Show me a good BBC period piece and I will show you an insurmountable obsessive compulsion to dote over a six hour series for far longer than my sanity should allow. Over the last week I’ve watched Pride and Prejudice* around 14 times. My basic findings are as follows:
Elizabeth Bennet circa 1980 - No.
Elizabeth Bennet circa 1995 - Yes.
Elizabeth Bennet circa 2005 - Lesbian.
Jane Bennett circa 1980 - Ill-cast.
Jane Bennett circa 1995 - Wallflower. I’m sorry, I mean wallpaper.
Jane Bennett circa 2005 - Why are her eyes so wide? What is she staring at? Ma’am, you have the personality of porridge.
Mrs. Hurst circa 1980 - Exists like a ghost in the night.
Caroline Bingley circa 1980 - Maya Rudolph has mastered time travel and delivered a delightful performance.
Caroline Bingley & Mrs. Hurst circa 1995 - They carry a constant expression as though they’ve been hit square in the face with a fish. Personalities likewise.
Mrs. Hurst circa 2005 - Written out.
Caroline Bingley circa 2005 - Insufferable, lazy eyed snob. I love her.
Mr. Hurst circa 1980 - The BBC didn’t know they could write out the boring at this point.
Mr. Hurst circa 1995 - The BBC discovered if a drunk was passed out in his own sick he could provide mild humor.
Mr. Hurst circa 2005 - The bullet was bitten and he was at last written out.
Mr. Darcy circa 1980 - Robot. Oedipus complex.
Mr. Darcy circa 1995 - Bipolar. Colin Firth. That is just a name not a reason, yet because of it I forgive all transgressions.
Mr. Darcy circa 2005 - Lesbian.
Mr. Darcy’s Sideburns circa 1980 - None. The nerve.
Mr. Darcy’s Sideburns circa 1995 - Formidable
Mr. Darcy’s Sideburns circa 2005 - Scraggly
Lydia & Kitty circa 1980 - Ugh. The least annoying, but the least memorable.
Lydia & Kitty circa 1995 - Slam that knife down again and I will stab you with it.
Lydia & Kitty circa 2005 - These two were either stoned or suffered from massive head injurys. If neither of these are true I feel I must ask for my own sake: Self hysterectomies are safe, right?
Mary circa 1980 - Miyam Bialik’s character study for The Big Bang Theory.
Mary circa 1995 - Forgettable.
Mary circa 2005 - Would have skulked about reading Plath if she had the chance.
Mr. Bennet circa 1980 - This man is a terrible parent and husband. I’m not even sure he fully understands his situation, or where he is at any given moment. He was cast just as a father of this time should.
Mr. Bennet circa 1995 - Bit of a jerk, understandably.
Mr. Bennet circa 2005 - Nigel Thornberry*
Mrs. Bennet circa 1980 - She’s so invested in her convictions I believe every word.
Mrs. Bennet circa 1995 - I know the modern day Bennets. They are three daughters shy of the whole lot, but make up for it in unnecessary loudness. Love them though I may, I realized how easy it was to stop listening because of conditioning. So high-pitched, so grating. I know she was annoying but I can’t remember know.
Mrs. Bennet circa 2005 - She smoked with her youngest daughters.
Mr. Collins circa 1980 - Old. Pervy. Combover.
Mr. Collins circa 1995 - This is a man who has accidentally set himself on fire more than once. Probably at the hearth of a fireplace that cost upwards of £800.
Mr. Collins circa 2005 - A skittish man tottling around in a constant cold sweat confounded by his own erection.*
Mr. Whickham circa 1980 - Blithering twat.
Mr. Whickham circa 1995 - Rapey twat.
Mr. Whickham circa 2005 - Pretty boy twat. Nice ponytail, hippie.
Lady de Bourgh circa 1980 - A rich version of Mrs. Bennet; if they weren’t so far up their own respective asses they might have gotten along.
Lady de Bourgh circa 1995 - I adore Barbara Leigh-Hunt. She was her Ladyship from “Wives and Daughters”* who couldn’t pronounce her “r’s”. She was the best Lady de Bourgh, hobbling after Elizabeth through the garden in a rage.
Lady de Bourgh circa 2005 - Judi Dench was horrifying. A monster beneath a bouffant of hair that most certainly wasn’t hers.
The head house maid of Pemberley (1995) was character study for Andy Serkis’s Gollum.
All of this aside, I have thus concluded that Mr. Darcy was a premature ejaculator.
Did I mentioned I’m a scholar?
1980 is not for everyone. Is cast mainly with theatre actors, obviously. This performance would have been grand on a stage but not on a television.
1995 wins out as the best of the bunch. An hour longer than the 1980 version and yet far more enjoyable. You get the full story with a mostly perfect cast.
2005 is too quick. Pretty to look at while it lasts much like Jane Bennet. Key points were left out and while imagery was lovely the story was lacking.
*1980, 1995 & 2005, varying depending on mood.
*Donald Sutherland is a genius. His performance is pitch perfect, as are all of his performances.
*I cannot find fault in Tom Hollander’s performance. Every uncomfortable second.
*Another post, another time. I assure you, it will happen.