Jenna Coleman playing Lydia Wickham

Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode 3.

Previously on Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode 2.

There’s many different ways to phrase Occam’s Razor, but this one from the first series of Luther, I’ve always liked best:

All things being equal, the simplest solution is the best solution.

If we do believe that Wickham did not kill Captain Denny, then there must have been someone else in the woods. And the only people in the woods, at that time of night, were the Bidwells. There we are, then. Continue reading →

Georgiana Darcy and Henry Alveston

Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode 2.

Previously on Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode 1.

Good grief! As Pemberley falls into a state of uncertainty and disarray, Darcy reverts back to his Lord of the Manor persona and drags Lizzie and Georgiana into misery on his coattails. In case you missed it, the subtext beneath Lizzie and Darcy’s (understatedly) heated arguments runs as follows:

No, poor Georgie can’t marry the man she loves, we’ve only just finished paying the mortgage on the house. And no, Lizzie, just because I married you against my public duty and against the great tradition of Pemberley, that doesn’t mean a stupid stray comment from your vapid sister Lydia won’t send me reeling, totally believing that you only married me for my money and the frankly massive library on the second floor.

I say! Continue reading →

Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley: Episode 1.

When I checked my blog stats earlier while preparing for Death Comes to Pemberley, I noticed that someone has found my blog by typing “death pemberley utter shite” into a search engine. Something like this has happened before, with By Any Means, months ago, and I was just as amused today as I was back then. While I have decidedly not used these words in conjunction and in the right order, I must have judged some show or episode as utter shite before, at some point down the line… (ah, found it: whoever wrote the query ended up on a rather scornful review of a Season 3 episode of Suits.)

Be that as it may, it’s never quite reassuring to discover something like that just before you’re going to watch the aforementioned period adaptation. I shall therefore put us all out of our misery and tell you up-front that it’s not utter shite. It’s not great, either, though. It’s a bit… well, frankly — having seen other, brilliant and engaging period literature adaptations in BBC tradition — it’s a bit dull. Continue reading →

Death Comes to Pemberley: Christmas on BBC One

Since my readers have recently decided that this should definitely be on the review list for this season, here you have the official trailer for Death Comes to Pemberley. The first episode (of three) will air on 26 December at 8:00pm on BBC One.
Starring Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin, Matthew Goode, and Jenna Coleman, this period adaptation of PD James’s novel, sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, promises to be a lovely holiday treat.

The Escape Artist: Part III.

Previously on The Escape Artist: Episode 2.

Just two weeks before David Tennant’s return to Doctor Who, we see the finale of The Escape Artist, a mini-series full of horrible surprises and gut-twisting turns — both of phrase and character.

“No hard feelings” isn’t the sort of thing you get to say after you just got the man who killed your colleague’s wife acquitted based on technicalities, Maggie. She may be genuinely sorry — I believe she is — but ‘no hard feelings’ was a bad idea. It doesn’t stop there, however.

On a scale from one to following Liam Foyle up to Edinburgh, how bad is your idea?

But until the law happens to you, believe me, you don’t know which way you’re gonna go.

But then, you realise: what a clever bastard. Diabolical is just the right word. At first, you think, oh God, there he’s gone, his man pain has gotten the better of him, and now he’s gone and thrown his life away. But, oh no, he’s had it all planned out. Will Burton, the escape artist, committed the perfect murder, taking the man who murdered his wife and would have gone on killing off the face of the Earth.

As I wrote last week, and as Will says in this episode: when the law happens to you, when you’re on the other side of the dock or the line between the judiciary and the victims, it gets personal. And when it gets personal, the normal rules do not necessarily apply. Sweet Will Burton, loving husband and father, has committed a crime so devious — and we identify with him.

No, murder isn’t right. And yes, desperation can make people do terrifying things. The law isn’t always just, and that’s when people take the law into their own hands. That’s the thing about this mini-series finale that puts the audience into that most uncomfortable place: it shakes up our understanding of morality, and the series has done that from the very beginning. Confronting us with defence barristers who get their clients off murder charges they shouldn’t have been acquitted off, it puts us in that place from the get-go, and now, in the finale, the Escape Artist world as we now it has been turned upside down. Do we sympathise with Will, do we get angry at Maggie for figuring it out and threatening Will with having the coroner performing another postmortem? Do we feel the same peace Will does at the end? Has he done the right thing?

My hat’s off to David Wolstencroft for crafting this tale full of ambiguity, shock, horror, and fear. In the end, it leaves you with the terrible thought that there is evil out there, and that it can only be conquered by outsmarting it, because the good path will lead you nowhere. Part of this story may paint the world in black and white — Liam Foyle is evil, and that’s why he must die — but it is the decisions Will makes and the things he does that place this mini-series firmly in the grey area. In the end, the world is saved — but at what cost?