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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Live-Blogging PBS' "Jane Austen Season": Sense and Sensibility, installment 1

Here goes. I'm counting the laughs throughout the evening to see if Davies accurately nails Austen's big satire.

If you read my JA coverage you know I adore the Ang Lee film version, but more as a product of Ang Lee's and Emma Thompson's genius than Jane's/ So let's see if Davies can keep his ego in check and not be influenced too much by the '95 version.

9:04--The highly-anticipated "sex scene" isn't very controversial so far--but I wonder if this "do you truly love me," Willoughby stuff isn't seeing things through a modern lens.

9:05--John promises Mr. Dashwood that he will "do something by the girls." So far, it's all very Serious.

9:06--The first laugh of the evening, when Margaret says "will they have to live with Gypsys?"

9:09--Fanny Dashwood, such a bitch!

9:11--The first mention of a COTTAGE! I am EXC-essively fond of a cottage.

9:13--Laugh count, according to my boyfriend and our good friend Mike: 3 to 4.

9:14--A side note--the production value of this is SO MUCH better than the ITV productions earlier this year. Another example of the longstanding British oppression of the Irish.

9:16--Side note number two: Andrew Davies is still good at distilling the essence of a novel, but he's using more of his own language relative to Jane's--"carpet-beating" etc. etc. Still, so far so good.

9:17--Edward is HOT. And he's a total Hugh Grant type.

9:18--Edward and Elinor discuss his career; the scene is shot just like S&S95.

9:20--Remind me those who have read the book. Is this whole Edward-bonds-with-Margaret thing actually in the book or is it just a trope that filmmakers continually use to show how great Edward is?

9:25--Fanny, such a BITCH, redux.

9:25--Mrs. Dashwood on John Middleton: "Such kindness, from a man we have never met." Flash to John Dashwood's uncomfortable face. This is what we love about Andrew Davies. This is the kind of subtlety Jane demands.

9:28--Edward values Elinor's friendship but can't stay anymore. His eyes are all teary. He's a bit awkward but I actually may like him better than Hugh Grant, not in terms of loveability but in terms of being true to the character from the novel. Shy, yes, proper yes, but not a stammering ninny.

9:32--WOW. What beautiful shots of the English countryside. Let's go there! Fetch my trap and pony! Or perhaps I am the type who would prefer a barouche?

9:37--Sir John Middleton is MR WEASLEY FROM HARRY POTTER! But Ang Lee still has Snape, Sybil Trelawney, Madame Pomfrey, Dolores Umbridge and Cornelius Fudge in his picture. Not too fair.

9:38--Colonel Brandon is so ...dashing. Quoth my boyfriend's sister over gmail chat: LOOK AT THAT HUNK!

9:41--We get that this cottage is seriously uncomfortable. Cold. Damp. British. Almost Irish. The surrounding cliffs are absolutely gorgeous, in a stark way.

Hey, you ever notice how Marianne and Elinor are living on a cliff, both literally cause there's a cliff onscreen, and figuratively because they're women with no money and they're one step away from ruin? Nice symbolism, Davies.

9:45--I like the way they are developing the Marianne and Brandon thing. Very slowly. But I feel that Marianne's over-the-top romanticism is not quite being played for laughs the way Austen wants it to. She's supposed to be a walking, talking embodiment of the Romantic fangirl, and she just comes off as a bit spoiled here. But I think it's almost impossible to live up to Kate Wiinslet's performance, no?

9:52--Willoughby is no Greg Wise. He doesn't have the smoldering looks that make his creepy behavior seem pass-able. The whole point of Willoughby is that he looks the part of the hero so much so everyone is fooled by him.

9:57--"How do you do sir?" "How do you do Brandon?"
"Poor Brandon. You shall none of you think of him now."--Sir John Middleton from S&S 95.

No laughs for a while now, incidentally. It's gotten pretty serious. Unfortunately I can't take Willoughby seriously.

10:00--OH SHYTE, A CONFRONTATION BETWEEN WILLOUGHBY AND BRANDON. This is sooooooo not in the book!

Willoughby has some sass on his mouth. He needs a good whack from Brandon's rifle-butt.

10:04--This buying them a horse business has totally lost me. I know it's right out of the book, but...

10:09--Andrew Davies sure knows how to sex up a lock-cutting scene, eh? The snipping of the scissors, the movement of hands... very hot stuff.

10:14--In which Willoughby and Marianne go to Allenham. Is he taking her up to the bedroom? Is he talking to her about fairytales? This all feels a bit too modern Joe-Wrighty for me.

Oh shit, they're making out!!!

I dunno...

I was so into this at the beginning, but I'm souring. Marianne is supposed to be funny! It's not supposed to get serious until later.

However, I LOVE this Elinor. She's giving Emma Thompson a run for her money. She is so proper and sympathetic without being fussy or fastidious. She is just a tough, strong, centered woman.

10:23--Quoth Marianne: "I am sure he will find a way to come back and see us very soon." WHY Marianne being so rational? She's supposed to be FREAKING OUT!!

Okay, concluding thoughts. Not as good as '95 in the respect that the caricature and wit totally falls away about 40 minutes in, and Jane Austen never never never stops being a satirist even when she's describing pathos.

However, the scenery and the acting on the part of Elinor, Edward, and Brandon are all excellent, and obviously it's fun to watch it develop at a novel-like pace. Can't wait for next week!

PS Check out this hilarious review from the Editrix of austenblog herself.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I love your LB of S&S - I'll have to go back and look at your notes on the others in the series. I also LB'd last night for my book club's blog. I'd love it if you visited and checked it out!

    I think we hit on some of the same things. . . and honestly today, I can't stop thinking about that awesome Colonel Brandon. I completely agree that this Willoughby is no Greg Wise, he played the character beautifully, but the rest of the cast is fantastic. I almost love this Marianne better than Kate. Kate is just so distractingly Kate. And I enjoy sympathizing with her more than laughing at her.

    I only read the novel after seeing the Ang Lee version about a million times so I can't really separate the two. Of course Emma Thompson would capture the satire better than Andrew Davies - she's just as brutal as Jane herself really. And this version doesn't have Hugh Laurie so it's a given it won't have as many laughs.