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12 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Richard Armitage was definitely "In Divine Proportion!", 24 January 2006

Firstly, I only watched this to see the lovely TDH* "Blue-Eyed Wonder" Richard Armitage as Phillip Turner. I've been a devoted fan of his since seeing him as John Thornton in the BBC's 2004 "North & South." Of course, I would have preferred seeing 90 minutes of RA being on-screen but it's called, "Inspector Lynley Mysteries" and not the "Richard Armitage Mysteries." LOL!

Secondly, the story was pretty interesting but there were a few gaping holes of credibility. It could have been better written and consistent. And frankly, too much time was spent on the byplay between Lynley and his Sergeant, Barbara Havers. Nearly five minutes of watching Havers breaking down in the tall, handsome Lynley's arms at the end was unnecessary. Especially since that time could have been inter-cut with updates on what happened to the other characters (i.e., Phillip Turner! After all, he did stand up heroically to the killer and get shot for his attempt at redemption!)

Thirdly, as this was the first full episode of "ILM" that I've ever watched, I'll reserve judgment about the series overall until I've watched the other three eps in this series. But, my overall impression was that both the writing and directing could use some sprucing up. I did like watching the TDH Nathaniel Parker and to some extent the SDP** Sharon Small prance around on-screen. But the pacing seemed very slow. I had expected to see it flowing better and the dialogue snappier. The two leads looked and sounded like they were running lines with each other rather than talking.

I guess I've just been spoiled by watching that old curmudgeon Inspector Morse before.

Overall, I did like it and watched it twice last night. I saw more things that I enjoyed the second time around since my attention wasn't quite as focused on wondering when RA would appear. Also, I liked Burn Gormley as Billy Verger. I'd just seen him as "Guppy" in "Bleak House" and liked seeing him in this very different role.

Now, I'm anxiously awaiting RA's performance as Claude Monet in the BBC's "The Impressionists" which should be broadcast sometime this Winter.

RA Rulez! LDB

*TDH (Tall Dark Handsome) **SDP (Small Dark Pretty)

16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Forget about lame Andrew! John is 'thuh" Man!, 8 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really liked seeing "Sparkhouse" for many reasons. But there were some weaknesses that annoyed me. Overall, I enjoyed much more about the series than I disliked.

The story was interesting and pretty hard hitting in some "not so run-of-the-mill" ways. It began as a story about a privileged "Romeo" and his rough-edged "Juliet." For me, it quickly became a triangular affair once the character of John was fleshed out. And that's when I really became interested. Andrew and Carol were two mismatched people who kept clinging to each other for non-discernible reasons.

The main reason that I sought it out was because I wanted to see Richard Armitage (John Thornton in the BBC's "North and South" 2004 mini-series) in the role of John Standring. I had seen screen caps and little mini music clips which whetted my appetite.

JS is really a "Cinderfella" in some ways. He undergoes an amazing transformation from shy, scruffy-looking, coverall-clad farm hand to tall, dark, handsome, blue-eyed "strong shoulder to lean on" hunk.

But more important, Carol needs his help and he steps right up to the plate to give it to her to save her family farm, Sparkhouse. He had always been around, somewhat like the family dog pining away for her, while she was off in the moors with that lame excuse for a boyfriend, Andrew.

And when she gets JS properly clothed, followed by a haircut in a salon, I couldn't believe my eyes at his profile. Watching RA show the amazing swan transformation with his excellent acting, line delivery, and body movements was a real joy. He is a master of the perfect look, pulling back in volume to deliver the key word(s) quietly for emphasis rather than shouting them, and moves his body very well for a big guy! And he has gorgeous, piercing blue eyes and a shy, sweet smile. He is a very nuanced performer and I couldn't take my eyes off of him whenever he was on-screen.

Watching Joe McFadden (Andrew) google eye his way through the role of Andrew was less of a joy. It was the stark contrast between watching a boy-man and a manly man. Why on earth would any semi-rational woman, even Carol, want the former when she could have the latter? She didn't need some dreamy-eyed idealist; her needs could only be met by a realist. Even she slowly grew to accept that idea later on in the game.

OTOH, Sarah Smart (Carol) had some really outstanding moments on screen as she showed all of the messy parts that made up the whole of Carol. Somehow, even though she was constantly showing me her hard edge, I found her a very strong and sympathetic character. She was as solid in her way as JS was in his. Perhaps, that was ultimately the attraction between them. Two hardworking pragmatists with good work ethics. Once Andrew had been replaced in her day2day life by JS, I really enjoyed the story more.

Personally, I got really tired of watching the emotional excess and self-indulgent behavior of Andrew as he alternately yanked Carol's chain to reel her back in and then just seemed to drop it in pursuit of his own follies, leaving her to spin in the wind. Then, there he'd be again reeling her back in. Carol seemed too self-sufficient to keep buying his line of self-serving and manipulative hooey without question.

I know that the core story was supposed to be about their backNforth tugs but I just didn't buy that these two people were lovers of the century. It wasn't a tug of love between two equals. She was far stronger than he.

Carol was a much stronger character and I found it increasingly harder to believe that she'd have allowed herself to be pulled back into that obviously poor excuse for a love relationship. Every time he'd come stomping around Sparkhouse demanding answers, I wanted her to cold cock him like she finally did in the last episode. I was practically cheering by the time she planted that fast, hard punch right on his twitching nose.

The dialogue was well-written, and the whole cast was very well put together. But when isn't it with such talented British actors in all the roles. However, I do think there were too many comparisons to "Wuthering Heights" though. The story might have flowed a little freer if it hadn't had those strands so obviously threaded throughout it.

I've watched "SH" several times now and I really feel as though I like the characters even more. Except Andrew. He still annoys me with his childish, self-serving temper tantrums.

The ending is sad and thotprovoking but I feel that Carol's "Scarlet O'Hara" spirit will rule the day. She'd already survived some tough body blows and always struggled back to her feet to face the new day and its challenges.

I'd love to see a sequel to Carol's quest. Perhaps, a "Sparkhouse Revisited."

19 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
The god known as Richard Armitage!, 27 July 2005

I had never heard of either Richard Armitage or "North & South" until I began to read about the upcoming broadcast of this series on BBC America that was posted by thoughtful British fans on the "Pride & Prejudice" boards.

Thank God for them! Two seconds into the first episode, I was looking hard at Richard Armitage (John Thornton) with amazement on my face and excitement in my soul! He brought his character to life so vividly that even now I almost feel like he's a real person. And Armitage isn't hard on the eyes at all either. His performance was just exquisite and I really don't know why Hollywood hasn't discovered him yet. Especially given their propensity for snapping up any male actor with an accent, whether they can act or not. This guy has real acting chops!

Actually, the whole cast was marvelous and their portrayals right on the money.

I loved everything about the production; the directing, the cinematography, the haunting music, the sets, and especially the writing. I haven't read the book yet but can't imagine that I could like it more than I do this adaptation. Luckily, it's been carefully placed into the hands of some really fine actors who totally convey its words. The whole film series is just visually stunning.

Also, I must mention Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret Hale). She was a marvelous counter-balance to her male lead. And she just has to have about the most luscious full lips on any screens today.

Some of the line deliveries by Armitage are simply breathtaking with his courageous choices.

I can't wait to buy the DVD, so now BBCA needs to get going with producing a Region 1 version for all of the U.S. fans of N&S.