Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's a Masterpiece Classic!


While looking over Masterpiece Theatre's website the above photo took my notice because it not only features the familiar sight of Judi Dench in Cranford garb but also because of Ramola Garai looking lovely as our newest Emma. The link brought me to this page which announces these new adaptations.

"The retelling of a Masterpiece favorite and the sequel of another will premiere in early 2010 on Masterpiece classic."

Emma 2010
"Romola Garai (Atonement, Daniel Deronda), Michael Gambon and Jonny Lee Miller star in an all-new four-hour adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma."
Nothing new here but I do wonder at them describing Mr. Woodhouse as an "affectionate, neurotic father" and Mr. Knightley as a "shrewd and attractive neighbor". The also call this adaptation "fresh and funny" which I'm tending to agree with. Have I mentioned I can't wait to see Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley, I have decided he will be just delightful!

Cranford 2
"More great change is set for the small Cheshire town of Cranford in Cranford 2, a 3-hour program featuring many of the beloved original cast..."
So they are officially calling this new adaptation Cranford 2, rather boring but to the point. "Cranford 2 picks up the story in 1844." And I look forward with delight to see how the old characters have changed and what the new characters add to the story.

The main reason I was looking over the website is that Masterpiece Theatre just finished airing what they called "Six by Agatha" part of their Masterpiece Mystery which included six new adaptation of Agatha Christie books. One reason I enjoy these new adaptations are because of the number of great period actors and actresses who star in them - I'll mention some as I go.

Hercule Poirot
The series began with two new adaptations starring the incomparable David Suchet as the quick witted little Belgium detective. I absolutely adore Hercule Poirot and Mr. Suchet has such a great sense of who Poirot is (as evident through this exclusive interview) and in my opinion he's only getting better with time.
These new stories are highly recommended, and here's a bit about them:

Cat Among the Pigeons
"Something is amiss at Meadowbank School for Girls, where hidden rubies, kidnapping, and murder disrupt the term."

Period sightings:
  • Harriet Walter (Sense & Sensibility 1996, Little Dorrit, Marple: Sleeping Murder, The Young Victoria, I always recoginize her voice first because I adored her reading of Jane Austen's Lady Susan on audiobook)
  • Claire Skinner (Catherine Cookson's The Wingless Bird, Sleepy Hallow, Marple: A Murder Is Announced, Sense & Sensibility 2008, Lark Rise to Candleford)
  • Georgie Glen (Wives & Daughters, Daniel Deronda, Amazing Grace)
  • Natasha Little (Vanity Fair 2004, Vanity Fair 1998 as Becky Sharp)
  • Elizabeth Berrington (The Moonstone, Nanny McPhee)
  • Pippa Haywood (Marple: Ordeal by Innocence, Lost in Austen)
  • Jane How (Miss Potter, Daniel Deronda, and another Little Princess adaptation)

Mrs. McGinty's Dead
"A man is about to hang for a brutal murder. But did he do it? After learning about 30-year-old homicides, Poirot concludes a ghost from the past has returned."

Period sightings:
  • Amanda Root (Persuasion, Daniel Deronda, The Forsyte Saga, Jane Eyre 1996)
  • ZoĆ« Wanamaker (as Agatha Christie's alter-ego Ariadne Oliver in Poirot: Third Girl and Poirot: Cards on the Table, The Old Curiosity Shop 2007, David Copperfield 1999)
  • Joe Absolom (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall)
  • Richard Hope (The Forsyte Saga)
  • Simon Shepherd (Poirot: The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan, Wuthering Heights 1992, Miss Marple: A Murder Is Announced 1985)

Marple: Series IV
Staring Julia Mackenzie these four new adaptations are full of life, exquisite color, lovely costumes and settings, and are fast paced but they are generally disappointing and what I would call so close by rather unlike Agatha Christie. A bit about each episode is below.
Julia McKenzie is lovely in person but her costumes are only tweed suits and one black evening gown. She's not really a doddering old lady but rather the script writes her as smart and right on top of the case and always one step ahead of the police and often telling them what they should do - not quite the Miss Marple of the novels.
Julia McKenzie herself can be found in several period dramas including: Cranford, Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, Adam Bede 1991, and The Old Curiosity Shop 1995, I also loved her as Mrs. Allen in the BBC Northanger Abbey radio play

A Pocket Full of Rye
"A killer who seems obsessed with a nursery rhyme commits a string of murders. Miss Marple and a local detective (Matthew Macfadyen) join forces to investigate."

Period Sightings:

  • Matthew Macfadyen - who my sis loves in P&P and said looked weird with a mustache (Pride & Prejudice 2005, Little Dorrit 2009, Wuthering Heights 1998, The Way We Live Now)
  • Rupert Graves (The Forsyte Saga, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, A Room with a View 1985)
  • Lucy Cohu (Becoming Jane, The Real Jane Austen 2002 TV Documentary, Rebecca 1997, Poirot: The Chocolate Box)
  • Prunella Scales (ITV Emma 1996, The Hound of the Baskervilles 1978, Pride and Prejudice 1952, Howard's End)
  • Kenneth Cranham (Oliver!, Tess of the D'Urberville 2008, Pollyanna 2003, Our Mutual Friend, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Lady Windermere's Fan 1985)
  • Hattie Morahan (Elinor Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility 2008)
  • Anna Madeley (Sense & Sensibility 2008, The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton)
  • Joseph Beattie (Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park 2007)
  • Ben Miles (The Forsyte Saga, Under the Greenwood Tree, Lark Rise to Candleford)
  • Paul Brooke (Oliver Twist 2005, The Phantom of the Opera, The Prince and the Pauper 2000, The Moonstone 1996, Adam Bede 1991, Agatha 1979, Daniel Deronda 1970)
  • Edward Tudor-Pole (Oliver Twist 2007, Henry VIII 2003, Princess Caraboo, The Secret Garden 1987)
  • Chris Larkin (Jane Eyre 1996)
  • Ken Campbell (Alice in Wonderland 1999, Middlemarch 1994)

Murder Is Easy
"Miss Marple investigates a string of "accidents" after a woman on a train tells her about murders in a local village. Benedict Cumberbatch co-stars."

Period Sightings:
  • Benedict Cumberbatch - who I so enjoyed watching and inspired me to wish he was an Austen hero (The Other Boleyn Girl, Amazing Grace)
  • Anna Chancellor (Poirot: The Chocolate Box, Princess Caraboo, Pride and Prejudice 1995, FairyTale: A True Story, The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton, The Real Jane Austen 2002 TV Documentary)
  • Lyndsey Marshal (The Shadow in the North, Poirot: Cards on the Table, The Young Visiters)
  • Shirley Henderson (The Way We Live Now)
  • Steve Pemberton (The Old Curiosity Shop 2007, Under the Greenwood Tree, Poirot: Death on the Nile)
  • Jemma Redgrave (Mansfield Park 2007, Howards End)
  • Hugo Speer (Bleak House as Sergeant George)
  • Russell Tovey (Little Dorrit, Poirot: Evil Under the Sun)
  • Stephen Churchett (has played Coroner in three Marple adaptations and is the writer for 6 Marple scripts)

They Do It with Mirrors
"During rehearsal for an amateur show a murder occurs, and Miss Marple must decipher the elaborate conjuring trick played by the killer. Joan Collins co-stars."

Period Sightings:

  • Elliot Cowan (Lost in Austen, The Ruby in the Smoke, Poirot: Taken at the Flood)
  • Emma Griffiths Malin (Poirot: Death on the Nile, The Forsyte Saga: To Let)
  • Penelope Wilton (Pride & Prejudice 2005, Victoria & Albert 2001, Wives and Daughters, Alice Through the Looking Glass 1998)
  • Tom Payne (Wuthering Heights 2009 as Linton)
  • Alex Jennings (Cranford, Poirot: Cards on the Table, Hard Times 1994)
  • Sarah Smart (Poirot: Mrs McGinty's Dead, Wuthering Heights 1998)
  • Maxine Peake (Little Dorrit, The Way We Live Now)

Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
"The last words of a dying man lead the sole witness and a socialite to investigate. Miss Marple joins them as they land in a hotbed of homicide and intrigue."

Period Sightings:
  • Samantha Bond (Lark Rise to Candleford, ITV's Emma 1996, Poirot: The Adventure of the Cheap Flat, Miss Marple: A Murder Is Announced 1985, Mansfield Park 1983)
  • Richard Briers (Peter Pan 2003, Victoria & Albert 2001, Hamlet 1996, Much Ado About Nothing, and among many other wonderful things!)
  • Warren Clarke (Bleak House 2005, Our Mutual Friend 1976)
  • Mark Williams (Sense & Sensibility 2008, and some other lovely non period films)
  • Rafe Spall (A Room with a View 2007 as George Emerson)
  • I'll also add Sean Biggerstaff, Georgia Moffett and Natalie Dormer three young actors who were lovely and I hope to see more of them in period dramas.

So this post took longer than I thought it would, almost the whole of my day off working on it bit by bit. Remind me that looking up actors, though fun, is just a waste of time! :)
In other news I'm expecting a whole bunch of period film DVDs in the mail tomorrow, I was very frivilous but what are you going to do with all the birthday money?

Hope you're having a lovely week and that it's as sunny where you are as it is here!


1 comment:

Paula said...

Dear Laurie,

Thank you for sharing all of this. I am looking forward to the new Emma and was thrilled to hear there is going to be a Cranford 2!

Happy belated Birthday to you sweet one! I love the verses you shared!!!

The sweet wood is incredibly gorgeous! God's creation is so beautiful! I love the quotes you shared.

Have a blessed weekend!
Love, Paula

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