Supposedly, ITV canceled Kingdom because it was too expensive to produce, not because it was unpopular. The show, which stars Stephen Fry, is beautiful to look at. It has too many helicopter shots for my taste, but I can’t say they don’t work. Nonetheless, the show would have been as successful on a smaller budget. It is, after all, a little show about human foibles.
Fry plays Peter Kingdom, the one reasonably together sibling of a family that seems too dysfunctional to have gotten as far as they have. And they are surrounded by a group of idiosyncratic locals like Sidney Snell, the brilliant but socially awkward eccentric who almost single handedly manages to stop the encroachment of modernity on Market Shipborough. The series has long story arcs that are probably the weakest part of it. Peter Kingdom has a very unlikable brother Simon who takes up much of the air in these stories. This is sad because other potential story arcs are destroyed by the shrapnel of Simon’s past.
There are generally two stories during each 45 minute episode. One is usually light and the other designed to provoke convulsions of tears. For example, in the first episode of the second season, the whole town is trying to save the local lighthouse. Two older sisters are secretly trying to get it demolished because (unbeknownst by anyone) it was run by their uncle who sexually abused them as children. Sounds horrible, right? It is actually handled reasonably well. But it brought me to gasping sobs. As do most episodes. Usually, however, it isn’t something terrible. Instead it is something wonderfully sweet.
Thus far, you probably think that I don’t much care for Kingdom. That’s not true at all. It has exactly the combination of wit and sentimentalism that I desire. I am sad that it was canceled, because it certainly had another couple of good seasons in it. So if you get a chance to see it, I recommend it.