Posted: 08/11/2009



by Del Harvey

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Kingdom is a British television series produced by Parallel Film and Television Productions and Sprout for ITV. It was created by Simon Wheeler and stars Stephen Fry as Peter Kingdom, a Norfolk-based solicitor who is getting on with life after the mysterious disappearance of his brother. The series also stars Hermione Norris, Celia Imrie, Phyllida Law, Karl Davies and Tony Slattery.

As Peter Kingdom, Fry gives us a compassionate solicitor whose life seems continually overshadowed by the mysterious disappearance of his brother as he struggles to help aright all of the troubles and concerns of a village community, no matter how minor. Set in Market Shipborough, in the beauty of the Norfolk landscape, the drama focuses on not only Kingdom’s dysfunctional family, but also the people he works with and the town’s residents. From nudists to adults suing toddlers, Kingdom is at the whim and mercy of anyone who blows into his office with a personal injury complaint. Probing and patient, Kingdom seeks answers to everyone’s problems and digs deeply to find the tiniest shred of sanity in his eccentric clientele.

Stephen Fry’s acting, as well as that of his co-stars, is a joy to watch. This program reminds us that the British have such a knack at eliciting both laughter and raw emotion simultaneously; as if they were magicians performing both undetectable and amazing acts of illusions. At the same time, Kingdom is of the “polite” variety of BBC comedies; almost so squeaky clean as to be predictable, but saved by the excellent performances in every episode.

Kingdom transports the viewer to a unique place in the English landscape, where the characters enjoy the sheer folly of daily life and where civility rules the day and, ultimately, confirms that right makes might.

Kingdom is available direct from BFS Entertainment

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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