So I am so excited about Death Comes to Pemberley.
It’s not because I liked the book and wanted to see how it converted to screen, but because this means I will finally have something Jane Austen to review for Horrorfest!
The only thing I’ve been able to do that was Jane Austen in the month of October was a post where I dressed the Austen men up in costumes, but nothing like this! I can finally review something real! Oh, yay!
So the book, I didn’t really care for, and you can check out my post on that if you wish, but for now: let’s look at the TV show.
So this is the first time I have reviewed a miniseries for my blog and I thought about it and figured the best thing would be to review it episode by episode, rather than all at once like the Emma (1996) film review.
So I will just review episode one, and will continue to review the episodes every month or every two months. I haven’t decided yet.
Well that’s enough chit chat, am I right?
So we begin with very serene landscape. Is this supposed to be contrast for what is to come or just the cinematographer showing off?
Two maids are out in the forest, although they are not supposed to be. One is scared while the other, Joan is braver. What looms in the forest?
Both take off screaming. What have they seen?
Were they afraid of the remains of his crazy grandfather?
So we move back to Pemberley
There all are getting ready for the Queen Anne’s ball. Elizabeth is doing well with her preparations but is interrupted when the girls return and shout about seeing Mrs. Reilly’s ghost. Who is Mrs. Reilly? I thought it was Mr. Darcy’s ghost that haunted the woods.
I’m not sure I like this actress as Elizabeth Bennet-Darcy, she just doesn’t seem right, but of course there is still time to change my mind. I’ll reserve judgement until the end of the episode.
Darcy seems so crazy, with his introduction of him yelling at everyone, I don’t like that. He’s not one to loose his temper easily, especially as this is something he does every year.
He and Elizabeth seem to be having issues, the way they interact, but then he writes her a love note. I don’t know, that scene seemed off for some reason.
Darcy needs to get out of the house so he takes his son hunting with him. In the book I thought they had two sons. Oh well, neither one played a large role in the novel so I guess it doesn’t really matter of they only have one.
When Mr. Darcy is about to get his horse ready, he and the butler have a few words. The butler’s son Will Bidwell, is incredibly ill. His father is heartbroken that he can’t do anything and that his son won’t take up his legacy.
Back inside, Elizabeth’s duties are done so she and Georgiana are having a private chat. Georgina has a secret smile which means only one thing.
She’s in love. But with who?
Colonel Fitzwilliam arrives early as he has something on his mind. He wants to marry Georgina as he cares for her, has just inherited the family fortune (as his brother, the eldest died), and will be returning to war soon. Elizabeth isn’t sure how Georgiana feels about him, but has no objections as long as she cares for him.
Col. Fitzwilliam says he will have to ask Darcy first, and Elizabeth gets all mad saying it is Georgiana’s decision.
Uh, seriously Elizabeth? You know how the world works. One has to ask the father, of if absent the guardian, and present his interest to them. It’s not like you just ran off to elope unless you wanted to disgrace your family like Lydia Bennet or Julia Bertram from Mansfield Park.
So one thing I notice about this show is that it does A LOT of shots of the beautiful scenary and landscapes. Now this isn’t something I would normally mind, but this is a mystery. You know it needs suspense, a different type of mood.
Instead it is very light and pretty.
We then see Elizabeth visiting the Bidwells to deliver books to the sickly Will. Will’s sister has just returned from visiting their oldest sister and brought back her baby to visit, George.
They try to lift Will’s spirits, but his death is approaching and there is little that can be done, other than to try and make his last days happy.
So all these pretty landscape shots are actually starting to get on my nerves. This is a MYSTERY!! DEATH IS IN THE NAME.
Elizabeth suddenly comes across a well-dressed women in purple just standing in the forest. That was a bit creepy. She chases after her, but all that remains is her hat.
Then the music starts taking a creepier twinge and we hear rustling.
And the woman suddenly appears behind!
I don’t remember that in the book. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered a hissing woman.
Anyways, it does not bode well for the ball, no it does not at all.
Mr. Henry Alveston arrives, a lawyer, and Georgina is ecstatic to see him.
Then Mr. and Mrs. Bennet arrive.
Back at the local Inn, Denny and Wickham have been talking. Denny and him are fighting over something Wickham wants him to do, a note he would like delivered. Lydia joins them and they stop their arguments, continuing to the carriage.
Mr. Bennet sneaks off to the library for relief from the crowds.
They are all in the parlor where Georgiana is looking at the a book which has pictures of Col. Fitzwilliam’s castle. What started as a friendly discussion turns into a measuring contest between Fitzwilliam and Alveston, as to who is the better man.
Colonel leaves suddenly for an evening ride. Strange….
Night comes and Denny yells for the carriage to stop, getting out. Wickham chases after him, leaving Lydia all alone in the carriage.
Mrs. Bennet finds a portrait of Wickham, and Elizabeth tries to get rid of it as it upsets both Darcys, but Mrs. Bennet can’t take the hint.
Luckily music always can change the subject.
To stop Mrs. Bennet from going on, Darcy goes to ask Lizzy for a dance. While the two are dancing, Elizabeth lets Darcy know what is going on with Georgiana and how there are two men interested in her. Before they can finish their conversation they are interrupted as a carriage comes barreling through.
It turns out to be Lydia who is in hysterics. She is so out of it that she has to be slapped to speak. When she finally can talk she tells them Wickham was shot.
She heard the shot and came rushing back. She relates all that happened between Wickham and Denny being angry, them going off into the woods, etc. Just as they are preparing to go out. Col. Fitzwilliam rides up to the house.
Lydia stops her freaking out to ask for her trunk as she doesn’t want her dress ruined.
Darcy just ignores it; calls for the doctor, and gets an expedition ready to head out. As they start, Darcy notices that Col. Fitzwilliam has a gun with him. Just in case he says.
Now we go finally have some spooky shoots.
So the men split up as they start searching for Wickham.
Back at Pemberley, the doctor gives both Mrs. Bennet and Lydia a sedative as they are in hysterics. Elizabeth is hoping for the best, and that she can give them a hot meal and send them on their way, not planning for the Wickhams or Denny to stay long. Oh how our plans never quite go as imagined, eh.
They find Wickham with Dennys, him shouting that it is all his fault. His only friend in the world and he killed him. Fitzwilliam finds a pistol, and it has been recently fired.
It rains as they move everything back to the carriage to bring to Pemberley.
When they return to Pemberley, Wickham starts yelling that there is a killer out there somewhere, they need to go back and look in the woods.
Georgina has to face Wickham after years of hoping never to see his face and does quite well. But of course she is in love with Alveston, so it doesn’t affect her as much.
While Wickham is okay, Darcy has to call in Sir Selwyn Hardcastle the nearest magistrate, and must go get him immediately so as not to look like he is covering anything up. Darcy himself rides out to Hardcastle to inform him of the death.
Harcastle comes in and he doesn’t mess around. He looks at Wickham and is angry the housekeeper for cleaning his face, and tampering with evidence. They then go look at Dennys.
Dennys was bludgeoned to death, first smacked in the front of his head and then pounded in back. The news of this comes as quite a surprise.
But if he was bludgeoned in the head, why did everyone hear gunshots? What were they for?
Elizabeth is wandering about Pemberley as she just can’t sleep. She then comes upon Col. Fitzwillliam burning a letter, Suspicious.
Hardcastle stays on to interview Wickham as soon as he wakes. Elizabeth is told of the murder and she an Darcy just hold onto each other as they try to ponder this evil that has come to their home.
The next day Darcy tells Elizabeth the story of the “ghost” in the woods. A young boy Reilly was found poaching and instead of just getting a slap on the wrist they hanged him. His mother was extremely upset and and hanged herself in Pemberley woods. And now superstition is that her ghost appears whenever misfortune is about to strike.
Elizabeth thinks maybe the woman that hissed at her is the “ghost” the maids saw in the beginning. But that woman was a real women, and who is she?
They are called back to the house were Lydia is raving and ranting. Darcy’s son is upset and his father goes to comfort him, which gives us another touching scene of Darcy as a family man.
Hardcastle goes to talk to Wickham. Wickham says that he found Dennys dead and saw someone fleeing through the forest. He fired the gun at the guy, and then fired in the air again for help. When they ask about why Dennys was so upset, he left the carriage, Wickham tells him it is because he didn’t approve of Wickham crashing the party.
That just screams of a lie. Why would that make Dennys so infuriated that he couldn’t stand being around Wickham for another second. No, there is another reason…
But Wickham continues to proclaim his innocence.
“George Wickham: There is a murderer out there somewhere and you…you are wasting your time.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy, and Alveston are sitting waiting to see what will happen next when Alveston gives them some lawyerly advice. The best thing right now would be to think of sharing Wickham’s character. Do you think he could have killed him?
Darcy doesn’t think so as he knows Wickham would do a lot of shifty and immoral things, but murdering his friend is not one of them. Alveston brings up that maybe he was changed by the war, but Col. Fitzwilliam quickly nixes that idea.
But the next question Alveston brings up is very interesting. When Denny got out of the carriage why did he go into the woods? Why didn’t he follow the road back?
So Hardcastle has searched the carriage and found £30 in Wickham’s hat. Hardscastle sees him as the most likely man; money, a confession heard by three men to the death being his fault, only one in the woods, etc. He going to stop looking and have Wickham arrested.
Elizabeth decides to scrounge in the fireplace searching for remnants of the note Fitzwilliam burned.
She finds a piece that says “thank you for your support” and “meet me”. What does it mean?
They take Wickham away, with Lydia in hysterics and Wickham cooly taking it.
So while this is a review of an episode for Horrorfest V, this is also a review for a Jane Austen item, so we are going to go a little more in depth.
So the set design was really nice. They used the same Pemberley that they had in the 2005 film version. I liked the sets, the lighting, etc. The only thing that bothered me was how much time they spent on showing the beautiful and tranquil landscapes. It felt like they were padding the episode and just didn’t seem to work with a mystery. I mean Midsomer Murders shows the beautiful landscapes, but always lets you know their is something dark simmering, as murder shortly occurs. I think they should have done more of that, rather than having the beginning just a pretty Jane Austen film. I guess they were trying to pull a David Lynch and try and show beauty, then the evil; but it just didn’t feel as good as his work either.
So I thought the costumes looked great. We’ve mostly been in everyday wear as all are preparing for the ball, traveling, or going out hunting. I especially like how Georgiana always looks pure, sweet, and ethereal in her pastel and light gowns. Lydia on the other hand, just looked perfect in her deep maroon traveling gown. The men also look dashing and I have to say good choices were made for all, so far, in this production.
So let’s talk about characters, and I’m only going over the ones I felt we spent a lot of time with. How did everyone do?
Colonel Fitzwilliam is played by Tom Ward (who funnily had a bit part in P&P (1995) miniseries) and I hate his portrayal. Granted it probably isn’t him as I’m sure he is only doing what the script and director say. But he is just so cold, cruel, rude, and unlikable. It is totally weird from how he was in the book, which this is supposed to be a “sequel” or continuation of. In the book, Col. Fitzwilliam was the opposite of Darcy; fun, full of laughter, able to converse with anyone, liked to dance, etc. As a second son, he never grew up with the same responsibilities as Darcy did, so his character is lighter rather than burdened down with all he must take care of. Also as the second son, he has never had to deal with the throngs of daughters and mothers trying to ensnare him, and allowed him to be more open. Yes, I know this takes place years later and he has been through war; but his whole demeanor and the way he talked to everyone, even Georgiana, was so foreign from the original character. And I know they are trying to set him up as “the possible suspect”, but it would have been better if he wasn’t so harsh and rough all the times. I didn’t like him at all.
Elizabeth is played by Anna Maxwell Martin, but I didn’t like her performance. She always looks tired and out of it. I don’t know if she was trying to play overworked or stressed, but she just comes off really bland and boring. I didn’t like her at all. Plus she keeps getting mad at the idea of Georgiana and Col. Fitzwilliam getting married. Why? Its not like he is a bad guy, I mean you even thought about the idea of him, until he said it wasn’t possible for a second son to marry whomever.
The sad thing is that Elizabeth is such a cornerstone character that she has to be spot on, or else everything is going to fall flat.
At first I didn’t really like this Darcy. He wasn’t physically what I was imagining, but hey its hard when this was what came before.
You expect every Darcy to be as good looking. I also didn’t like his outburst in the beginning, and thought this guy isn’t Darcy. But as time went on, I began to enjoy Matthew Rhys’ portrayl of the character and thought that he captured who the Austen charater is better than any of the other actors in this production. He was kind, jovial, stern, serious, commanding; the perfect combination of married, fatherly, but still in charge of others Darcy. Good job Rhys.
So what did I think? I liked it a lot better than the book. The book was a bit dull in places and at times felt it would bring something up and then never come back to it. With its transference to film, things can be shown instead of just talked about; they tie the ghost into the mystery deeper with the maids in the beginning, and I think they are trying to make the ending more mysterious and less a straight telling account of what occurred. Yes I didn’t like how some of the characters were, but BBC you have intrigued me and actually made me want to see what happens next.
To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)
For the previous post, go to I’ll Be Watching You: Cat’s Eye (1987)
To read the review of the book this is based on, go to Death Comes to Pemberley
For more on Pride & Prejudice, go to Meet Cute: Darcy & Elizabeth Style
For more Pride & Prejudice adaptations, go to Baby Jane Austen
For more Jane Austen films, go to Emma (1996) AKA the Kate Beckinsale Version
For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary
For more TV series based on books, go to A Haunting We Will Go: The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977)