Lost in Austin Austen*

Saturday, 6 September 2008

In all things WordPress, I bow to Allyn Gibson. If my own ability to put a site’s design together falls over, I will whimper at him until he helps out. So, given his posts about the joys of upgrading wp, I naturally approached my first live upgrade with some trepidation. It took less than five minutes. So that’s another time-wasting plan foiled. Only a few days left till I submit the novella, so I need some rocket fuel today.

I’m thinking about writing a review of Lost in Austen for shiny shelf, but I suspect my current editor – who also writes for t’shelf – might spot that. My emailed rant, the morning after, runs something like:

Someone suggested that watching Lost in Austen on ITV1 was a Bridget Jonesy thing that would count as research. It was not and does not. It takes the amusing conceit of The Eyre Affair and stamps on it until it becomes that Austen spoof episode of Red Dwarf but with less jokes. It demonstrates the depths Alex Kingston‘s career has reached. It doesn’t cut back to Lizzie Bennent on a binge-drinking session whilst watched a DVD of Colin Firth. And it has a Darcy about whom the only comment [big magpie] could produce was “he needs to brush his hair”.

Sorry, I can’t believe I wasted an hour on such drivel and I’d like to vent. The best thing about it was the advert for Paignton Zoo in the middle.

Naturally, any actual review will be more measured, and point out that, actually, Alex Kingston does a good job on playing this revisionist version of Mrs Bennett, and that Hugh Bonneville was a very good Mr Bennett. It might mention Lost in Austen not only in the context of The Eyre Affair but also the long tradition of Pride and Prejudice professional fanfic such as Pemberley or Pride and Promiscuity.  None the less, the tv series is lazy and presumes the central conceit will carry the viewer over the lack of convincing dialogue or original characters. Unlike Sam in Life on Mars (a series Lost in Austen is drawing much comparison to), there is zero empathy towards the contemporary character stranded in this strange world.

*I’m not the only one to think a comedy of errors in the style of the early Coen brothers and called Lost in Austin would be better, right?

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