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.
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