The Complete Jane Austen "Sense and Sensibility" by Maggie Sullivan

Masterpiece Classic

by Maggie Sullivan

When PBS invited us to write a review of the new adaptation of Sense and Sensibility for Remotely Connected, our vanity was flattered to such an extent that we found ourself quite unable to decline; but the glow of self-consequence was unfortunately followed by the appalling reality of having to actually write the bally thing.

Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood

As everyone knows, we bloggers like to lie about in our pajamas, eating Cheetos and copying other people's work with annoying commentary added; thus, faced with having to interrupt our busy schedule of making LOLcats featuring Jane Austen characters to actually write the review, we subcontracted out. Sense and Sensibility strikes us as the Austen novel with the most eighteenth-century feeling. We see in it a great deal of the influence of one of Jane Austen's favorite novels, Fanny Burney's Cecilia, with its assortment of hilarious minor characters; though Jane Austen, rather than letting her comic minor characters merely be a sideshow, used them to advance her plot. We were pleased to see in the new film that, unlike some other recent cinematic efforts in Jane Austen's name, at least some of the characters remembered that Jane Austen's work is funny. We decided that these amusing characters would be the best to employ on the present occasion, and beg to present Miss (Anne) Steele and Master Henry Dashwood to our readers' notice.

MISS STEELE: Ooh, PBS! How posh! Won't Lucy be surprised to see me here! What do you think, Master Henry?


Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars MISS STEELE: Exactly so! Lucy says I'm the silliest thing in nature, and that I always say the wrong thing, but I think I shall make a prodigious reviewer. I liked this version of our story very much indeed. There were a great many smart beaux, I declare it quite turned my head. Mr. Stevens, who plays Edward Ferrars, is a vastly smart beau, and so I told Lucy, though he put me more in mind of Mr. Tilney, a prodigious handsome man, quite the beau, he always dresses smart and behaves civil, just as he ought. The scene where Mr. Ferrars is faced with Lucy, Miss Dashwood, AND Miss Marianne Dashwood at the same time, Mr. Stevens looked exactly like a rat my uncle's terrier once cornered in the kitchen! I thought I would die of laughter. But he oughtn't to be flirting with Miss Margaret Dashwood, she's not yet out. Can't let the young ones have all the beaux, now can we, Master Henry?


MISS STEELE: And ooh, speaking of beaux, Miss Marianne Dashwood has two friends in the corner. Mr. Willoughby and Colonel Brandon, two very smart beaux and prodigious handsome. I'm not of a swooning disposition, but if that Mr. Morrissey were there to catch me, I might have to take it up! Don't tell the Doctor, now, Master Henry. I will not be quizzed about the Doctor, I declare.


MISS STEELE: Miss Morahan, who plays Miss Dashwood, is very fine, and quite a handsome young lady, but I think Miss Dashwood could dress smarter and she should use the curling tongs on her hair. I could show her a very smart style that I learnt from my cousins. Miss Dashwood is quite a favorite with me. But I must say, Master Henry, and begging your pardon, your family is very peculiar. Miss Marianne Dashwood called your mama, her sister-in-law, Aunt; and your mama called her stepmother-in-law by her Christian name, very bold and forward; and your papa referred to his brother-in-law as Miss Dashwood's cousin! And then Mr. Willoughby didn't seem to know if the old lady at Allenham was his aunt or his cousin; and even Mrs. Jennings seemed confused--called me and Lucy her nieces, but then Sir John Middleton introduced us as his second cousins; in which case we would be Mrs. Jennings' second cousins, once removed. I think. Oh, my head hurts thinking about these things! But it's all very peculiar. I know we don't think anything of marrying our first cousins these days, but I dare say Miss Jane Austen had a little more precision when she told our story. Don't you think so, Master Henry?

MASTER HENRY DASHWOOD: crunches on Cheetos purloined from blogger

MISS STEELE: And in some ways it reminded me prodigiously of Miss Thompson and Mr. Lee's version of our story. Very pretty, that one, even though Miss Thompson left me out entirely, and you, too, Master Henry. But it seems a trifle peculiar that Mr. Davies should change so many of the same things from the book as t'other one. My cousins were quizzing me, since he left me in, that he must be related to Dr. Davies, who is a beau of mine from back home. Do you think Mr. Davies is related to the Doctor, Master Henry?


MISS STEELE: Oh, and the music's lovely. Mr. Martin Phipps always makes such lovely, memorable soundtracks, though he doesn't surpass his masterwork, North and South. Don't you think the music is lovely, Master Henry?


MISS STEELE: And the ending was very romantic, just like in a book! But I must say I take offense at the notion that young ladies are to be trained like horses or hawks. 'Tis a thing only a man could write--Miss Jane Austen would never write such a thing, I dare say. Well, I suppose I shouldn't run on any longer! Sense and Sensibility has smart beaux, pretty girls, dancing, a bit of snogging, what else can you ask for in a novel adaptation? Oh, dear, I'm not at all sure that will do. What do you think, Master Henry?

MASTER HENRY DASHWOOD: Didn't you read the press release, you daft cow? Sense and Sensibility is the story of two young sisters on a voyage of burgeoning sexual and romantic discovery. Sprinkled with the patented Andrew Davies fairydust, it is Sex and the City set in the country. You're studying too hard for this review nonsense. Just repeat the sound bytes and bob's your uncle.

MISS STEELE: . . . .

MASTER HENRY DASHWOOD: Are you going to eat that cake?

Note to self: Next time, hire Mr. Tilney to write for us as usual. And send Dorothy out for more Cheetos. Sheesh.


Hey, are those extra crunchy Cheetos Master Henry? They better be, or you got the cast-off snacks.

Miss Steele, we are happy to hear from you, but are concerned by the abscence of sister Lucy, and fear that she may be put out because of her brief screentime in this version. Please send our sincere condolences.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Note to self: Must not chomp on grapes while reading a Margaret C. Sullivan review in future. Laughed so hard, I had to perform Heinlich Maneuver on myself. Grape popped out. I believe Henry caught it.

Excellent review, Margaret, and I agree that women shouldn't be trained like horses or gentled like hawks. Sheez. Every time I want to thank Andrew Davies for writing another great JA adaptation, he ruins my appreciation by treating women like chattel, or cattle in this instance.

Oh, well. Hattie Morahan's excellent performance makes up for the previous insult, and Daisy Haggard as Lucy Steele nearly stole the show. Thanks for letting her speak again! :)

Extremely humorous I should think. But I see that they have rearranged the furniture in the cottage since Mr. Lee was last there with Miss Thompson; otherwise, everything seems much the same.

Brilliant review, Miss. Steele, Ms. Sullivan, and Mr. Dashwood!

LOL. Perhaps this is the proper forum to start a petition based on the suggestion you made over at my post, i.e., that Miss Steele's performance was so delightful that she should have her own spin-off. Or series.

LOL! Mags does it again. Brilliant review.

Miss Steele should be renamed "Miss Cash & Carry".

My hope is that her mother-in-law punishes son Robert for being caught in the grip of "Steele" by somehow snatching back the inheritance and giving it to Edward and Marianne.

But maybe the sister-in-law and some in her family are getting back a double dose of what they have dished out. The ultimate selfish, grasping new in-law
--- Lucy Steele Ferrars.

I found myself primed to compare this adaptation to the one of several years back with Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant & company. In the end I was just grateful that the English never shy away from doing a thing just because it was done so well before.
I found myself getting a bit wistful at not living my own life to such a rousing denouement. But in the end I was thinking of poor Jane who never married and died so young. She aspired and inspired. Superb job and kudos to all involved.

Great Review.

Re: Brandon/Marianne/Hawk

Although I didnít get that women-as-chattel/cattle feeling while watching Brandon, Marianne and the bird training, I did find the scene kind of heavy-handed and obvious. But, since watching the adaptation, Iíve read what Davies said about why he included it. Now, I understand his thinking behind staging the scene and see his purpose.

While I still find it heavy-handed and obvious, at least I can see his point and donít mind it so much now.

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