Preview of Death Comes to Pemberley on Masterpiece Mystery PBS

Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin in Death Comes to Pemberley

The long wait is almost over. The two part BBC/PBS mini-series of P. D. James’ bestselling novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, will premiere on Masterpiece Mystery in one week on Sunday, October 26 at 9pm (check your local listing) and concludes on the following Sunday, November 2.

To get you warmed up for this intriguing mystery that continues the story of Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice, here is a brief synopsis of the first episode and a trailer from PBS: Continue reading

Pride and Prejudice (1995) Mini-series – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my seventh selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are now closed for new participants, but you can join us in reading all the great reviews and comments until December 31, 2013.

My Review

Eighteen years after it first aired on BBC One in October 1995, the television mini-series Pride and Prejudice (1995) is still blowing bonnets off Janeites and wowing them in the aisles! This week in London a twelve foot statue replicating Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy’s famous wet shirt ascent from the Pemberley pond was revealed. Its super hero size seems apropos in relation to the impact that the mini-series had on Britain in 1995, in the US when it aired on A&E in 1996, and the world. If that was not eye-popping enough, the scene recently topped a poll of the ten most memorable British TV moments! We will be bold as brass and claim it as the most memorable TV moment in period drama evah!

Mr Darcy twelve foot statue (2013)

Wet shirt Darcy may have fluttered hearts across the world, but let us not forget that there are five hours and thirty nine other minutes to enjoy too. The screenplay based on Jane Austen’s 1813 novel was written by Andrew Davies and introduced a more energized and sexier version of the classic love story than viewers had previously experienced with the 1980 BBC mini-series or the 1940 MGM theatrical movie. It was a modernized Austen that purist detested, Janeites embraced, and the general public adored, converting millions into fans and launching the Austen renaissance that we are enjoying today. Continue reading

Pride and Prejudice (1980) Mini-series – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my fifth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013.

My Review:

I have been blogging about Jane Austen here at Austenprose for over five years and I have reviewed many books and movies, yet I have held off writing about the one that really turned me into a Jane Austen disciple—the 1980 BBC Pride and Prejudice. When something is close to our hearts we want to keep it in a special place, so my personal impressions of Fay Weldon’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s most popular novel has remained my own. In this bicentenary year, I think it is time for me to share.

It first aired in five (55) minute episodes on the BBC in the UK in 1979, and on US television on Masterpiece Theatre between October 26 and November 23, 1980. I was a great fan of Masterpiece and period drama and remember being quite excited to watch the new series. I was not disappointed in the first episode—in fact I was mesmerized—and watched the episode again when it aired again that week on PBS. Considering that in 1980 disco music was all the rage and Magnum P.I. and Three’s Company were the most popular television shows, you might understand why this anglophile was entranced by a series set in Regency England with beautiful costumes, country houses, sharp dialogue and swoon worthy romance. I was totally hooked and started reading the novel for the first time while the series aired. Continue reading

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Finale: Episodes 90-100

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

This week I am wrapping up my look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed watching these videos. They are light, bright and sparkling, just as Jane Austen describes Pride and Prejudice, yet they also have serious modern themes that are relevant today and make the story more accessible to younger generations.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Bing and Jane © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Jane and Bing (Episodes 90-92 & 95)

Bing comes back. He and Jane get a fresh start, yet Lizzie is still unhappy that Jane hasn’t made him beg her to take him back. Bing does try to make amends by bringing Jane snicker-doodle cookies (like she made him right after they broke up). Before their relationship really gets underway again, Jane gets a job offer from New York. Bing finds out about the job offer from Lizzie’s videos and seems hurt that Jane didn’t tell him herself. She was trying to spare both of them the pain that would be cause if he asked her to stay, yet Bing doesn’t ask Jane to stay. Instead he asks if he can go with her. He confesses that he quit medical school several months ago because he was so unhappy, so he too is looking to make a fresh start in NYC. Continue reading

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 85-89 and Domino Videos

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episode 85 Consequences © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

This week on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries I will be looking at episodes 85-89 and Gigi’s Domino videos. There was just too much to get through with the Lydia storyline to add in Jane and Bing, so I will save that for next week. These are emotionally packed videos, though a lot of the action happens off stage like it does in Pride and Prejudice.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Lydia discovers George's video © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Lydia

Lizzie rushes home from her internship at Pemberley Digital, Darcy’s Company, when Charlotte tells her about Lydia and George Wickham’s website. George videoed an intimate encounter between he and Lydia and sold it to a distribution company. The website was advertising the count-down to the release of the video. When Lizzie arrives home she thinks that Lydia knows about the website. It is only after she confronts Lydia that she reveals she had no idea about the site. Lydia stares at the website in horror and disbelief. She just keeps repeating, “This is a joke right?” Yet Lizzie knows it is no joke. George sold the tape without Lydia’s knowledge and never returns any of Lydia’s text, calls or tweets. Continue reading

A Closer Look at The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Episodes 77-84

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

From the desk of Virginia Claire Tharrington

There are only 8 videos this week of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but they are packed full of important information and plot developments. Here are some of the highlights and my take on them from these episodes.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Gigi and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Meeting Gigi Darcy:

Gigi Darcy, played by Allison Paige, is a pretty big departure from her character in Pride and Prejudice. In the novel Georgiana is EXTREMELY shy. In the LBD Gigi isn’t shy at all. She is fun and outgoing, even if a little inexperienced.  She becomes a tour guide for the day to show Lizzie around and then seems to be confused by the fact that she can’t leave a school group roaming around Pemberley Digital by themselves. Yet it is clear that she likes Lizzie and wants to be friends with her. I love that Gigi seeks out Lizzie and watches her videos. Lizzie is a little hesitant about Gigi since she is Darcy’s sister, but the two do get along well from the very beginning.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Darcy Meeting:

I am biased, but this is my favorite video in the series. The meeting at Pemberley is one my favorite chapters in the novel also because that scene is so perfectly awkward in my eyes that it makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. So little is said, as described by Jane Austen, and no lines are actually given between Lizzie and Darcy, yet every reader fills in the lines for themselves.

“As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also, and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road, which led behind it to the stables.

They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance, that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.

She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome.” (chapter 43)

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The LBD version of the meeting at Pemberley Digital is equally delightful and uncomfortable, but in different ways. Gigi instigates the meeting instead of it happening by chance. I see why the creators did this. Perhaps it was so that it could more easily happen on camera. Perhaps they wanted Gigi to take a more active role in brining the couple together. Either way—I like it. Gigi‘s scheming is good-natured and well meaning. She seems to know her brother and Lizzie better than they know themselves because she sees that they are compatible. Gigi is able to give Lizzie and Darcy a second chance at getting to know each other and seeing each other in a better light. Gigi also seems to have a partner in crime for her scheming… Fitz! Check out their tweets to each other. They are adorable.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Bing and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Bing–Boring—Lee:

Bing and Lizzie have some AWKWARD conversations. She seems semi-hostile to him and he seems like a sad puppy that is looking for some sort of consolation. Either way this is not my favorite part of the series. Bing also looks like he has been constantly crying because his eyes look red. Lizzie makes the remark “he is a med student… shouldn’t he be in class at least some of the time?” Overall I was totally bored by the Bing videos especially when compared to the other videos from this section. Bing without Jane=Dull… he should figure that out SOON.

Gigi’s Story:

Gigi decides to tell Lizzie what happened with George Wickham on the videos. Lizzie tells her she doesn’t have to, but Gigi insists. Wickham took advantage of Gigi when she was in school and became her swim coach. They started a relationship and Wickham moved in with her. Wickham’s motives seem to have been revenge on Darcy and to get money from him, or at least to mooch off Gigi for a while.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Gigi and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This is a particularly powerful episode since the story comes from Gigi herself instead of from her brother. Gigi explains her vulnerability when she says, “He said he needed me.” She was doped by George and taken in by his lies and promises. She dreamed that George really loved her and that she could convince her brother that their love was real. Darcy proved her wrong when George left so easily because of a check from Darcy. Gigi says she was drawn to Lizzie because nothing she said about Darcy comes close to what she has said about him to his face. She ends her story by telling Lizzie, “He [Darcy] really takes care of those that he cares about.” Gigi gives us a new perspective on Darcy and on George so that we can begin to see both of their true characters.

Lizzie and Darcy Development:

Lizzie, Darcy and Gigi spend the weekend sightseeing in San Francisco, and while there isn’t a video blog about their exploits there are their tweets!

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: San Francisco montage © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship seems to blossom while she is visiting Pemberley, but since she knows he and sister watch the videos, she does not give much personal feedback on how she is feeling about their changing relationship. I understand why she couldn’t/wouldn’t post a video with commentary about her time at Pemberley and her actual thoughts about Darcy and Gigi, but I do wish we could have a little more.

Lizzie interviews Darcy, as the head of Pemberley, about his company, but he actually turns the conversation to be about her video diaries. He complements them and Lizzie. Then they have an interesting discussion about the costume theater and whether it is mocking or not. Both Lizzie and Darcy say that they have been too quick to judge others, and they are now trying to see things from other people’s perspective. This is a wonderful video that shows both Lizzie and Darcy’s growth and how they are becoming more comfortable with each other. Darcy REALLY lightens up when he impersonates Fitz in the costume theater. It is wonderful!

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Bad News:

And then to the bad news… Lizzie gets a new phone because her old one has been messing up so much, so she has not been able to talk to Charlotte for a day or so. When her new phone finally finishes authorizing she sees that she has 7 missed calls from Charlotte. Darcy is with her because he came to ask her to the theater that night for a date. She says she would be happy to go… BUT, then she gets the news about Lydia. She had no idea Lydia was dating George because she has not been watching her videos and has not talked to her sister since Christmas. Lizzie blames herself. She says, “I could have prevented this.” She is upset and frazzled, but Darcy steps in and tries to calm her down. He is level headed and offers to get her home right away and to send her stuff along after she leaves. Lizzie is grateful and says thanks, but she does seem very uncertain of what the future holds.

Image from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Darcy and Lizzie © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Overall the Pemberley episodes are my favorite. We meet Gigi who is a wonderful addition and a great modern take on the character of Georgiana. We see Lizzie and Darcy getting to know each other again and starting to like each other, and we see how they handle themselves in a crisis. We can really see the chemistry between Darcy and Lizzie in these videos since they are together so much more. There are several episodes where they both look at each other and the looks on their faces are just BRILLIANT!!!

Next Week, episodes 85-92, and Gigi’s Domino Videos

Awesome Links:

Images courtesy © 2013 The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; text © 2013 Virginia Claire Tharrington