Acorn Media // 2012 // 176 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // September 30th, 2012
"Cornwall, an awe-inspiring canvas of natural beauty."
I could have just as easily used "Cornwall, a place of epic landscapes and dramatic coastlines" or any number of other bits of flowery language that Caroline Quentin used to describe the British coastal county. You'd get the idea from any of them: Cornwall with Caroline Quentin is going to provide lots of beautiful pictures of Cornwall; Quentin's description gives her something to do, but is often superfluous.
Not only that, but there's the occasional hint of excess. "I hear you asking yourselves: 'Where on Earth in Cornwall can produce award-winning wines?'" Quentin says at one point. This is, of course, the stuff that only travel show hosts and their writers hear. Viewers take her word for it, and wait and see.
That's not to say Quentin's bad at travel show hosting. She goes at things with genuine interest -- she has family ties in Cornwall and, from the sound of it, saw just enough of the county to pique her curiosity (beyond that, her former TV boyfriend from Men Behaving Badly spends a lot of time in Cornwall nowadays). Quentin does decline an attempt to swim around St. Michael's Mount, but she's game to try her hand at making crepes or speaking Cornish. She can also show you the proper way to eat a pasty. All of this is done with the self-deprecating style you'd expect from a travelogue.
Cornwall isn't purely a travelogue. Ongoing stories run through this eight-part series, offering us a peek at the life of a campsite owner, estate agents, a barmaid who tries her hand at singing, and "Cornwall in Bloom" competitors. These segments add a hint of reality show to the stew, but it's good-natured and friendly reality.
Viewers will learn about wineries (apparently Cornwall has quite a few), a fisherwoman who also runs a tea shop, gig running, regattas, belly boarders in their eighties, lifeboat volunteers, and mobility scooter time trials. Viewers will also see lots of beautiful coastline, flowers, and picturesque villages, all popping from your screen colorfully.
I will note that Cornwall's weather might not be as perfect as it looks on Cornwall. Although you never see rain, Quentin's green coat looks waterproof, the wind sometimes blows through her hair as she does stand-ups in front of coastline and landmarks, and I did spy a rainbow once.
I can't say that Cornwall with Caroline Quentin is an educational show in the way that other Athena releases might be; it doesn't get too much into actual history or geography. The questions you might have about tin mining and the like are answered reasonably well by a booklet added with the DVD, though. It's not deep, and it's certainly not edgy in any way, but it's relaxing and enjoyable. It would work well on public television stations as a fund-drive accompaniment to Doc Martin.
I'd guess the main audience for purchase would be those considering a trip to Cornwall. You'll find it agreeable otherwise, but probably only if on sale, or obtained on loan from the library.
Review content copyright © 2012 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 176 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* IMDb: Caroline Quentin