when I discovered this series, having no intention of watching the movie, and wanting to see at last one dramatization of this massive disaster, not to mention the Julian Fellows factor, and you know what? I was blown away!!

    With the one exception of that (in my view) completely unnecessary thread of the Irish woman who falls in lust with the wanted revolutionary, everything about this series sung (with a depressing tinge, of course). I was actually a sodden mess by the end, mostly because of the fact that Fellow thought it was ok to kill off the guys from the two relationships I was rooting for the most. Showing the same scenes, but from different perspectives each time, I actually thought to be quiet an interesting choice, if a bit repetitive.

    I massively enjoy anything which features huge ensemble casts, and while most of the characters were entertaining, my favorite scenes were definitely those involving Annie and Paolo. Adorable the perfect way to describe them, I especially loved the scene when he introduced her to his brother. One relationship I could not get invested in, however, was that of the Batelys; Muriel just annoyed the heck out of me, and this was BEFORE I saw her as the detestable Mrs. Bates!

    Seeing how everybody reacted to the disaster, who they sought out, put first, protected, and fought for, was really beautiful, decisions from the people in the lifeboats on who to save and whether to go back showcasing the most frustrating and touching parts of human nature. The scene with the band of musicians playing together as the ship went down also affected me quite a bit.

    Also, have you heard of the other series which came out about the same time, Titanic: Blood and Steel? With MANY more episodes than Titanic, it's focus on the building of the Titanic, ending at the launching of the ship, I thought was a very unique angle to come from, and it too, boasts a rather impressive list of actors.

    Thanks for the (mostly) positive review; I really appreciated being able to read one which pointed out the good points of this under appreciated drama.

    God Bless,
    Eleanor Rose

    • Rissi May 28, 2015 at 8:23 PM

      Eleanor, I am so pleased you enjoyed this. Really, anything Julian Fellowes pens, I’m in. Makes me want to re-watch Gosford Park – which is unique in a crazy whodunit kind of way, and be all the more excited for his 2016 (or ’17) project. No long comment apologies needed here, friend. Love that you shared your thoughts.

      You know, I really need to watch this again. I have a copy and did love some of the character relationships. Annie’s was a cute story and while, obviously the story sort of ends abruptly, it’s not as tragic as the film adaptation is. Or that’s my valuation. I’ve not seen the popular version either and quite frankly, don’t really care if I ever do. I caught the end of it once on TV and was all like, “well, I definitely know how it ends know. Who needs to watch the preceding two hours?” ;)

      Your comment about Muriel struck a chord in my memory bank. Her character wasn’t my favorite either.

      You raise some lovely, emotional pictures of what this series does. That ending is more powerful than something that takes a more “complete” approach because it’s a shot of everyone rushing to save their loved ones, and a lifeboat packed with survivors watching as their loved ones disappear and the ship they thought promised dreams turned out to be their worst nightmare. The only thing that I remember growing really weary of were the different perspectives. But it probably didn’t ruin anything for me.

      I have heard of ‘Blood and Steel’ and in fact own a copy. I’ve not seen it though I’d like to. This summer I’ll have to make it a priority.

      Thank you for reading. Now that you’ve reminded me, this should go on my to-watch list and I should reread this review. Sometimes my opinions change and I am occasionally going back to edit some of my wordier reviews. This one looks like it fits that bill. :)

  • […] that recount the tragedy of the RMS Titanic is usually not my cup of tea. In fact until the ABC/ITV film adaptation from earlier this year, I hadn’t even seen a movie. It surprises me that I actually made the […]

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