Wow I finished this one much faster than I thought! I guess that’s what happens when you don’t sleep. No, I didn’t watch it all the way through. But I watched a couple episodes Monday night, yesterday morning, and again last night.
This is not my favorite P&P (I have perhaps an irrational love for 2005) but it has a lot going for it. It does change a few things from the book (all adaptations do) but I feel it remained true to the spirit throughout. It’s much more under-stated and “low-key” than the other adaptations- no real sexed up scenes or over the top caricatures. It’s biggest strength, IMO, is its cast, who are almost all close to the book characters’ ages and descriptions. The biggest negative is the low production values of the time, which is just something one has to get used to.
Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet
The closest to the book Elizabeth of all I’ve seen. She’s close to the right age (and looks it) and looks physically how I pictured an active Elizabeth. She is sweet and arch and intelligent. She tends to judge people by “first impressions” in the beginning but realizes her mistakes. She’s youthful and playful but not as fiery or passionate as some other actresses. One thing I didn’t like was her run to Pemberley…stretching it a bit! I guess it never mentioned the (5 mile!) distance in this version so it’s a little better but still too much, IMO!
David Rintoul as Fitzwilliam Darcy
Some have criticized him of being stiff or even “robotic” but I think he’s the closest to the book Darcy. He actually smiles quite a bit (as in the book!) and is haughty and proud. It’s easy to see that Lizzie doesn’t understand him or his paying attention to her- it’s not obvious he’s attracted to her. He become much more animated at the end after his successful proposal which is a nice contrast!
Sabina Franklyn as Jane Bennet
While not exactly gorgeous, she was quite pretty and sweet. She and Elizabeth really looked like sisters in this one (most of the Bennet girls did, which I appreciated). She’s not my favorite Jane but I did like her in the role.
Osmund Bullock as Charles Bingley
While not the most handsome actor to have played this part, he’s probably my favorite. He’s good-natured and a bit impulsive and a bit too easily led by those close to him, but he’s no buffoon as some other adaptations have made him out to be! Much more believable as a close, respected friend of Mr. Darcy.
Moray Watson as Mr. Bennet
This version makes no attempt to “water down” Mr. Bennet. In fact, I think they made him even worse than in the book! A lot of the times he doesn’t even bother to use sarcasm to hide the fact that he’s insulting his wife and younger daughters. He yells a bit and can be pretty nasty. I’m really not fond of Mr. Bennet (a lazy, selfish husband and father, no matter how quick-witted he is or how much he likes Lizzy), so this does not bother me.
Priscilla Morgan as Mrs. Bennet
She’s silly and annoying but not too over the top! You could see hints of what Mr. Bennet fell for all those years ago. I like all Mrs. Bennets, really, with one exception (I’ll get to that one next). She was great.
Tessa Peake-Jones as Mary Bennet
She looks a bit too cute under those glasses in this pic but otherwise she was good as Mary. A horrible singer and constantly spouting philosophic nonsense. One thing I didn’t understand was moving her disastrous performance and having Mrs. Bennet tell her to stop…????
Clare Higgins as Catherine “Kitty” Bennet
The odd one out of the Bennets. She resembles Jane and Lizzy at least, but she looks about 10 years older than all of them, for some reason. I suppose they couldn’t all be good…
Natalie Ogle as Lydia Bennet
A silly, frivolous, selfish teenager, just like the book Lydia. Much better than Kitty, that’s for sure!
Malcolm Rennie as William Collins
He did look a bit older than 25 (why most adaptations make Mr. Collins middle-aged is beyond me) but otherwise fit the description of Mr. Collins in the book- tall and heavyset. He was stupid and pompous and obnoxious and a slave to Lady Catherine. And he didn’t creep me out at all.
Peter Settelen as George Wickham
He was good-looking and charming enough and not an obvious creep. I could see why Elizabeth was fooled by him.
Marsha Fitzalan as Caroline Bingley
Quite haughty and more proud of herself than she should be. Wore reasonably nice, fashionable clothing (given that the costuming of this version isn’t anything special) , unlike another Miss Bingley…
Irene Richards as Charlotte Lucas
I loved her much more in this than as Elinor Dashwood. She was pragmatic and yet warm and friendly. If only she could have put that warmth into her S&S role as well…
Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh
This is a younger, more active Lady Catherine than in other adaptations. She is quite the busybody, lecturing everyone on everything and her way is always the right way. You easily believed that she would make the 50 mile trip to Longbourn just to tell off Elizabeth.
Emma Jacobs as Georgiana Darcy
She doesn’t have as much of a presence as the 1995 or 2005 Georgianas but that’s probably truer to the book. I can’t even remember if the book Georgiana has any lines! She is sweet and very shy.
Michael Lees and Barbara Shelley as the Gardiners
THIS is how I pictured the Gardiners in the book! All the other actors to portray them have been good enough, but these are the only pair who actually looked fashionable. In 1995, Mrs. Gardiner especially was dressed quite dowdily for some reason and in 2005 they gave them a different look altogether.
Most of the rest of the cast was good as well. Colonel Fitzwilliam was nice but not handsome (I find the 1995 Colonel Fitzwilliam drool-worthy!), the Hursts are snobs but Mr. Hurst is not exaggerated like in 1995 (however funny he was). And they made Anne de Bourgh quite a helpless creature. She appears to be afraid of her mother and even reaches out to Elizabeth when the latter is leaving, which was an interesting choice:
Anne Reaches out to Elizabeth
This version, even though it changes some things around and adds and cuts a few scenes, keeps others that no other adaptation has (unless it’s one of those older ones that are not available to the public!). I especially like the scene after the second proposal where Darcy and Elizabeth discuss their attraction to each other and when it began. That’s one of my favorite scenes in the book and it always disappoints me that the others don’t include it!
As with all the older adaptations, if dated, stagey production values turn you off, you probably won’t like this version. But if you can look past that, I think you will really like it like I do! But I really have to say, I like all the adaptations of S&S and P&P that I’ve seen. They’re all flawed in their one ways but have more good than bad, on the whole. For the adaptations of the other books, this is not so.
My Rating: 8/10