BBC literary adaptation Parade's End debuted in the UK last night to distinctly mixed reviews (critics loving it, viewers posting comments not so much). I can't comment myself, being trapped here in Canada unable to see it, but it is being hailed by critics as the "thinking man's Downton Abbey" or "Downton Abbey for grown-ups" the latter being partly in reference to the "two sex scenes in the first six minutes" according to the Daily Mail.
|Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall as Christopher and Sylvia Tietjens|
Parade's End is an adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's masterpiece tetralogy of novels by the same name and is a big budget lavish production starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, War Horse) and Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) with screenplay by Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) and directed by Susanna White (Bleak House, Jane Eyre). It is a tale of love and betrayal set in the Edwardian years leading up to WWI, a love triangle between a conservative English aristocrat, his heartless socialite wife and a young suffragette.
The supporting cast is just as impressive including Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Anne-Marie Duff, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Palmer to list just a few.
|Miss Fox, Mrs Wannop and Horsley|
With more depth in it's characters (and less likeability if I read the online comments correctly) it may be a little harder to love for those of us used to the fun fluffiness of Downton. However, if the critics are not leading us astray, it may be worth hanging in through the mumbled upper crust accents and choppy story line to follow this 5 episode miniseries to it's conclusion.
I'll update this post after the conclusion and then review it myself after it airs on this side of the pond on HBO (when that will be, I have no idea!).
|Australian actress Adelaide Clemens as Valentine the Suffragette|
The actress playing Valentine, part of the love triangle involving the two leads, is Aussie actress Adelaide Clemens who had to prove herself to get the part. Apparently she loved the books so much that she devoted herself to learn the upper crust English accent required for the role.
|Janet McTeer as Mrs. Satterthwaite|
Jane Austen fans will recognize Janet McTeer (Sense and Sensibility 2008) as Mrs. Satterthwaite, the mother of Sylvia Tietjens. Keep IMDb handy for this miniseries!
Well, here's hoping we get this one over the pond here in the not too distant future. Has anyone heard? Perhaps I have time to read the novels first. Not a bad idea actually. It might help with the supposedly mumbled dialogue!
P.S. Check out the comments below for how to find this online if you aren't in the UK. Apparently it will come to HBO sometime in 2013. Also a great link for an article about the books from The Guardian. I have the greatest readers! And after seeing the first episode on YouTube, I give it two thumbs up. Way up! And although you can't walk away from it for a moment (or you will miss something) I didn't find the dialogue hard to understand. Perhaps my ear is getting tuned to the accents after so many years.