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Monarch of the Glen (2000)
Excellent series, quirky, charming
I recently discovered this series through Netflix, and I have found it completely enjoyable. The writing is very consistently good, the characters appealing (their quirks and foibles make them even more so), and the scenery of the Scottish highlands is just lovely.
The show takes you inside of a charming world that the characters inhabit. You see them wrestling with and resolving conflicts with others and among themselves in ways that are always sweet in the end, but never sickly sweet or trite. Not all of them are likable. Hector, the father, will drive you crazy, but then he comes through on important points, like loyalty and a devotion to tradition. Archie seems indecisive, but he is also very loving and loyal. And Lexie is a great character who is driven by a sense of justice, and always wanting to do the right thing. Molly and Golly are steadfast, loving - one almost too kind, and the other very stern. And Duncan too is both funny and very true, very devoted to his friends.
The show also achieves the near impossible, managing to communicate a lot of sexual tension without ever becoming overly explicit - well done. It's a bit like Northern Exposure or Gilmore Girls in its appeal, but in my opinion it is much better than both of those.
I could pick at it a bit and say where it might have gone wrong. But I don't want to, because I just don't think television gets much better than this. Highly, highly recommended for people who like excellent writing that combines drama with humor, shows people usually finding their way back to do the decent thing, and treats characters and viewers with dignity.
I loved this movie as a kid.
I remember seeing this on the Wonderful World of Disney as a kid, and I thought it was just great. It gave me a lifelong appreciation for Patrick McGoohan, whose work, both as actor and director, I have continued to admire.
Les misérables (2000)
Faithful to the novel?
I have read this novel several times and I was stunned that some of you found this a faithful version. I am referring to the miniseries that aired in the US with Depardieu and Malkovich. Maybe the French version - twice as long? - is more true to the novel, but the version we saw here was shockingly distorted.
Yes - all of the characters were there, but their roles were often twisted beyond recognition. One GLARING example: Eponine. If you have read the novel, you know that she is one of the most heroic characters, sacrificing herself for Marius. Did I miss something here? They turn her into one of the villains. Gavroche's role is also misrepresented. If they were going to take all that time, why not do it as Hugo wrote it? It is also very odd to make Cosette the narrator, as she is deliberately one of the weaker, more insipid characters in the novel. And Valjean was never in love with Cosette. He is genuinely an adoptive father.
Depardieu is beautifully cast as Valjean, but John Malkovich (I'm a fan, too) plays Javert as if he were simply mean - with none of the nuances of the tortured character that Geoffrey Rush portrays. The 1998 Bille August film is by far the superior interpretation, despite what he leaves out. And the musical theater version is the best of all, faithful to both the plot and spirit of Hugo's masterpiece.