Growing up, I didn’t much care for the “classics” of literature. I read many, of course, for school, but I just wasn’t into them. Same went for historical/costume dramas in the movie theater or on TV. When my mother tuned in to “Masterpiece Theater” on PBS, I rolled my eyes and left the room.
Fast forward a couple of decades and I have a standing date with “Masterpiece Theater” on Sunday nights for the next three months. You see, the long-running PBS series is putting on the complete works of Jane Austen every Sunday night until April. Some original chick-lit made into instant classic chick flicks. I’ll be on the couch with some good dark chocolate and red wine. I will not be near a computer and I won’t answer the phone.
The handsome men, the soaring musical scores, the pure romance of it all…..swoon!
So what changed in me? I really don’t know. Some might call it plain old maturity, but I’m not sure it’s just that. Maybe it was as simple as Colin Firth perfectly smoldering as Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC mini-series of “Pride and Prejudice.” Which, happily, will be a part of this “Masterpiece Theater” event.
All but “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma” are new productions, and the respective casts look interesting. The first of the series, “Persuasion,” was quite decent and enjoyable. It will be fun to choose my favorites among all the screen versions of the last generation.
This is not to say that every production of a Jane Austen novel is wonderful. I rented the 1981 BBC mini-series of “Sense and Sensibility” last winter and it was laughably awful. Although it was more complete and true to the book than later versions, the over acting, poor set design, and horrid lighting that were hallmarks of many older BBC productions made it excruciating the watch. (Hmm…maybe that’s why I wasn’t so into “Masterpiece Theater” when my mom would watch it.)
After catching up on the screen versions of Jane Austen’s works over the last couple of years, I happily set about rereading her novels as an adult, and without the worry of a writing assignment in the back of my mind. It was so much more enjoyable. The subtleties are my friends now, and the careful words and manners have my admiration instead of my curses.
Then, of course, there’s the pure romance of it all…swoon!
As I watch and read now, I think more about sharing these books and movies with my daughter when she gets to the appropriate age. Even if she doesn’t love them right away, I think she will one day. Oh, I’ll talk them up with the boys, too, but somehow I don’t think it will be the same effect.
Meanwhile, on Sunday nights, you know where to find me.