Sunday, April 21, 2013

Heroine, or not?

Today I was browsing Cafe Press's Jane Austen-themed t-shirts just for fun, and came across one that was supposed to just be a list of the JA heroines; it said "Elizabeth & Catherine & Elinor & Emma & Anne & Fanny," or something to that effect. I noticed Marianne was missing from the list, as she sometimes is, which led to my current musing upon the subject.

There seem to be two disputable Jane Austen heroines: Marianne Dashwood and Jane Bennet. Some people make a list of eight heroines, and include Jane Bennet. Some people, as I was mentioning above, make a list of six (one for each novel) and exclude Marianne Dashwood.

Elizabeth and Jane, P&P 1995

So I thought, well hey, here's something to post about. What do all YOU think? Are they heroines, or are they just general main characters?  It seems to me that generally Marianne is considered to be a heroine. If that's the case, do you think that Jane should be? I'm putting a poll on the sidebar to gather opinions easily that way; but I'd love it if you commented and joined in the discussion. :)

As for my  thoughts on the subject... "read on!"

I can see why people might not include Marianne, because it's kind of tricky having seven heroines for only six books, and really when you read Sense and Sensibility, Elinor does seem to be the main character. The narrative generally stays with her, and you get more of a look into her head than you do Marianne's--but of course that is more necessary, since Marianne generally speaks her mind.  But think--we know from the moment Lucy mentions it about the thing to do with Edward (surely there is not anybody reading this who doesn't know S&S's story?), even though Elinor never tells anybody; but we don't know what happened between Marianne and Willoughby before he left, or even if they were engaged, until she finally tells about it.

Elinor and Marianne, S&S 2008

I'm still inclined to consider Marianne to be one of the heroines, though. After all, the story is generally heralded as a story about the two very different sisters--one has the sense and the other the sensibility (or sensitivity, if you'd rather), and all that. In fact the original name for the novel was Elinor and Marianne, so it was obviously about both of them.

And as far as Jane Bennet goes, I've never considered her to be a heroine, nor have I considered her and Mr. Bingley to be one of the main JA couples (although if you want an even eight that is sometimes convenient). She's just Elizabeth's older sister, and Mr. Bingley is just Mr. Darcy's best friend. (Ha, that brings another element into discussion--I guess Col. Brandon and Mr. Bingley, then, would be the two debatable JA heroes.) Although they both play a major part in the story, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are still the ones it is about. And Pride and Prejudice wasn't focused on the sisters' relationship, although it did of course come into play, and one can compare Jane and Elizabeth with Elinor and Marianne.

But I'll stop rambling now, and let you get your word in. :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lark Rise to Candleford (Part 2 of 2)

Click here to read Part 1.

Season Two (2009) 


Final episode of Season 2
I think I probably like Season 2 better than the first one... or possibly about the same. I'm glad to see the Sir Timothy plot go, and it's nice to have Mrs. Arless gone besides for in the first episode. On the other hand, another character I don't care for makes an appearance and stays the whole time. I'll get to him later. However, this is the season where Minnie shows up. (I talked about her earlier.) So that definitely throws things up a few notches--Season 1 is a poor forlorn thing without her to lighten everything up. :)

I tend to like Dorcas better in this season, I think; as for Laura, my liking for her is always off and on and probably about the same as the first season--perhaps even a little less. Her taste in gentleman friends pretty much annoys me up to this point.

Main Characters from Season Two

James Dowland
Having grown up in Lark Rise as a boy, some of the time under Queenie's care, James left, made his fortune so to speak, and then comes back to Candleford to build a new hotel in his chain. Then he sticks around, of course, and seems to earn a lot of respect from everybody (originally they don't know he came from Lark Rise, ha, ha...) and even runs in a local political election (episode 3). And, as was entirely predictable from the beginning, there is A Thing going between him and Miss Lane. I... do not like him. I didn't like him from the beginning, but he did seem barely tolerable... then once episode 8 rolled around, and some after that, I was like... um. Now I really don't like you. But, I am attempting not to put spoilers in here... so if you've seen the show you probably know what I'm talking about. ;)

Fisher Bloom
This guy waltzes in in episodes 5-7 to build the clock that Mr. Dowland decides to present the town with. He's quite a pompous fellow, proud of living his life without ties, moving from place to place. And then of course he meets Laura, and he makes her all huffy but apparently she likes him and when he finally stops being rude to her they become a temporary couple. Well, she's hoping it won't be temporary. But when he finally leaves... let's just say my heart wasn't broken (although I did feel sorry for Laura, even if I thought she was odd to go for him in the first place).
This isn't everybody's opinion, I know. Some people think Fisher is a total romantic hero... but not I. I think he is an unkept, self-centered and rather arrogant fellow who could be called good-looking and has an interesting accent, but the last two don't make up for the earlier ones.
I was watching Return to Cranford recently, and suddenly realized that the same actor played Edward Bell in that. (The jerk brother of the sort-of heroine, you know. At least, the young lady who has the main romance in the story.) I despise Edward Bell and watching him actually made me think Fisher Bloom isn't so bad after all.

Nan Carter
This girl shows up in episode 9 and gets Alf Arless thinking of somebody else besides Laura (and meanwhile the latter may be just a tad jealous or regretful, or considering being so, anyways). I kind of like her okay at first, but then in the last episode (I think), she sort of changes and then annoys me a great deal, and I'm not sorry to see her have disappeared in Season 3.



I could mention Sydney here, but I think I'll wait for Season 3 since he's only in the last episode.

Favorite Episodes
5 - This one is just quite interesting in general. It's the one where Fisher Bloom shows up (and even though I don't particularly care for him it's still intriguing). Ruby Pratt and Miss Lane have quite a bit of discourse in this one, and in one particular scene where they are sitting on a bench outdoors it always amuses me to compare their very serious conversation with emotional undertones, to Pride and Prejudice (1995) where the same to actresses sit as Harriet Forster and Lydia Bennet, giggling and being generally boisterous and silly. Heehee.
6 - I enjoyed this one because it was very interesting. Miss Lane is sick and Laura and Thomas have to manage the post office all by themselves, and there's a bit of mystery thrown in, and Fisher is still in the plot.
12 - If you watched the end of episode 11, you'll be wanting to see what happens in this one as soon as possible. This is where a new character comes in--a little boy named Sydney, who, for reasons I cannot explain without spoiling things, stays with Miss Lane supposedly temporarily. But I'll talk more about him later.  Anyways--this episode concludes season 2, and ends happily with a wedding, which always pleases me.
I found episode 3 to keep my interest quite well but I don't know if I can call it a favorite.

Least-Favorite Episodes
1 - The series actually starts out with a Christmas special; I got to it right during Christmastime, too, so I was greatly looking forward to it. It turned out a lot different than I thought it would, though. In some parts it was nice and Christmassy, but the other parts of it seemed more suited to Halloween. It felt unusual for Lark Rise and just... weird. Really weird. Creepiness. Up until the end I expected things to be if not rationally explained at least not confirmed as a fact, but... haha. But there is snow and nice Christmas trees, and as my sister pointed out, Miss Lane has a very pretty robe.
4 - Ugggghhhhh. This is without a doubt one of my least-favorite episodes in the entirety of the series. I usually like the episodes that have Margaret Ellison in them, but in this one some things happened that I thought very out of character and I was quite angry. Plus the 'guest' for this episode annoys me to no end. I sometimes get annoyed at modern themes like atheism and evolution getting stuck in this show. And I am quite annoyed at Miss Lane for reading Darwin and thinking herself open-minded in so doing. *rolls eyes* Anyways. This one, for me, was just a lot of ugh-ish-ness, but at least Thomas and Margaret end up engaged at the end.
8 - Enter risque plot to do with James Dowland. Eh-heh. This episode was interesting I suppose, but not in a pleasant sort of way. I'd watch it for the sequence, though, if I was having a Lark Rise-a-thon.
10 - Enter more risque plots, only to do with Pearl Pratt, of all people! Some of it makes me laugh but in general I don't appreciate it and the rest of the story isn't that interesting.

Recognizable actors
Oliver Dimsdale as George Ellison
I've only seen this fellow in one other movie, which was He Knew He Was Right, as Louis Trevelyan, the main character. Didn't like his character. He was Margaret's brother whom she hadn't seen for years because of a disagreement between him and their father. 

Samantha Bond as Celestia Brice Coulson
This is a period drama actress with whom I am well acquainted. I've seen her in Mansfield Park (1983) as Maria Bertram, a Poirot (Agatha Christie) episode, Emma (1996, A&E) as Mrs. Weston, and for anybody who might be interested she's also in Downton Abbey
Celestia is a woman who waltzes in out of, evidently, James Dowland's past... but he gets rid of her as quickly as he can. :P The episode she's in (8) is... cough... not my favorite.

And as I mentioned earlier, Matthew McNulty, who played Fisher Bloom, was in Return to Cranford as Edward Bell.


Season Three (2010)


Season Three is my favorite. I never was quite sure why, but I think I've ascertained that a large part of the reason is probably that Miss Lane does not have any romantic interests in this season. (The men always tend to annoy me.) Also, Mrs. Arless is nonexistent, Minnie becomes even more likable and her plot more interesting, and there is the addition of Sydney, another character I like. Thomas Brown and Margaret are married which is sometimes fun but sometimes irritating, and my favorite beau of Laura's is introduced. ("Favorite" does not necessarily mean I like him very much, just that I like him better than her others. But we'll get to him.) 

Main Characters introduced in Season 3

"It is one of your 'one weaknesses'!"
Sydney
(Or Sidney, as it was spelled in Season 2's subtitles...)
This is a little boy who is under the care of Miss Lane and lives at the Post Office during seasons 3 and 4. (He actually comes in during the last episode of Season 2, but this is mainly where he starts. Besides, the actor changes after that one episode.) He actually doesn't annoy me, and little boys in television shows often do. :P He's not the rough-and-tumble sort at all. He's more of a smart, nerdy kind of kid but it doesn't have all the plot of feeling left out and people not liking him that generally comes with this, so that's nice. And he's always polite. Rather grave and silent at the beginning... but that's okay with me. 

Daniel Parish 
Ah, Daniel. The journalist who waltzes into Candleford one day (the first episode, in point of fact), tracking down Emma Timmins for a story he's doing.  I never can decide whether I like him or not. I kind of half-like him except that he seems pompous at the beginning, and then I don't like him (because a certain Happening in the first episode), and then gradually I find myself liking him again. At the end of Season 3 (the last couple episodes), I do like him. Suddenly I feel like, hey, what he's saying sounds like me. Plus... I find him rather handsome sometimes. Haha. Not that I am the swoony sort, as you probably hopefully know. :D
But anyways, sometimes he annoys me. In Season 4 he's annoying in a couple episodes... so yes, my opinion of him varies a great deal. But as I said, he's definitely my favorite of Laura's suitors (the most suited to her, indubitably) and I find their romance interesting. Some people think she should have ended up with Fisher... but I'm always like, no way. Nope. Daniel is better. Duh. I mean, he gives up a big, important journalism position and instead starts a newspaper in Candleford on his own, which would be more work and obviously a lot less money and future. Fisher, on the other hand, was like, eh, well, I was going to marry you, but I don't want to be tied down to you so I'm gonna skip town. Bye-bye. 
Anyways. Moving on.

Favorite episodes
Well, it's rather more hard to divide these for this season because I like a larger portion of the episodes more than I do in some of the other seasons. Plots I found particularly interesting were 1, 11, and 12... I also enjoyed 2 and 5. And I pretty much liked any of them for the most part, besides...

Not-so-favorite episodes
2 - Well, part of this one is okay, and important to the story (to do with Daniel). But the other part is not okay. Queenie's superstitious nonsense is always weird, but really this one gets too witchcraft-y and I don't approve. Also, the plot is just a dud in general and once again makes Thomas look like an idiot and combining good opinions with rather odd ones... ugh.
4 - This one is interesting but a bit heavy to be one I like to re-watch much.
6 - This one is fine too, but it can get a bit annoying. 

Recognizable actors

As in Season 2, I just recognized a couple...
Hattie Morahan as Enid Farliegh
As soon as this character showed up, I said "It's ELINOR!" Hattie Morahan played Elinor Dashwood in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility, and I'd never seen the actress on anything else so it was rather exciting. ;) Her plot did surprise me a bit, but I don't want to spoil it so I'll keep mum. ;) Anyways, she's a seamstress who ends up helping Miss Pearl with a big project while Ruby is gone. Hmm, I never did talk about that part of Miss Ruby's story... oh well.
Anyways, this was episode 8.

Rosie Cavaliero as Mrs. Mullins
This actress played Mrs. Plornish in Little Dorrit. It's funny to see the Plornishes both on the show, but at different times. ;)  Mrs. Mullins is one of the characters in LRTC who randomly pops up and she's supposed to have always been around, we've just never seen her before, and we never see her again. (She's in episode 10.) 

Season Four (2011)


Season 4 is probably my second favorite... well, no, I'm not exactly sure. I'm kind of neutral about it. There are no episodes I particularly love, or that I particularly hate. The main problem with Season 4 is that it is only half as long as it should be--with 6 episodes. Then they just... stop. I mean, the ending doesn't exactly leave you hanging but it could easily continue further, and it seems like they're trying to tie it up fast. And why? I guess they stopped half-way through just so they could concentrate on Downton Abbey. (Nonono. Stick with Lark Rise, peeps.) I would have liked to see Laura's wedding, or at least have her engaged. (I like proposal scenes. Sniff.) But no. 
Anyways. 

Main characters from Season 4

Gabriel Cochrane 
This is the only new main character in this season.  Swamped in debt, his business is taken away and in the depths of affliction (he recently lost his adored wife, who as it turns out... well, plot spoilers there) he lands in Candleford and works as the new blacksmith for Miss Lane. (It would seem the forge was not in operation during seasons 2 and 3, haha. There was another blacksmith in Season 1. Are we just supposed to assume he was still there? I can't remember if it was explained in Sesaon 4 or not...) And of course, he's the romantic interest for Miss Lane in this season--and the one she ends with. In this series it seems like her beaux always end up leaving town (which Gabriel was about to do, haha) so who knows what would have happened if the series had continued. :P
I don't really like him all that much... but he was better than James Dowland. ;) 
I call him Allan Woodcourt just about as often as Gabriel or Mr. Cochrane, because that was the character he (Richard Harrington) played in Bleak House.

And then Sydney and Daniel Parish are still here. 

Episode Preferences
Like I said, with this season I pretty much like all the episodes the same. Except for 3; I don't care for that one. It's... odd. (And it has creepy Mr. Guppy person. Er, that is, he played Mr. Guppy in Bleak House. In this he is a clergyman. Of a sort.) And I get a little bit tired of 5 if I see it too often. My favorite is probably 6, because it's the last episode of the series and though it shouldn't have ended, the ending is sweet and the episode is interesting. (I especially like the part where Minnie gets engaged. Awwww. Oh that's right! There is a proposal scene. How nice.) 

Recognizable Actors

Well, in this season it's just one, besides for the main characters--Burn Gorman, who as I said, played Mr. Guppy in Bleak House. And he's even creepier on this one. *shudders* (The character's name is Reverend Marley, by the way.) Haha, I remember I was watching most of this season when it was playing on TV, and when I saw the "coming next" at the end I said out loud to myself "Oh noooo! It's Mistuh Guppyyyyyy!" (Yes. I am a nutcase. Thank you for noticing.)

Other Stuff



Costumes

Kind of hit and miss. There are some I really like, and others are just all right. (Plus, of course, since everybody in Lark Rise is rather poor, their clothes are never very interesting.) Laura and Margaret Ellison/Brown probably wear some of my favorite outfits. I quite adore this one pictured-- it might have been from the batch Dorcas gave Laura when she first came to Candleford, that she said she wore when she was younger.


Music
Ha, this is also rather hit and miss. The main theme is... well, catchy. But I can't say I really like it (though I don't dislike it either). Some of the music on here is very fun, especially when some random person on the show is playing it... as for the background themes, they vary. There are some that particularly annoy me after a while when they come up (especially in seasons 1 and 2, I think) and others that I always like. My favorite episode for music is season 3, episode 11, I think it is. It's the sort of sentimental-sounding fiddle music theme for one of the characters I guess--but I can't say who because if you haven't seen the whole thing you shouldn't know yet that that person will be there. ;)

Content Advisory
In a nutshell, I wouldn't recommend this show to Younger Folks. While most of the time it's discreet, it does deal with a lot of subjects that are... awkward, and designed for adult viewers. And sometimes it is a little more suggestive than even I like; but I am very picky about such things. There are some episodes, of course, that would be appropriate for younger viewers, but a lot that wouldn't, in my opinion. So I would just advise exploring it before letting your children or younger siblings watch it with you if you are a picky person too. :) I believe the show would be rated PG.

Conclusion (haha)
So, would I recommend this period drama? Is it worth it?
Yes, I do think so, if you want to get into a whole series. I didn't think so before I actually watched the whole thing, but now I am converted. The only things I would warn against are above.

Anyways, I really enjoyed it and will continue to in the future. :)

Soooo what about you? :D

Many, many thanks to Miss Laurie for use of her LRTC screencap stash! They did work as great motivation. :)
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