Monday, December 4, 2017

Some Recent (ish) TV Adaptations of Favorite Books

You can't help but notice how many literary adaptations are coming to television these days, largely thanks to the success of "Game of Thrones" and the proliferation of streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Even cable stations are into it- AMC did Philipp Meyer's The Son, for example. I watch TV slowly but consistently and have worked my way through a few series lately.

First I need to admit, somewhat shamefully, that I have not watched all of Hulu's adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale and nor am I likely to. It's one of my favorite books in terms of the impression it made but when I saw the 1990 film adaptation, the one that starred Robert Duval and Natasha Richardson, I thought it was bland given the subject matter. I always imagined someone like Lars von Triers directing a really good, gritty version, but thought that any really good adaptation would also be nearly unwatchable. Well von Triers isn't the director of Hulu's version but I did find it unwatchable anyway, after one episode. I just... couldn't. It's really solid, and has won awards and blah blah blah, but no. I went through the trauma once, when I read the book; I don't feel like the need to revisit any more. Maybe someday, but as General Gowron once said, "not today."

Moving on to another Margaret Atwood adaptation, Netflix's "Alias Grace," which is actually my very favorite of Atwood's books. This adaptation is extremely good, very faithful to the book and compelling and highly binge-able. I loved it. Very plot-centric with detailed characterizations and pitch-perfect acting, it's a real winner, whether or not you've read it. But you should definitely read it too.

As a side note, I'm a quilter and it's neat to see interest in the series and book from my quilting community. Quilts play an important role in Grace's life and many people in the groups I belong to are intrigued by the show due to the prominent placement of quilting in the story. Folks are asking for the patterns and starting to think about projects they might do based on Grace's quilts. Maybe I'll even end up doing a Grace quilt at some point. Might be fun!

Lately I've started AMC's "The Son," based on Philipp Meyer's 2013 novel of the same name, also a serious favorite of mine. I'm three episodes in and while it's pretty solid there are some changes. The creators have compressed the time line, removed a generation of the McCullough family and amped up the soap opera a little bit. They also seem to have compressed the Comanche sequences although I'm not through the whole thing yet so maybe there's more. When I heard about it, I was really skeptical about the casting of Dreamy Pierce Brosnan as Eli McCullough, the tough old patriarch of the family. In the book we really only get a very old Eli, well past his physical prime, and it was hard for me to picture Brosnan in that role. The Eli onscreen is a vital and vigorous man in his 60s or so, aging but very much on his game, and a better fit for the actor. And I like this Eli; he's a jerk but he's our jerk. The character doesn't feel inaccurate, but like something that was sculpted from the source material rather than simply copied.

And as far as "Game of Thrones," I'm a huge fan and can't wait for the final season. I've read only a few chapters of the first book and have no interest in reading more, but I love the world the showrunners have created out of George R.R. Martin's opus and would encourage anyone to get started with the series if you haven't already. It's not for everybody, but it's an amazing achievement.

What literary series are you hooked on? I'd love to hear about some more in the comments.

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