22 March 2006 | tedg
Internals not Seen
TeeVee miniseries exist because of strange economic wrinkles. The nature of the medium is so episodic, so finely grained that it is forced to satisfy the needs created by the sameness and thinness. Its why MacDonalds' sells chicken.
So just as the main fare is perverted in a cartoonish simple sense, so is the antidote extreme in the other.
To feed this beast, you need to have stories that only have scope in the larger context and you must (a rule) be able to get that context only by watching more than one chunk, what in TeeVee land is called an episode. Its a strange term that belies its odd requirements.
Into this niche have long come soap operas, shaped by emotional bumpings and worries of extreme characters. And for a few decades the rich uncle of soap operas have flourished as well. These have to be lush, set in a romantic era. And if they come from a respected novel, so very much the better.
Its better because viewers think they are doing something intelligent, and also because writers don't have to thrash out the essential mechanics. But in reality it doesn't matter what the source material, these all go through more or less the same refining process and come out the other end much the same. Its a matter of market need.
If you actually read the books behind these you'll find a bewildering variety that isn't apparent in their small screen translations. Where Austen (for example) was all about the appearance, Eliot was about the internal holding of bonds. Where Austen was all about attaining a position, Eliot, writing in the next generation, was about the challenges of holding those positions.
In a way, Eliot's innovation was get inside, under the appearance. It doesn't matter what the doctor's house or service look like, only that some nitwit thinks the appearance is important. Its a bit scandalous that as we consume this product, what attracts us, at root, is the appearance of the thing. We are the enemy she writes about.
If you just glanced at this, you'd find it indistinguishable from any of the other such pretty things it is classified with. Its a true insult to the book. An absolute scandal. The creative team should be driven out of the village. Cinematic heathens!
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.