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PBS Masterpiece - "Sanditon"

Jane Austen's unfinished manuscript "Sanditon" started this week as an 8 episode mini-series .. although it looks like there will be 2 episodes together over 4 weeks. I think it takes place during the beginning of the 19th century Regency period, at the seaside resort of Sanditon. 

 

I find it a bit strange how wealthier families would have occasion to meet less wealthy ones, and invite one of their children .. usually an elder daughter .. to spend "the season" with them, being introduced into society. The young woman is almost always very smart & forthright, but not very skilled in the conventions of high society or the nobility, yet their host & hostess don't provide much guidance. 


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I just checked the number of episodes (8), then came across an article about Season 2 .. so of course I had to check it out. More than saying there probablt wouldn't be a season 2, it talked about the finale of season 1, which really annoyed me! If you don't want to know the ending, either don't check the link, or read it only as far as the spoler alert.


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What a huge disappointment! They build the drama, and then it just abruptly ends.I guess the audience can write their own ending? I've never seen anything like this. I just knew that Georgina would be the one to rescue Sanditon using part of her fortune. Instead, we don't know what becomes of her, or anyone else, or Sanditon for that matter. A real bummer if no S2.

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@MaVolta Obviously Sidney sacrifices his own happiness, to keep brother Tom Parker & the  Sanditon project afloat, by marrying the now-widowed & very wealthy Mrs. Campion .. who threw Sidney over for a wealthy man when they were young. It did seem that there was a real contest for Charlotte's affections early on, between Sidney Parker & young Stringer .. but that didn't seem to be pursued, after Charlotte realized how caring & responsible Sidney was. I guess the one happy ending was one we didn't expect, when Esther Denham sobers up about the sort of person her step-brother Edward is, and allows herself feelings for Lord Babbington, and winds up marrying him in the end. The one very odd relationship is the one between 3rd brother Arthur Parker & sister Diana Parker. Whereas Tom & Sidney are virile young men, Arthur & Diana seem to be hypochondriacs gloating about all of their illnesses/weaknesses. And when Arthur becomes motivated to be more active, Diana drags him down with warnings about how dangerous that would be. And in the end, we see that she's afraid of him developing a relationship with Miss Lamb (or any other woman, probably), because that would leave her alone! 


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@ASTRAEA  - I was also happy about the way things worked out for Esther and Lord Babbington. I think that she always liked him, but held back because of her low self-esteem. She didn't think any good and decent man would really care about or love her, but Babbington truly did. Then she felt free to let go of it all and marry him. The other good part was Lady Denham's recovery, and throwing the conniving Clara and Edward out on their heels without a pence, leaving Esther as her sole heir. That was sweet! 

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@MaVolta I thought that Esther, Edward & Clara were equally coniving, in their own ways. Since Esther & Edward had the Denham name, I also thought they felt that they were better than everyone, and that if Edward had been left $$$ & not just his title, he & Esther would have gotten married. Edward was a good-looking guy, and I thought that Esther believed that Babbington didn't measure up to him. I don't think it was until she realized that Edward & Clara had conspired to split Lady Denham's estate, that she began to distrust Edward, and reevaluate her attitudes about people. 


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True that Esther was no saint. I'm not sure that she ever trusted Edward. There were times that she seemed to have doubts about whether or not he would marry her. She even questioned his coldness toward their aunt. She at least showed some concern for Lady Denham, where as Edward only cared about himself. I think that deep down Esther had reservations about Edward complicated by her low self-esteem. Maybe she thought Edward was her only chance at marriage?

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Esther was very pretty; prettier than any of the other young ladies her age. The Jane Austen FanWiki has some background on the Denhams and it says that Esther barely has a dowry to make her a worthwhile catch. If you click on Lady Denham, it gives more details about her marriages. Her immense wealth came from husband #1, Mr. Hollis, a man of property & fortune, much older than her. When he died, she married Lord Harry Denham for his title. Her maiden name was Brereton .. like her niece Clara!


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Thanks for the info.

 

Yes, I remember that Lady Denham was telling Esther about her marriages, etc. Esther looked somewhat surprised to be hearing this, and her expression seemed sympathetic.

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I'm a fan of 'costumers', but this series is too long and too silly.


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@retiredtraveler - It's an interesting comparison, that we were talking about how compressed the 3rd/final episode of "Howard's End" felt last week, and I just watched Austen's "Sense & Sensibility" (movie) Saturday night! I too was becoming annoyed by Charlotte Heywood last night. What seemed like her just being precocious & "modern" in the beginning, now feels more like her acting like she's the center of the universe, having to express her oponions about everything, and share personal details about other people with absolute strangers .. like that woman at the ball.


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"....having to express her oponions about everything, and share personal details about other people with absolute strangers .. like that woman at the ball....".

 

Yes. I found that an 'odd' scene. And yes, I'm still watching this thing, since we started it, even though it's dragging on (imho) and still silly.

   I find the reviews interesting. Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave this a low score, but their audience score was very high.IMDB gave it a good, but not great, score. Anyway, we like what we like.


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It might be very interesting to binge-watch all the Austen movies & TV mini-series, both in chronological order of when each started, and from oldest to newest production. It might give us more of a continuum of 18th/19th century manners & social mores, as well as how 20th century producers have interpretted the same material.

 

Another "problem" I've Identified, is the deviation in age between the characters Austen created, and the actors cast in those parts, which viewers can't avoid being influenced by. For example, "in Sense & Sensibility", the sensible Elinor Dashwood is supposed to be 19, and her emotional younger sister Marianne 16-1/2 .. both very young. But Elinor was played by Emma Thompson, who was 36 years old at the time, so a viewer couldn't help thinking of her as "almost an old maid". Kate Winslet was 20, only slighly older than Marianne, but what was supposed to be a 2-1/2 year age gap between the sisters, was in reality 16 years .. enough for Thompson to look old enough to be Winslet's mother!

 

 


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@ASTRAEA  - Is this on your local PBS?  Lucy Worsley starts with the Georgian period and works her way through about 300 years of British cultural history. In episode one, she has a lot to say about Jane Austen and the early romance novels that influenced her, as well as the social norms of the times. I think this might be exactly what you're looking for. Eps 2 airs this evening on my local PBS.

 

One thing I found interesting was that "sense" and "sensibility" had entirely different meanings in the 18th century English vernacular. Maybe you already know, but Lucy explains. Here's a link to if you missed Eps 1.

 

https://www.pbs.org/show/very-british-romance-lucy-worsley/

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@MaVolta I watch Thirteen (NYC), but also get PBS on NJTV and a Philly station. I wanted to watch the show about romance, but fell asleep part way thru it. I watched it the night after watching "Sense and Sensibility", and had an aha moment about the 2 sisters!


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Sanditon has a great cast of characters. I like the way Charlotte Heywood speaks her mind at a time when women were to be seen and not heard. She seems especially interested in architecture, and the young architect seems very attracted to her. But then she seems to be forming this push-pull relationship with Sidney Parker, which can become an attraction all it's own. Will she be swayed by one or the other? Or will she take up a career on her own? Such possibilities. I also wonder if the heiress Miss Lambe will break free of Parker's control and establish herself, maybe become one of the investors of Sanditon. 

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@MaVolta - I think that Sydney Parker explained that he had business dealings with Miss Lambe's father, and when the father died, he wound up being her guardian .. until she turns 18/21. It doesn't help that she isn't very cooperative, so he's more strict than if she followed guidelines. Maybe it's those times, but Charlotte Heywood comes from a comfortable but not wealthy family, yet she's invited to stay with the Parkers in Sanditon for an extended period of time as their guest. It's not like they have a daughter her age to pal around with, and she's not expected to be nanny to their children. All of Lady Denham's young relatives are annoying!


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@ASTRAEA  - I think that Sidney Parker is going to have his hands full with Georgina and Charlotte! But he does have authority, and he knows how to use it. This is going to be interesting! The young ladies also have a lot of determination.

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@MaVolta In the last episode, Tom Parker really began to annoy me. Here he is strung out financially, and unable to extend his financing for the development of the resort, and he renegs on getting additional laborers to help "young" Stringer, but on a whim he goes into a shop & buys an expensive necklace for his wife! So he's something of an idealist with his head in the clouds .. the sort of gentleman in the early 19th century who could bring his family to financial ruin.


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