The New Emma on PBS Masterpiece
Sunday night, the first of two parts of a new version of Jane Austen’s classic story Emma was shown on PBS Masterpiece. An informal poll about the new version shows that a majority of people loved the production. As for myself, I’ll have to wait and see.
My quick reactions:
- The actress playing Emma didn’t carry the upper class snobbishness of the main character very well. Everything from her posture to her expressions communicated too much enthusiasm for what other people were doing. She was almost servile in her approach – not what Emma would do.
- Mr. Woodhouse, Emma’s father, was the most sympathetic of any version I’ve seen – not just a doddering old idiot, but a person with a reason to be preoccupied with people going away.
- Mr. Knightly didn’t fill his boots. He delivered all the lines, but didn’t seem like much of a grownup.
- The introduction told us too much without showing us as much as it should have.
- Mr. Elton was done very well, and Harriet Smith was believable.
- Miss Bates was the most subtle portrayal of that character that I’ve seen yet, setting up Emma for a particularly hard fall in her snobbish dismissal.
- This Emma focuses more on issues of class injustice than other versions I’ve seen.
This is the first time I’ve ever watched a new production of a Jane Austen movie and fallen asleep in the middle. Nonetheless, I’ll be tuning in again next Sunday night to see if the show can turn it around by the time Emma gets married.