Last night PBS showed the first half of the new Emma miniseries. From what I've heard, viewers better make this one sate them for a while, the BBC is moving away from the production of "bonnet dramas" (not to be confused with "bodice rippers"). First impressions of the program:
The beginning struck me as very Dickensian. They began with the death of Emma's mother and showed the intersecting and diverging lives of little Emma, Jane, and Frank; these characters are introduced later in the original story and their background filled in. The whole style of the way the story was structured seemed very appropriate for a Dickens adaptation more than an Austen. I do think that the narrative quality works better than I expected and the fact that Knightley does the narration is better, I think, than having Emma narrate. He seems like he would be a more reliable narrator, and it moves more of the focus on his journey. However, thus far I see very little chemistry between Knightley and Emma, they seem very sibling like.
The sets are beautiful and there are many scenes showcasing the high windows and sweeping views, unfortunately many character wave rather obnoxiously out of these beautiful windows. There is quite a lot of waving in this production, some of it I doubt is appropriate given the time and given Emma's airs regarding social stature.
Some of the characterization was very well done. One of my favorite scenelets showed Mr. Elton arriving at Emma's home and giving the property a greedy once over before going down to the house. This may be nit-picky, but I do think that some opportunities to mine rich and witty dialogue from the text were missed.
I am looking forward to seeing how this production develops in the next part.