Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guestblog

I wrote my first guestblog this week! You can find it over at The Egalitarian Bookworm, which I read regularly. I actually wrote two posts for blog author Fellowette. The guestpost has me rather literally chewing over the scenery on the Little Dorrit miniseries currently airing on PBS. The other blog, which I will post below, were some general comments on Episode 4, which aired this past Sunday.

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Episode four of Little Dorrit, “In Which the Plot Continues to Build Just Like the Other Three Episodes So Far.” I started reading the book about the same time as the miniseries started airing. Last week was the first week I was ahead of the novel, and since I finished it last week, the interest is building to find out how Andrew Davies finishes up the story – his adaptation has been pretty faithful so far.

Some of the highlights of this week’s episode for me:

The “previous episode” montage – why in the world was the final clip of that montage the shot of Rigaud/Blandois barking? “Last week on Masterpiece Theatre: momentous event, touching moment, building mystery, summary of characters, swelling music, man barks like dog. End summary.”

Flora’s staircase groping – this was made even more hilarious just knowing that it is in the book as well. Doyce and Clennam

The amount of hat-wearing. I always judge the quality of a costume drama based on the amount of hat and bonnet-wearing. Poor quality versions (see: Billie Piper Mansfield Park) always have the heroine walking around in public without a bonnet on, yet if it was actually 1812/1825/1848/etc., any lady in public without a bonnet on was bound to be a total hussy. Of course, moments after I wrote “HATS. Good on the filmmakers” in my notebook, Little Dorrit showed up in scene without one on. The filmmakers were spared my hissy fit by having LD carrying her bonnet in her hands, but I remain skeptical.

I am uninitiated into the mysteries of the Anglican Church, but I thought Fanny and Sparkler’s wedding looked awfully big C Catholic to me. And I know that can’t possibly be right, because I read Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub so I know that all Protestant English people abroad search high and low for protestant clergy to make the marriages legit, right?

John Chivery’s visit to Dad Dorrit was fantastic. DD was threatening and remorseful and proud and predictably changeable (e.g., same old codger as always with a soupcon of fire poker), and Chivery was suitably terrified and bewildered. I cannot WAIT for him to show his stuff next episode (provided it goes similar to what happens in the book). But I have to say, having read the book and also a chapter from Christine Stansell’s book City of Women into which garish working class clothing plays an important historical role, I wish his waistcoat was a bit flashier.

Matthew Macfadyen’s acting – this, not so much because he had a lot to work with, particularly with L.D. so far away in Venice – but because I have been watching the first season of MI5 (Spooks) on PBS and am smitten with Macfadyen’s character Tom Quinn. I mean, I’ll be honest here: I thought he was a pretty bland Mr. Darcy, rather sullen and brattish, yet meek. Matthew Macfadyen is to blankface as Michael Emerson is to wide-eyed scheming. But watching him employ blankface as a spy softened me toward Macfadyen overall, so that watching Arthur Clennam this week meant I saw gentleness instead of confusion. You get to sort of watch thoughts wash over Clennam's face, without having a clue what he's thinking (unless you've read the book). It was an improvement in helping me appreciate Macfadyen's acting (although I still think Arthur has more spirit than Macfadyen gives him credit for - he was a little too tentative when he called Rigaud a scoundrel).

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