Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Book Is Better Than The Movie?

Or is it...

Recently, I was turned on to the Albert Campion series of stories by Margery Allingham. I ran across them in movie format on Netflix and was entranced. First off, they're set in the 30s, and I'm a sucker for that period. And Peter Davison as the charming Albert Campion, well, what's not to like there? While browsing other titles that Peter Davison had appeared in, I ran across "All Creatures Great and Small" by James Herriot. Now I can remember LOVING those book as a kid and getting to see Peter Davison as Tristan made it even more perfect.

Once the Campion series on Netflix was finished, I turned to my local library to catch up on the rest of Campion's adventures. But I was sadly disappointed. Dear reader, the idea of a mystery is to keep the reader hanging until the end of the story and not to give it all away in the first few pages. However, I'm afraid that Ms. Allingham had either lost her touch by the time she penned "Tether's End".

Within the first 34 pages of the book, not only was the murderer exposed, but also the most major clue was given and repeatedly pointed to as if the reader was an imbecile. So, I'm forced to say based on this sampling that the movie was indeed better than the book.

Moving on to All Creatures Great and Small, this BBC series ran for 7 seasons. I'm currently on season 4 and I must say that seasons 1-3 were every bit as good
as the book(s) it was based on.
But something happened between 1985 and 1988. It's commonly referred to as "The Other Darrin" phenomonon AND the "Recycled Script" phenomenon. Truly, I do believe that the powers that be at the BBC invoked the "Seven Year Rule" on the series, because there are episodes where a large portion of the dialog is lifted from season one (aired in 1977-78). Which I supposed would be forgivable had the beautiful Carol Drinkwater as Helen Herriot not been replaced with Whatsherbucket with the horsey-face and the grating voice. How DOES one explain moving from a lovely, mellifluous-voiced actress to another that is downright homely and irritating? Was it the ostensible "twelve year gap" between 1985 and 1988? Did Helen turn from lovely young wife to harridan? And adding "the other scotsman" with his bagpipes and bumbling good looks as the replacement n00b-Herriot? So I have to rate the first three seasons as at least as good as the book, but beginning with season four, it's a snooze-fest.

1 comment:

Jana Bennett said...

We've been watching Campion as well - and I checked out Flowers for a Judge to read, and yeah - slow. We've been watching Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn and I haven't had a chance to read it yet.