Part I: Sense and Sensibility, cont’d

Tonight I finished watching S&S81, starring Irene Richard as Elinor and Tracey Childs as Marianne.  Irene Richard will be familiar to fans of P&P80 because she plays Charlotte Lucas in that adaptation.  I’d said the other day that I preferred Ciaran Madden to Tracey Childs.  I may have said that because it’s been years since I’d last seen this adaptation, and had seen S&S71 twice since that last time, but I am more than happy to say that I have changed my mind.  Unlike Madden, Childs is the right age for the part (she was born in 1963 so she was around 17 when S&S81 was made), she’s very pretty and she does not get quite as hysterical as Madden.  Watching her say good-bye to the trees and grass at Norland is always entertaining, but it’s not as out-and-out bizarre as watching Madden say good-bye to the curtains.

If certain scenes from S&S81 sound familiar, it’s because they are.  This adaptation was written in part by Denis Constanduros — who wrote S&S71 and was also affiliated with Emma72 — and he seems to have copied-and-pasted entire pages of dialogue from one script to the other.  And, just as there were scenes in S&S71 that made me scratch my head, there are scenes here that do too.  One such scene in this miniseries is when Sir John Middleton tells the Dashwoods in Edward’s presence that the Miss Steeles are arriving for a visit at Barton Park.  There is another “huh?!?!” moment later on, when Lucy comes to visit Elinor in London the day after the dinner party at John and Fanny’s and Edward shows up.  In this adaptation, Elinor leaves the room to fetch Marianne, and we see Lucy and Edward alone.  I found this scene to be very awkward, and it certainly does not happen in the book.  The ending is very abrupt, and I was not impressed with Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne are practically rolling on the floor laughing when Edward tells them that Lucy and Robert have gone off and married.  And, for any P&P95 fangirls who are reading this, I am sure they will be most displeased to know that Colonel Brandon comes to Marianne’s bedroom during her recovery and they are left alone with the door closed.  I hope you don’t need any vinaigrette for those vapors that are likely afflicting you.  😉

Once again, I liked this adaptation more than I had in the past.  I thought Richard and Childs and Robert Swann (as Brandon) gave fine performances, and the secondary characters are also rather well done (Fanny Dashwood’s hysterics when she learns of Lucy and Edward’s engagement are particularly hilarious).  But this Edward (played by a man with the unfortunate name of Bosco Hogan) didn’t make much of an impression me.  Maybe that’s because I am less than a week removed from seeing Robin Ellis in the role and I just loved his performance.  I had problems with Willoughby in part because he looked like he was wearing eyeliner.  Call me superficial, but I just found that way too distracting.

So, to wrap up this review, I recommend S&S81 to anyone who loves the book and is willing to overlook the sorry production values.

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