Another day, another remote gathering using Zoom or Starleaf.
And in between adjusting for how to do work in our socially distant world, there is also random bouts of entertainment. Probably the highlight for us in this category over the past week is Pride & Prejudice, the English TV show from 1995.
Written by Andrew Davies and directed by Simon Langton, the 5.5 hour miniseries is of course based on Jane Austen’s classic novel.
The book is one of my favorite as well, dating back to the Summer of ’86, when I read it in preparation for my 11th grade English class. Being completely devoid of familiarity with romance novels, and also being a bit thick-headed and clueless, I went through much of the novel without having any idea who was going to end up with whom. But by the time the dust was settling, I was fully invested in seeing Elizabeth’s response to Darcy’s second proposal.
So when the TV show hit America nearly a decade later (shown in the States as three episodes), it was definitely something of an event. It turns out that it was in my wife’s home as well. Years later, now that we two have become one, the show has become a bit of a semi-regular event in our household, and this past week turned out to be the perfect time. We made our way through all six episodes over the course of a few days.
The show has few qualities here or there which betray its 25 year old age, but for the most part the production is excellent and the cast it top notch. Everyone remembers Colin Firth’s performance as Darcy, and for good reason–he can smolder like there’s no tomorrow. But I’m also really impressed by Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth. She does a great job bringing to life the heroine’s intelligence, wit and complexity.
But the show features an impressive cast of supporting characters as well. Adrian Lukis is charming but smarmy as Wickham, David Bamber is beautifully odious as Mr. Collins, Julia Sawahla is wonderfully foolish as Lyida Bennet, Anna Chancellor is deliciously hateful as Caroline Bingley.
And I also only just realized that Christopher Benjamin appears in this thing, as Sir William Lucas. He appeared as Henry Gordon Jago in one of the strongest episodes of Doctor Who ever, The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
But standing out in a talented sea of actors is Benjamin Whitrow and Alison Steadman as Mr. & Mrs. Bennet. The two of them have a dysfunctional but tolerant and ultimately affectionate relationship which are brought to life thanks to a pair of highly committed performances. They are both highly exaggerated and ridiculous, but so very funny–almost everything Mrs. Bennet does is laugh-out-loud hilarious.
In any case, we all enjoyed it.
We also had a look at a couple of movies about ridiculous people. We started off trying to watch Dumb & Dumber, but when our internet was struggling, we pulled out a DVD and watched Meet the Parents instead. And a night or two later we manged to come back to Dumb & Dumber anyway. Both movies are pretty fun, but also kind of unbearable.
My kids and and also made our way through the rest of Season 8 of Doctor Who–the two parter Dark Water & Death in Heaven, and the 2014 Christmas special (remember them?) entitled Last Christmas. That’s the one in where the Doctor and Clara team up with Santa Claus to fight parasitic dream monsters. It was a great season, overall. I asked my 15 year old to rate the episodes, and this is what she came up with, from best to worst:
1. Mummy on the Orient Express
2. Kill the Moon
3. Dark Water
4. Last Christmas
5. The Caretaker
8. Death in Heaven
10. Robot of Sherwood
11. Into the Dalek
12. Deep Breath
13. In the Forest of the Night
Her opinions aren’t too far off from my own:
1. Mummy on the Orient Express
2. Last Christmas
3. Dark Water
4. Flatline (#2-4 are all sort of tied for me)
6. Kill the Moon
7. Time Heist
8. The Caretaker (again, #’s 5-8 are all sort of tied)
9. Death in Heaven
10. Deep Breath (a bunch of stupid mixed in with some cool stuff)
11. Robot of Sherwood (stupid, but funny at times)
12. Into the Dalek (not as stupid, but forgettable)
13. In the Forest of the Night (stupid and forgettable)
We’ve also started Season Eight, with The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar, two more good episodes. I know there are people who don’t like Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor, and I know there are people who don’t like Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald, but I think they are one of the best pairings that the show has had. My 15 year old has decided that the 12th Doctor is her second favorite (after the 11th) and my 14 year old has decided he’s her first (just because he’s so rude).
The last big thing to mention is that my 14 year old only recently became a 14 year old. She celebrated this past week, and naturally those celebrations ended up being a little different than we’d have expected. We ended up hosting a Zoom-party with about 20 other kids. And they gathered together from all over the world–the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Indonesia, New Zealand, and three other state in Australia. It was pretty intense!
I hosted a trivia game for the kids, to give them something to do together. Here are a sampling of the questions:
1. What’s the biggest money-making animated film of all time?
b. The Little Mermaid
c. The Lion King
2. In most forms of soccer, how many players are allowed on the field from one team at any given time?
3. Dr. Seuss wrote a famous children’s book called Hop on…what?
4. Kevin, Joe and Nick are the first names of the members of which famous band?
5. What is the largest country in Africa by population?
a. South Africa
6. What is the most common age of criminal responsibility for most of Europe?
7. What continent are guinea pigs originally native to?
a. South America
b. North America
8. What famous Australian food was made from leftover brewer’s yeast?
9. Which movie series features a character named Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?
10. What Pixar film has characters named John, Mary and Shelby Forthright in it?
11. Lake Victoria is the largest lake by area of which continent?
12. Europa, Ganymede, Callisto and Io are moons which planet?
13. What is the 14th biggest country in the world by geography?
14. What number in the 40’s is the 14th prime number?
15. Which one happened in 2014?
a. Happy by Pharrell Williams was the number one single in America
b. Frozen was released for the first time
c. Prince William and Princess Kate’s second child, Princess Charlotte, was born
The kids enjoyed themselves and we all had a good time. Most importantly, my daughter came away feeling like she’d had a party, and hadn’t missed out because of the limitations that are upon as at the moment.
One of my daughter’s presents was a new game for us called Star Realms.
It’s a deck building game, where you are buying ships and stations to go into your deck. They all have different advantages and strengths, and then a certain number of them come out for use each turn. So the idea is you load up your deck with the good cards and try to get rid of the weak ones. We’ve had a good time with it so far.
And just today we had a game of Pandemic, which is a cooperative game where you are trying to save the world of diseases. It felt appropriate to the current global situation, and so it was gratifying to us to win!
And that’s the week that was! How will we keep ourselves busy next time? Hope it’s something worthwhile, for you and for me!
PS. Answers for the Quiz:
1. – c. The Lion King (best part of this question is that it doesn’t matter if you mean traditionally animated film, or CGI film, as in either case, the answer is The Lion King)
4. The Jonas Brothers
5. b. Nigeria
6. 14 years old (same as my daughter!)
7. a. South America
9. The Princess Diaries
12. b. Jupiter
13. a. Indonesia
15. a. Happy by Pharrell Williams was the number one single in America
How did you do?