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spoilt by technical deficiences
on 16 December 2010
First, a word about this version of Bennett's classic. It is very true to the original text and is a very comprehensive adaptation. Most of the actors do a good job of their parts, particularly Peter McEnery as Edwin Clayhanger. Harry Andrews is typically over the top as Darius Clayhanger, but the character in the book is so strong that it doesn't seem to matter. The only real problem for me was Janet Suzman as Hilda. The stilted delivery chosen for Hilda, particularly in the early years, I found irritating and very untrue to the character. If it is meant to portray her hidden insecurities, it fails dismally. Hilda Lessways is one of the most complex women in Victorian or Edwardian literature. All the more reason to approach her dramatisation with intelligence and empathy.
However, the main problem with this release is that the sound quality is very poor. For example, if you have it loud enough to hear all the dialogue easily, the music is then far too loud - and why do we have the closing and opening screens for the advertisement breaks? I'm a Northerner and even I have trouble interpreting the dialogue on occasion. Southerners must find much of it incomprehensible. Speaking of which, many of the accents are inconsistent. For example, teenage Edwin could come from Manchester, whereas the older Edwin has a touch of Brummie! Another serious technical problem is that, for much of the first disk, the ambient light is much too dark. This is so bad that I had a go at improving it using professional software. The results are stupendous! What this series really needed was a bit of love and care before being released. On balance, I would not recommend this set to anyone.