BBC - the Good and the Better

Past, present, and future.

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Re: BBC - the Good and the Better

Postby King_Erlian » Feb 03, 2014 4:58 am

I saw the BBC "Silver Chair" at the weekend. It was the first time I'd ever seen it, as I didn't watch it when it was first transmitted because I was away at university and hardly ever watched any television. I have to say it was easily the best of the BBC Narnia serials.

What was good:

The best thing was Tom Baker as Puddleglum. He was superb. Funny and lugubrious, just like the character in the book. But in the confrontation scene with the Witch, he played it absolutely straight, and delivered his speech about living as a Narnian even if there isn't any Narnia with real earnestness. (I was afraid he might send it up, given his views on religion.)

Eustace and Jill were also good, and had the right dynamic between them. A little bit wooden in places, but not many child actors escape that. I thought they were both much better than the children who played the four Pevensies. Rilian was excellent, being convincing as both the madman and the hero.

What wasn't so good:

The special effects were terrible. It was made in 1990 but it looked like a Doctor Who episode from about 1973. Where characters were superimposed (e.g. to make Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum small in Harfang) the outlines were obvious, and occasionally people's hands and feet got cut off. I know it was "only" a children's serial but the effects in Doctor Who were much better before it was cancelled in 1989.

The puppet Aslan was so dull. Much of the time it was literally static, with only its mouth moving up and down. At first I was glad that they didn't have Aslan as a man in a lion's head, walking around on two legs, as I've seen in some stage productions of LWW, but looking at the BBC "Silver Chair" I wonder whether that may have been better, as a human actor would at least have given the role expression and feeling. Perhaps having Aslan as a puppet wouldn't have been so disappointing if all the Narnian creatures (the non-human ones, anyway) had been puppets.

The overall pace was slow. I can imagine a film shaving the best part of an hour off the total running time without sacrificing anything significant of the story. But the final episode was rushed. We didn't get to hear the gnomes speak after the Witch was killed, so we didn't hear about Bism, and Rilian and Eustace weren't tempted to go there. We saw the gnomes jump into the abyss but for all we knew they were committing suicide rather than returning home. The end of the story was cut short too. We saw the bullies running away from Eustace, Jill, Caspian and Aslan but then Aslan and Caspian inexplicably flew off into the sky, and then the credits rolled. We didn't see the authorities come to find the wall of the school magically restored and the Head acting like a lunatic, or the bullies being expelled, and Experiment House being transformed into a decent school. But then, it wasn't really established at the beginning of the first episode what Experiment House was like.

But overall, I enjoyed it - much better than the painfully slow LWW, the ridiculously rushed "Prince Caspian" or the fairly rushed "Dawn Treader" (which I think was the second best serial of the four). It was a pity they never made the other three.
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Re: BBC - the Good and the Better

Postby aragorn2 » Mar 08, 2014 12:14 pm

To be perfectly honest I can't think of a single thing I prefer from the BBC versions.
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Re: BBC - the Good and the Better

Postby Princess Frances » May 22, 2014 7:47 am

I'm not sure where to put this as i couldn't find an open general thread on the BBC adaptions but BBC Lucy is let down by a cardigan that is several sizes too small, drawing attention to what Sophie Wilcox herself has called her "chubbiness".
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Re: BBC - the Good and the Better

Postby aileth » Jul 31, 2014 9:40 pm

Having watched the Walden movies, the flaws in the BBC production are more pronounced. However, when I first watched it, I thought the whole set was the cat's meow. SC does seem to be the best of the lot, both casting and execution, and is still my favourite. Camilla as Jill was very good.
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Re: BBC - the Good and the Better

Postby Future Narnian » Aug 27, 2014 10:23 pm

I don't want to leave anyone out, so I'm going to just go down the list:

Peter - This is a real toss-up. I felt like BBC Peter was closer to the right age, but William Mosely does such a good job, I can't imagine Narnia without him. But he did look a little old for the part, especially when you consider him being evacuated. I don't think they evacuated anyone over fifteen.

Susan - I have to go with BBC Susan here. No offense to Anna, but she also felt a little too old and I just felt like BBC Susan captured the right personality better.

Edmund - Skandar for sure. I found the BBC Edmund okay for when Edmund has to be a little jerk, but then after he changes at the end of LWW I felt like he kind of flattened out and became too ordinary. Skandar felt more like what I could see a changed Edmund becoming.

Lucy - Again a really tough call. I feel like the BBC Lucy really hit the personality out of the park. But she was too close in age to the other children. Georgie is a more accurate age comparison, especially in the first two movies, and she looks more like how I would picture Lucy, so again I really can't decide.

Aslan - Liam Neeson's version by a long shot. The voice on BBC just didn't sound right. He was too softspoken - Aslan needs to have a majestic quality. (Although I think I might actually prefer David Suchet from the Focus On the Family series to both of them. But Liam is terrific.)

White Witch - Tilda, by a long shot. Barbara Kellerman was just too over the top for me. Plus I could see a child being more easily lured by Tilda than Barbara. Her White Witch would have at best, weirded me out as a child, if not just scared the living daylights out of me. I would have patiently humored her with what she said about being her child so as not to antagonize her, and then as soon as possible get out of there and never come back!

Eustace - I'm probably in the minority, but BBC Eustace. He did well with pulling off both the annoying little jerk personality in the first part of VDT, but then an endearing character later on. Will does great when he has to be annoying, but I just couldn't warm up to him when he was supposed to be nice.

Caspian - Ben Barnes. I know he was the wrong age, but his personality felt perfect, at least for VDT. And with the way they wrote him in PC, anyone would have felt OOC.

Reepicheep - BBC I think, although I wasn't sure either of them really did him justice, to be honest. He felt a little too comic in the new versions and a little underwhelming in BBC. But if I had to pick I think the BBC version was better.

Otherwise, I don't remember the characters well enough in BBC to make a good enough comparison.

I can't remember the other characters well enough.
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Re: BBC - the Good and the Better

Postby Future Narnian » Dec 01, 2014 1:33 pm

Okay, having rewatched, I think I was too harsh on my opinion of BBC Edmund, although I still like Skandar better.

I liked the BBC versions of LWW (although I like Walden better) and Silver Chair (no comparison yet) a lot, but PC felt way too rushed and choppy. And Susan felt completely useless, like there was no reason to have her in the movie at all and she was only there because the book said there was a character named Susan. If this exact script was done today, I would not be surprised to see her character cut out and have them say she was in America already. I didn't bother rewatching VDT yet, so I can't give an opinion.
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