Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wendy's Week of TV: Part 31

Sunday: Cranford
Firstly, Judi Dench is an absolute legend. I will watch her in anything. Secondly, I will watch any costume drama. Thirdly, I haven't read the Elizabeth Gaskell novel on which this is based. As I think about the whole question of tv adaptations of books, I believe that this is a good thing. It allows us as viewers to enjoy (or not) the television program on its own terms, without the inevitable comparison to the book, which also nevitably, the tv fails to live up to. In my opinion it's better in these situations to arrive at the book second, meaning less disappointment while watching TV. This is the way I encountered Middlemarch (TV first, book second) as well as Wives and Daughters, Our Mutual Friend, and Great Expectations. It allowed me to enjoy the tv series, and then go to the book and see what had been cut out and also enjoy the further depth and nuance that the author originally intended.

All that being said, I so enjoyed Cranford (not being privy to pay TV this was the first time I had seen it). There was the new doctor in town, with his fancy town ways unable to save the poor young boy with croup, but doing a standup job on the broken arm of the labourer. And poor Julia Sawalha with her unrequited love for the Scottish officer. Imelda Staunton and Julia McKenzie were suitably ditzy and their scene with the cat and the lace was both grotesque and hilarious. Nice too that the lace made a later appearance at the posh garden party. I somehow doubt that the weakly Septimus will return from Italy to his mother's estate. And the poor family living in the woods have to improve somehow. Plus the cow in it's pyjamas was a sight to behold. See...don't you want to watch it now! And I haven't even recounted the half of it. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night already.

Tuesday: Well Doctor Who obviously. And episode I hadn't actually seen before. Queen Victoria plus werewolves equals a jolly good time had by all and sundry. The Doctor's glee on sighting the werewolf was delightful. As was the final insinuation that the Royal family may still be carrying the werewolf gene.

Wednesday: You know I was going to watch Spicks and Specks but they had boring people on the panel so I continued my 30 Rock Series 2 marathon instead.

Thursday: The Man inside Dame Edna - or whatever the documentary about Barry Humphries was called. Why, oh why oh why did I not write about him in my thesis. WHAT WAS I THINKING? or not thinking as the case may be. Because we would have fitted perfectly with what I am now thinking of as "The Australian Grotesque"...the title of something that came to me in the middle of the night. My next article? We shall see. Back to Barry. My favourite moment was when he was describing his childhood. He and his mother had been to a ladies afternoon tea. On the way back in the car, making conversation he said to his mother, "That was a lovely cake wasn't it?". To which she replied with one scathing word: "Bought!". His mother and my grandmother might be one and the same.

Friday: Cricket. Rain. Boring. (although on arriving home at 2 and turning on what I thought would be the cricket I was very surprised to find Days of our Lives, a soap I watched a lot during high school. I recognised it because apparently Patch is still hanging around. In a hospital bed with his patch on his eye. Where was Marlena. Had her multiple personalities fused into one yet, or perhaps she has risen from dead for the fourteenth time, or escaped the evil Roman's clutches yet again. I didn't see Bo. He probably had "some things he had to take care of". This always seemed to be the standard line for getting characters to finish up a scene. "I've got some things I've gotta take care of but I'll meet you back here on the foggy docks at 6 and we'll fight the evil Salem mafia again then". What were those things I always wondered...paying the electricty bill? Getting the groceries?)

Anyway, slightly off track there. So the cricket was boring (indeed non-existent) until they actually started playing. Could Australia have conjured up that rain with a rain making machine hidden in Brisbane's western suburbs somewhere? Because it really looked like New Zealand were going to win in the last few overs until it started pouring. Phooey!


Catriona said...

The Cranford adaptation is actually based on three novellas: Cranford (1851-53) itself, Mr Harrison's Confessions (1851), and My Lady Ludlow (1859). Mr Harrison's Confessions might actually count as an extremely long short story, rather than a novella.

I've read Cranford (many, many times, because it's short and sweet) but not the other two. So I can see where they're taking liberties with that one (nothing too extreme in the first episode, but I suspect the second episode will vary more broadly, based on something that happened in the first part) but I have no idea how broadly the stories of Lady Ludlow and of the new doctor Mr Harrison vary.

Judi Dench is fabulous, but I thought Eileen Atkins was amazing. Bless her. And to see Philip Glennister act is one of the joys of being alive in such a world as this.

2paw said...

Being so OLD and with all the Eng Lit at Matric, Collge and Uni, I rarely come newly to a TV adaptation. I am a bit ambivalent, because though I can be disappointed, knowledge of the book does fill in all the gaps in plot and characterisation!!!
I swear, DOOL has not changed since 1979 when we would go to my friends house in our free lessons and her mum would make us cups of tea and biscuits and we would watch: Patch, the long glances into the dostance, the Di Meras. Nothing has changed!!! I personally love the special fast aging of children.
That episode of Doctor Who was very good. Apparently Pauline Collins wore running shoes under her voluminous dress.
Oh and I love Julia Swalahaha (sic)

Wendy said...

oh - So three novellas...I didn't know that...very this week's might be the key as to whether they get it right or not by the sounds of things. I will have to read them now. Yes you're right Eileen Atkins was amazing...I was devastated as she climbed those stairs for the final time...thanks for not giving away what the big variance may be! :) I await this week's episode with some anticipation!!

Wendy said... first I wondered what on earth you were talking about 2paw! But what a great acronym for the show. No it hasn't changed...I used to skive off school sport during year 11 under pretence of needing to go home and practice for my grade 8 violin exam every thursday. that was regular DOOL catch up time. And you're right it hasn't changed one bit since then (that was the late 80s).
I had a good friend whose mother used to refer to them as "the chookie serials" - DOOL together with TYATR. I have thought of them as that ever since. But I'm not sure why chooks?

Fast aging children is a wonderful soap opera device...very very useful in all kinds of situations.
And who doesn't love Julia Sawalaha ( I think I've spelled that wrongly too!). She's fantastic in everything she does.