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REVIEW: 'Bridgerton' boasts Julie Andrews and costumes but drops off from there

REVIEW: 'Bridgerton' boasts Julie Andrews and costumes but drops off from there

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Bridgerton

Phoebe Dynevor, as Daphne Bridgerton, attracts the attention of Rege-Jean Page as Simon Basset in "Bridgerton."  

Julie Andrews’ voice – as the series’ narrator – is the bait to get you into “Bridgerton,” a new costume drama on Netflix.

The series, however, is more talk than action and that’s where it isn’t quite in the same league as “The Great,” another drama about the privileged that delivered – and shocked.

“Bridgerton” settles for an awful lot of parties and talky moments between friends during the Regency era in England.

Produced by Shonda Rhimes, “Bridgerton” looks sumptuous and has the hint of scandal but it’s hardly up to “Gossip Girl’s” standard.

Bridgerton

Phoebe Dynevor stars as Daphne Bridgerton in "Bridgerton."

Andrews – who isn’t seen – is the anonymous person behind a newsletter that charts the comings and goings and goings and comings of the elite. She’s particularly enamored with Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor), a porcelain beauty who has captured the fancy of Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel), a bored royal who declares her “flawless.” That means she’s the big catch for a phalanx of suitors who play Cinderella games with her. She’s not all that interested (at one point she has three men on her “no” list), but she needs to get a suitor so others can have the ones who don’t measure up.

Based on a series of hit books, the eight-episode series lets plenty of characters (maybe, too many characters) weigh in on everything, including their sad lot in life. Much of the talk takes place at those parties and, naturally, Daphne attracts attention.

She picks up with a duke, Simon Basset (Rege-Jean Page), and, soon, there seems hope. But then? Another man enters the picture.

Written by Chris Van Dusen, “Bridgerton” doesn’t have the same surprise as some of the other Shondaland series he has worked on – “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “Private Practice.” But it does boast those delicious words for Andrews who digs in and makes this seem much more scandalous than it really is.

Bridgerton

Jonathan Bailey sizes up Rege-Jean Page as a possible suitor in "Bridgerton."

Early on, we get a bit of back story on Basset and a nude scene or two. The story, though, could use more meat, particularly since Daphne isn’t given the reputation to warrant all this speculation.

“Downton Abbey” had plenty of static scenes (particularly in dining rooms) but it bubbled with witty dialogue. The best here is given to Andrews and then it drops off considerably.

While Van Dusen has done a great job with color-blind casting, he can’t expect the actors to provide what he didn’t.

Rosheuvel comes through repeatedly (she’s a hoot slumped in a throne snorting drugs); and Dynevor and Page are worth rooting for.

Considering the money that must have been spent on it, “Bridgerton” should be better. It has all the trappings of a 1980s network miniseries but none of its sizzle. More humor -- and an appearance by Andrews -- would help immensely.

“Bridgerton” airs on Netflix.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Dawn Wells, the “Gilligan’s Island” star who died this week as the result of COVID-19, appeared in “Chapter Two” at the Sioux City Municipal Auditorium in 1979. She appeared at the Okoboji Summer Theatre, too (she attended Stephens College), and returned years later for a summer stint.

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