Friday, June 17, 2011

I'll Never Learn

I am a great admirer of Kate Atkinson's last four novels: Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News? and Started Early, Took My Dog.  They are tremendously entertaining and rewarding.  Moving, even.  She has made the use of coincidence an art form - maybe we were surprised that most everything tied together in the first book but by the third and fourth books, we knew what the trick was and it dazzled us anyway.  A great accomplishment.

I was excited when I learned the BBC was adapting Case Histories for TV.  Usually I can't watch a film or TV series of something I have read - it never works for me.  But I thought it would be different this time.  The first episode of Case Histories was kind of good - until I realized they were smashing the entire book into two one hour episodes.  I thought I was getting six hours to watch the myriad stories weave together.  Instead, we were treated to a quickie.  Which is a real shame because the source material was so good and the actors were good/interesting and the cinematography was great (I've never been to Edinburgh and I always imagined it a darker, dirtier, gloomier place - thanks, Ian Rankin) (and I even didn't mind they swapped Cambridge for Edinburgh - the kind of thing I would normally object to).  Why can't certain shows run longer?  Budgets?  Or do they think that people will only watch for an hour or two?  Can't they figure out that the best stuff on TV lasts longer (The Wire to name an example) and isn't hurried?  The second and third Jackson Brodie books make up the remaining four episodes but I've already given up watching.  I don't need to watched condensed versions of something I've already read and loved; I will stick with the versions of the books I have in my head I got from reading instead.

Now, having said all that, this morning, I bought on ebay a DVD of a British TV series called the Armchair Detective.  I guess this was a popular series on ITV in the late 70s.  I had never heard of it before.  One of the episodes is an adaptation of P.M. Hubbard's novel High Tide.  That was the first Hubbard I read so it holds a special place in my heart.  And since the DVD has yet to arrive in the mail, I am still full of hopes and dreams that I will love it.  It stars Ian McShane.  I know everyone loved Deadwood and says he's great but I never watched that show.  He does seem kind of cool and I don't think he will be the weakest link (if there is one).

In the mean time, I have one episode left to watch of the American remake of The Killing.  Remakes of foreign films and TV shows are almost always bad.  But I've liked the American Killing.  I plan to watch to Danish version over the summer (different killers I hear).

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