Vulcan’s Peak

Good bookwormy television

January 17, 2009 1:53 pm

Looks to me that Masterpiece Theater is going to be good for the foreseeable future.

They’ve been doing Tess of the D’Urbervilles the last two weeks, which I missed, though apparently they’re now putting the episodes online, in a limited-time-only kind of way.  So that one is still available, though it’s also four hours long.  I read Tess a few years ago, in the quiet evenings of my summer in New Hampshire.  I remember being captivated by it, and then somewhat frustrated by the ending.

This week and next are Wuthering Heights (clocking in at a total of a mere two and a half hours).  That was one of my big reads this summer, so I’m interested to see what they did with it.  I’m a little confused about how the book makes it onto lists of “greatest love stories of all time” when the main characters seem to resist all attempts at being made likable.  He’s a brute, she’s neurotic, everyone’s miserable.  Amusingly, in some ways it was the inverse of Tess, in that I liked the way it ended.

After that, MT is running the Sense and Sensibility that they used as part of the Jane Austen love fest of last year.  My preferred adaptation is still the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet one, but this one’s good too.

And we’re getting Dickens adaptations for the rest of the spring!  Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, and The Old Curiosity Shop.  I’ve seen Oliver! (the movie musical) and I’ve been to the “Old Curiosity Shop,” but otherwise this is all new to me.

Looks like when the show turns back into Mystery! for the summer, we’re getting a few more Miss Marple stories, too.  I always enjoy those — the little old lady sleuth is so delightfully unexpected.

4 Responses to “Good bookwormy television”

Tae wrote a comment on January 17, 2009

Hrmm, which version of S&S is it? I’ve got one on my comp that I found myself liking as much as the Thompson/Winslet version. Particularly the girl who plays the part of the older sister is good- and it’s a little more believable in their actions because they are closer to the age I assume they were in the books than Emma and Kate were (as fine actors as they are). If you haven’t seen the one I’ve got, I’ll send it to you, I think you’d like it (though it appears to have…Dutch subtitles or something).

I haven’t found a Dick’s story I like yet but that might be because I found Oliver! (the musical) obnoxious.

I might hunt up Tess just out of curiosity. I don’t know if I’ll look for Wuthering. It sounds like the main characters would get on my nerves.

Odette wrote a comment on January 17, 2009

S&S is the third one listed here, starring Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/schedule/index.html
They do look closer in age (I think Thompson was about ten years older than her character). I think I had some quibbles about the production, but off-hand I don’t remember what they were… It was good, though — I just remember liking the other one better. Perhaps it was the casting of the leading men; I’ll let you know after it airs again. 🙂

Tae wrote a comment on January 17, 2009

Yup, that’s the one I have. I rather like it. I thought I’d like the Emma Thompson one more but really they’re both quite good. I do think that Alan Rickman was simply too old for his role- I love him to death but he was about 10-15 years too old. The man in the second one seemed much more appropriate to me. But those are minor quibbles really.

What is the plot of Tess? I just saw the advert for Wuthering Heights tonight (we were watching a cooking special) and I just can’t bring myself to get involved in it. Austin I like, but Bronte?….I dunno.

Who did Jane Eyre again?

Odette wrote a comment on January 18, 2009

Well, Rickman’s character in S&S is written as an older man, actually, and that’s part of why the vivacious and romantic younger sister initially laughs off the idea of his courting her. I think he’s spot on. 🙂

Jane Eyre is by Charlotte Bronte; Wuthering Heights is by her younger sister Emily. (Youngest sister Anne was also a novelist; there wasn’t much to do in Haworth.) Tess is by Thomas Hardy, and the plot is… hard to summarize.

Here’s the bare bones. Picture it surrounded by lots of earthy descriptions of English country life. It follows Tess, a village girl as she goes to work for an aristocratic family (because of a supposed genealogical connection), but is seduced by the son of the house. She goes home in disgrace, and eventually leaves again to work at a dairy, where she falls in love with another man, but when the pair tell each other their darkest secrets, he can’t come to grips with hers. He runs off to Brazil, she works hard farm jobs to make ends meet, she re-encounters her aristocratic seducer who is still infatuated with her, and things get complicated.

Care to comment?