This new murder mystery sequel to Pride and Prejudice aired December 26-28, 2013 on BBC in three episodes. I received the book by P.D. James for Christmas and had hoped to read it first, but the opportunity to view this miniseries proved too tempting to resist! While there is a murder theme and a part of the plot includes and adulterous theme, there is only one scene that is a bit inappropriate. If you decide to watch it on YouTube like I did then I can tell you exactly where in the video the bad scene(s) are. Although not capturing the real P&P in some ways, this was a very fun period drama and is a very hopefully sign that Jane Austen related films will continue to be made! I did really enjoy Death Comes To Pemberley (2013) and it will be added to my DVD collection as soon as it is made available in the USA.
One thing that was a bit harder to like was some scenes that flashed back to happenings from Pride and Prejudice; the costumes and hairstyles used in those were more Georgian and they didn't use direct quotes all the time. It was a bit of a miss for me because direct quotes could have easily been used. These scenes are easier to take if you think of them as perhaps the characters' faulty memories of previous events.
Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth Bennet Darcy - Because this is a more serious themed story there is not as much opportunity for Elizabeth's wit to come out but it does on a few glorious occasions. Her quick opinion, sharp mind and love of walking through mud are very evident. Anna Maxwell Martin is not the Elizabeth we all want but she is such a remarkable actress that she is fascinating to watch on screen and I couldn't help cheering over seeing her finally portray a Jane Austen heroine. Next stop Anne Elliot!
Matthew Rhys as Fitzwilliam Darcy - Very fatherly and kind, honorable, gentlemanly, noble. But as the same time the murder investigation makes him overprotective of Pemberley and the Darcy reputation. He becomes distant to Elizabeth and the viewer as he slips back into being the prideful and rather secretive Darcy from the beginning of P&P and not the changed, more open Darcy of the novel's end. Matthew Rhys actually looks better as Darcy than I had expected, and is definitely worlds better than the dark and evil Mr. Jasper he was in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012). And this Darcy does smile quite a bit!
Matthew Goode as George Wickham - A perfect choice for Wickham with his dark good looks and charm but also capturing Wickham's greed and selfishness. Matthew Goode captured Wickham amazingly well and was so believeable that you really do start to hate Wickham all over again. In the story Mr. Wickham is not only accused of murder but a good deal of other misconducts too, the trick is finding out which ones are true! It was great to see this period drama actor in another similar role and one that took a great deal of skill to pull off exceedingly well.
Jenna Coleman as Lydia Bennet Wickham - Finally, Doctor Who meets Jane Austen! Well, not really but having a Doctor Who companion play an Austen character may be the closest the Whovian-Janeites get. ;) In a word Jenna Coleman was horrid as Lydia, absolutely horrid! And by horrid I mean that she so perfectly captured Lydia that I found her as absolutely irritating as in P&P! Her pretty looks, annoying voice and total careless attitude to what anyone else thinks were perfect for Elizabeth's wild younger sister. Jenna was perfectly horrid! :)
Eleanor Tomlinson as Georgiana Darcy - Although not quite as pretty as some might expect, this Georgiana is noble, kind and sweet. She has grown wiser and a bit bolder perhaps but still retains her strength of character. In this story she finds two suitors vying for her hand and a little romance story ensues. She is truly a good friend and help to Elizabeth and Darcy. Her story ends not quite how we Janeites might expect but overall it is a very interesting part of the miniseries.
Rebecca Front as Mrs. Bennet - She doesn't quite look like Mrs. Bennet, especially as the style she wears are more Georgian in looks, but in all other respects Rebecca Front completely captures Mrs. Bennet. Nervy, gossipy, hypochondriac, selfish, careless of scandal, all these are the Mrs. Bennet we expect and recieve. Like the Lydia and Wickham actors, Rebecca Front is so perfect in her role that you can't help but find her highly irritating!
James Fleetwood as Mr. Bennet - Wonderful to see this actor in another period drama role but unfortunately he stutters and seems weak next to his wife, instead of being the dry witted critical thinker of the book. There are a few excellent scenes of him enjoying Pemberley's library or joking with Elizabeth, but overall he is too much like Frederick Dorrit and doesn't stand out as boldly as Mr. Bennet should.
Tom Ward as Colonel Fitzwilliam - Though noble, kind and gentlemanly this version of Colonel Fitzwilliam is also prideful, aristocratic, abrupt, overprotective and secretive. The portrayal of this character was the biggest fail of the miniseries for me. I really like the friendly, witty, kind, upbeat Colonel Fitzwilliam of the book and while I understand how this very different version fits into this story it was difficult to see him so much changed. Also Tom Ward didn't look much like the Colonel to me. It might have been better to have him be a different Fitzwilliam brother because he certainly wasn't the Colonel from the book.
Joanna Scanlan as Mrs. Reynolds - She was surprisingly a bit younger looking that would seem right for a the Pemberley housekeeper who is supposed to have known Mr. Darcy since he was born. She keeps the household running quite smoothly and is Elizabeth's right hand woman on every occasion. Mrs. Reynolds is a very likeable character although she could have been a bit more talkative and a bit older.
Penelope Keith as Lady Catherine de Bourgh - Perfectly aristocratic, haughty and prideful of the family name. Penelope Keith looked and talked the part but she has the uncanny ability to make Elizabeth look a bit childish and Lady Catherine seem to speak complete sense. Given her lines from P&P I think she would have been perfect but here the scene is short and goes by very quickly.
Tom Canton as Captain Denny - The murder victim and there's some question as to whether he is a good guy or a bad guy. It is interesting to see this character come back from the novel and still be friends with the Wickhams. The actor did a good job of adding life (and death) to a fairly faceless character.
Alexandra Moen as Jane Bennet Bingley - When Elizabeth needs a little bit of gentle counsel Jane is on hand to give some sisterly advice. She is blond, sweet and sensible but perhaps does not think so well of people as she does in the book. She does help get Lydia and Mrs. Bennet away from Pemberley for a while for which we and Elizabeth both heartily thank her! Mr. Bingley does not make an appearance and little if anything is said of their having any children.
Trevor Eve as Sir Selwyn Hardcastle - The magistrate and investigator in the case who has some bad feelings toward the Darcy family. He is a rough and rather hard man but he gets to the truth in the end. His character is often disheveled and shows the gritty side of the Regency period.
James Norton as Henry Alverston - A friend of the Darcy family who is a lawyer and a bit of a radical thinker. Henry's interest in Georgiana is very sweet but it is hard to tell whether he is always acting in the family's best interest.
Philip Martin Brown as Mr. Bidwell - The proud old coachman who must make way for new younger men to take his place. His family has served the Darcys for generations and he is very disappointed that his son Will is too sick to take his place as coachman.
Jennifer Hennessey as Mrs. Bidwell - His wife, a kind and gentle woman.
Lewis Rainer as Will Bidwell - Mr. Bidwell's son who is very ill and nearing his last. Elizabeth visits their cottage to lend Will books like Robinson Crusoe!
Nichola Burley as Louisa Bidwell - Mr. Bidwell's daughter who is pretty and sweet. She and her mother care for her sister's young son George.
Kevin Eldon as Doctor McFee - A physician of great courage who besides examining the victim must tend to the hard task of settling Mrs. Bennet's and Lydia's nerves! There are a few rather funny scenes involving him, a very clever actor!
Mariah Gale as Mysterious Lady - A phantom lurks in Pemberley woods - is she the ghost of a disgruntled employee, the murderer's assistant or something worse?
Stephen Casey as Reverend Oliphant - Local minister who assists the Darcys when scandal threatens their family name. I found him to be quite a funny character but also a brave one as he helps uncover who the true murderer is.
Have you seen Death Comes To Pemberley (2013)?
Based on my review would you like to watch it if you haven't already?
P.S. If you plan to watch Death Comes To Pemberley on YouTube I can give you specifics on where the questionable scenes are.
P.P.S. I am organizing some lovely screencaps I downloaded from sns_red_curtain and hope to update this post with a bunch of different pictures including photos of each character!