Friday, August 29, 2014

Streaming guilty pleasure (& what a pleasure!), the smart 'n spicy Spanish series GRAND HOTEL


Sure, it's a soap opera. Yes, it's a tele-novela. But there are times in one's life that sinking into a sleek, sure-footed piece of glamour like the Spanish television series GRAND HOTEL can be just the ticket to out-and-out pleasure. Think of it as the Spanish answer to Downton Abbey, with all the upstairs/downstairs goings-on, the coincidences and overheard conversations -- only a lot more fun.

TrustMovies is now finished with the first season of this very enjoyable show (it's streamable via Netflix) and will definitely be watching the rest of the episodes. (Netflix offers the first two seasons in a total of 14 episodes.) It's also a chance to see some fine Spanish actors strut their stuff -- from some old-timers like Concha Velasco and Adriana Ozores (below) to some hot, young newcomers such as Amaia Salamanca and Yon González, (above) who play the not-quite lovers kept apart by circumstance and class.

The cast (major players are seen below) is extraordinarily well-chosen, and each actor delivers the role in spades. The performances are juicy, all right, but they are all so on-target and specific that the series never tumbles over into camp. It may come close now and again, but these steadfast actors, together with scripts that keep the pacing fast and the characterizations smart, save the day.

The story?  Well, a young man named Julio (González, below) comes to the fine, titular establishment looking for his sister, who was employed there as a chambermaid but who has now disappeared. He manages to get a job at the hotel while looking for clues as to what happened to sis -- often with the help of the daughter (Ms Salamanca) of the hotel's dragon-lady owner (Ms Ozores, above, second from left).

Along the way Julio befriends the dragon lady's son (below, right, who proves a nasty, unfeeling shit), along with another of the serving staff, whose mother (Ms Velasco) is in charge of the chambermaid staff. All the while, class and economic differences are made plain, and we see what the one per cent against the 99 looked like a century ago.

At least one murder occurs, and a high-level detective is sent from the big city to investigate; financial problems pile up, and both the dragon lady's daughters find themselves in a troubling romantic situation: one from a husband who now wants out of his marriage, the other from a suitor who doubles as the hotel's manager (at left in the photo at bottom) and is one supremely nasty piece of work.

All this is deftly juggled for terrific entertainment. And the look of the series is spectacular. From the opening credits, using archival photos, to the sets, costumes and antique cars--everything proves a visual knockout.

So, if you want to spend some time (14 episodes with each one around 45 minutes in length) in this glamorous venue with characters you'll come to care for (or hate), take a chance on Grand Hotel. Stream it now on Netflix, and you'll be hooked by the time you've hit episode three.... 

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just finished Grand Hotel. There is so much to like about this show. One thing they could have done, was cut back on the music,which would have made it perfect. We loved this show and were upset when we read many commenters saying there would not be anymore seasons. That the show had left the the viewers with unresolved issues. We were Was pleasantly surprised that the show did have a "Wow" ending" not a Hollywood ending but a ending that tore my wife up inside. Left me with my mouth wide open. Anyways thanx for the reccomendation. Also, Looked absolutely stunning on Netflix HD. Take Care

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Anonymous. I am about to finally finish this series myself. (Didn't realize when I began it that there were 42 episodes!)

Everything you say is true -- what a show this one is! -- and I hope I'll have similar reactions to yours and your wife's once I've completed the two final episodes that remain for me to watch.

Anonymous said...

Netflix only has Season 1 and 2. There is a Season 3 that completes everyone's storylines and gives everyone a happy ending. Netflix has yet to put it up. You can see Season 3 on Youtube, but no English subtitles.

James van Maanen said...

What!? Season Three gives EVERYone a happy ending?! Whew-- I hope not. My Spanish is bad enough that I wouldn't take a chance on watching without subtitles. So I'll just hope that Netflix wises up and procures the final season for us.

Meanwhile, thanks for alerting us!

Anonymous said...

I'm halfway through the second season of Grand Hotel Season 2 and can't wait for 3 on Netflix. I normally don't care for period pieces, but this is so different! Is it because it's Spanish? Is it because there is just no one unattractive in the cast? Is it because all of them have their demons? Is it because the musical score ties in so welll with the scene? All I know is that Grand Hotel, House of Cards, and the various BBC shows such as Dark Mirror is what makes Netflix great.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting, Anonymous. And I must say that I agree with you, right down the line. All these shows (and many more, too) are what make Netflix so great!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed every episode but felt completely let down after viewing the midseason finale without the resolution needed to finish the series. Left me up in the air just like The Glades (main character shot) and end of series...Same thing with Longmire (another main character shot and not sure if there will be another season.)
Netflix needs to finish off the third season at least with Grand Hotel since it is available without subtitles on some spanish stations. Hopefully they read our comments.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Anon, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. Can't wait to find out what happened. And I, too, hope that Netflix pays attention to us viewers. Grand Hotel was popular, so I suspect the company is trying to negotiate for that final season.

Anonymous said...

I am so confused! I just watched 42 episodes on Netflix and loved it...except for the last one. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so suffice it to say I found it unresolved. It could be interpreted in a couple of different ways. Is there another season coming or not? I can't tell from various online posts I've seen. Thanks!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting, Anon -- and yes, there ARE more episodes of Grand Hotel. (See above comments and answers.) But whether or not Netflix will purchase the final season, who knows?

Anonymous said...

PLEASE finish the series!!! LOVE this show! I cannot imagine a worse fate - to be left not knowing what happened!! Please NETFLIX!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anonymous -- and I agree: PLEASE, Netflix, finish this thing!

Marcella said...

I've watched all 42 episodes on Netflix twice and waiting impatiently for NEW EPISODES to appear. This is one of the best series I have every seen, and by all the posts all over the internet I am not alone. This story grabbed me in a way that few series do. Everything about it was amazing from the actors to the storyline, the music, photography. Loved every minute of it. I didn't even mind the English subtitles and picked up a little Spanish along the way. Netflix needs to finish what they start and get the rest of season 3.

James van Maanen said...

Well, Marcella -- it sound like you've really got your dander up. But I think most of us will agree with you, and I suspect that Netflix will give us the remainder of this series... eventually! Thanks for posting your comment.

Manya said...

I could not wait for Netflix to get the rest of season 3, so I bought the entire series in Spanish. my Spanish is poor, but it is fairly easy to follow the plot even though you miss the niceties. The plot really begins to thicken after the explosion. I will not give spoilers, but will only say it was worth my investment. there is quite a bit more to the story of the star -crossed lovers. Various online sources have the entire series for impatient folks like myself. just be sure you have an all region DVD player.

James van Maanen said...

Wow -- you bought the whole series, just to see the final season?! Too bad they didn't think to place English subtitles on the DVD. But maybe they also didn't realize how popular the series was going to become, internationally. You'll probably want to watch the final season again, once Netflix picks it up -- just to discover some of those "niceties" you missed.

Anonymous said...

What a BRILLIANT show!I live in Boston and my sister told me about this romantic, suspenseful and mysterious Spanish series 3 weeks ago. My husband and our teen daughters are now watching the first season. The acting is superb with the strong clever writing and powerful daunting music. I had never visited Spain, only the UK, Gerrmany and France, but 4 days ago my husband booked a 3 weeks trip to Spain for all of us :) I must confess, like a teenager girl, I had never seeing so many perfect looking people in one single tv show. Is very difficult to take your eyes of any of them but specially the blond female and tall handsome leading young actors.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting your comment, Anon.
Another county heard from. Boy, this series is clearly roping them in! GRAND HOTEL really is, for all its cliches and soap opera tropes, something special. It takes the tried-and-true and lifts it to a whole new level.

Sassmuffins said...

Wonderful series. I have watched all 42 episodes on Netflix and anxiously await the final season. Beautifully filmed and acted. I came upon it quite by accident and almost did not watch when I realized it was in Spanish, but with the English subtitles I gave it a try and was hooked by the second episode! What a lovely show. And now, while waiting for the final season, I started watching Velvet, I believe by the same film comopany that did Gran Hotel. I am now totally hooked on Spanish soap operas! Honestly as fast as they can create them, I will be watching. If you have not seen Velvet you should check it out.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Sassmuffins. As soon as time permits, I will take a look at Velvet. I appreciate the recommendation!

Anonymous said...

I got hooked by accident and literally spent hours and hours watching all 42 episodes! Yes, there were moments that might have been edited to make it a bit tighter or sometimes less silly, but all in all it was truly addictive. The beauty of the lead actors, the sets, costumes, music all fit together to make you just want more, and certainly look forward to a satisfactory resolution.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anon, and I think most of us who posted comments here would heartily agree with your words.

Anonymous said...

I Can't believe that this is the end of this wonderful series. I was completely hooked throughout and was looking forward to series 4, as there is so much more to this storyline. Totally gutted that series 3 is the grand finale.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anon -- but how did you manage to see series 3. Netflix is only showing the first two seasons. So tell us how and where you watched it, please!

Anonymous said...

Loved all 3 seasons. Actors were all so enjoyable to watch. I'm saving the last episode until everyone goes to bed & I'll have no interruptions. I'm really going to miss all of these peeps & now need to get a life. Just hope to find another fantastic Netflix series.

James van Maanen said...

Well, Anon -- I hope you managed to watch that last episode in peace. I am now up to around the fifth in the third season, so I have many more to go. But I am finding it oddly comforting to spend time with all these characters, good and bad, once again. I don't quite know how the creators of Grand Hotel have managed to make something so soapy and silly seem at the same time so wonderfully involving and so much fun.

My co-contributor Lee Liberman plans to watch Season Three and then write about the entire series, so I am anxious to see what she has to say.

I wish I could recommend something else as special as Grand Hotel, but -- as good as so many of the Netflix series are, in many different ways -- I have not found anything quite like this one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Netflix. I enjoyed the show all three seasons so much even though I got tired from reading the subtitles. I could not stop! Is it over for good?

James van Maanen said...

And thank YOU, Anon. I believe the series is truly and finally over. The second "The End" or "Fin" that we see on screen after the charming little wrap-up visuals (following the first The End? that ends with a question mark) would seem to indicate that, yes, this really IS the end.

Carm Luz said...

I've watched all 3 seasons of Grand Hotel and Velvet in Spanish with no subtitles. I would like to know if anyone has purchased the entire series Without any parts or scenes missing and at what price range, I would appreciate your feed back. Thank you. I want to tell everyone watching them not to miss any episode because I could not stop.

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting again, Cam. I am not sure where or how DVDs-for-purchase of either of these series are available. I suspect they are available in Europe where both series are popular. Did you check Amazon UK, maybe? I'll bet it has both. Maybe even Amazon here in the USA. If any other readers have suggestions, post your comments here and I'll publish 'em so Cam can see.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED this series. I have watched it twice (3 seasons) and WANT MORE LIKE IT!!!! Also have watched "Velvet" twice and WANT MORE LIKE IT, TOO! I loved the stories, the music, the writing, the scenery, the costumes, the actors - everything. PLEASE RECOMMEND SOMETHING ELSE LIKE THESE TWO - and FROM SPAIN. Please do not compare these two shows to Downton Abbey. They are so much better. I keep looking for something else to watch - but I am spoiled rotten by Gran Hotel and Velvet. I'll even watch them without subtitles if I have to - of course, would prefer to have them.

James van Maanen said...

Hey, Anon--
Wish I could recommend another series like Gran Hotel or Velvet, but I haven't even had time to watch the latter yet. I'd suggest going online to Netflix or Amazon and searching for movies/TV series from Spain. Good luck!

Leslie Wells said...

Great entertainment. Anyone know the name of the theme music and the composer? Must have the piano music for this piece!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for posting your comment, Leslie! Funny -- one of the other commenters (above) hated the music in the show (even though he/she did like the series itself). I tend to agree with you: I enjoyed the music a lot. As to where to find it, I'm not sure, but I'll bet that -- in Spain, at least -- there's an album out that contains it. Maybe check Amazon Spain or Amazon UK to try to locate it.

Danny Peterson said...

Have been watching episodes all summer with my mother. We were hooked after the first one. Love the characters, can't wait to see how all the storylines wind up. Highly recommend!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Danny. Watching with one's mom sounds like a fun idea. It'll bring the generations closer together. In fact, I'd like my daughter to watch this one, too....

Jennifer said...

Omgosh! I also, accidentally started watching. I only have 18 more episodes in season 3. I catch myself saying one more, just one more and I'll go to bed. Yep, 3am is the normal time. Ugh. So addicting. Now, has anyone noticed that the actress that portrays Alicia resembles Natalie Morales (when younger) from the Today Show?

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, Jennifer. I haven't noticed the Natalie Morales resemblance, but then, I never watch The Today Show. Maybe I should -- just to catch another glimpse of Alicia.

Now, young lady: You go get some sleep!

Anonymous said...

This is for the person requesting more shows like "Gran Hotel" and "Velvet" from Spain. Look for "El tiempo entre costuras" or "The time in between". It has an 8.4 rating on IMDB.com.

It's available on Hulu for free –I think– and also on Netflix LatinAmerica, not US.

Hulu's synopsis: Based on the New York Times Bestseller "The Time In Between" by María Dueñas, a young seamstress's life takes an unexpected turn when she finds herself pregnant, alone, and penniless during the Spanish Civil War. As Spain's alliance with Nazi Germany deepens, she takes on a new identity and becomes an in-demand haute couture stylist for the wives of Nazi officials. But soon she becomes swept up in political intrigue when she begins helping the British Secret Service with coded messages in the seams of her dresses.

Hope you enjoy it!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks, Anon, for this excellent tip. This is the first time I've heard of this particular series, so I hope readers will peruse the comments section and try to find the program.

Too bad Netflix does not have it available for U.S audiences.

McKenzie Anderson said...

Like everyone else, I'm totally obsessed with this show! Almost done with season 2 and can't wait to start season 3. Season has 2 had me in TEARS! As a new mom I just could not handle it haha My baby bas been watching this with me for the past 3 days ;) Sounds like there won't be a season 4 which is a major bummer but I will for sure have to start Velvet. This was a fun blog post- thanks!

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for commenting, McKenzie. It seems like an awful lot of viewers out there are also obsessed with this show. It's not hard to see why. I think, by the end of Season 3, you'll feel, as did I, that the show has come to a perfectly good conclusion. No need for more.

Anonymous said...

So no chance at a season 4?

James van Maanen said...

Sorry, Anon -- but from everything I've heard and can ascertain, this series ended formally and for good with its Season Three wrap-up.

Anonymous said...

I have watched Grand Hotel 3 times on Netflix and each time come across something that I missed...............love this show and yes definitely watch Velvet I watched that before Grand Hotel and it is done by the same film Company hence a lot of the actors from Grand Hotel are in Velvet. Just watched Velvet series 3 online in Spanish and they are back for a 4th series bring it on a great film company.

James van Maanen said...

Wow -- three times, Anon? Really? I don't think I could manage that many viewings, and I still have not watched Velvet. I want to, though I've heard it is not as good as Grand Hotel. Still, pretty good may be good enough, and it will be fun to see some of those same actors again, as you say. Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Just finished watching the last season and I'm SO SAD that's it over! I could watch it all over again, but it won't be the same when I'm not guessing the next plot twist...

James van Maanen said...

Thanks for your comment, Anon. And I think a lot of us feel the same way. We could have watched another three seasons of Gran Hotel. But I guess it's time to move on....