09/01/2012

GOOD TV DRAMA & BRITISH LITERARY TRADITION: SHERLOCK 2 AND TREASURE ISLAND

Collage from Enchanted Serenity of Period Films
It's not a secret I greatly appreciate British TV drama. Their productions are mostly very good, especially those revisiting the literary classics. Well, also modern drama is sometimes brilliant . I loved Spooks very much , for instance,  but I also liked the Moving On series,  The Hour, A Single Father. I started watching British TV or buying DVDs  for my interest in period drama, a genre in which they are masters,   especially when it comes to adaptations of  classics. And this is what they are amazing at : adapting their classics  respecting their literary tradition. Something we totally lack on our TV here in Italy. I've seen so many beautiful series in the last three years: Austen's novels adaptations were brilliant, but also Gaskell and Eliot, Dickens and Thomas Hardy among others. My best favourite quite recent classic series are The Buccaneers, Our Mutual FriendDaniel Deronda, North and South, Wives and Daughter,  MiddlemarchJane Eyre 2006, Bleak House,
Little DorritSense and Sensibility 2008Emma  2009 and the latest Great Expectations. As for original costume drama, not directly based on classic literature, I liked Downton Abbey, Lost in Austen, The Devil's Whore, Upstairs Downstairs. But coming to these days ...The new year has started with two great TV series inspired to extremely popular tales from British literary tradition: Sherlock Holmes and Treasure Island.


New BBC Sherlock series 2  is proposing three of the most widely known among Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures. They are newly revisited adaptations of A Scandal in Belgravia (what an excellent episode, Steve Moffat ! Brilliant, amusing, amazing), The Hound of Baskerville (tense, thrilling, quite disquieting rewriting by Mark Gatiss ), The Reichenbach Fall (The Final Problem is the BBC title for it, not yet broadcast but hugely expected since it is based on the novel in which Sherlock and his nemesis Moriarty found their death). Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) investigating in contemporary London (or the northern moors) with extremely modern techniques (they even publicize their activity on a famous blog) have obtained a huge enthusiastic response both by the avarage TV viewers and by critics or purists. I think it is because authors and director fundamentally respect the Holmes of  the tradition and in revisiting his adventure they don't disregard what the original author wanted to convey. Their additions add interest and charm to an already interesting, charming character without disfiguring or spoiling him.  I can't wait for episode 3 in this series. Fingers crossed for a series 3!


TREASURE ISLAND was a two - part drama on Sky 1 ( 1 and 2 January) and it was a terrific production with lots of familiar faces and stunning locations. Robert Louis Stevenson adventure novel was brought back to life with a fresh, bold approach which made this classic adventure tale tempting,  appealing both  to a contemporary young audience and to more traditional viewers. I particularly liked the interpretation of this  e tale as also Jim Hawkins's journey from childhood and naivety to maturity and self -awaraness, as his personal formation novel, as well as the addition of a female point of view on the events in the subplot linked to Jim 's mother and Long John Silver's wife coping together with the hardships of poverty and the misuse of power. I've never loved this novel as much as I did while watching it retold in this latest TV drama version. 
In the stellar cast, Eddie Izzard was Long John Silver, Elija Wood was Benn Gunn, Philip Glenister as Captain Smollet, Donald Sutherland as Captain Flint, Rupert Penry-Jones as Squire Trelawney, Toby Regbo was Jim Hawkins, Daniel Mays was Dr Livesey, Shirley Henderson was Jim's mother, Nina Sosanya as Long Silver's wife, David Harewood as Billy Bones and Keith Allen as Pew. Aren't these names promise enough of good quality drama? I really hope you can watch it, if you still haven't.

(See Treasure Island official site and on imdb)

12 comments:

lunarossa said...

Love Sherlock but I was not able to watch Treasure Island as I don't have Sky TV (and I will never will!). Maybe it will come out on dvd soon...Ciao. A.x

Angela said...

I love Sherlock, it is pure class. There are many funny moments too. I loved the first episode with the introduction of Irene Adler. Episode 2 was a clever take on probably the most famous of Sherlock Holmes's adventures and it did not disappoint. It is a shame that it is the final episode already, next week!

I watched Treasure Island the first time it came on during the Christmas period, I must have not been in the mood for it, because I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I loved Shirley Henderson, she is always good, and other key actors in it, but I actually fell asleep while watching it. However, today I watched the repeat and I found I liked it a bit better than before, but I don't think I will rush out to buy it, even with the lovely Philip Glenister and Rupert Penry-Jones in it.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@lunarossa
I think I might know why you want to have the Treasure Island DVD, A. ;-)
As for Sky TV, I can guess your reasons too. We mainly have the subscription for ... the enthusiastic football fans in my house but I appreciate the films and series I can watch in the original version, for example.
@Angela
I've got a, let's say, professional interest in any adaptation of literary classics from British literature. I usually love to show bits from them in my lessons to make them more visual. However, I watched Treasure Island expecting to fall asleep and I didn't. I've never liked this kind of stories (pirates, sea voyages, all male protagonists) but I really enjoyed watching this beautifully filmed adaptation.My fist close approach to the text was when I was studying preparing myself to become a teacher. I had to write lessons plans for kids using Stevenson's novel. It was ... interesting but watching the TV drama was ... fun ;-)
Thanks a lot to both of you for commenting!

Sophia Rose said...

I love Sherlock and can't wait for those to come out and I hope Treasure Island comes to DVD. That looks good.

Anonymous said...

Watched Sherlock in bed, just after breakfast this very morning = bliss!
Just because on Mondays I'm not supposed to be at work before 10AM :)
It's a pity we have just 1 ep left :-( Hope there will be a 3rd series, although the title of the last ep doesn't sound promising... we'll see!
xx K/V

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@K/V
Ehm ... Conan Doyle found a solution to correct his first decision ... BBC will find one too. I can't say more. No spoilers. See Sherlock A Game of Shadows at the cinema first, then maybe, you'll get it.
Glad you've found the time to relax a bit before going back to work.
I survived. What about you?

rainakochan said...

finger cross for sherlock 3 !!
i love this series, it is really inteligent, sometimes funny and amazing !
both actors are playing so well and all the camera movement are impressive

Alexa Adams said...

Oooh! Daniel Deronda was fabulous, wasn't it? Loved the book (my favorite George Elliott) and adored the film. I implicit trust your opinion on such matters and will look for both these new productions. If only I can find time to watch them!

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@rainakochan
Great job indeed! Actors,director and scriptwriters did a brilliant job. The two episodes were different but so good! Fingers crossed for series 3 and ... thanks for dropping by and commenting :-)
@Alexa Adams
Hello there! I can imagine your life is a bit more ...complicated now. But I'm sure you'll find some time for yourself and your interests. Hold on. Little tender kiss to little tender Eliza :-)Hugs. MG

Jenny Allworthy said...

Thanks for the heads up on Treasure Island. I hadn't heard about this one. Apparently most of the PBS stations in the US are replaying Sherlock series 1 right after Downton Abbey on Sunday nights starting this week. Unfortunately not the Buffalo station we get ours from! Boo Hoo! Might have to buy the DVD from the sounds of it. Maybe I should get both seasons?

Off to finish The Buccaneers for the umpteenth time. And then I haven't seen Daniel Deronda for a while...

MARIA GRAZIA said...

Well, Jenny, you can't miss Sherlock. It's unmissable. Series 1 and 2, of course. As soon as you can, DVD or any other source but you MUST see it!
Treasure Island was a pleasant surprise too for a genre I do not usually like.
The Buccaneers? Daniel Deronda? Aren't they gems of period drama? I simply love them!
Thanks for your comment and your visit :-)

Bucket said...

I also like period Drama particularly Daniel Deronda, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Barnaby Rudge, The Granada TV Sherlock Holmes and Treasure Island. Because they deal with themes that are as universal at that of Shakespeare's plays or Leonard Cohen's Songs.