Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Tamzin Merchant as Rosa Bud (groan) and Freddie Fox as Edwin in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

PBS aired The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the "tale of an opium-addicted choirmaster with an erotic obsession with his nephew's teenage fiancée", this past Sunday. I have been thoroughly enjoying Dickens Month on PBS Masterpiece and so watched this with high hopes but no expectations particularly, as I have never read the unfinished last novel of Dickens nor had I ever seen a film adaptation of this story. And I think that is likely why I loved this so much!

Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant and Freddie Fox in The Mystery of Edwin Drood

You see, the problem with adapting The Mystery of Edwin Drood for the screen, is that you have to come up with an ending for it as well because poor Dickens had a stroke and died before he was able to finish the book. So how it ends is really the mystery!

Gwyneth Hughes (writer of Miss Austen Regrets) had to decide whether to use endings that had already been written for the story by others, or whether to come up with one herself. She opted for the latter, saying of Dickens "you feel the presence in the room but you can't allow yourself to be frightened by it. You've got to be inspired by it... try to imagine that Dickens is quite amused and not going 'silly cow what are you doing?'"

Matthew Rhys as the opium addicted choirmaster John Jasper
So in order not to spoil the film for you, let me just give it my recommendation and let you see it for yourself. I have heard a few disappointed reviews from people who have read the book and are dissapointed with the ommisions and changes that Ms. Hughes made. However, I had no such concerns. I thought she did a great job and it came off as very Dickensian.

I have to say the acting was top notch but there are a few that stood out. Ron Cook as Durdles the stonemason was a hoot, constantly referring to himself in the third person- spot on as a Dickensian "character". As was David Dawson as Bazzard/Datchery. He was hilarious and riveting as the spy from London in this story.

Alfie Davis as "Deputy" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood
But Alfie Davis, as Durdles's workhouse ragamuffin assistant "Deputy", stole my heart. OMG this kid is adorable! Honestly, it is worth seeing this film for the gorgeous scenery of Rochester and for impish Alfie alone.

So go ahead and catch this online at Masterpiece on PBS before the middle of May. You won't regret it (unless you have read the novel!)


  1. I liked this mini-series very much! I haven't read the book, actually.
    It's a very intriguing story. Pity it was left unfinished by Dickens.
    By the way, thanks again for being my guest at My Jane Austen Book Club!

  2. I have read the book, but am very curious about this nonetheless. Especially the ending, as I've yet to read/see a theory that I really liked. I won't post - well, can you call it spoilers really when the book was unfinished and there's nary a clue as to how it was supposed to end? - but whatever one may call it - the most popular theory, let's say - well, I just hopes it doesn't end THAT way, as... well, where would the fun be in that?

    I haven't read any other reviews, so am quite curious as well, what specifically people objected to. Some changes/cuts I can live with - but mostly the greatest problems I have is if it is something I KNOW - beyond the shadow of a doubt - that this is something that this author in particular would never have written. That just jerks me out of things and my suspension of disbelief with a jarring thud.

    (Of course I can be picky about some other things as well - I mean, you just can NOT have a fair-haired Mr Rochester - you just cannot!)


    1. very high standards and good for you...i have only seen four Rochesters and have liked all (maybe not all equally) but then RA has not played the role yet...i'm really interested in seeing the one with Ciaran Hinds.

    2. Hi LRK- Do come back and tell us how you liked it. I am now very curious as all of the rest of us fans here hadn't read the book first. I will hold my breath!

      To mommbsta- I'd love to see Richard Armitage as Rochester. And he has jetty hair and eyebrows, although he is quite pretty!

  3. a spunky deputy and quite a shrewd businessman.zealous and amusing Bazzard kind of reminds me of Guppy from Bleak House - loved all the characters and the excellent end...i was hoping that 'Ms Marple' would have gotten involved in the mysteries but i guess that's one too many sleuths.

  4. can you imagine that voice calling out to jane? and such a sensitive face.




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