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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Lost in Austen

UPDATE: Friend of the EBC gettsr offers her own interpretation of "LIA," in which she delves into the postmodern implications of the miniseries. We must be psychic.

I'd heard lots about this over the fangirl network when it initially aired and despite the snark, I decided to watch the last 3 episodes, which were re-run on Ovation a few weekends ago.

For those who don't know the premise--Amanda Price, modern girl and Jane fanatic, steps into Pride and Prejudice, switching places with Eliza Bennet who enters modern London. Amanda finds the characters not quite as solid as Jane Austen prepares her for--they seem to have minds of their own. She desperately tries to keep things running as Pride and Prejudice would have her, meanwhile struggling with her own feelings about Mr. Darcy. But when zombies show up at Netherfield err, Mr. Collins gets hitched with Jane, the book goes out the window and our modern heroine, Ms. Price, is left trying to keep things from being a colossal catastrophe, to say nothing of as smooth as an Austen plot.

Well, to sum it up: the dialogue and action are so far from period-appropriate it's a joke, there are all kinds of weird Shakespearean and other random literary and philosophical allusions thrown in for no reason, and absolute havoc is wreaked on one of the most perfectly crafted, if not the most perfectly crafted, plot in literary history. Also, the characters travel in their wagons from Netherfield to Longbourn to Rosings to Pemberly and back again so quickly as to render it absurd, and the plot moves just as briskly. It's a hot mess.

But it still works, it really does. It works because the actors are heartfelt and give sweet performances, particularly the hunky (and I mean hunky) Eliot Cowan as a somewhat more earthy Darcy, Jemima Rooper as Amanda Price, and the exquisite Tom Riley as a most rascally and loveable Wickham. And it's a meditation on our fictional friends, the characters we think we know and understand, who, if given flesh and blood, might be much more slippery than we think.

Any way, it's worth a diverting, distracting, chuckle-worthy view for those who don't mind their pristine classics being trampled on in the name of fun and entertainment and a little philosophizing, too.

(Warning: spoiler-iffic video)


  1. I was so conflicted about this miniseries. I would turn it on to watch it, and think, "hey, this isn't so bad," and then in a matter of 20 seconds I would be squirming in my seat in embarrasment at how awkward it all was and I would have to change the channel. Then I would try it again in a few minutes with the same results. I have a pretty visceral reaction to embarrasment (of myself, of others, in real life and on film/TV) - and I just was not able to watch LIA all the way through, though I do see the appeal for people.

  2. LizzieJ9:38 AM

    Glad you could get beyond all of it and see it for the pure fun that it is! Have to completely agree with you about the talented and handsome Tom Riley -- he was a revelation. Mr. Bingley, Tom Mison, also gets top marks from me. Loved seeing him spiral into a self-loathing drunk and finally pick himself up and get the girl!

  3. Add me to the "conflicted" column! Watching this was kind of like eating a big sundae from Dairy Queen. Tastes great at the time, but even while you're eating it, you're thinking "I'm so going to regret this later..."!

    And yeah, Darcy was pretty hot. Wickham, surprisingly (to me), was hotter.

    The one thing that really bugged me, though, was that I'd like to have seen more of Lizzie in modern-day London. I mean, I know it wasn't ABOUT that as such, but it would have been a lot of fun, I think!

  4. Thanks for the link. Yes I do believe we are psychically linked. Cheers!