ITV’s Titanic Finale Review – The ship finally sinks for Steven Waddington and Jenna-Louise Coleman but I don’t really care!
So after three weeks of mediocre action and under-written characters it was time for the Titanic to finally go under and the main question we’re meant to ask is who survives? That is if we were given any reason to care about the multitude of characters presented to us over the previous episodes some of whom have barely featured.
Going into the finale I thought we were to follow some of the first class passengers, who had only been given brief introductions in episode one however that wasn’t the case. Take the case of Grace and Joseph Rushton, played by Celia Imrie and Peter Wight, we know they are a new money couple who the rest of the passengers find beneath them but we have heard little of their past before boarding the ship. The same can be said of American actress Dorothy Gibson or unmarried European couple Mr Guggenheim and Madame Aubart who have all been forgotten about, yet we have to care when they are separated from loved ones.
That’s because we have to rush to the scenes of the flooding, some of which we have already seen, to then go on to see the ship finally going down. To be fair we were given closure on the cliff-hangers set up at the end of each episode, as we see Lady Manton getting into her lifeboat, The Batleys go down together and Peter Lubov helps Paolo rescue the trapped Italians essentially redeeming himself for his previous crimes. We do also see some of the men survive such as Lord Manton, George Batley, Officer Lightholler and Mario Sandrini however his brother doesn’t make it despite being reunited with his new fiancée Annie. The story of Bruce Ismay – the so-called coward of the Titanic – was briefly seen as he jumped onto the last lifeboat despite the fact that there were still women waiting to be rescued. My main feeling though was that I should’ve been more emotional during some of the more tragic scenes, especially when Jim Maloney decided to drown with his own daughter, however my main feeling was one of ambivalence.
The other main story explored in this episode, namely the relationship between servants Watson and Barnes, was too little too late for two characters who have little to do up to this point. I also have added some more rules to my drinking game so please feel free to take a sip of your beverage every time somebody mentions the future or the fact that somebody will be coming for them soon.
I don’t think anybody can say that Julian Fellowes’ retelling of the Titanic story has been a success and he certainly hasn’t set to achieve what he wanted – namely to provide a more historical accurate version of the tale than James Cameron managed to. Indeed, while the 3D release of the Titanic film tops the UK Box Office, the ratings for this series seem to have slipped. I know I refer to it every week but the narrative structure of the piece has been a disaster in its own right and the decision to include over eighty characters was a definite mistake because, as I previously mentioned, I felt I barely knew most of them.
For me I would’ve liked at least one more episode but that would mean seeing the ship sink yet again which would just be beyond ridiculous. On the plus size there have been some good performances namely from Steven Waddington, Toby Jones, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Geraldine Sommerville and Jenna-Louise Coleman however many more members of the cast haven’t been given the opportunity to shine. In this final episode the one impressive scene was the ship finally going down, seen from the eyes of those on the life-boats with the eerie darkness adding a sense of doom to this famous image. However I would’ve at least like to have seen the band playing on once again, as it is another scene that most associate with the sinking of the Titanic.
With the exception of a few fine performances and some impressive production design there was little to be impressed with Julian Fellowes’ Titanic. I think ITV were expecting another Downton Abbey but I doubt this will win as many awards as Fellowes’ previous piece and indeed I think the channel will be hoping the next series of the stately home drama will banish all memories of this series. As I said in my preview piece most of you will be better off watching the documentary that follows this episode as it presents a much more respectful tribute to those who went down on this famous ship.