Death Comes To Pemberley - A Different Type of Fun from the Original

In 2011, crime author PD James continued the story of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice with a tale of death and marriage. She wrote Death Comes to Pemberley, set six years after the marriage of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett and involving the death of Captain Denny and the trial of brother-in-law George Wickham. In 2013, the book was made into a three part mini-series by the BBC, starring Matthew Rhys as Darcy and Anna Maxwell Martin as Elizabeth.

 

Shown on the BBC between Christmas and New Year, Death Comes to Pemberley was great. The actors hold their own in iconic roles and that is the double edged sword of this story - the very long shadows of Austin's beloved characters. They are well written and excellently played and the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth is all that Austin fans expect it to be, even if it is tested during the story. However, this is not Pride and Prejudice, this is a regency crime story which just happens to be set at Pemberley and involve the same characters. If you come expecting the former you will be disappointed. this is a different story and better for it. Sit down and enjoy the story, it is excellently done.

The Americans

Imagine this pitch for a show - so there is this married couple and they are spies - and you think to yourself, this may be of interest with shows such as Alias, Covert Affairs, 24, Le Femme Nikita and Homeland, but nothing unusual.  It is set in 1981 - mmmm, a period piece.  Mad Men has a long shadow.  But I like the 1980s, all those high waisted jeans and perms, and that is just the boys.  Maybe.  They are Soviet sleeper agents living in the USA.  Wow, I thought, I am in.  

And boy was it a good choice. It had me with the most awesome opening scene with fantastic use of Fleetwood Mac's
Tusk.  This idea of using period music to emphasis the story comes full circle in the final episode of series one with Peter Gabriel's Games Without Frontiers.  It is a slow burn drama with the excitement of spy craft (wigs and make-up) doubled with the complications of an arranged marriage that has been going for 15 years (with two children) and the cat and mouse of the FBI's newly minted counter-terrorism unit.  The only stretch in the set up is that the leading FBI agent just happens to move into the neighbourhood and the families become friends.   What brings this show alive is the good writing but also the phenomenal performances by leads Keri Russell (Elizabeth Jennings) and Matthew Rhys (Philip Jennings) with incrediable support from Noah Emmerich who plays FBI agent Stan Beeman, and Margo Martindale who plays Claudia, the Jennings FBI handler.  It is a great cast doing a wonderful job.  I never watched Felicity so I had no preconceived idea of Keri Russell, and I have been a long time fan of Matthew Rhys ever since the UK TV series Metropolis

The series was created and executive produced by Joe Weisberg who is a former CIA Officer and has written episodes for Falling Skies and Damages.  His co-executive producer is Graham Yost, who created and executive produces Justified.  Yost has a long list of TV writing credits such as Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Boomtown, Falling Skies, as well as film writing credits such as Broken Arrow, Speed and Hard Rain.  The pedigree is there and the show is great fun. Layer upon layer is being built and it looks like next season is going to be even better.  So, dos vedanya Tovartisch.