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  • Perhaps the required caveat for this program, for those who need it, is that it is not action, special effects, or, for the most part, reality-based. (Of course "reality" and "accuracy" are not the point of most television and cinema, so this isn't really saying much.)

    That in mind, Monarch of the Glen has an original premise, lightly portraying the transition of a once aristocratic, landed-gentry family into modern times, replete with the struggle to keep a majestic, ancient and beautiful castle afloat and functioning in a modern, capitalist world.

    The series opens with the intersecting of two generations--the current "laird" of the castle, patriarch Hector MacDonald, and his wife, Molly, who both embody the last generation to have enjoyed a life of noble leisure and privilege, and their son and laird-to-be, Archie. While technically also privileged, the young Archie will have to rely on imagination, skill and a lot of sweat equity to sustain what is essentially now a white elephant: the sprawling and extraordinarily picturesque estate of Glenbogle, whose far-reaching land still supports various tenants with lives and minds of their own.

    As the series' seasons pass, the plot thickens, some characters go and some remain, and Glenbogle inches gracefully into the 21st Century, even as as the castle remains a bit frayed around the edges.

    (The sixth season recently ended, with the seventh commencing sometime in Fall 2005.)

    While this British "we must save the farm" angle is the background narrative, Monarch of the Glen's primary investment is in exploring the personal exploits of its charming and idiosyncratic characters: the MacDonald family and their various estate "employees" and caretakers, who are essentially extended family. Romance, intrigue, interpersonal conflict, self-revelation, and the bonds of family and friends are the essence of the show, played out in that inimitably understated, witty and appealing BBC way (which can be particularly alluring for viewers a little shell-shocked by regular, American TV).

    I find the able cast mostly quite believable in their respective parts, not to mention appealing and likable--particularly the roles of Archie, Lexie, Golly, Molly and Paul. An hour in their company is like a wonderful, genteel (but far from stuffy), little reverie, which keeps you wondering what's up for them next.

    For romantics and Brit-o-philes.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've always really enjoyed this series. However, for a show that extols the virtues of tradition, stability and family, it has possibly the highest casualty rates among its cast of any television series in history. In just five years, only one member of the original ensemble cast remained with the show. Together with all the supporting characters who were brought in for a few episodes before moving on, the impression was that there was a stampede to get away from the crumbling Highlands estate of Glenbogel. Recently BBC America has been racing through the series on a five-day-a-week schedule, exhausting the entire life of the show in only three or four months. With this accelerated viewing, you can see the series morph before your eyes. It remained entertaining throughout, but the organic balance of the original quickly evaporated.

    The main problem is that although the show started with a well-balanced cast, the only departing cast member who was replaced with a dramatically similar character was Archie (Alastair MacKenzie), whose half-brother Paul (Lloyd Owen) stepped seamlessly into his shoes. Beyond this, the original equilibrium was quickly thrown off-kilter. The show particularly felt the loss of Archie's father (Richard Briers), who provided most of the original whimsical comedy. After that the show became a succession of stories of unrequited love and hurt feelings with little or no leavening for several seasons. Finally in the last year or two the whimsy returned in the person of Donald, the family's black sheep brother (Tom Baker) and Ewan, a lovable young scamp who apparently hailed from the Scottish branch of the Bowery Boys clan (Martin Compston). These two and their wacky schemes together finally brought the levity of the original back to the series.

    Through all its iterations the show remained warm and entertaining. What it could have used was more stability.
  • Monarch of the Glen is a quiet kind of comedy, with a good helping of drama, a bit of sly, smirky humor and a pinch of sentimentality. It doesn't seem to be widely accepted, probably because there is no sex or violence. Sheesh, I can't even remember hearing a four letter word. The characters are real, they are funny and the show is engaging. One of the nice things about this show is that everyone gets a chance to shine - not just the young attractive leads. Golly, middle-aged and gray, is actually portrayed as cool! (Gasp!) Molly, the mother, is viewed as attractive - she has a life beyond being the mother. Even the "servant types" have their bits. It's not rock solid, Monarch does get a little "soap opera-y" every now and then, what with a missing daughter or brother turning up, but it's a far better thing to watch than most of the rubbish on the tube today.
  • One of the latest in a long line of heartwarming, wholesome family series which the BBC has been making for 50 years. In the 1990's they largely surrendered this Sunday night territory to commercial rivals ITV (Heartbeat, Where the Heart Is.. etc) but have recently made a comeback with this show and 'Born and Bred'. Like many of its predecessors it boasts stunning scenery and well-acted character turns. To my mind its main weakness is its very small regular cast, basically half a dozen principals and a lack of 'occasional' characters who can appear from time to time. The number of dramatic permutations among the regulars is therefore very small and most of the storylines rely on the old 'Bonanza' standby of mysterious strangers turning up unannounced each week to inspect the castle kitchens and the like. This does become very repetitive after a while and is more noticeable than in shows that have more regular and recurring characters. The regular cast has grown even smaller in the third series with the demise of the old laird played by Richard Briers (The BBC stalwart got fed up of the long shooting schedules and was blown up at the end of series 2). As a result the third series has seen an increasing role for lovable old buffer Lord Kilwillie, played by Julian Fellowes. In another guise Fellowes was the screen writer for the movie 'Gosford Park.'
  • I am now home all day with my toddler and I told myself I would never descend to watching soap operas. However, I became totally hooked on this show when BBC America began running it at 5:00 pm. It has romance, hunks to look at (as well as gorgeous natural scenery) and also melodrama...but it is certainly many cuts above a "soap". The quirky characters are so much fun to watch. This show has some of the feel of Northern Exposure...but, as an Anglophile, I feel it is even more appealing.

    I really came to look forward to unwinding with this show near the end of each busy afternoon. More please!
  • Yes, it may be a bit of fey highland fluff, but it has a quirky charm (a bit reminiscent of a Scottish "Northern Exposure") and would be worth watching for the lush green scenery and glittering loch alone if nothing else.

    But, for connoisseurs of British TV, actors, and cult TV in general, the 6th series, just made available in the U.S. on DVD, is especially interesting because of the presence of at least 4 major cult figures of British television.

    Beginning with the continuing, charming presence of regular "Molly" played by the great Susan Hampshire whose resume reads like a history of the best of British TV. From her appearances in things like "Danger Man" (aka "Secret Agent") to classics such as the original black and white "Forsyte Saga," "The First Churchills," "The Pallisers," etc. etc. We also are entertained with the newly recurring character of Hector's wastrel brother Donald McDonald played by the highly amusing Tom Baker (still my favorite Dr. Who) and the delicious Anthony Head (Giles from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and more recently the Prime Minister in those hilarious "Little Britain" sketches.)

    And, best of all, for "Bad Girls" fans (at least those brilliant first 3 seasons which made British TV history thanks, largely, to this actress' landmark performance) we are further graced with the authentically Scottish, luscious Simone Lahbib (who, sadly/happily, was forced to leave the show when she found she was pregnant in real life.) She is a delight in her outdoorsy togs and her scenes with the farm animals. I'd love to see her do more comedy, though she excels as a dramatic actress. She and Tony Head, especially, have a very interesting working relationship/chemistry as well-matched actors here in their unfortunately too few scenes together. Very subtexty, less-is-more, breezy, low-key, naturalistic with a wry little twist and spin on the delivery. Too bad she couldn't have stayed longer, as they were just beginning to develop her character and the rivalry between Paul and Chester for Isobel's affections. I want to live on Isobel's farm, anyone know just where it's located?

    Also...another Monarch Trivia Alert: in an earlier season there was a major degrees-of-separation Indy Jones thing happening with the presence in the same series of Paul Freeman from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," plus that other "Raiders" villain Ronald Lacey's daughter, and the new laird, Lloyd Owen is Indy's dad from TV's "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles."
  • An absolutely "must see" program. Warm, funny, and romantic, this is a show that renews one's faith in the human condition. You soon care about the characters and want them succeed personally and professionally. With all the gratuitous violence and sex rampant throughout television today it's encouraging to see a program the whole family can enjoy.
  • I love this show. Compared to all of the trash that's on TV right now, this one is a breath of fresh air. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. I love it when they show the beautiful views of the loch. This is definitely a place I'd love to live. I think Hector and Killwillie are hilarious together and Molly is simply delightful. Lexie is a real spitfire and Duncan is so sweet and innocent. Golly is quite a man and I adore Archie and can't wait to watch his weekly adventures. I plan on buying this DVD ASAP because I will watch it over and over. Monarch of the Glen is a great series that I hope will not end anytime soon. Keep the refreshing characters coming and the breathtaking scenery!!!!!!
  • I watched this when it was first screened in early 2000 and eagerly await the new series starting in January 2001. It was a thoroughly engaging series that was fun to watch.

    The Scottish castle and backdrop make a pleasant setting and the characters are delightful. I hope it will continue for more series and the excellent cast will re-appear. The story in a way is incidental. There is a place for this sort of drama which is neither heavy nor shallow. It just makes you feel good - quality for a popular audience.

    If you have a good script, a good cast and a committed production team, then drama could always be like this. I wish it was. Who needs soaps when you can have the real thing. More please!
  • I've been glued to the screen literally watching the saga evolve at Glenbogle, with its endearing cast of characters; so much in fact, that you fall in love with almost every one of them and can't wait to see what happens next in their lives. It is sad when they move on, but such is life, isn't it? You miss them dearly and wish you could know more about them, or at least have them come back for a visit like Duncan did in Season 7, though he was literally down the road in Glasgow, whereas the others were off in New Zealand somewhere and couldn't make it back so easily. Uncle Donald is an amazing character, you can tell he was an Elizabethan actor or something, and Ewan, what an accent, what wit and what a great character. All of them are so special. I love the values expressed through the show: honesty, faithfulness, character, faith, friendship,hard work, dependability, and above all forgiveness and reconciliation. I love how the themes are developed and I love the beautiful Scottish scenery. One of my family surnames is Douglas, on my maternal grandmother's side, and something about this show resonates deep within me. I can't explain it, only to say that the producers and directors and script writers have a solid grasp of wholesome moral values, human nature and LOVE, profound love and commitment: that miraculous thing that makes the world go around. The ebb and flow of lives and daily joys and sorrows and challenges we all face touched me deeply as well. We are such a workaholic society and it seems we live part of our lives vicariously through these endearing characters, all couched in a marvelous setting of the Scottish highlands and that amazing estate with its history and tradition. Thank you for giving us Monarch of the Glen, best wishes and success now and always. From Georgia, USA, a fan.
  • I recently discovered this series through Netflix, and I have found it completely enjoyable. The writing is very consistently good, the characters appealing (their quirks and foibles make them even more so), and the scenery of the Scottish highlands is just lovely.

    The show takes you inside of a charming world that the characters inhabit. You see them wrestling with and resolving conflicts with others and among themselves in ways that are always sweet in the end, but never sickly sweet or trite. Not all of them are likable. Hector, the father, will drive you crazy, but then he comes through on important points, like loyalty and a devotion to tradition. Archie seems indecisive, but he is also very loving and loyal. And Lexie is a great character who is driven by a sense of justice, and always wanting to do the right thing. Molly and Golly are steadfast, loving - one almost too kind, and the other very stern. And Duncan too is both funny and very true, very devoted to his friends.

    The show also achieves the near impossible, managing to communicate a lot of sexual tension without ever becoming overly explicit - well done. It's a bit like Northern Exposure or Gilmore Girls in its appeal, but in my opinion it is much better than both of those.

    I could pick at it a bit and say where it might have gone wrong. But I don't want to, because I just don't think television gets much better than this. Highly, highly recommended for people who like excellent writing that combines drama with humor, shows people usually finding their way back to do the decent thing, and treats characters and viewers with dignity.
  • It is great to have a series in which there is minimal violence, no ridiculous language, and virtually no sex--how refreshing for a change!

    The scenery has already been noted elsewhere as spectacular, and as one of the stars. While I agree whole-heartedly with this, it is the acting which impresses me. Alastair Mckenzie does a superb job of portraying a suave Londoner who is suddenly thrust into a job he neither wants nor knows how to manage. However, (and you can see this most clearly when viewing the whole series, one episode after another) Mckenzie manages to convey that here is a man who grows from being a "fish-out-of-water" to being the LAIRD of Glenbogle. Mr. Mackenzie does it almost imperceptibly by degrees. Great work!

    The rest of the original cast is equally strong. It is indeed too bad that most of the principal characters left over the seasons.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Few TV series I have seen started off in such a promising fashion, Monarch of the Glen had it all--excellent actors, great scenery, pathos and hilarity.

    About half way through the series Richard Briers left the show and in my opinion the hilarity ended there. Julian Fellowes, Susan Hampshire and Alastair McKenzie were not able to keep the show on it's original course, but the writing seemed to change after the departure of Briers, and in my opinion not for the better.

    With the departure of Alastair McKenzie the writing really fell apart and the show descended into a rather dull 'soap' of silly affairs and even sillier pairings, and even the beautiful scenery could not save it.

    While this short review is critical of the last half of the series, I still think this is an excellent series at least until two or three episodes after the "death" of "Hector". A pity, as Briers and Fellowes were a riot!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is somewhat ironic that I didn't start watching the original screening on BBC1 until the fourth season and have therefore had to catch up via UKTV Drama. Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed this easy paced drama and will still sit and catch episodes regularly. It had all the ingredients of great Sunday night fare, scenery, love interest, comedy and decent acting. It did make me chuckle at the way both Archie and Paul got through so many love interests throughout the series and there was some deja vu with Stella's character who was obviously a re-run of Justine. I might add that it would have been much better if Katrina hadd ended up as Mrs Archie but maybe that's a question of taste (would a toff marry the hired help?) Having said that the series never lost it's inherent charm. Worth catching on Cable when you can.
  • smck_82uk31 January 2007
    I was a die-hard Monarch of the Glen fan during the shows initial run from 2000 - 05 and I followed it religiously through story lines such as the Lexie/Archie/Katrina love triangle, Stella Moon taking over at Glenbogle, the wolves storyline, Hectors death, Lexie & Archies eventual union & of course secret brother Pauls introduction. I would say the best of the show is the first 4 series, from series 5 onwards the show takes a new direction with old characters departing and new ones arriving and whilst it still stays perfectly watchable up until the end the quality of earlier series isn't really there.

    Overall I'd give it 10/10 though for the drama/acting & of course Scottish scenery.
  • The series, "Monarch of the Glen" is the best that telly has had to offer in a very long while. The characters are engaging and the dialogue entertaining without having to resort to the cheap trash of vulgarity and nudity.

    Neither does the programme stagnate its characters. Even the numpty and humorous Duncan is seen to grow into a more wise and yes, clever character who seeks to better himself while maintaining loyalty and compassion as his bywords.

    The scenery is just as much the star of the show yet it is not used as an excuse for slack plot standards. Indeed it is part and parcel of the plot.

    This is telly at it's best. Unfortunately most programmes do not aspire to such a standard. We look forward to it on DVD so that we may enjoy it time and again until another producer has the bottle to buck the trashy and cheapened standards of today's telly.
  • A particulally good example of contemporary British comedy drama enjoyed by my wife and I. Great work by the writers and producers and an marvalous show by the regulars such as Dickie and the like and a particulally good show by guest actor who plays the dreadful Nigel Ritter, (Hugh Parker) I believe.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This doesn't contain spoilers... The only thing I will hint at about future episodes is what you can see for yourself: some actors and actresses left the show.

    I was really drawn in by episode one. The character of Archie was very endearing. His older brother was supposed to inherit the glen and the castle, but something happened. After years away from home he has returned. As the new laird he has about 30,000 acres (as I remember) and a huge debt.

    Many other endearing characters complete the cast for the first few seasons. However, the cast members that I most grew to like have left the show over the course of series three, four and five. After that I have not been able to watch. (I have watched a few other British television shows and find the same situation. Is it a budget issue that British actors do not have the incentive to stay?)

    Overall, I loved the show. If I could accept the fact that my favorite characters came and went, I would remember this show very fondly.
  • jwrowe314 April 2004
    Found this little gem on one of our Tampa Bay PBS stations. I generally like most BBC shows that get sent our way via PBS/A&E. I won't waste time talking plot, as I've just had three episodes under my belt. And I think I've come in in the second or third series, missing the first.

    Quite an able cast, and the locations are glorious to behold! I am looking forward to watching this for as long as WUSF-TV, continues to broadcast it, here, in Tampa

    One minor thing to note, you MAY want to have the closed captioning on, if you have any hearing troubles, as Dawn Steele's character "Lexi" has an accent most Americans may not be able to decipher. But that's one very minor thing.

    (2013 Update) This great series is on Netflix. I've just rediscovered this gem, and am starting out from the beginning, as opposed to about the third series when I first spotted it. I now appreciate it better than before. Again I say the visuals on the show are as strong as most of the stories. I find myself watching more for Scotland that the tales from Glenbogle...
  • Archie MacDonald is a restaurant manager in London, England. When his father Hector, the Laird in Scotland takes a fall, he comes home to an estate and an old flame. The story of somebody who tries to escape his fate is helped greatly by the actors who play his parents, Richard Briers and Susan Hampshire's marriage on screen seems magical. Hector and Molly are a dashing pair. They have lost a son, Jamie and have a daughter Lizzie. Archie doesn't want to be the next Laird in line but has little choice. He is drawn to the land as well as the people. He wants to leave back to London, England but can't help himself. The cast is first rate especially led by Richard Briers and Susan Hampshire. The scenery and film locations help understand why it's location and location. It's Scotland on screen and it's beautiful. It's a great series and I"m sorry that I didn't get into it earlier.
  • BBC allowed a gem of a runner onto the paddock when it greenlighted Monarch of the Glen.

    Very well directed and shot, showcasing some beautiful Scots highland homes and exterior locations, and assembling lively journeymen actors into an ensemble that has a jolly go at jock-ing around the lochs and polished stair landings of the shire of "Glenbogle," I describe the series in elevators as 'Newhart meets Braveheart.'

    Of special enjoyment is the patriarchal character Hector played by Richard Briers. Briers has done just about everything in British theater, television, and cinema there is to do, but in America he is probably known only for his role as the pathetic Bardolph in Ken Branagh's Henry V. Now in MotG, the tables turn and Brier gets the fun of playing a lord. And a curmudgeonly, salty, and daft lord he is.

    This is a light family comedic drama with cool domestic characters which doesn't fall into tired tropes. Quiet possibly the perfect show to watch on Sunday evenings.
  • I recently found Monarch of the Glen on Netflix and I am in love with it. Or perhaps more accurately I am in love with the whole package, cast and castle and the Scottish highlands. To me, it is more about a group of extremely likable people living their lives in a unique situation. And I want to join them! There is a feeling of "home" here that I find quite comforting. I agree with the reviewer who classed it as a "Scottish 'Northern Exposure.'" The settings are different but the heart of the show is very similar. Anyhow, I have greatly enjoyed Monarch and am sad that it has ended. I did not always agree with how the stories and characters played out, but was nonetheless charmed.
  • I get really tired of watching typical American television. Monarch of The Glen is funny,refreshing and fun to watch. Not to mention the scenery! Each character is unique in there own way. Life in a castle! How fun is that. Alistar Macenzie is brilliant not to mention a cutie!
  • shu-fen17 January 2004
    Thank you to our public TV that at times they choose good TV productions though broadcast it at "queer time" like 2:30pm on Saturday afternoon where most people are out for fun.

    The show came to town some one or two years ago. What captured me were the scenery, the wardrobe, the tradition and Susan Hampshire (I miss her a lot after viewing the 1974 Glencora in "The Pallisers" videos).

    Lovely production, I hope BBC would keep this one longer.
  • For the first couple of seasons the show was quirky and funny, and the entire cast was perfect together. It was then that Lorraine Pilkington.. .. was the first of the main characters to depart, and the show after that was never the same. It wasn't till she left that her importance to the production was fully exposed.. she made it that much more worthwhile viewing. And others left and very soon it was not as much fun viewing. Look forward to watching the final series at some point, been several years now, someone should be putting it out. PS- For anyone still looking for season 7, do a search, it is available online. And they do manage to bring all affairs of the heart to their logical conclusions. They never did completely replace Katrina (LP).. but at series end with Iona (Kirsty Mitchell).. .. they found a captivating, very attractive replacement.
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