Masterpiece Theatre Disappoints

Most of you need not be informed of my obsession with Jane Austen’s works. I have read all of them numerous times and seen almost every TV adaptation out there. Now, to my delight, there are a few new versions coming out.

PBS is doing a Jane Austen marathon of sorts, playing all the newest TV adaptations of her classic novels. For this purpose, Masterpiece Theater has produced new versions of Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey, among others. BBC produced a new, and much needed, adaptation of Persuasion, as well. They are airing on PBS every Sunday for the next couple of months. (I noticed that they didn’t even attempt reproduce Pride & Prejudice that A&E, BBC did over ten years ago now. Can you improve on that?! I think not.)

I tuned in to see Masterpiece’s Mansfield Park on Sunday night. Cass and I got comfortable on the couch, eating popcorn and crochetting my latest baby blanket. What I have seen thus far of Masterpiece Theatre (Jane Eyre, Northanger Abbey) have been quite impressive, so I had high hopes for Mansfield Park. At the very least, I believed they wouldn’t butcher the storyline.

I was sorely disappointed.

Perhaps their most fatal error was trying to cram 412 pages of literary genius into less than 90 minutes. Or perhaps it was the fact that Fanny, the main character of Austen’s novel, is something of a side character in this latest adaptation, with only a few screen appearances and even fewer speeches (certainly nowhere near Mr. Rushworth’s “two and forty”). Or perhaps, even more aggravating, was their apparent lack of research into the social decorum of the day. Fanny and Edmund began waltzing at the end of the movie (a dance that had yet to become acceptable to most of society and would certainly never have been learned by these two). Lady Bertram wore a hat in her own home, and Fanny’s hair was shoulder length and worn down the entire movie. Every feeling revolts!

Someone obviously didn’t consult the Jane Austen Handbook. Or any historical source for that matter.

There was little to no character development, with people’s personalities being stated rather than shown. Mix this with some bad acting and poor scripting and you have one TV adaptation I would not recommend, I am sorry to say.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Jenna on January 30, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Very disappointing INDEED. I shall steer clear of them. Quite sorry you had to suffer through it!


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