Last week Epix kicked off the latest series from the award-winning team behind Downtown Abbey. Belgravia opens in Brussels in 1815, on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, as James Trenchard (Philip Glenister, Mad Dogs) and his wife Anna (Tamsin Greig, Episodes) attend what will become a legendary ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond. James is a merchant trader and Anna the daughter of a schoolmaster, so this party was well above their social status, but it was wartime, and James had earned the nickname of “The Magician” for his ability to locate supplies for the army. The Trenchards had been invited to the party by the Duchess’ nephew, Lord Edmund Bellasis, who was seeing their daughter Sophia. Just as dinner started, the party was abruptly interrupted and the men are called off to the battlefield. While Napoleon was defeated, Edmund didn’t survive the battle.
The show then jumped ahead 26 years. James Trenchard and his family have moved up the social ladder in the post-war era. James got into the building business, partnering with those designing upscale neighborhoods like Belgravia, London. They have become part of the nouveau riche, and Anne has been invited to the Duchess of Bedford’s home for afternoon tea. She first talks with the Duchess of Richmond, and we learn that Sophia died less than a year after that fateful ball. Then Anne runs into Caroline, Countess of Brockenhurst (Harriet Walter, The Crown), whose only son was Edmund, and the two bond over the loss a child. Later, at family dinner, we see that James and Anna’s son Oliver has grown up to become a bit of a disappointing lazy snob thanks to the money his wife brought to their marriage.
As the premiere came to a close, we learned that Edmund and Sophia had secretly gotten married and consummated their union. However, Sophia discovered that the wedding had been a sham as Edmund headed off into battle with his buddy, the “reverend”, and that she later died in childbirth. Later in the evening, Anne raises the idea to James that they should Caroline about her grandson, but James isn’t too keen on the idea. Where have they been hiding this grandson for the past 25 years?! And how will Caroline react to this news—will she welcome him as a son and heir, or will she be upset?
I think folks who enjoyed Downton Abby will also enjoy this series. By the end of last week’s episode, Belgravia felt very similar with its soapy and outrageous twists and turns. It also deals with similar class themes, not only between the titled and the nouveau riche, but also the upstairs/downstairs interactions in this new era, like in last week’s episode as the Trenchard house staff gossiped about their employers. And there was even the wise-cracking, grumpy old Duchess of Richmond, who felt a lot like Downton‘s Dowager Countess. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the series.
In tonight’s second episode, Anne tells Caroline a secret that puts the women in opposition; a surprise guest at a lavish party hosted by Caroline forces James to reveal a truth that threatens to tear the Trenchards apart.
Note: If you’re not an EPIX subscriber, for a limited time you can access it for free without a login via the Apple TV app if you have a TV or streaming device that offers this app.
Tonight, I’ll also be watching/recording Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, The Simpsons, Duncanville, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, Killing Eve, Westworld, and Run.
For additional suggestions on what to check out tonight, including a new episode of Westworld, check out the If We Controlled Your Remote… 4/19/20 post at TVisMyPacifier.com.