Monarch of the Glen: Series 1 (review)

Archie MacDonald, only son of the Laird of Glenbogle, long ago escaped rural Scotland for trendy London. But when an urgent phone call beckons him home, Archie discovers that although Dad, who is supposed to be on death’s door, is alive and kicking, the manor and the lairdship are now in Archie’s hands, the estate is failing financially, and familial guilt is powerful enough to tie him down to a life he never thought he wanted. This hit BBC series, novelistic and deeply involving, gives us a delightfully prickly anti-hero in Archie (Alastair MacKenzie), who loves his batty parents (Brit TV legends Richard Briers and Susan Hampshire) even as they drive him bonkers at the same time, and loves home, a stunningly beautiful manor on a mountain loch, even though it’s crumbling and leaking, cell phones don’t work, and the electricity cuts out on a whim. Skewering tradition and revering it in the same breath, Monarch exudes that particularly British brand of humor that is at once pointed and gentle as Archie deals with foreclosing bankers eyeing the manor, friends from London trying to drag him back, and all the peculiar personalities who depend on the manor for their living. With the widescreen presentation and digital sound, Monarch offers a virtual visit to the Highlands, to the sounds of bagpipes. You can even tour the manor, led by the cast members, as a bonus feature.

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