Friday, 15 November 2013

Magic and adventure, coming to a screen near you

Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is one of the most beguiling and imaginative books I've read and not one that I ever expected to see converted onto the screen, so it's exciting to hear that the BBC is not only intending to transfer it to TV drama, but also has actually begun filming the story this month.

Set during the Napoleonic wars, this tale of two very different magicians harks back to a mythical past of English magic and had me pretty much entranced throughout. It's a big book so the story will need each of the seven episodes allocated to the serial which will star Eddie Marson (Southcliffe) and Bertie Carvel.

There's been a glut of recommissioned dramas announced lately too, including The Walking Dead, which will be back for a fifth series and Atlantis (that was out of the blue, etc). The latter was mere weeks into its debut run but the Saturday evening ratings must have given them the confidence to go ahead for series two.

Atlantis is an interesting one because it's one of a very few in its genre of family-friendly adventure. Maybe years of a misspent youth watching the likes of Indiana Jones, old ITC serials like Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and the A-Team have coloured my opinion, but adventure/action serials just seem to be a bit thin on the ground nowadays.

Doctor Who is an example of a family-friendly adventure drama that is going from strength-to-strength, building to its 50th Anniversary crescendo. Over on Channel 4 on Friday nights, Marvel's Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing a great job of putting the adventure and – dammit – fun into TV without having to veer into graphic violence, police drama or another bleedin' serial killer.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is, to my mind, an adventure too. It's not serious drama, but the stakes are high, the plot is gripping and the characters are fascinating, as is the odd magical world Susanna Clarke has so effectively created. 

Maybe TV land has just fallen out of the habit of producing adventure serials, but with S.H.I.E.L.D, Doctor Who, Atlantis and maybe even Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell hopefully lighting up the ratings there is hope for us adventure fans yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment