Beecham House (2019) 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

Suspicion, distrust, and a secret looms in the heart of India, when John Beecham (Tom Bateman) arrives in his new residence with a child and no explanation for the curious staff. He soon befriends the beautiful governess next door, Margaret Osborne (Dakota Blue Richards), and asks her to make his mother, when she comes, feel welcome. But Henrietta (Lesley Nichol) arrives in a state of agitation. She does not like India -- the heat, the people, the food, the lack of amenities, or the fact that she appears to have an illegiatime grandson, but his father refuses to tell her anything about it.

His maddening lack of openness frustrates everyone around him, especially because it thwarts her plans to marry him off to her companion and a fellow traveler, Violet (Bessie Carter). She came to India hopes of landing him, and instead now must compete with Margaret! Then there is John's wayward brother, Daniel (Leo Sutter), who catches the eye of one of the child's beautiful nursemaids. And the arrival of his dear friend, Samuel Parker (Marc Warren), who feels frustrated that John never followed through on his intention of speaking out against the East India Trade company for its immoral practices with the natives. But soon, John will have much bigger problems.

To get permission to trade in the region, he must first purchase and present a gift fit for royalty... and he has not much time to do it...

Obviously styled after the upstairs-downstairs nature of Downton Abbey, this short series is an enjoyable romp through an interesting period in history. It has likable and unlikable characters, although not all of them are fleshed out to the degree I wish they had been. In burying the lead for so long, the story can be frustrating and sometimes confusing, but the 'reveal' midway through the season clears up most of it. It falls prey to a few stereotypes, and has rather an obvious secret villain (if you do not want people to guess, cast someone a little less conspicuous and who has played fewer similar roles) but is an entertaining and beautiful period drama. The rich lushness of India and its exotic location makes for very romantic scenes full of color, excitement, and beauty -- things we do not often see in this particular period.

My one complaint would be the ending; like a lot of British productions, the writers were hoping for a second season but thus far, none has been promised -- so the series ends on an unnecessary cliffhanger after resolving some but not all of the main plots. If there's never a part two, the audience will never find out what happens! And it's a shame, because a stand-alone eight episode series would have done us just as well.

Sexual Content
Several flashbacks to an earlier love scene (kissing, touching, nothing explicit, no nudity). Characters speculate on illegitimate children, mistresses, and torrid secrets. A woman enters a man's room at night, and they aren't sure why, but assume it's for immoral reasons.
 
Language:
A few abuses of deity, some general profanities, use of the term 'bloody,' etc.
 
Violence:
Men are shot in skirmishes between white and natives in India. A man comes home to find many of his servants dead and bloody. A man is stabbed in the chest; a dead body is found.

Other:
Arguments between Hindi and Christians about pagan rituals in the house.