I’ve gotten through three episodes of “Sanditon,” and I think it’s firmly subpar.
There seems to be a clear line between the Austen adaptation and Davies’s original writing — toward the end of the first episode, as far as I can tell. The characters are mostly stereotypes (though I admit the actors do their best with the mediocre script), and the narrative is trite. The costuming seems to be about as well do most British TV, so that’s fine. But the hair? It’s anachronistic to have a grown-up lady continually running around with her hair down; it just wasn’t done in the Regency. A lot of the language is informal, too, though that may have been a deliberate choice to illustrate how “wild” it got at the seaside. Still, it’s frustrating to notice these things when other period details — like the sea bathing machines — were completely accurate.
On a personal note, it’s also a disappointment that the only fat character is a high-strung buffoon solely there for comedic effect.
I’m not an Austen purist. I don’t object to a few liberties here and there — or even some blatant silliness. I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I just read a whole series of novels where Mary Bennett finds a magical book and becomes a wizard. I mean, non-Austen content isn’t what I’m objecting to here. I’m not even objecting to all of the implied sex and scandal — though it’s safe to say Jane Austen would not have been writing about poor relations giving handjobs in the woods. Considering that later episodes (I’ve had full spoilers at this point) allude to incest and other awful goings-on — and a character is saved from an attempted rape — the overall tone of the piece is dark and overwrought. It’s not a social satire or a comedy of manners, and not even much of a romance, as it lacks a happy ending. It’s a soap opera. That may appeal to fans of “Downton Abbey,” but it doesn’t appeal to me.
I seem to be in the minority on this one, though.
I doubt I’ll slog through the rest of the episodes. I’ve been disappointed in several shows lately, and there’s too much good TV out there to waste time on such mediocre fare.