'Masterpiece: Sanditon' [BR 2-Disc]
(Rose Williams, Theo James, Kris Marshall, Kate Ashfield, Crystal Clarke, et al / 2-Disc Blu-ray / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)
Overview: 'Sanditon' is Emmy Award winning writer Andrew Davies bringing Jane Austen's unfinished last novel vividly to life.
The once sleepy fishing village of Sanditon is transforming into a fashionable spa resort full of intrigues and dalliances.
Changing alongside it is the impulsive and unconventional Charlotte Heywood, who journeys to discover herself and find love on her own terms.
Blu-ray Verdict: Produced by Georgina Lowe, Andrew Davies did a spectacular job of turning the twelve chapters Jane Austen wrote into this beautiful, fun and saucy adaptation; as he has done umpteen times in the past.
I knew this book would be in extremely safe hands. The casting is excellent, the production values superb, not to mention the incredible performances, costumes, sets, et al.
It really is a treat for all the senses, and took the viewer on a wonderful journey through the eyes of the main character Charlotte Heywood.
For those not in the know, Austen's unfinished novel explores a new subject area: the growing commercial economy and its impact on personal relations.
The heroine, the aforementioned Charlotte Heywood, is a young daughter of a well-to-do farmer and although spirited, is inexperienced in social life.
The entrepreneur, Tom Parker, strives to develop Sanditon, once a fishing village, into a fashionable seaside resort. His problem is to raise capital, mainly from an elderly local lady.
His brother, Sidney, a darkly handsome but disconcertingly direct young man, supports his brother emotionally but is in no position to do so financially.
There is a scene in which Charlotte gets off to a bad start with him, as he takes objection to her criticism of his brother. There are echoes of 'Pride and Prejudice' in this initial conflict, so (and not to give anything away here) if the plot has anything in common with Austen's earlier novel, Charlotte and he are destined to fall in love eventually.
Also new is the introduction of a young black heiress, Miss Lambe, the daughter of an English sugar plantation (i.e. slave plantation) owner. Interesting to see how this character is handled, but she is a remarkable innovation as a character in a novel of the period.
Austen sets the scene and the characters, but died before completing the novel. Andrew Davies' adaptation is lively, well-acted and is even accompanied at the end of the first episode by a delightful dance.
Personally, my favorite story line was between Esther Denham and Lord Babbington and I would LOVE to see a spin-off show / story with them! Terrific characters, beautifully, and fully realized and skillfully portrayed by writer and actors, makes 'Sanditon' a quite wondrous binge watch.
The one sadness is, of course, the ending of series one, which it is implied is not the end, so there absolutely 100% needs to be a second series with the same cast; for the audience to have anything that feels like a satisfying ending, of course.
However, and in heartfelt truth, it was a cruel disappointment to many invested viewers that our romantic leads did not get their happy ending; and to use the end of series one as an extended dramatic pause on their relationship until the second series is not very fair to the viewers (and seems a little indulgent on the part of the highly esteemed writer.)
That said, if we think of this from an Austen perspective, I'm not sure she would have them be together as a couple now, and it may be that our heroine would be better off with another?!
In closing, and if I haven't made this enormously clear by now, 'Sanditon' is beautifully shot, with a fantastic script and unbelievable, almost tangible chemistry between the romantic leads, Charlotte and Sidney. Furthermore, I haven't been this engrossed in a series since the aforementioned BBC's 'Pride and Prejudice' series rocked out collective worlds! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Bonus Video of:
A First look
The Adaptation: with Andrew Davies
Regency Style and Production
Official PBS Blu-ray Purchase Link