What’s On TV – Marchlands

List Item:  Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Progress: 244/501
Title: Marchlands
Episodes Aired: 5
Year(s): 2011
Country: UK

So, it is Christmas Day and things haven’t worked out the way I’d hoped. Covid-19 hit the support bubble, I’ve probably been exposed and (as we had none of the Christmas food here in the flat) lunch was dim sum that I’ve had in the freezer since March in case of food shortages. Since I wanted to try and keep some Christmas alive, I thought it was the perfect time to find a miniseries to consume that was either period or spooky. We ended up with spooky.

Marchlands was a five-part miniseries from nearly a decade ago that follows three families that live in the same house in different times (1968, 1987 and 2010) – a house that features the spirit of a young girl called Alice. Over the course of four hours, we follow the three families as they experience the spirit of Alice in different ways. In the sixties, the girl just died and we follow the immediate family as they deal with her under-explained death; a family in the eighties are her first haunting and threaten to tear them apart; the most recent sees the elements come together and finally answer the questions.

This is one of those stories that was built for a mini-series. The fact that this was originally pitched as a full season drama on American TV boggles my mind, as I am not sure how many ridiculous twists and turns you would need to pile in to make it work for a 24 episode order. Just 5 episodes with just enough mystery to make you guess and some great character work to keep you watching.

With Jodie Whittaker, Alex Kingston, Denis Lawson and Anne Reid occupying major roles – you know that would are going to settle in and watch some good British television. Jodie Whittaker and Anne Reid – playing the same role in the 1968 and 2010 respectively – are especially brilliant as the mother of Alice trying to find out the truth behind their daughter’s death.

If you go into this and expect a full-on supernatural thriller, you are going to be really disappointed. However, if you are happier for a slower burn where it gets creepy and you are happy to enjoy a mystery, this may be the show for you. It certainly was the perfect show to keep spirits alive this Christmas.

It’s been nice to cross off something off of the television list for the first time in months. I’m still in the middle of my watch of another show, but I am being a lot less strict with my TV watching at the moment and making time for things like Schitt’s Creek and the many versions of Taskmaster. Maybe I’ll speed up again at some point, but that time isn’t now.


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