Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pip, Pip,Tut, Tut.

Low Expectations.
I'm watching this new BBC adaptation of GREAT EXPECTATIONS with Gillian Anderson as a ridiculously too-young-and-glamorous Miss Havisham. There are obvious problems, like Pip looking more like a coked-out runway model than a blacksmith's apprentice...

Douglas Booth, aka "Pip" in this new Great Expectations, in the excellent Christopher Isherwood biopic Christopher and His Kind, based on Isherwood's wonderful memoir of the same title, where Dougie had rather a lot of gay sex with Doctor Who!

...but it has lots of atmosphere, the scenes are excitingly staged, David Suchet is giving an interesting performance as Jaggars, and they hew closely to the novel.

But, and this is a HUGE "BUT," they've eliminated ALL of Charles Dickens's dialogue! This is tantamount to doing Hamlet and tossing out all of Shakespeare's "tiresome" poetry and writing their own dialogue.

Message to ALL TV writers everywhere: You may think you can write better dialogue than Charles Dickens did. Well here's your Reality Check: YOU CAN'T!!!! There's a reason Dickens is revered as the greatest English-Language novelist in history and you are not: BECAUSE HE IS! Do NOT rewrite his dialogue! The EGO! To rewrite Dickensian dialogue!

And especially, do not put in anachronistic cliches!

Pip: "Yes, but..."
Jaggars: "No buts about it!" 

Pip: "Curiosity is natural under the circumstances..."
Jaggars: "Curiosity killed the cat."

Dickens never wrote that cliched, jarringly anachronistic crap.

Herbert Pocket is being well-played by a handsome and engaging young actor who happens to be Charles Dickens's Great-Great-Great-Grandson, Harry Lloyd. You may remember him in "The Family of Blood" on Doctor Who about five years ago. He should have DEMANDED his G-G-G-Grandfather's words be restored.

This man has Charles Dickens's genes in his DNA. He even looks like Young Dickens.

Young Charles Dickens. See!

 And in the program intro, Laura Linney said that Dickens "wrote over 15 best sellling novels." Excuuuuuse me! I have read every word of every novel Charles Dickens ever wrote, and there are fourteen and one-half novels by Charles Dickens, and ...that's all! He wrote a lot of short stories and novellas. At usually 100 pages, A Christmas Carol is a novella, not a novel!

Foutreen and a half are not "more than fifteen." They aren't even fifteen. They are fourteen and a half. At best, they are "a bit over fourteen." But yes, they are all best sellers, all fourteen and a half of them. (The "half" is The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He died when it was exactly half written. He took who done it and what they done with him to his grave.)

Charlie, thinking up better dialogue than 21st Century BBC writers can.
So listen, if you're going to do Charles Dickens, then do Charles Dickens. This is not an isolated incident. Three years ago I had to issue a similar spanking over a BBC TV adaptation of Little Dorrit which had done the same thing, as had a BBC TV Oliver Twist with a sexy Tom Hardy as Bill Sykes, all his disfiguring tattoos hidden. But my words, like those of Dickens, were ignored. I live in terror of the next BBC Dickens adaptaion being A Tale of Two Cities, and opening with : "It was a good time; it was bad time," and ending with "The thing I'm gonna do now is a whole lot better than all the stuff I did previously."
In the words of Star Kist: "Sorry, Charlie."
Cheers, darlings.

Charlie as drawn by Campbell Grant for Richard Armour's hilarious English Lit ReLit.


RCP said...

Happy Birthday, Douglas and Tallulah!

Wishing you health, happiness, and further success.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Thank you, darling. I just sobered up enough from the celebration to check messages.

Victoria R said...

Tallulah, This has nothing to do with your post, but I'm so glad I found you. I'm reading archives of Ask Sister Mary Margaret and I really enjoyed your comments. You're funny, intelligent and my, what a flare for the dramatic!I just started reading archives from 2008 and haven't seen you in the comments for awhile so I went back to find your address so I could check on you. I'm glad you're still around and doing well. I'll stop back to catch some of your delightful writing.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Thanks, Victoria. I stopped commenting on Sister Mary Margeret's column because I was tired of fencing with all those morons who do not realize that it's a parody, that it's actually written by an ex-Catholic who sees the evil of it. Those nimrods don't get the joke (which makes them the joke), and certainly didn't enjoy me, nor I they. The actual author of that blog is an old friend, and the one who got me to start writing this one.

Cheers, darling.

Victoria said...

Loved your insightful commentary on the rewriting of Charles Dickens. The G-G-G-grandson does have his genes!