Emma Approved – First 10 Episodes: The Review

I have been very nervous about watching Emma Approved. I loved The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but I wasn’t sure how a version of Emma would be – especially as a modernisation(well not so modern now…) was done in Clueless.

10 Episodes in: I love it! Emma(played by the fantastic Joanna Sotomura) is as delightfully annoying as she is in the books. Hilarious, but in a way that makes you want to tell her to shut up. In a good way. I know there are a lot of people who don’t like Emma, because she is, well, meddling, but I love that she is so self-assured, and unlike the other Austen heroines, she will not be dependent on the income of our husband, which makes her love story the most equal. We have Mr Knightly(or Snarky Knightly Brent Bailey ) present as a friend who co-runs their business, which is a nice twist to show their equal status and to take away the slighty icky Mr Knightly knowing Emma as a baby aspect of the story. I love that Emma is older, and much more together in terms of work than the Bennets – both Pemberley Digital stories really reflect the tone of the books in a much more effective way than I imagined.

I think I am Harriet! I always apologise for things that aren’t my fault, and I’m ridiculously clumsy. Looking forward to the rejections of Harriet play out – in the books they are so much about class, can’t wait to see the Pemberley Digital take. Hope it’ll be as great as the reworking of the Lydia storyline in the LBD’s.

Finally, I really enjoyed the take on the Weston’s – a part of the book that’s over and done with by the time it starts, its great to see a bit more of the build up. Looking forward to meeting Frank Churchill too!  Oh and Miss Bates. And Mr Woodhouse, most of all! Hope we do actually get to see him at some point. 

So, those are my thoughts so far. Let me know what you think!



Welcome to Sanditon

So, I cracked. I meant to wait until I re-read Sanditon before I watched the new web series from Pemberley Digital, but then I got another email from Youtube telling me a channel I subscribed to had uploaded a video, and I gave in.

Because I’ve only read Sanditon once, and a long time ago, I can’t really compare the two at this point – obviously Georgiana Darcy isn’t the lead in the unfinished novel! But I can give you my thoughts…

I liked it – but it has gripped me in the same way as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and The Lydia Bennet. I think its lacking the family and friendships that are so strong in those stories. The videos are meant for Darcy, and we see Gigi making new friends, but its not the same as that strong familial bond we’ve seen before. And Gigi is so much more of an observer, rather than being an intricate part of the story. It doesn’t make it bad – its all still well written, edited and acted as I still believe they are real people, but it just isn’t as engaging. However, we’re still early on, and it doesn’t have the luxury of being a story we all know really well even before its started. 

I think someone mentioned to me that it is an experiment in creating a story using the web – and I thought the clips of real people from Sanditon, California were really interesting. I am definitely getting a sense of the personality of the place – even more so than some of the people! Which, I guess, is all we really have from the novel, so in that case, the web series has been a success. I’m looking forward to seeing where the story takes us. Also, as I believe this web series is shorter than The LBD, I’m excited to find out what their next one will be! Any guesses?

Phoebe 🙂 

The Lydia Bennet

As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, I fairly recently started watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Like a lot of other viewers, I completely fell in love by the portrayal of Lydia, and yesterday I sat down to watch the spin-off. If you haven’t watched them yet, I’m going to talk about what they decided to do to update them, so if you don’t want to know, stop reading now!

It was fantastic. Mary Kate Wiles deserves a lot of credit for this, as should this list of very talented folk: Jay Bushman,Hank Green, Rachel Kiley, Jenni Powell and Bernie Su.

When reading Pride and Prejudice, the Lydia storyline always fascinated me. When I took part in a readathon for the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, I was excited that the chapter I got is the one focused on what happened with her and Wickham. When watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I was wondering what the writers would decide to do to update it. I thought she would either get married in Vegas(which the writers must have expected, as they sent her there to fool us!) or George would get her pregnant. The decision for it to be a sex tape was a much better choice I think, and it was this storyline that made me cry while watching the diaries. Seeing Lydia crushed by George’s betrayal and then watching her videos leading up to it are heartbreaking. You can see how lonely she is, and how inferior she feels to her sisters, and that is why she turns to George. Who also manages to come off as very charming – though I think discussing Wickham will have to be saved for another post. 

It was nice to see what drove her to that relationship with George, which I always felt wasn’t completely explored in the book(though I may be wrong – I’m rereading it at the moment so will keep you posted on if that opinion changes). And whether or not they were truly in love.

The one plus of the modern day version is that Lydia doesn’t have to stay with George. In the book she ends up marrying him, and as that is seen as fixing everything, I’ve always wanted to know more. Were they happy? Did he ever really love her? The third question – one which The Lydia Bennet has answered for me was – what drove her to it? Because we get to see it from her point of view, in the web series version, we can see what it is like for her being the youngest sister. It is quite clear in Pride and Prejudice that Elizabeth is Mr Bennet’s favourite, and Jane’s is Mrs Bennet’s and were it not for the story with Wickham, Lydia may have been forgotten in the way Kitty and Mary are.(Though I think the decision to make them a cat and a cousin respectively was a good on in LBD)

What the Lydia Bennet alongside The Lizzie Bennet Diaries have done, is remind me of the universality and timelessness of falling in love – and especially considering Lydia’s story – a broken heart.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries

When I first got cast in “An Evening at Home with the Austens” I started trawling the internet for blogs, fan fiction, websites and videos based on Jane Austen’s work, as I felt I was a bit rusty! It was then I first came across  The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but only made it to about episode 3 when I thought there were probably more useful ways for me to spend my preparation time. Like learning lines. But now, in the period between our first performance back in April, and our mini-tour in July, I have had the time to revisit the diaries. I started yesterday. I’m now on Episode 51. http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_12644&feature=iv&src_vid=jucS6hxGMMw&v=lMa5Oi44SwE

Does this count as an addiction?

As well as this, I’m also re-reading Pride and Prejudice. Why both at once?  Because Little White Dove set it as a challenge! http://thedovenest.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/im-not-to-blame/ I’m only on the Extended Version as I don’t own either the film or the BBC mini-series. And as you can tell by how many videos I’ve watched, I’m doing pretty well!

My thoughts so far, on both The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and my re-reading of Pride and Prejudice.

I was wary of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries when I first started watching them, and didn’t expect them to be quite as funny, well written and truthful to the story of the book. I think the choices of how to update it are brilliant – issues around debt rather than female inheritance, the decision on whether to take a high paying job which means leaving your education rather than marrying for practicality and there being a visiting swim team rather than the militia.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Mr Bennet and Mrs Bennet relationship is one of my favourites, even though sometimes(alright, a lot of the time) it seems like they don’t like each other – or their children – much. I’ve always read it as them being an exaggeration of what parents are – so the fact that they are only seen in the Diaries as Lizzie and one or other member of the cast dressed up as them, captures that perfectly.(I don’t know if they will appear later on – I really hope they do!)

I also love the Charlotte and Lizzie relationship and that you see that argument when Charlotte agrees to take the job. I think this version treats Charlotte better than any other I’ve seen – as a clever, pragmatic and funny woman rather than as the dowdy and dull one she is often portrayed as. She is Elizabeth Bennet’s best friend – surely that is enough of an argument to show how interesting she is? Anyway – I could go on defending Charlotte on for a very long time but now onto my surprise at Mr Darcy.

I did not remember how much you hear of Mr Darcy, and of his opinions, thoughts and feelings for Elizabeth from very early on in the book. I have always remembered it as being from Elizabeth’s point of view, so the reader agrees with her until he turns out to be nice. Whereas actually the reader knows he really likes her all along! My mind was boggled. In terms of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I still haven’t seen him yet…and this version actually IS from Lizzie’s point of view. But, obviously, we all know how it will turn out in the end!

And finally Jane Bennet. In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries she is amazingly sweet. I love her and Elizabeth’s relationship, and her heartbreak at Bing Lee leaving without telling her nearly made me cry. I felt for this Jane more than the Jane in the book. I’m not sure why, I just do.

And before I finish – Lydia is hilarious. When I’m done with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I’m moving on to Lydia’s 🙂 

Anyway, I’m hope that slightly mixed up comparison between the two was an enjoyable read! Tomorrow you’ll start to here more about the production I’m in “An Evening at Home with the Austens”