4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating and absorbing adaptation,
This review is from: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie [DVD]  (DVD)
This is a wonderful authentically Scottish adaptation and exploration of Muriel Spark's famous novel. The title performance carries the series and is absolutely flawless. Throughout, one feels simultaneously like a child again, wide eyed in wonderment at Miss Brodie's beguiling authority, certainty and sophistication, yet also as an adult faintly staggered by her eccentric teaching methods and bizarre, dangerous and now hopelessly dated claims about the big wide world. The viewer adores Miss Brodie but cannot be other than deeply concerned about the cult of personality she gradually promotes around herself, concerned both for her impressionable 'little girls' and for herself. In my opinion, coming from Edinburgh, Ms McEwen's Brodie succeeds as an intriguingly flawed mesmerising character, whereas Dame Maggie's succeeds as a flawed mesmerising star performance, hampered by an extreme parody of the local educated Edinburgh accent. This version is much less exaggerated and mannered and all the more believable for it, there's no chewing up the scenery and no melodramatic scenes.
It's drawn from the same play by Jay Presson Allen as the movie, but it goes so much further into depth because it has seven hours of airtime. Sadly, it appears to have been designed to go into a second series and doesn't. It stops dead with all the characters fully developed but does not cover the later years of the students, the bitter betrayal of Miss Brodie and her downfall. In a way, that's rather a pleasant aspect of this version, as Miss Brodie remains in her prime at the end, while the viewer can imagine exactly where all this is heading. I have seen reviews that moan about the production values, but in reality school teachers and most Edinburgh citizens in 1930 would have had one main outfit, lived in drab surroundings, and the school would have been Spartan, so the series isn't lacking anything. It's also worth mentioning there is a lot of comedy in most of the episodes. Sandy and Jenny play their sniggering sex-confused ages with great verve and are generally very amusing and the gymnasium scenes are hilarious and probably horribly accurate.
One last point is to pay tribute to all the schoolgirls whose characters are well-drawn and who act their school socks off, and to the other teaching characters, who are quite simply wonderfully cast.
This is a gem.