But oh my lord, this show is boring.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Christopher Tietjens, a brilliant but stodgy government statistician who is marrying Sylvia, a selfish and slutty socialite. The reason for the marriage isn't entirely clear--Sylvia is pregnant and not necessarily with Christopher's kid, but apparently they had a quickie in a train on the day they met so he's doing the honorable thing. Despite the fact that they clearly hate one another's guts.
Actually, the entire first hour is just Christopher being honorable and Sylvia being slutty.
"Hmm...what's on the schedule for today...oh, destroy one another's happiness. Same as yesterday then."
Basically, they both despise one other and Sylvia runs around on Christopher the entire time they are married,but he thinks divorcing her would be ungentlemanly. But then he falls in love with Valentine, a feisty suffragette. That's as far as I got (through the first hour of the five hour miniseries) before calling it quits.
Cumberbatch could charm the pants off a rock, but Christopher is so dull and drippy that it's hard to root for him. I would get on Team Sylvia, but she's so whiny and sociopathic that even her flouting of Edwardian social norms isn't enough to get me on her side. The only one who seems to have any personality is Valentine, but I don't think I can take her pining for Christopher for 4 hours.
According to the BBC 2 website (the show airs here in the Colonies on HBO), Christopher gets sent off to the trenches in WWI so I am sure there is a lot of letter-writing and long looks towards the horizon coming in the later episodes. There's also a lot of "the times they are a-changing" type of discussions, but honestly, haven't we covered this ground before?
I am sure there is a market for these kind of slow-moving character-driven dramas, but I'll take the soap opera plots of Downton Abbey any day. I also prefer my costume dramas with a happy ending (ala Pride and Prejudice) and I honestly don't see how Parade's End is going to end well for any of these characters. But since they're all kind of miserable human beings, I just can't bring myself to care.
To make up for not liking the show, please enjoy this picture of Benedict Cumberbatch in a fetching hat, gazing soulfully into the distance.