One could say that this attempt to adapt Nancy Mitford's two most notable works for television just suffers by comparison to the very successful 1980s attempt, but it would not be true. The fact is this miniseries is simply atrocious.
The problem lies with one word - literary. Mitford's works are superficially about extreme characters (full of charm and idiosyncrasies), but are, at their core, about language and how it reflects the times, relationships, and society. Her stories - The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate - unfold gently, and, while the books are luxurious in their story telling, not one word is redundant.
So, while adaption of other authors' works can involve stripping everything away until you have the plot, and then building up from there, an adaption of a Mitford work must involve taking the whole piece and then carefully trying to determine what may safely be removed. The creators and writers of the 1980s series understood this perfectly, and those of the 2001 series did not.
As a result, in the 2001 version, events and characters seem disconnected and - with no histories (which in the previous version were often offered via the endless discussions that occurred between characters) - certain characters are inexplicably mean, frivolous or stupid. The actors, who have nothing to work with, seem to flounder, and often look embarrassed (they were hired to do a Pride and Prejudice, and find they are doing a cola commercial). Only Alan Bates reaches the end of the this adaption with no, or little, egg on his face. I bet many involved in this terrible project have chosen to leave it off, or at least downplay it on, their resumes.
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