Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Adaptation Consideration

I had time to kill last night, between finishing “game night” (came in a strong second at “London” and kicked Mike’s ass at “Stone Age”, hah!) and starting on some client work, and didn’t feel like being On The Computer. So I put in the first disc of my recently-acquired set of the BBC/A&E “The Scarlet Pimpernel”.

Now, I’d last watched the show when it first aired back in the late 1990s and remembered (vaguely) that it was a cheesy, breezy little adventure yarn. You know what? It still is, and it hasn’t aged as poorly as I might have expected. Richard E. Grant is still a brilliant lead, playing the Bruce Wayne / Batman dichotomy as well as anyone could ask. Elizabeth McGovern is still pretty, somewhere under all that pancake makeup and somewhat-ratty wig. Buckles are swashed, entendres are doubled, and so forth.

The Internet, of course, begs to differ. Apparently what I watched last night is “atrocious.” You see, liberties were taken with the source material. Heaven forfend! So-and-so wouldn’t behave like that! They killed whats-his-name! After all, the only good translation of novel to film is a completely and totally literal one, right? I mean, really now. Those “Lord of the Rings” movies clearly suffered from the loss of all that dratted Bombadil-ish and elvish and hobbitish poetry & song every dozen pages, right? Right.

Now I’ve made the Tolkien nuts mad at me. I can live with that.

There are some gripes with “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” but they’re mostly just quibbles, regardless of how you rate Liz McGovern’s acting talents. (Seriously: The vitriolic posts I’ve seen online almost all mention one or more failings on her part. Does she have a history of drowning kittens and kicking puppies that I didn’t know about? Because, sheesh.) One scene comes to mind involving the sharpening of a guillotine, which is supposed to sound ominous (scrape, scrape) except the stone’s being dragged across the broad side of the blade instead of anywhere near the edge. Weird details like that, where someone just wasn’t paying attention, jar you from time to time.

But, you know what? The good guys won, the hero rescued the girl, love triumphed over evil, yadda yadda. Some days, that’s all I really want.

(Yes, there’s a rant coming later about the current state of modern high fantasy novels. Hint: I AM SICK AND TIRED OF GRIMDARK. STOP IT.)

So I’ll be watching the other discs in my boxed set, even if I have to do it alone. I’m okay with that.

1 Comment

  1. I know you don’t like the GRIMDARKCREEPYGRRR fantasy…but some of us do. 😀

    However, getting really darned sick of vampires & zombies. With the hundreds, maybe thousands, of types of supernatural baddies out there, it’s ridiculous that 96% of novels/movies/etc focus on 2 excrutiatingly played-out monsters.

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