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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good adaptation of 2 very good books
It's about time Phillip Pullman got some positive limelight... all the stupid fuss over the anti-religious elements of 'His Dark Materials' rather overshadows the fact that he is an excellent writer. The 'Sally Lockhart' books are a fascinating glimpse into a shady Victorian world and how damn difficult it was to be a woman 150 years ago. Sally Lockhart is a feisty and...
Published on 21 Jan 2008 by Meerkat

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable
This 2 dvd box set is good value for money for what i would call 'Autumn / Winter Sunday evening viewing'. They are not the most exciting productions and i felt the endings were rushed, with lots of information coming at once. But for the price they provide inoffensive gentle viewing.
Published on 30 Jun 2010 by Spratly


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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good adaptation of 2 very good books, 21 Jan 2008
By 
Meerkat (Dereham, Norfolk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
It's about time Phillip Pullman got some positive limelight... all the stupid fuss over the anti-religious elements of 'His Dark Materials' rather overshadows the fact that he is an excellent writer. The 'Sally Lockhart' books are a fascinating glimpse into a shady Victorian world and how damn difficult it was to be a woman 150 years ago. Sally Lockhart is a feisty and engaging heroine and, for once, Billy Piper is well cast in the lead role. She manages to convey the spirited independence of the main character while clearly showing us the restrictions placed on women at that time. I hope very much that the next one will be filmed as it is a corker of a story.
As for these two, I heartily recommend them - they are very good stories with excellent characters and locations.
P.S. Does anyone else think that JJ Feild looks rather like Jude Law?!?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding woman in victorian London, 28 Feb 2010
This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed the two stories. The plot is set in victorian London. In the first episode we meet Sally Lockhart, apprehend her story and follow her in the first mistery in which she finds herself entagled. And we meet her new friends, who will help her. All taken into account it's an amusing product. A bit naive, perhaps, in the outlining of such an independent woman in the victorian era, but almost enjoyable. I think I'll buy others of the same sequel.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of All the Girls that are so Smart, 20 Jan 2008
By 
Foggy Tewsday - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
This two-DVD set features the opening two stories based on Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart novels. I should point out that I have not read any of the books in this series; this review is purely based on the DVD package. Both stories are feature length, running to approximately 90 minutes each. Disc one ("The Ruby in the Smoke") includes an interview with Philip Pullman. This is the sole bonus feature in the package, but both DVDs contain English subtitles if required.

`The Ruby in the Smoke' is set in England in 1874. Sally Lockhart (Billie Piper), a feisty young woman whose father has been killed in mysterious circumstances, now resides with her fusty Aunt Caroline. "What accomplishments do you have?" asks the spiteful elderly lady. Sally tells her that she has none save the ability to fire a pistol, speak Hindustani and to read an accounts ledger as easily as a newspaper. By the time she has removed herself from this stifling atmosphere, Sally is immersed in her first mystery. The catalyst for this upheaval is a cryptic note that she has received from Singapore concerning her father's untimely death. Much murderous mayhem and derring-do ensues when the eponymous ruby's existence becomes known.

Sally's business acumen comes to her rescue when she takes on the books at the lovelorn Frederick's (JJ Field) photography business in return for bed and board. He and capable cockney lad, Jim (Matt Smith), take on sidekick status as they are confronted by the vile and devious Mrs. Holland (Julie Walters in superb form) who will stop at nothing in order to secure the ruby for herself.

Matt narrates some small portions of the story via voice-over. Unfortunately, his `cor blimey' tones are a little grating here, and, thankfully, this device was not continued for the next story in the series, `The Shadow in the North'.

In this story, a weapon capable of widespread destruction has been invented. The villain of the piece is Axel Bellman (Jared Harris), a businessman who is not above using mass murder and blackmail to get what he wants. Sally has now gone into business as a financial consultant and is distressed to learn that one of her clients is close to financial ruin thanks to her advice to invest in a shipping company whose vessel has subsequently sunk in mysterious circumstances. The owner of this company? None other than Axel Bellmann. This tale also takes music hall acts and psychics into the mix as the faithful Jim and Frederick rejoin Sally in a new mystery.

The acting is uniformly excellent (notably from Julie Walters in the first story). Billie Piper grows into the lead role nicely. The first story calls for a more restrained and understated performance given her character's age and status. `The Shadow in the North' sees Sally blossom into a more determined and independent woman. This story is also a little lighter in tone than its predecessor; there's even room for a few jokes. I particularly enjoyed theatre manager, Bram Stoker (Owen Roe) reject the disappointed Jim's play script, "There's no future in vampire stories," Stoker informs him. In another scene, Sally visits the Patents Office to find out about Bellmann's business dealings. Here she encounters an awkward young clerk played to perfection by Nitin Ganatra. His mannerisms and facial expressions are hilarious and his discomfort is palpable when faced with the attractive Sally. His is just an incidental character, but I'm glad they included him. Both stories are highly visual with some stunning photography which captures the colourful opulence of the haves as well as the dingy squalor of the have-nots.

It would have been nice if some more bonus material could have been included such as cast and crew interviews or audio commentaries, but the Philip Pullman interview on the first disc is interesting as he talks about the process of writing his books and gives his thoughts on their translation to the small screen.

Both stories are quite involved, but utterly compelling, and with television of this quality repeated viewing is a pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The BBC does it again! Another excellent adaptation, 26 Feb 2008
By 
J. Takata (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
As with many other BBC productions, this new adaptation of Philip Pullman's excellent Sally Lockhart series does not disappoint. It stars the headstrong protagonist Sally Lockhart, following her adventures and the enigmatic events that unfold around her. They story has all the right elements of a Victorian melodrama: rubies, murders, opium, a plot in the north, guns, Chinese traders... and it all comes together within a wonderful Victorian atmosphere. You can almost smell the opium lingering in the air and the run-down feel of the docklands. The plot meanders and tangles together, until it culminates in a dramatic climax.

I still feel that Billie Piper was a little miscast - I felt a lack of connection with her, and she does not match with my personal image of Sally. Objectively, however, she pulls off a great performance, as do the rest of the cast. A special mention must go to the chilling Julie Walters, as well as the actor who plays Jim.

All in all, an excellent adaptation that is well worth a watch. I shall be very much looking forward to The Tiger in the Well and The Tin Princess.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Adaption, 19 Jan 2008
By 
M. R. Jones (Plymouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
Adapting books for the screen is always a hard thing to do. When it's adapted for the TV it can become worrying. But this set is actually enjoyable.
Billie Piper does a good job being Sally Lockhart, and a good supportive cast help to make this a good program.
People will always say the books are better....of course they are. But in terms of other screen efforts this is an exciting program that all the family will enjoy. Mine certainly did!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sally Lockart Mysteries - Well done..., 21 Feb 2011
By 
A. Baare (Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
A little hesitant at first, if Billie Piper would be the right choice for the leading role, I was quickly taken in. She did a superb job. Julie Walters was also an excellent choice! I believe that both films caught my own ideas regarding people and places well. The actors were all carefully selected and I hope that "The Tiger in the Well" and "The Tin Princess" are in the making...!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable, 30 Jun 2010
By 
Spratly (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
This 2 dvd box set is good value for money for what i would call 'Autumn / Winter Sunday evening viewing'. They are not the most exciting productions and i felt the endings were rushed, with lots of information coming at once. But for the price they provide inoffensive gentle viewing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruby and the smoke, 2 Nov 2008
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This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
I think that the filming an the actors and actress really did fit the part of the movie and i also loved the dramatic ending!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have done better!, 31 Jan 2010
This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
Both these films were very well made, and with one exception, the characters excellently portrayed. The exception was Julie Walters as the vicious Mrs. Holland. She inspired as much terror in me as my elderly next door neighbour. Miss Walters is an excellent and accomplished actress but, possibly due to the rather tame and sanitised directing of the film, left me with very little of the feeling of evil which permeates the books. Perhaps the producers didn't want to frighten the horses or perhaps they were incapable of conveying the stink of corruption which is a central part of the stories.
The music - a bland wallpaper type of non-music - was most irritating. Could they not have engaged a real composer for the task to generate a bit more excitement than the inane babble - fortunately not too prominent - which accompanied this production?
The locations were authentic but too clean! I hope that the next two tales will have a bit more atmosphere and pace in them and that the talented cast and production crew will be better served in future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars so it was great to see these again, 15 July 2014
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This review is from: Sally Lockhart Mysteries - (Ruby in the Smoke & Shadow in the North) [DVD] (DVD)
I remember when these first came out, and we live quite near to where they filmed some of it. The link in these films and Captain America is JJ Feild. I have been tracking down all his films, so it was great to see these again.
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