Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lost in a Good Show

I saw the first part of a really fun show on Sunday - Lost in Austen. It's about a modern woman who loves Pride and Prejudice and other Austen books and who winds up going through a portal into P & P, landing at the start of the story. From there, things go...shall we say...awry?

I honestly didn't think I'd like it as much as I did. Of course, much depends on Darcy, and this Darcy was quite acceptable, unlike the Keira Knightley-starring version. I liked the actor who played Darcy, Matthew Macfadyen, but he's not anywhere near my idea of Darcy.

The Lost in Austen Darcy, Elliot Cowan, was, above all, suitably angular in feature and scowly in manner, so I was sold.

Immediately afterward came an adaptation of Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. This isn't a well known book of his, but I quite like it. Unfortunately, Dickens has a real problem writing women. They're not at all realistic, either angelic martyrs or really repressed villainesses. It's as if he never met or had a relationship with a normal woman. Maybe he didn't, or maybe this was just the Victorian view of womanhood - that we should be dutiful to the point of being invisible and completely self-sacrificing, or else something's seriously wrong with us.

This adaptation creates a more modern version of Amy. In this version she doesn't blindly worship her self-deluded, enabled father. She knows he's created a fantasy world that allows him to exploit her, yet she won't abandon him as his other children have done.

Matthew Macfadyen is much better cast as Arthur Clenham in Little Dorrit, the man Amy Dorrit falls in love with.

There's one other thing about this version of Little Dorrit - the relatively minor role of John Chivery, son of the keeper of the gate of the Marshalsea prison who will one day take over his father's place. He's completely in love with Amy Dorrit, who falls in love with Arthur. John is most excellently played by Russell Tovey and when he proposed? Oh, my heart broke for the poor guy! If I were writing this story, I'd have to give him a happy ending.

Here's what I'd do: At the end, he sounds rather like a love-lorn teenager suffering the first pangs of heartbreak. I'd have a young woman walk by and have young John do a double take. Young Woman glances back as if she's interested and John wanders after her.

I just want a hint that he's going to find love after all. As for Lost in Austen, I have no idea how that's going to end, and look forward to finding out.

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