Almost Almost Royal
You may remember that last year I wrote here about a TV series on BBC America, called Almost Royal. It turns out that it got renewed for a second season, and it begins tonight, with back-to-back half-hour episodes starting at 11 PM, Los Angeles time.
The show is a documentary that uses two exceedingly talented, very funny, improvisational performers -- Amy Hoggart and Ed Gamble -- pretending to be brother and sister, Poppy and Georgie Carlton, distant members of the royal family (something like 37th and 38th in the line of succession). They've come to America to supposedly tour the nation, and the series films their interaction with the people here. It’s not all successful, but often extremely funny. (For my taste, the show is at its best when the "royals" are making fun of themselves, clueless about the oddities of America, and relying on the locals to make sense of it for them, rather than making fun of the people they run into.)
The show's website describes Poppy as "at heart, simply a sweet girl, even if she can come across as what some refer to as a 'high maintenance 'nightmare' with 'too much money, self-esteem and free time.'"
That's a fairly good description, although the "high maintenance" and "too much self-esteem" is far more accurate than "simply sweet." One of my favorite passages from the first year is when she and her brother are in Washington, D.C., and meet with a political consultant because Georgie plans to run for the local council back home. The consultant says that Georgie has to keep telling the people that, "It isn't about me, it's about you. Keep explaining that, 'it isn't about me, it's it's about you.'" At that point, Poppy interrupts, and says, "Oh, yes, I know what you mean. That's what I told my ex-boyfriend when I broke up with him. 'It isn't about me, it's about you.'"
Georgie is described on the site as "still a very affable man who is generous to a fault, but a lot has happened to him since he last travelled the U.S." Very affable, indeed. Not clueless, a bit sharper than Bertie Wooster, but he'd be a cousin. But very well meaning and always curious. My favorite passage from him is a debate he and Poppy have in Boston with a history professor from a local school, Boston College, I believe, about Paul Revere. They keep insisting that because Revere was still British, he was not a hero at all, but in fact a traitor. And after the discussion is over, they stride off, and as Georgie passes the camera, he says, "The British are leaving, the British are leaving."
I think that my favorite, extended sequence the first year came when the two almost-royals are invited to a tea party, where Georgis is asked to give a speech. It turns out to be a political meeting of the Tea Party (which clearly the performers know...), and as the excited members anxiously sit and listen, Georgie precedes to give the single longest and most boring speech about his days playing cricket at school. It's so long that the show keeps cutting through it with interminable edits, and showing the bewildered and bored reactions of the Tea Party members. When it's all over, Poppy and Georgie are out front in the street, and tell the camera that they were a little disappointed because it wasn't like any tea party they were used to.
The series is a BBC America Original. I believe it's only shown in the U.S., and oddly enough, not in England. Though perhaps with the passage of time the first season made its way there. Or at some point, will.
Here's the brief trailer, which includes an appearance by Dennis Rodman --
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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