#21: Mr. Selfridge Seasons 1-3 (2013)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Jeremy Piven (Entourage) stars as a wheeling-dealing American who shows early 1900s Londoners how to shop. Based on the life of colorful retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge, the new eight-part series is created by Emmy Award-winning writer Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House). Also starring are Frances O’Connor (Madame Bovary), Aisling Loftus (Page Eight), Zoe Tapper (Zen), Amanda Abbington (Case Histories), and Samuel West (Any Human Heart). Who knew shopping could be like this!
Why You Should Check It Out: Romance, the characters, and just good all-around writing from the always exceptional period drama screenwriter, Andrew Davies! This series includes a favorite love story: Agnus and Henri. Seriously, watch for them at the very least!
#22: Wolf Hall (2015)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Tony Award-winning actor Mark Rylance and Emmy Award-winner Damian Lewis star as Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII in this adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels. A historical drama for a modern audience, Wolf Hall charts Cromwell’s meteoric rise in the Tudor court – from blacksmith’s son to Henry VIII’s closest advisor, trapped between his desire to do what is right and his instinct to survive.
Why You Should Check It Out: A wonderful take on the Tudors that proves you don’t have to film excessive bodice-ripping sex scenes to tell a good story. The ensemble cast is pretty dynamic as well.
RELATED | Wolf Hall Review
#23: John Adams (2008)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: From HBO Films comes this Emmy(R)-winning, seven-part miniseries starring Paul Giamatti as John Adams, the Founding Father and 2nd President of the U.S who played a pivotal role in fostering the American Revolution and building a republic.
Why You Should Check It Out: A great pick for those who love American history!
Content Note: While only TV-14, there are a couple of instances of non-sexual nudity. There are also some scenes with intense violence such as a very disturbing tarring scene.
#24: Endeavour Seasons 1 & 2 (2012)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Before Inspector Morse, there was the rookie Constable Morse, fed up with police work and ready to nip his career in the bud by handing in his resignation. That is, until a murder turned up that only he could solve.
Why You Should Check It Out: Inspector Morse fans will love this series about a young “Constable Morse” and his early career during the 1960s. For those looking for another good British mystery series, make sure to add this one to your list! Don’t forget to see the 2012 Masterpiece Mystery movie first…
#25: Masterpiece: Elizabeth I – The Virgin Queen (2005)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Anne-Marie Duff stars as the enigmatic ELIZABETH I, THE VIRGIN QUEEN, in a spellbinding drama about the life of one of Britain’s greatest monarchs. Her femininity baffled and threatened the male order of Renaissance England for more than 40 years. The role is as challenging and complex as anything history offers. From PBS and MASTERPIECE.
Why You Should Check It Out: Um because Tom Hardy plays Robert Dudley? Count me in.
RELATED | Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen Review
#26: Breathless Season 1 (2014)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: From PBS and Masterpiece – Set in a London hospital in 1961 — when Britain was on the brink of cultural revolution — Otto Powell (Jack Davenport, Smash, Coupling) is a brilliant and charismatic surgeon, who believes he can make a difference in women’s lives.
Why You Should Check It Out: A weaker version of Mad Men, but still engaging enough if you’re bored. The cast is good too. I LOVE Jack Davenport…
RELATED | Breathless Review
#27: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Seasons 1-6 (1993)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn, daughter of a doctor, leaves her stable life in Boston — answering an ad for a town doctor in Colorado Springs.
Why You Should Check It Out: How can anyone not love Dr. Quinn? This is the type of show that just warms your heart and makes everything feel all gooey inside. Definitely, one of my top selections on this list. I loved this as a kid and still adore the Dr. Quinn/Sully romance. If you’re a When Calls the Heart lover and still have never seen Dr. Quinn, then you should make it a priority.
RELATED | Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman Review
#28: Mansfield Park Season 1 (2008)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: In one of Austen’s most complex plots, Billie Piper (Doctor Who, The Ruby in the Smoke) stars as Fanny Price, who goes to live with prosperous relatives at Mansfield Park.
Why You Should Check It Out: I’m a firm believer that EVERY adaptation of a Jane Austen novel should be seen at one point in time. While this made for TV movie is too short to really delve into the deeper themes of the novel, it’s still a fun hour and a half thanks to Billie Piper’s usual charm.
RELATED | Mansfield Park Review
#29: Elizabeth I (2006):
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons star in this two-part HBO Films miniseries event that explores the intersection of the public and private lives of Queen Elizabeth I in the latter half of her 45-year reign.
Why You Should Check It Out: Helen Mirren is a force to be reckoned with as an actress, so who better to play Queen Elizabeth? Not to mention that Hugh Dancy also stars. I can see him in just about everything.
Content Note: This is TV-MA because there are a couple of scenes of graphic violence.
#30: Great Expectations Season 1 (2012)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Lavish adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens novel.
Why You Should Check It Out: Gillian Anderson returns to the world of Dickens in this elaborate and beautiful (though not without some flaws) take on the iconic story.
#31: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: An adaptation and completion of Charles Dickens’ last novel, left unfinished at the halfway mark at his death, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Why You Should Check It Out: I STILL haven’t seen this one though for the life of me I can’t figure out why! An adaptation of one of Dickens’ last and incomplete novel sounds intriguing…
#32: Masterpiece Classic: Anna Karenina (2001)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Leo Tolstoy’s powerful tale of love and marriage in imperial Russia.
Why You Should Check It Out: Another interpretation of a famous classic starring Douglas Henshall (Primeval), Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy), Mark Strong (Emma), Amanda Root (Persuasion), and Helen McCrory (Harry Potter as Narcissa).
#33: Heidi (1993)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: This version of “Heidi” is considered the definitive version. It stars Jason Robards and Jane Seymour. When Heidi, an orphan, is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps, she ends up charming the embittered old man. She is sadly sent to Frankfurt where she befriends Klara, a young girl in a wheelchair. “Heidi” is a triumph of love, friendship, and forgiveness that will capture your heart.
Why You Should Check It Out: I think Amazon’s description kind of sells this version on its own (though I also love the Shirley Temple take on the story). Worth watching with the entire family!
#34: Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1985)
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Nineteen people were hanged and one man pressed to death, while hundreds went to jail during the “witch hysteria” of 1692. THREE SOVEREIGNS FOR SARAH offers an accurate portrayal of the Salem witch trials, with real characters and original transcripts woven into the dialogue. The film is a powerful, moving story about three loving sisters accused of witchcraft.
Why You Should Check It Out: The ideal find for anyone and everyone obsessed with Salem Witch History (such as myself…). Vanessa Redgrave is outstanding in this!
#35: Masterpiece: Indian Summers Season 1 (2015) – coming May 29th
Amazon Prime Synopsis: Julie Walters stars as the glamorous doyenne of an English social club in the twilight era of British rule in India.
Why You Should Check It Out: A period piece set in 1930s India, this change in setting from your typical period drama shows make this one stand out from the crowd. While I’ve only seen one episode thus far, I am eagerly awaiting the remainder of the season on Amazon. The backdrop mixed with interesting characters definitely has me hooked!
RELATED | Indian Summers Review
While I didn’t cover everything on Amazon Prime, there are still several other period dramas on Amazon Prime to see that have more mature content and ratings.
Casanova with David Tennant (this is quite good and is also written by Doctor Who writer Russell T. Davies), Vikings (less graphic if you watch on TV), Birdsong starring Eddie Redmayne, Parade’s End with Benedict Cumberbatch, Any Human Heart featuring the always fabulous Mathew MacFadyen, Mildred Pierce with an unforgettable performance by Kate Winslet, the romantic and historical TV series The White Queen (the American version is more explicit than the British version), and the award-winning TV series The Americans.
Aside from television, there are also several period films just around the corner, but that’s for another day…
What Period Drama TV Shows and Miniseries do you plan on watching on Amazon Prime? Any recommendations? Sound off below…
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