The BBC is doing a seven part mini-series covering the popular novel by Susanna Clarke that debuted in 2004. In an alternate timeline during the Napoleonic wars magic is practiced again in England. I love magic, the British, and weird characters so I initially picked up the book ready to fall in love but it was a wordy read that just didn’t capture me fast enough. I could NOT get through the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at all. It still sits on my shelf, mocking me. So I have no idea how this story ends which is rare. I always ending up watching the TV show or movie after reading the book. It’s the main reason I stay away from watching Game of Thrones. I’m usually disappointed. However, the BBC usually always delights me so I figured, in the absence of my beloved Doctor Who, I’d watch a different set of magic for a while.
The first episode covered about all of Volume I which was fun to see recapped on-screen. Childermass, played by Enzo Cilenti is a bit less slimy and rough, and a bit more yum than I imagined but he does direct Mr. Norrell in much the same fashion as in the book.
Mr. Norrell, from the moment he appeared to the moment the credits rolled, Mr. Norrell annoyed and irritated me with every look, breathe, and mannerism actor Eddie Marsan conveyed. It was beautiful. Marsan plays Mr. Norrell exactly as I imagined him.
Jonathan Strange delighted me. In the book he comes across as odd and nonsensical but in the miniseries he’s clearly a charming in-love bloke just trying to do something with his life, to get the love of his life. It doesn’t hurt that the actor, Bertie Carvel, is incredibly attractive with his fop of hair (reminiscent of a certain Doctor, perhaps?).
All in all I enjoyed the first part of this seven part mini-series and I cannot wait to tune in for more. Will the Raven King return? Will Mrs. Pole continue to dance? How much more magic can Jonathan Strange do? Will Drawlight, Mr. Norrell’s “John the Baptist”, continue being exasperating? Excited to find out!
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell debuts on BBC America Saturday, June 13 10:00pm ET.