Friday, December 26, 2014

Persuasion (1971 tv series)

I love the cardboard-set era British TV dramas.  Part of it, I'm sure, is nostalgia for Sunday nights spent watching (and, at the time anyway, not totally understanding) UK imports on Masterpiece Theater, and some, such as Upstairs, Downstairs are a bit campy when seen today.  Others, like the Ian Charmichael Lord Peter adaptations and I, Claudius stand up quite well.  Persuasion falls into a third category.  It's well acted in its stagey way, but has neither the transcendent performances of I, Claudius, the light wit of the Lord Peter mysteries, nor the high-quality suds seen in Upstairs, Downstairs.  Jane Austen's strength was skewering the more pompous (and gold-digging) members of country society, but this version of Persuasion takes even Sir Walter Elliot and his silly eldest and youngest daughters at face value, rather than letting us see the humor in their collective vanity.  It's this sort of reverential view of the cannon which turns people off the classics.  The series was very faithful to the book, so it can't be all bad, but in some places was almost as flat as the sets.

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