Review: Courage, New Hampshire, Episode I
Posted by elainemcooper on July 20, 2012
Posted by Elaine Marie Cooper
This is the first of a three-part “blog visit” to Courage, New Hampshire, a dramatic mini-series set in the years leading up to the American Revolution.
Courage, New Hampshire is a small, fictional township on the edge of the American frontier in 1769. A close-knit Christian community, it lives under the shadow of the growing discontent of the American colonists, who fear the King’s increasingly despotic rule.
As the story opens, there is an unexpected visit by three of the King’s soldiers who are dressed as civilians. Their appearance stirs the ire of the local justice of the peace and tavern keeper Silas Rhodes (played by series producer James Patrick Riley), who is disturbed by the fact that the soldiers are not in uniform, yet claim to be seeking deserters from the British army. He accuses Sergeant Bob Wheedle (Nathan Kershaw) of plotting a kidnapping, and promptly has the sergeant arrested.
The prisoner Wheedle is locked in the barn (no jail available) of a local farmer, whose naïve niece, Sarah Pine (Alexandra Oliver), thinks that any British soldier is a good guy. She brings him dinner in the barn, but Wheedle apparently partakes of more than Sarah Pines’ victuals. While this fornication is discussed, it is never shown in any way. After consuming “carnal knowledge of her body,” Wheedle apparently gets off of the charges brought against him, and disappears from Courage…until one year later.
His return to the township promptly puts the man back in jail—this time for the crime of “bastardy,” as Sarah Pine is now the mother of a baby girl that she claims is his. She also testifies that Wheedle said he would marry her.
He denies the charge and tells the justice of the peace that the King will not be pleased that this small-town keeper of the law is coming up against one of his majesty’s own. To prove his point, a stern, intimidating lawyer, Simeon Trapp (Basil Hoffman), has been hired by the crown-appointed governor of New Hampshire to represent Wheedle. Trapp intends to do everything he can to discredit the simple Sarah and make her look like a trollop in front of the whole town.
Things are not looking good for Sarah and her baby’s future—until unexpected revelations change the tide.
Watching this first episode of Courage, New Hampshire called “The Travail of Sarah Pine,” was a gratifying, visual journey back in time. As a devotee of the era of the American Revolution, I cannot remember a time when I did not relish the idea of seeing Colonial America portrayed in video format. This new show did not disappoint. And the music added the perfect colonial complement.
The language and practices of the 1700s were well represented with dialogue that befits the time. The sets, costumes, and atmosphere captured the Revolutionary War period remarkably well.
The arrogance of those that represented the King of England as well as their demeaning behavior toward the colonials was well portrayed in the dialogue and plot. The character of the Crown’s lawyer, Simeon Trapp, was believably played by Basil Hoffman. His character was coldly-calculating and intimidating—perfect for a lawyer intent upon winning, no matter who he had to destroy in the process.
I loved the inclusion of the midwife (well depicted by Jazmine Ramay) as she testifies that Sarah Pine had confessed during labor who the father of the child was. In the 1700s, this was frequently the manner of gleaning such a revelation from an unmarried mother—waiting until the woman was in labor and then insisting she reveal his name during her weakest moments of travail. Somehow, in the 1700s, it was considered important to make a man be accountable to support his child. Imagine that…
I also appreciated the fact that a few individuals were portrayed as complex characters, rather than one-dimensional. People are not always who they at first appear to be.
From a modern standpoint, the character of Sarah Pine is difficult to understand. She so willingly falls for and believes in the goodness of this King’s soldier, referring to him as a “minister of God” since he represents the King as the “defender of the faith.” But she is a young woman with little experience, simple beliefs, and an 18th century view of life, untarnished by 24 hour-a-day news. It was a different world.
Yet the same issues of life and liberty, maintaining Christian values, and fear for the future stirred the characters of Courage, New Hampshire, as much as they stir many today. These issues remain as relevant in America of 2012 as they were in the 1700s.
“Huzzah” to James Patrick Riley for producing this worthwhile and timely venture. Can’t wait for the next episode.
Next week I will review Episode II: “The Sons of Liberty.”
. Courage, New Hampshire is a fan supported, digital television production with an online following of thousands. It is produced by Colony Bay Productions.
As a writer of historical fiction and blogger of a column called “Revolutionary Faith,” I was provided three completed episodes by the producers of this historical saga. I agreed to post my thoughts but have not been required to provide a positive review.
Courage, New Hampshire can be purchased at colonybay.net. Each episode can be bought separately or you can join the Colony and get all three episodes at once, as well as a “backstage pass” with videos and a blog.
Episode IV will be available in September, 2012
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