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Completion

April 6, 2008

Wet Shirt Redux The Complete Jane Austen is now behind us with the broadcast of the second part of Sense and Sensibility. We’ve really run out of things to say, but we’re sure our Gentle Readers will make up for it.

One Minute Book Reviews disputes the perception that Jane Austen’s novels take a rose-colored view of romance. It’s a very short piece so we won’t copy over anything, but check it out and see what you think. Thanks to Alert Janeite Jeannette for the link.

Alert Janeite Laurel Ann sent us a link to Laurie Viera Rigler’s last post in her series on Jane Austen’s novels for About.com’s Classic Literature blog.

I admire that anyone even attempts to brave the minefield of adapting my favorite author. Although it is a truth universally acknowledged that the book is always better than the movie, a good movie often inspires those who haven’t read the book to do so. And the more Austen readers there are out there, the closer we Janeites come to world domination.

Just kidding. But would that be such a bad thing?

These days our own idea is to keep Jane inside a compound surrounded by an electrified fence patrolled by very angry and hungry Dobermans. World domination has its attractions, but it unfortunately involves mingling with the rest of the world. These are the same people who watch reality television and made Paris Hilton a celebrity. This tar-hearted spinster would prefer to keep Jane Austen to herself, but we are just cranky. :-)

And lastly, Andrew Davies answers your questions about adapting Jane Austen’s novels. Thanks to Alert Janeite I. Miller for the link.

Leave a Comment
  1. April 6, 2008 10:22 pm

    Agent Scully Report: YOU HAD TO GO THERE WITH THE TOM LEFROY. YOU JUST HAD TO GO THERE. ARRRRRRRRRGH.

  2. April 6, 2008 10:31 pm

    Yeah, I thought that was odd. Her comments before each show seemed disconnected from what followed.

    I rather liked this S&S adaptation, warts, hawks, duels, and all.

  3. April 6, 2008 10:36 pm

    I loved Part II of Sense and Sensibility. It was the highlight of the Complete Jane Austen for me. There was humor and pathos, and even a scene with just Mrs. Dashwood and Meg. What more could I wish for? The only problem was that my wife and I couldn’t decide who Col. Brandon looked like. I thought Liam Neeson, she thought Bill Murray. Maybe a composite of both?

    PBS should lose Agent Scully. She says dumb things and her hair clashes with the background.

    Andrew Davies should adapt Sanditon. It would leave him with plenty of scope to make things up, which he seems to enjoy.

  4. surreyhill permalink
    April 6, 2008 10:37 pm

    This is my second viewing of this new adaptation (the first was *coughhackcoughhackcoughcough* bootleg video), and I have to admit I liked it the first time through, and enjoyed it even more the second time through. Of the new adaptations I have seen in this cycle, it is the ONLY one I would care to watch a second time without a few stiff drinks and a good snarking partner.

    I still find Brandon a bit of weak sauce, but his character is well-written. This the first adaptation where I have had any real emotional investment in Edward Ferrars, and I feel more for Eleanor in this one, too. I think Hattie Morahan was magnificent.

    I loved the framing of Hattie against the backlit window when Elinor was telling Edward that he would have a living from Colonel Brandon so that he could support Lucy and himself in marriage. It looked so like the little silhouettes that we see from that period.

    There was much to enjoy and appreciate in this version. The background music was quite good. Other than Mrs. Palmer, there wasn’t much humor, but I don’t really find S&S all that funny to begin with. It satisfied my desire to see the main characters fleshed out well and the right emotional tone throughout. It seems they chose a particular tone and stuck with it, and so it had the virtue of consistency, instead of trying to be all things to all people.

    Karen

  5. April 6, 2008 10:49 pm

    Yay! It’s over, and they saved the very best for last. I was holding back tears of happiness by the end of tonight.

    Things I liked:
    Hattie Morahan
    Colonel Brandon
    Marianne
    Wilhoughby getting owned twice

    Things I didn’t like:
    Lucy Steele – not quite as evil as Imogen Stubbs
    Mr. Palmer – but who could compete with Hugh Laurie being funny?
    Electric Guitars of Doom

    Things I Loved!
    Hattie Morahan (there’s a pattern here…)
    Elinor drinking Marianne’s wine (straight from the book – it’s the little things in life that make me happy)
    Elinor and Edward – all scenes together
    Elinor’s stripey green dress
    Elinor kissing Edward

    I think this is immeasurably the superior half of this program, and really culminates spectacularly. I especially love the way the proposal works – it releases the tension that has built almost unbearably high and painfully, and ends with small comforts and little joys – just as the novel does.

  6. April 6, 2008 11:04 pm

    Yay! It was so good if a bit derivative of both S&S95 AND P&P95, but still…and it’s sad that the Austen season is over (sort of). I agree that this was the better half of the production.
    My viewing partners (who greatly enjoy Austen) just turned to the end of “That’s Amore,” a dating show on Vh1. Talk about a comedown!
    I live-blogged it, for those who can’t get enough. (sorry for the self-promotion).

  7. Beth permalink
    April 6, 2008 11:22 pm

    Hoorah. What a lovely production. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, nor is it my favorite, but I particularly liked:

    Edward (much better to me than Hugh Grant)
    Elinor (An excellent actress – I would have loved to see her play Anne in Persuasion as well!)
    Colonel Brandon (quite handsome)
    Miss Steele (finally!)

    I do agree with Fellow-ette about how derivative parts of it were of both S&S95 and P&P95. Mr. Knightley might say that was badly done. However, this is still my favorite of the new Austen productions.

  8. surreyhill permalink
    April 6, 2008 11:43 pm

    Fellow-ette–I enjoyed your liveblog!

    Very nicely done.

    I understand the point about being derivative, but at least they are stealing the things which worked and were effective and resonated for the most part, instead of stealing from bad ideas.

    I felt this production hung together and made you really not only care about these characters, but was visually a treat, and also made me want to reread the novel to see how much of what was onscreen was taken from it, and how much was dramatic license.

    That’s not too shabby, I think.

    As we’ve been through it all, I rank the new ones in this order, from worst to first:

    1. Persuasion & Mansfield Park–about equal. I thought the new Persuasion was pretty bad from the get-go, but I found my hopes raised by the new MP, only to be dashed as it ground on.
    2. Northanger Abbey–at least this one had a spot of charm and wit to it. There was a bit of life to be found here. Still waiting for a definitive version.
    3. Sense & Sensibility–really very good. In some ways, I enjoyed it as much as the Ang Lee movie. Missed Alan Rickman, but once I got past that, I thought this was pretty good.

    I would put the Kate Beckinsale “Emma” in there between Northanger Abbey and the ’08 S&S, mostly on the strength of the supporting cast and the production values, even though I didn’t really like it. And I still feel the ’05 P&P is the best of what was shown during this event.

    Now, I did miss “Miss Austen Regrets”, which I regret exceedingly. I hope I can catch it some other time.

    Karen

  9. dustdevil permalink
    April 6, 2008 11:50 pm

    @I.Miller, I was just coming to post how much I loved both of these things:

    -Elinor drinking Marianne’s wine (straight from the book – it’s the little things in life that make me happy)
    -Elinor’s stripey green dress

    I liked that Davies did try to flesh out Edward and Brandon a bit more, and I feel like it paid off in this adaptation.

  10. Jessica permalink
    April 7, 2008 12:40 am

    Seriously what the heck does the silly Tom Lefroy story have to do with S&S??? Agent Scully talking about that had about as much to do with the story as the “nibblers” cover had to do with Persuasion 95! I really enjoyed this new version of S&S but the stupid introduction was a bit of a downer. As far as the movie goes, one thing I didn’t really like was the scenes of Marianne being ill at Cleveland. I just never felt she was in danger of dying. The whole illness seemed to be a bit glossed over. But other than that it was actually quite good. I think I’ll actually buy this one to add to my JA collection although I’m sure many people will think me odd for owning 3 versions of the same movie! :-P

  11. April 7, 2008 12:46 am

    Well, I really liked Hattie Morahan as Elinor, but I’m not sure about the rest. It was gorgeous to look at, but whether it was a good adaptation of the novel… the setting began to annoy me, actually, with all the lonely, windswept cragginess–when in the novel, the Dashwoods can see the village from their window.

    Also, I confess myself disappointed that Davies didn’t avail himself of one easy way to differentiate this version from the Ang Lee one (not that he seemed to be trying all that hard for that anyway) by including the debate on the picturesque between Edward and Marianne. It’s odd that both versions are so concerned with putting the men front and center, but neither includes Edward’s major scene. (Or maybe I just think that because I really love that scene. “I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch-tower…”

  12. Elaina permalink
    April 7, 2008 2:25 am

    Jane Austen could only have known about love if she had fallen in love with a hot guy herself! Duh. You can’t write books without having experienced everything your characters experience.

  13. Karenlee permalink
    April 7, 2008 5:05 am

    Fellow-ette – I loved your live blog as well! So much so that I clicked back to read the one from last week too:

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

    LOLOL!!!

    Well, I’ve watched the DVD again by now, and it continues to grow on me. Although, did anyone else notice – the placement of the duel scene (right after the Assembly) makes it look like Brandon has called Willoughby out because of his dishonourable behaviour to Marianne rather than anything having to do with Eliza.

    *sits back and waits with eager impatience for more first impressions*

  14. Julie P. permalink
    April 7, 2008 6:39 am

    This was far and away my favorite of the new adaptations. I saw it back in January (thank God for hackable DVD players) and have watched it again since. I also downloaded it off YouTube so I can watch the proposal scene whenever I want (it hasn’t failed to make me tear up yet).

    As for the scene where Elinor is telling Edward about Brandon’s “job offer,” I find that very well done. The two of them are 5 or 10 feet apart but are professing their love for one another, albeit in a very roundabout way. Very well done.

    One made-up scene that I do like is the one with Brandon visiting Eliza and her baby. We are reminded of just how young she is and that real people are affected by Willoughby’s actions. I also like that we got to see the scene where Willoughby comes to Cleveland during Marianne’s illness. We are left in no doubt that Willoughby is a cad and a bounder and that he deserves to be miserable.

    I’m still in shock at liking a Davies-authored adaptation, but the shock wears away when I remember the opening scene, which I despise.

  15. April 7, 2008 8:10 am

    One question: Why does it take so long for Edward to come to Elinor after his brother and Lucy are married? Poor Elinor seems to spend quite a lot of time hanging pictures and believing him to be married. Why did he not come immediately?

    And how could Marianne have fallen for an evil hobbit like Willoughby?

  16. Deleilan permalink
    April 7, 2008 8:20 am

    surreyhill — dare I hope you meant the ’95 version of P&P?

  17. April 7, 2008 8:25 am

    Did anyone else fall off their chair laughing at Colonel Brandon intoning in funereal tones, “She was just fifteen years old?” Davies did his best to turn him into Mr. Darcy, didn’t he? Even gave him some of the same lines. (Eliza was 17 in the book, for the record.) And Marianne with, “I think he’s the kind of man who thinks the worst of everything and everybody” or something like that, very Elizabeth Bennet.

    And I am still a little squicked by the “train her up like a horse or a hawk” bit at the end. I know where they were going with the metaphor but I didn’t like it and I think Jane Austen would not have, either. The “training” came from within Marianne. She had to learn those lessons for herself–and it wasn’t like Jane made it easy on her. Give the poor girl some credit.

    And yes, I would hope the duel was being shown in “flashback” because if they were scheduled to meet on the field of honor, Brandon and Willoughby should NOT have been at the same party the night before. A bit over-dramatic.

    But I liked it quite a bit overall and it is definitely the best of the latest batch.

    Dan Stevens is awfully cute. :-) I got a few lulz out of the scene where he walks in on Elinor and Lucy, and then Marianne comes in–the look on his face is priceless.

    Now everyone watch Cranford and see how Jane Austen got cheated on this go-round.

  18. April 7, 2008 8:58 am

    I think the duel has a very good chance of being flashback because of the way it’s lit – in a smoky, blue, rather odd light. And it’s shot very shakily, with a kind of disorienting/dreamlike disjointedness. At least, that’s what I thought.

    I’ve always hated Willoughby, so I didn’t really mind how Marianne fell for him. Perhaps it’s also my personal experience – I’ve known several similar situations to occur.

  19. surreyhill permalink
    April 7, 2008 11:59 am

    “surreyhill — dare I hope you meant the ‘95 version of P&P?”

    Of course I did…the 9 being right next to the ‘0 on my keyboard, and all….this blog needs an edit function. I never see my typos until after I’ve posting something. Eye just glosses right over it.

  20. mjryan permalink
    April 7, 2008 1:37 pm

    I loved this adaptation. Count me among the fans of Hattie Morahan. I thought her Elinor was – dare I say? – better than Emma Thompson’s. While I thought Thompson’s portrayal was good, I could never get past the fact that she was almost 20 years too old for the part. Hattie Morahan was spot on how I perceive Elinor. There was also something very soothing about her voice. My only quibble might be with her bangs. Not sure about the historical accuracy there but I’ll give that a handwave.

    This might be my favorite proposal scene of the adaptations I’ve seen (sorry to say I didn’t see all of the new batch). Her wordless acceptance and the pure joy that both of them convey. It really was wonderful. I do wish directors would stop doing the revolving kiss shot, though.

    I enjoyed the conclusion of the Marianne and Brandon storyline in this adaptation much better than the 95 version. In that version, I never really felt like Marianne fell in love with Brandon. In this one, I did. It was probably the hawk. ;)

    I missed Hugh Laurie.

    All in all, this one gets a double thumbs up. I’ll buy the DVD, for sure.

  21. Edward Sisson permalink
    April 7, 2008 1:42 pm

    Part II is much better than part I, in that none of the characters act contrary to the way Austen’s characters would act; but it feels rushed and several key scenes, such as Brandon’s meeting with Elinor to explain his admiration for Edward, his offer of the living, and his request that Elinor deliver the offer, are omitted. Elinor loses a lot of depth due to these changes, because in Austen she is repeatedly faced with having to make difficult choices to protect the feelings of others, yet here, many of those moments are cut. Brandon’s request that she be the one to deliver the news to Edward of the living — news that will make it possible for Edward to marry Lucy, the last thing Elinor wants — is one key moment that we lose; we see the moment she delivers the news, but the implicit emotion in that scene is lost, unless viewers have already seen the 1995 or 1981 versions, or have read the book.

    Another lost moment involves the encounter between Elinor and Willoughby at Cleveland: here, Marianne is shown overhearing it all, but in the book and the 1981 version, Elinor hears it alone, and is faced with the issue of judging whether, and when, and how much, and how accurately, to relate the encounter to Marianne. Perhaps most viewers find it more engaging to see Marianne observe Willoughby first-hand, but I regret the loss of a chance to show Elinor’s depth of judgment as she considers how best to help Marianne.

    We also lose any basis for feeling that Lucy is such an attractive and calculating young lady, and Robert such a vain fool, as to enable Lucy to be able to catch Robert so quickly. In both the 1995 movie and the 1981 BBC production we are shown moments between Lucy and Robert that make it quite plausible that Lucy could catch Robert whenever she chose. Since this is the key to the happy ending of the book, it is vital that we find it quite plausible, and consistent with their characters, when we learn that Edward miraculously has been freed by the union of Lucy and Robert. But here, we have no such moment; Edward’s announcement that Lucy switched to Robert comes like a plot-manipulation, unless one has already read the book or seen the other versions.

  22. Deb R. permalink
    April 7, 2008 1:45 pm

    (Mags)“Agent Scully Report: YOU HAD TO GO THERE WITH THE TOM LEFROY. YOU JUST HAD TO GO THERE. ARRRRRRRRRGH.”

    I gasped, then laughed at this last night. I was sure I could hear your growling from 2 states away! I feel your pain.

    I agree that Marianne’s verge-of-death illness was glossed over. I much preferred the version with Col. Brandon desperately suffering in the hallway while Elinor and the doctor tried many different treatments to no avail, and then Marianne’s long recuperation period where we saw her growing to love Col. Brandon. And while I luv Alan Rickman, I actually liked this Col. Brandon better because the age difference didn’t seem SOOOO great — it creeps me out to see AR mooning around after a girl-child. (shudder!!!)

    I preferred the previous Lucy Steele to this one. And Anne Steele drove me nuts because she talked like a hillbilly (what’s the equivalent British country bumpkin?), very different from her sister. I can’t believe that they would have been welcomed into Society even to attend dances.

  23. Jen K permalink
    April 7, 2008 1:46 pm

    Mags, I’m sorry, but all I heard in Colonel Brandon’s tone was “that dirtbag impregnated my fourteen-year-old girl.” Mr. Darcy’s tone was more of refined disgust. …sorry again, I was going to pose more of an argument but I got distracted by how much fun it would be to have a nice, healthy fight with Colonel Brandon…

  24. Fine-eyed Elizabeth permalink
    April 7, 2008 1:55 pm

    First, I have to say I liked this fine, more than I expected, and I thought that it worked relatively well, but I agree very much with the other posters–there were some things that were just not effectively done. The greatest, to my mind, was the character of Lucy Steele. Where was the conniving smartness and raw ambition of Lucy? I got the feeling in reading that Jane perhaps admired Lucy a little bit; she knew what she wanted, she killed with “kindness” to protect it, she was adaptable when it appeared to be out of her reach, and in the end, she achieved her aim. This requires a certain toughness of character, and I felt Anna Madeley played her in a way that might have suggested she was sincere in her affections for Edward.

    I also missed Hugh Laurie’s Mr. Palmer (and the Emma Thompson version’s presentation of him), who turned out to be a caring and concerned man behind the aloof and critical facade.

    But overall, I found it reasonable, and it’s definitely my favorite of the adaptations this season.

    However, I almost threw up on the rug when Agent Skully brought forth the ghost of Tom LeFroy … ARGH!!!!

  25. Maria L. permalink
    April 7, 2008 2:21 pm

    Please don’t hurt me because I feel a little guilty already, but…

    I found the film’s shorter version of Elinor’s final rebuff of Willoughby almost more emotionally satisfying than the more forgiving attitude she finally takes in the book. I felt like slapping him…

  26. Caroline permalink
    April 7, 2008 2:33 pm

    For Deb R:

    Miss Steele IS a country bumpkin, Deb. Just look at her speech in the book:

    ” “Nay, my dear, I’m sure I don’t pretend to say that there an’t. I’m sure there’s a vast many smart beaux in Exeter; but you know, how could I tell what smart beaux there might be about Norland? and I was only afraid the Miss Dashwoods might find it dull at Barton, if they had not so many as they used to have. But perhaps you young ladies may not care about the beaux, and had as lief be without them as with them. For my part, I think they are vastly agreeable, provided they dress smart and behave civil. But I can’t bear to see them dirty and nasty. Now, there’s Mr. Rose at Exeter, a prodigious smart young man, quite a beau, clerk to Mr. Simpson, you know, and yet if you do but meet him of a morning, he is not fit to be seen. I suppose your brother was quite a beau, Miss Dashwood, before he married, as he was so rich?” ”

    We are told that the Miss Steeles come from Exeter, in Devon, and that Lucy, at least, has spent a fair amount of time im Plymouth.
    The accent portrayed by the character Anne Steele in this production is consistent with a country Devon accent. Of course, you are welcome to imagine Anne as less bumpkin-ish if you wish! Personally, I thought it was a nice touch, consistent with Anne’s level of intelligence. Again, from the book:

    “When their promised visit to the Park and consequent introduction to these young ladies took place, they found in the appearance of the eldest, who was nearly thirty, with a very plain and not a sensible face, nothing to admire; but in the other, who was not more than two or three and twenty, they acknowledged considerable beauty; her features were pretty, and she had a sharp, quick eye, and a smartness of air, which though it did not give actual elegance or grace, gave distinction to her person.”

  27. April 7, 2008 2:34 pm

    Mags, I’m sorry, but all I heard in Colonel Brandon’s tone was “that dirtbag impregnated my fourteen-year-old girl.”

    But…she was sixteen, at least. I think that was my point. Davies used a line that hearkened back to P&P95, and used it incorrectly. Though even if he said “She was then 16 years old” I still would have lol’d. It’s just so…obvious.

  28. April 7, 2008 2:38 pm

    I liked the Steele sisters a lot and thought they were as they should be; I have no quibbles with the actress who played Lucy, though I prefer Imogen Stubbs’ portrayal of Lucy as more cunning. It would have been nice to see both Anne and Lucy with a little more to do in this one–as has already been pointed out, at least a little more of the Lucy/Robert backstory. Too bad they didn’t make this a 4-hour series as the BBC wanted. What’s the point of making TV series if you’re not going to fully develop the stories and characters?

  29. April 7, 2008 3:18 pm

    Well, I think Imogen Stubbs, like Hugh Laurie, is nearly impossible to top. However, I thought the actress here did fine with what was given. Obviously, Anne was more fun, though.

  30. Jen K permalink
    April 7, 2008 4:05 pm

    Oh, so we are playing the Andrew Davies drinking game? Thanks for adding.

    “I’m very happy to see you again.” “And I you.”

    “My feelings…are so very different…”

    “She was but fifteen years old”

    Any more? Has to be in more than one adaptation. They’re probably spaced just well enough apart that he thinks it really is JA’s language.

  31. Kathleen permalink
    April 7, 2008 4:34 pm

    I completely agree with Mags. The allusion to training a horse and the falcon scene was just too obvious (and a little insulting)and I thought spoiled the ending. I wish they had used that time to expand on Marianne’s illness, including Colonel Brandon’s response and how Marianne grew to love him as Deb R. describes. I missed Mr. Palmer and his witty comments.

  32. Julie P. permalink
    April 7, 2008 4:59 pm

    Over at Pemberley, I did a search in S&S for the word “Palmer” and only came up with 16 passages where that word is mentioned. And, in those 16, I couldn’t see anything indicating that Mr. Palmer actually said anything. And certainly nothing where we are told specifically that he was a laugh riot, except for Mrs. Palmer’s statement that he was droll.

    In fact, the ONLY direct quote I can find from Mr. Palmer is this, from chapter 27:

    After they had been assembled about an hour, Mr. Palmer sauntered towards the Miss Dashwoods to express his surprise on seeing them in town, though Colonel Brandon had been first informed of their arrival at his house, and he had himself said something very droll on hearing that they were to come.

    “I thought you were both in Devonshire,” said he.

    “Did you?” replied Elinor.

    “When do you go back again?”

    “I do not know.” And thus ended their discourse.

    And the only real description of Mr. Palmer comes to us from Elinor in chapter 42:

    Elinor had seen so little of Mr. Palmer, and in that little had seen so much variety in his address to her sister and herself, that she knew not what to expect to find him in his own family. She found him, however, perfectly the gentleman in his behaviour to all his visitors, and only occasionally rude to his wife and her mother; she found him very capable of being a pleasant companion, and only prevented from being so always, by too great an aptitude to fancy himself as much superior to people in general, as he must feel himself to be to Mrs. Jennings and Charlotte. For the rest of his character and habits, they were marked, as far as Elinor could perceive, with no traits at all unusual in his sex and time of life. He was nice in his eating, uncertain in his hours; fond of his child, though affecting to slight it; and idled away the mornings at billiards, which ought to have been devoted to business. She liked him, however, upon the whole much better than she had expected, and in her heart was not sorry that she could like him no more; not sorry to be driven by the observation of his Epicurism, his selfishness, and his conceit, to rest with complacency on the remembrance of Edward’s generous temper, simple taste, and diffident feelings.

    In other words, I think that the impression we have that Mr. Palmer is a funny guy is from Emma Thompson, because it’s certainly not from Austen.

  33. Mags permalink
    April 7, 2008 5:19 pm

    Mr. Palmer is one of the characters who reminds me of one of Fanny Burney’s comic characters. He has some pretty good lines.

    From Chapter XIX:

    Lady Middleton could no longer endure such a conversation, and therefore exerted herself to ask Mr. Palmer if there was any news in the paper.

    “No, none at all,” he replied, and read on.

    OH SNAP!

    When Lady Middleton rose to go away, Mr. Palmer rose also, laid down the newspaper, stretched himself and looked at them all around.

    “My love, have you been asleep?” said his wife, laughing.

    He made her no answer; and only observed, after again examining the room, that it was very low pitched, and that the ceiling was crooked. He then made his bow, and departed with the rest.

    (I will add that I didn’t care for that bit in the movie–it really fell flat, as did most of the humor in that film, unfortunately. I do like it in the book, because it establishes Mr. Palmer as an absurdly amusing character.)

    From Chapter XX:

    “Oh, my love,” cried Mrs. Palmer to her husband, who just then entered the room–“you must help me to persuade the Miss Dashwoods to go to town this winter.”

    Her love made no answer; and after slightly bowing to the ladies, began complaining of the weather.

    “How horrid all this is!” said he. “Such weather makes every thing and every body disgusting. Dullness is as much produced within doors as without, by rain. It makes one detest all one’s acquaintance. What the devil does Sir John mean by not having a billiard room in his house? How few people know what comfort is! Sir John is as stupid as the weather.”

    and

    “Oh, don’t be so sly before us,” said Mrs. Palmer; “for we know all about it, I assure you; and I admire your taste very much, for I think he is extremely handsome. We do not live a great way from him in the country, you know. Not above ten miles, I dare say.”

    “Much nearer thirty,” said her husband.

    “Ah, well! there is not much difference. I never was at his house; but they say it is a sweet pretty place.”

    “As vile a spot as I ever saw in my life,” said Mr. Palmer.

    OH SNAP! Redux. :-)

    And the best line of all…

    “Oh, my dear Miss Dashwood,” said Mrs. Palmer soon afterwards, “I have got such a favour to ask of you and your sister. Will you come and spend some time at Cleveland this Christmas? Now, pray do,–and come while the Westons are with us. You cannot think how happy I shall be! It will be quite delightful!–My love,” applying to her husband, “don’t you long to have the Miss Dashwoods come to Cleveland?”

    “Certainly,” he replied, with a sneer–“I came into Devonshire with no other view.”

    “There now,”–said his lady, “you see Mr. Palmer expects you; so you cannot refuse to come.”

    Have to say that Hugh Laurie knocked that one out of the park. :-) (And Imelda Staunton wasn’t so bad, either!) And also we got a glimpse beneath the snarky exterior with Marianne’s illness, as we do in the book (though it’s really only mentioned in passing, in Vol III, Chapter VII :)

    Their party was now farther reduced; for Mr. Palmer, though very unwilling to go as well from real humanity and good-nature, as from a dislike of appearing to be frightened away by his wife, was persuaded at last by Colonel Brandon to perform his promise of following her; and while he was preparing to go, Colonel Brandon himself, with a much greater exertion, began to talk of going likewise. . . .Mrs. Jennings’s entreaty was warmly seconded by Mr. Palmer, who seemed to feel a relief to himself, in leaving behind him a person so well able to assist or advise Miss Dashwood in any emergence.

    See, he’s not such a bad fellow. :-)

  34. Sue permalink
    April 7, 2008 5:55 pm

    I just couldn’t get into this one. For every near-perfect moment, there was a jarring scene. These scenes (for instance the awful “Marianne/horse training analogy) tended to overshadow the production for me. Couple that with another one of Agent Scully’s Cliffnotes version of The Life of Jane Austen and I was more disappointed than I wanted to be. And whichever commenter above noted that Willoughby was an evil hobbit had it exactly right – bad casting. I wonder why this version didn’t work for me when the longer P&P miniseries worked so well? A commenter several weeks back thought the P&P miniseries worked because it allowed us to spend so much time in Jane’s world, and I agree, but this longer version S&S did little for me beyond build admiration for several of the actors. I’m going to have to give this adaptation another viewing and see if I change my mind. Or maybe just watch the Emma Thompson version again and try not to be annoyed at Hugh Grant.

  35. megg permalink
    April 7, 2008 5:57 pm

    Edward was dishy and adorable, especially when chopping wood and confessing his true feelings. Brandon was the man in the duel, but I had issues with the idea of him “taming” Marianne like a pony or a falcon. Jane was all about men treating women as RATIONAL creatures not wild animals.

    Willougby disgusted me in this version, much like the book. The Willoughby in the ’95 version was too hot/tortured to hate, but this one looked and acted like a slimeball.

  36. April 7, 2008 7:07 pm

    I love the extra time given in both this S&S and the 95 P&P because of the time spent with the characters, not necessarily just the world. And I loved the characters in this version very much, so the extra time was very much appreciated.

  37. Victoria permalink
    April 7, 2008 7:13 pm

    I thought it was great. Although, I don’t understand how chopping wood in a wet shirt is any more sexy then doing it in a dry shirt, or why it is supposed to make my cold heart flutter, but the Colin Firth in a wet shirt thing went over my head too. I keep hearing how women are going to drool over this but honestly, the only one I know who drooled was Andrew Davies. If you watch his interview on the DVD, you will know what I mean. Down boy!

    I know the weather-worn cottage by the sea is not true to the book, but it was beautiful to look at and the blues, grays and greens in the movie made it such a lovely visual experience.

    I agree with Mags in that I wish BBC had given S&S the Cranford treatment, though. If only…..

  38. Sylvia permalink
    April 7, 2008 9:05 pm

    Edward in the wet shirt does nothing for me. To me that’s kind of out of his character. Now, if this Colonel Brandon would have done it…………………..different story! :) I think it kind of depends on their build.

  39. Sylvia permalink
    April 7, 2008 9:06 pm

    Speaking of Cranford. I am so excited for the upcoming 2009 two- part sequal!!!!!!!!!! OK, back to Jane!

  40. April 7, 2008 9:06 pm

    Elinor is the key to the story. Hattie Morahan was lovely, but if you watch her reactions and compare them to Emma Thompson’s Elinor, she is not as contained and guarded as Thompson. She is slightly more emotional, animated and energetic – much more feeling behind her expressions. She may not say much, but her eyes talk, and her gapping mouth reveals her amazement. It is subtle, but it adds up, and when we finally arrive at Edwards proposal, the tension and release is not as great as the Emma Thompson version. It also helped that in the 1995 version, the director Ang Lee cut to a shot of Elinor’s family reacting to the proposal. Seeing their excitement and joy doubled the impact.

    It seems that no one liked this Willoughby. I didn’t either. Since he is the whole reason for excitement and drama, if the actor is ill suited or mis-directed, the impact of the story is greatly diminished. I really liked Dan Stevens. Since others have noted that he is too handsome and charming for the character of Edward, imagine him as Willoughby with a dark side. Kinda intriguing.

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

  41. Diana I-C permalink
    April 7, 2008 9:25 pm

    Sue! (And Edward Sisson)
    I’m so glad you didn’t like it.
    I’ve been reading through the comments thinking to myself, “Oh dear, oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear. Everyone seems to have loved it. And I… I couldn’t stand it!”
    It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one, though certainly we are in the minority.
    There were some nice things in this adaptation, but they were so quickly followed by bits that made me cringe/gag. Maybe I just need to watch it again, and all the way through this time, not broken up into youtube pieces. But I’m just not sure if I could stand it. It was like watching a much worse version of the 1995 movie–and in just about every part that was not ripped off, they seemed to be saying, “See! This is different. This totally wasn’t stolen from Emma Thompson and Ang Lee. No siree!”
    Blah.
    Oh, and I had such high hopes.

  42. Carol G permalink
    April 7, 2008 9:43 pm

    Let me say this upfront..and be done with it!
    What is with Gillain Anderson (aka Agent Scully) doing the intros and set ups on Masterpiece? She looks like she’d rather be anywhere but where she is…she has a sour, pickle-eating expression, and what’s with that cheesy, low-rent red background?
    What was wrong with that wonderful, meandering among the Edwardian knick-knacks open to Masterpiece Theatre? Bring it back!
    (Thanks for letting me vent!)
    I basically liked this version of S & S. There were lovely moments that others have mentioned already: the Elinor drinking Marianne’s wine moment, the beautifully done “job offer” scene.
    I did think the end was too abrupt. I loved the Ang Lee ending with the church scene and Brandon scattering the coins. Somehow I wanted to see Edward and Elinor doing more than chasing chickens!
    Kudos to Hattie. Missed Hugh Laurie too.

  43. Deborah permalink
    April 7, 2008 10:10 pm

    Um. . . Mr. Davies? That part where you say, “I looked at the [Emma Thompson] movie several times to make sure that there was nothing in my script that was in the movie, but not in the book” — what about, oh, say, charming little Margaret hiding in the library? or Edward playing with Margaret at Norland? or Colonel Brandon finding Marianne collapsed in the rain and carrying her inside?

  44. Pansy permalink
    April 7, 2008 10:12 pm

    To be fair I’m going to have to watch this again. I found it disappointing: much awkward dialogue to wrap up loose ends in this altered (strained) version. I have always though Andrew Davies was a talented script writer, but not this time.

    Edwards wet shirt wood chopping seemed such an obvious effort to recall Mr. Darcy’s swim. Colin Firth is memorable.

    Sue, you’re right–Hugh Grant can only play himself.

  45. Edward Sisson permalink
    April 7, 2008 11:16 pm

    OK, it is now time to come to the defense of Hugh Grant — a portrayal I have always found very moving. Let’s do a quick roster of Austen heros at the outset of their books:

    1. Henry Tilney — loved by his sister, treated OK by father and brother, has his own living already
    2. Fitzw. Darcy — loved by sister, respected by servants, good friend in Bingley, desired by Caroline, super-rich
    3. Edmund Bertram — perfectly well respected by father, mother, sisters, brother, wealthy family, good prospects
    4. Freder. Wentworth — successful Navy captain, loved by sister and brother, respected by fellow-officers, desired by attractive Musgrove girls, self-made wealthy
    5. George Knightly — loved by brother, rich, respected by everyone

    Now let’s look at Edward Ferrars:
    disliked — at least, for who he really is — by mother, sister, and brother. Loved, so far as he can tell, by no one. Fortune entirely dependent on mother who is cold and ambitious for him, who cares nothing for either his feelings or his sense of honor. Foolishly secretly engaged to a young woman he doesn’t love, who he likely knows does not really love him, who he knows his mother and sister will relentlessly oppose, and who likely will cost him his fortune. Thinks he will not be allowed to become what he wants to be in life. Not established in the world, not known, and so necessarily, not respected (nor dis-respected). Arriving at the home of four women who are grieving a death and who are soon to be tossed out of their home by his grasping greedy sister. If ever there was a young man who ought to be thrown off his stride, who ought to be troubled and uncertain, this is the man. And yet, with all these troubles, Hugh Grant plays him as a man who cares more for the feelings of the four grieving women than he does for himself. He’s trying to navigate emotionally to blunt the effects of his sister on these women, while at the same time trying to pick up clues about their feelings –clues about people he has never met — so that he knows what he needs to do that will work. A very admirable guy, to my way of thinking.

  46. April 8, 2008 12:09 am

    Edward, Hugh Grant’s interpretation of Edward is objectionable because of his choices as an actor to give his character an identity; stuttering, stiff pained posture, delayed slowness in his speach, slugish walk, stooped downward stance, oh I could go on, but these are the lowlights.

    Not entirely sure if these characteristics were his choice, or the director Ang Lee. Edward was not the life of the party, but he was not, in my mind, what Hugh Grant brought forth in the character. Dan Stevens may have been too handsome and charming for Edward, but at least he did not make him out as wearisome. I was exhausted just watching Hugh Grant. He drained the energy right out of his scenes.

  47. April 8, 2008 2:11 am

    Well, I hated Wiloughby in the book as well, so I’m not criticizing the actor. I think you should hate him. Just to clarify.

  48. Reeba permalink
    April 8, 2008 11:08 am

    Sylvia Cranford will show how women (and not very young ones) in bonnets and all can make an adaptation absolutely marvellous.

    I feel we need to beg Heidi Thomas to think of adapting JA novels. She has shown respect with humility for the three books that have been combined here.

  49. Anna permalink
    April 8, 2008 3:42 pm

    Unfortunately, I saw “The Bank Job” right before this, and in that movie Hattie Morahan (Elinor) plays an MI-5 agent in the 1970s who goes “undercover” with a Black Power group by hooking up with one of its members. I couldn’t get that image out of my head for awhile, though Morahan was lovely as Elinor. Just a bit hard to make the transition.

    My complaints about “Sense and Sensibility”: Willoughby wasn’t dashing enough, Lucy Steele wasn’t cunning enough (as Mags said), I wanted more of the grumpy Mr. Palmer that we got in S&S 95 with Hugh Laurie, and I thought Edward was supposed to be more of a milquetoast (though I guess it can’t be a true complaint to say that Dan Stevens’ portrayal was too delightful).

    I liked that this version showed Willoughby coming to Cleveland when Marianne is sick, like it does in the book, loved the period details, and the cinematography choices.

  50. NLP permalink
    April 8, 2008 5:49 pm

    To Robert Hardy: Liam Neeson; definitely very Liam Neeson.

  51. Maria L. permalink
    April 8, 2008 8:00 pm

    Liam Neeson yes, but he also reminds me of George Reeves (aka, Superman):

  52. Cinthia permalink
    April 9, 2008 1:12 pm

    Well, since I am in Latin America, I could not share the impressions at the same time with you (fortunately I had already seen it after it was broacasted in UK, thanks to the unofficial sources). But what I want to say now is this.

    It is my pleasure to inform that the S&S3 region 1 DVD has the complete version, 174 minutes in total, the same length that the region 2 DVD offers. My faith in BBC Video was not mistakenly placed.

    As for MAR, which is also included in the S&S3 region 1 DVD pack. I have seen it at last. I love it!!! It lasts a total of 85 minutes (I wish it were longer).

  53. Jen K permalink
    April 10, 2008 12:58 pm

    Cinthia – thank you for the DVD news! I am very glad to hear it.

    Mags – how could you leave out my favorite Mr. Palmerism? Oh, fine, just because it’s not yours too, whatEVER. Somehow I always end up reading this part on the train and always get everyone’s attention by laughing out loud:

    When they were seated in the dining room, Sir John observed with regret that they were only eight altogether.

    “My dear,” said he to his lady, “it is very provoking that we should be so few. Why did not you ask the Gilberts to come to us to-day?”

    “Did not I tell you, Sir John, when you spoke to me about it before, that it could not be done? They dined with us last.”

    “You and I, Sir John,” said Mrs. Jennings, “should not stand upon such ceremony.”

    “Then you would be very ill-bred,” cried Mr. Palmer.

    “My love, you contradict everybody,” said his wife with her usual laugh. “Do you know that you are quite rude?”

    “I did not know I contradicted anybody in calling your mother ill-bred.”

    SUPER-SNAP!

    As for the rest – de gustibus non est disputandum.

  54. Kerry permalink
    April 11, 2008 11:29 pm

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this version. I did roll my eyes a bit at the opening “sex” scene between Willoughby and Eliza, but that’s Mr. Davies for you isn’t it?

    Although I do love the Emma Thompson version, to me it plays as a straight up comedy and this version keeps the comic moments more on the back burner, which in some parts served the story better. I’m specifically thinking of Edward’s arrival at the end when it is revealed that he has not married Lucy. In the Thompson version that scene just makes me laugh, but in this version I was genuinely moved to tears by Elinor’s reaction and Edward’s forthcoming proposal.

    I also liked that this version revealed Willoughby as the cad that he is much more strongly than the Emma Thompson version did. When he comes to the house when Marianne is sick, you really get the sense that he is there more for himself than he is for her, which is what I always got out of that scene in the book. And I agree with whomever it was who said they liked the shortened scene in this as compared to the scene in the book. I also hate Elinor’s sympathy for the man in the book!

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