~No. 8 - Sense and Sensibility 2008~
Believe it or not, before this year's Emma, the BBC had made only two Austen miniseries in the last 26 years. With the exception of the sublime Persuasion (which is actually a movie, not a TV series), I don't think that Austen is something that the BBC do particularly well - not in recent years, anyway - which is ironic, considering how much we tend to associate the BBC with Jane Austen. By far the majority of the recent Jane Austen movies have in fact come from Hollywood, and British TV network ITV.
Sense and Sensibility was the BBC's first attempt at Jane Austen for TV since P&P 1995. Expectations were running high, though S&S did get a little lost amidst all the other Austen adaptations that were aired in the same few months during 2007/08. The first time I saw it, I was frankly very disappointed! I think a lot of Janeites were. It took a while for this new S&S to "grow" on me - as documented here, where you can read my in-depth comparison of the two S&Ss - but after a few re-watches, I came to appreciate S&S 08 in its own right.
The great strength of this adaptation is the casting of Elinor and of Edward. Hattie Morahan in particular is wonderful as Elinor. But on the other hand, Dominic Cooper and Charity Wakefield were decidedly miscast as Willoughby and Marianne! Dominic Cooper wasn't so bad, though physically he doesn't look the part, but Charity Wakefield's performance really irritated me at times.
The duplicitous Lucy Steele (Anna Madeley)
Perhaps in an attempt to make the show more "modern" and "accessible" *suppresses heavy groan*, she seemed to play Marianne as an angsty, immature teenage girl. Yes, Marianne is supposed to be a bit immature, but Charity just didn't seem to me to capture the depth and sweetness of Marianne's personality. :-/ Honestly though, her portrayal of Marianne wasn't terrible, certainly not bad enough to spoil the series for me. But it was the one thing that grated against me in this adaptation.
David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon was very good. The supporting cast were bit of a mixed bag. I thought the Ferrars, the Miss Steeles, and the John Dashwoods were very well done; but Mrs. Dashwood, Mrs. Jennings, and Sir John Middleton didn't seem quite right. Mr. Palmer was also disappointing - but then, nobody is ever going to come close to Hugh Laurie's hilarious Mr. Palmer in S&S 95. ;-)
The script is good, but not Andrew Davies' strongest. Most of the irony and wit of the novel is nowhere to be found. Some of the dialogue seemed a bit too clunky and "dumbed down".
The series is very pretty to look at, no doubt about that. The scenery is stunning, with a score to match by Martin Phipps. The costume department went for a subtle gothic look in many of Elinor's outfits, which are mostly very beautiful. I wasn't so keen on Marianne's gowns - too many pastel shades. . . I don't like pastels.
Okay, I'd better stop rambling. In a nutshell, it's a refreshing new take on Sense and Sensibility - well worth watching and re-watching.
Lucy Boynton was delightful as Margaret Dashwood