Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: The perfect drama

Sometimes a show comes along and takes your breath away, guts you and leaves you in a gasping heap lamenting the fact that its over. The newest one to add to that list of life-ruiningly good Dramas is "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. A adaptation of the novel by Susanna Clarke. It has just finished its seven episode run on BBC one and I have to say I loved every single minute.
Vinculus ( Paul Kaye) auditions for Magic Mike 3
Right a quick vague synopsis. An adorable puppy eyed man named Segundas (Edward Hogg) goes to The York Society of Magic (all gentlemen magicians, they are useless) to get the answer to an age old question, "why is there no magic done in England?". The answer is pretty darn complicated. In asking this question he is instantly hated by the society but befriends the equally puppy eyed Honeyfoot who by misadventure track down the thief of all the books of magic, Mr Gilbert Norrell, a grumpy magician in England with some very specific views on The Raven King. Anyway they persuade him to show his magic off at a price everyone in the society bar Segundas has to agree to never be magicians again. Meanwhile in a little church Jonathan Strange is being well strange, not yet magic he is far too busy flirting with Arabella, who could take him or leave him to be honest. Around the same time as all this Norell becomes famous and moves to London with his servant Childermass (oh boy oh boy, he's good on the eyes i'll tell ya now) where they meet Vinculus a street magician and resident wierdo that is saying odd stuff and then gives Jonathan Strange his first taste of magic. Things spiral from there and thats the first episode. Theres also some mean girls antics in society with the awful Drawlight and Lascelles, oh and dead ladies come back to life with missing fingers and fairies with serious eyebrows appear. Yeah, I think I covered it all.
My trash prince: Childermass (Enzo Clienti)
Anyway it's all about the revival of English magic in Georgian England, politics, sulky grumpy pretty people and lots of stuff really. Its so hard to explain it, I am just completely and utterly in love and i'm devastated that it is over. I should probably start with the title characters we have tiny Yorkshire grump, Gilbert Norrell (a magician that learnt it all from books, he isn't a natural like some people cough cough Jonathan Strange), he's played by Eddie Marsan who is flipping great btw. Then there is happy labrador Jonathan Strange, Bertie Carvel (also very much eye candy). An adorable little sod who after his Dad (spiteful git) freezes to death meets Vinculus and becomes one of the greatest magicians ever. Then of course there is Childermass, the pretty bloke who is the servant of Mr Norrell , sarcastic little shit and general grumpy creature and just the general Poldark of the show. Then theres the lovely Arabella (Charlotte Riley) or Mrs Strange who is absolutely perfect and excellent, all who talk ill of her will get hit. Then Lady Pole (Alice Englert) who is pretty darn cool and Stephen Black (Ariyon Bakari) become entangled with the Gentlemen (Marc Warren at his chilling best).
Intense concentration from human labrador: Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel)
The story is complicated but not in boring way. It's incredibly intriguing and lots and lots of fun. It never takes itself too seriously anyway for every moment of Norell harping on about proper magic theres Jonathan Strange conjuring horses out of horse sand and Childermass being a grumpy bastard in the background. The entire thing is work of beauty rivalling the aesthetic goodness of Hannibal and that is saying something. It also doesn't slack on messages Lady Pole is trapped and fights for emancipation as does Stephen Black.
Childermass and Norell casually bitching about Jonathan Strange, as you do
Like anything the devils in the details and this show is so incredibly detailed you would not believe. It requires several thousand rematches (of which I am already on my third) and the more you watch the more you see much like the more you read the book the more you find. I mean you could analyse this show for five years and still not be done.

covered in blood (his own) and still smouldering
So basically TLDR: This is tricking awesome. There is plenty to keep you entertained it's a beautiful show and if you aren't watching it what are you doing with your life. 
also rumours of the author writing a second one focusing on Childermass and Vinculus OH YES release it quickly so Enzo Clienti and Paul Kaye can play them again.

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