Monday, January 11, 2010

Return to Cranford Part 1

Or, Cranford 2: Matty's Revenge. Okay, not quite; the sweet and charming Miss Matilda would never prove vengeful. The piece picks up in August 1844 after a slew of happy endings in the last series there is one immediate thing lurking: the railroad. It threatens to bring change to the small town proudly steeped in its traditions. The series will conclude next Sunday.
The original series had wonderful charm and humor that drew you in so close to the characters; their hopes and tragedies felt like those of your best friends. Though the setting was over one hundred and fifty years ago, you swear you had a Miss Pole living down the street from you growing up, you knew a Caroline Tomkinson in school. The plots intersected very well, all supporting each others' structures.
This piece tries to recreate the gently mocking charm of the first, but proves that perfection can have no repeat. Many of the best characters are conspicuously absent without more than a word of explanation, others are killed off within the first half hour of the program. New characters are quickly shuffled in at the expense of balance. Familiar characters show recognition for these new characters, assuring the audience that they are apart of the Cranford we've known, they were just away for the entirety of the five episodes of the previous series.
Mary Smith returns about halfway through the first episode, she was very integral to the original series, arguably a secondary protagonist. She has not proven to be spectacularly important or interesting thus far, but I have some hopes for next week. Some hopes. The most interesting new character is Septimus Ludlow, the mysterious young son of Lady Ludlow, last heard of off in Italy squandering family money. He arrives and proves himself to be everything one could suspect (and dread) of him from discussions by other characters in the first series.
Though not as solid and engaging as the first series, it is worth watching if you would like to spend some more time in the almost mystical land of Cranford.
If you'd like something steamier, Ovation TV is showing Byron tomorrow evening at 9; a bio-pic of the notorious romantic poet.

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