Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Lark Rise to Candleford

I bought my wife the DVD of the first series of Lark Rise to Candleford, which I’d seen a very small piece of at a friend's house one night. He was enthusing over it, and since it hasn’t appeared on free-to-view television (like so much these days) I thought my wife might enjoy it.

We’ve been watching it on and off over the time since Christmas. It’s full of ‘characters,’ some better formed than others, and most of the core cast are good, especially Julia Sawalhagood to see her playing a more mature woman after all those years as a perpetually young woman in Absolutely Fabulous. Some of the other core cast lack depth – whether that’s the script or the direction or what, I’m not sure. Being a kind of ‘soap’, no one is expected to develop much, nor are they given room to. However, there are some good features about it, and there have been some good guests. Dawn French, whom I thought was in the entire series, was carted off to the Workhouse after about the third or fourth episode, unfortunately – although she did perform her part in an over-the-top way that didn’t entirely fit in with the rest of the characters.

Apparently the stories are only loosely based on the books - perhaps the ideas for the plots were there, but I think they've been pulled into neatly packaged episodes.

Oddly, the writers have also chosen to play fast and loose with something that was the focus of the first episode, as one reviewer notes: “the poor people of Lark Rise having to pay a fee for postal deliveries because they are just outside the eight-mile limit from the post office. Yet, the characters of Lark Rise turn up in neighbouring Candleford throughout the series as if they were just around the corner.” This is a bit disconcerting, and sometimes annoying. You begin to wonder if everyone (including children) in these two locales has an exceptional ability to walk an eight-mile stretch (and often back again) without any difficulty. A few people travel by cart, a couple ride horses, but the rest supposedly walk.

Furthermore the 'poor' people of Lark Rise look pretty tidy most of the time, and the men manage to spend their evenings comfortably in the pub, whose owner doesn't seem to be too pressed for income. It might be interesting to read the original book(s) and compare them and the series. I suspect

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