Sunday, 6 January 2008

Sense and... Seriously?

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew...

First of all, thank you to those who sent messages - I
am healthy (just about; cold on its way) and my computer is more or less healthy; I have been back in Somerset for a few days and forgot to tell you - sorry. It was a brief visit, but another very nice one. Now I'm back in Oxford, but thanks to my enormous amount of leave taken at Christmas, shall not be back at work until Wednesday.

And now back to chastising Andrew Davies. I watched Sense and Sensibility last week, or whenever it was on, and was impressed. Great casting, good script. A few holes, but not everything can be Cranford, can it? And Davies had proved himself with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. What happened? I have a theory that Andrew started reading the novel, got to the end of chapter three and, like so many high schoolers before him, thought watching the film would suffice for the rest. I mean, what happened? There was so much wrong with today's episode, both in how it related to the novel, and in itself. Did Marianne passionately kiss Willoughby? No. Should any couple kiss in slow motion? No. Did Elinor hide in caves or wander along cliff tops? Probably not. Do we want suggestive scenes of waves crashing against shores? Er, no. Would Edward Ferrars pop out for a bit of log chopping in the middle of tea? Dare I say it, no. This scene, I understand, was supposed to be the Colin-Firth-in-lake equivalent, but to me just looked like a silly man getting soggy.

What did I like? The Misses Steele were good. The Palmers - for my money, the funniest couple in all of fiction - were shamefully underused. Mrs. Jennings continued to be funny; Margaret was quite sweet. But that's not enough, Andrew - please give the novel a proper read before you adapt it, and don't presume that you're better at plotting than Jane is. Contrary to the opinion of marketing agents, Jane Austen is not "all about sex!!!" Yes, sexual attraction holds considerable sway, but she ain't Barbara Cartland.

Disappointed, Andrew. Could Do Better.


  1. Oddly enough I had the opposite reaction --I actually preferred this week's one the the first one. But I have huge reservations. I can't stand Willoughby for one thing but that might be subjective -- he does not seem at all attractive or at all aristocratic -- not my idea of Willoughby at all. I am annoyed by the introduction of Margaret who only appears at the beginning of the book and never speaks -- here she seems to carry the entire plot at times. I totally agree about the wood-chopping -- absurd to say the least. But I think Willoughby probably did kiss Marianne at his aunt's house even though JA does not say so (indeed there is a school of JA criticism that thinks he did rather more: "Is Marianne Dashwood pregnant?" says one critic). And in the novel you can read about Elinor being on her own "to think and be wretched" after Lucy's revelation, which, given the cramped nature of this Barton Cottage, she'd have to do in cave, really! I also liked the Steele sisters. Sorry for going on so!

  2. Ah Simon, we are at one once more! I agree with all you say - although I would add that I think part of the problem lay in the way the book was 'squeezed' for this episode. P&P had much more airtime and so less was missed out. S&S needs time to develop. The schedule didn't allow for this - so we were precipitated into an unreal degree of confidence between Lucy and Elinor - far too quickly. We also lost Lady Middleton's ghastly reserve and insipidity, her vile daughter and all the other priceless details so treasured by READERS of JA. Margaret came into her own as a way of gluing the weakened plot together. Willoughby - too like a frog - all bulging eyes and no chin! MUCH prefer Brandon - who was the one redeeming feature of the episode. Disappointing (AND I missed Foyle's War to watch it!)
    Not sure about the kiss. It doesn't 'appear' in the book, but I agree with Harriet that we may need to read between the lines. My own feeling is that whether Marianne succumbed to Willoughby or not, her behaviour suggested to society a strong possibility that she had, and so she lay herself open to censure - to the degree that she would have had difficulty regaining her good name in London society. Ah, it's all about appearances and manners! OVW

  3. I just had part one made available to me...cannot really say how, but am hoping for more installments. I'll be interested to see if I agree with you or not.

  4. I'm with Harriet! Willoughby is the very opposite of fanciable. And David Morrisey, even though he's lovely, is not a patch on the divine Alan Rickman. I'm not keen on Marianne either...oh dear. All in all, no competition for the Ang Lee movie with Emma T's script, though I preferred Episode two as well.

  5. I've seen it far as actors go, I was not a big fan of Willoughby at all - not attractive. Marianne's curly hair just made me think of Kate Winslet who I love, so I was not a big fan of these two. I did think Elinor and Edward were well cast and enjoyed their performances. I've always thought Emma Thompson was too old for that role. I enjoyed it overall but I think I prefer the film version. It seems I feel this way with all these new adaptations. Am I just to set in my ways? Sigh.


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