TV Adaptations I Watched Before Reading the Books

I don’t always attempt to read the books before watching their adaptations. That is true for films and TV series alike. TV adaptations have, in fact, introduced me not only to books that I loved and cherished, but also to ones that I hope to enjoy in the future. Occasionally, I watch adaptations that don’t arouse my interest in reading the books for a variety of reasons (Outlander, Poldark and Normal People are some examples). This post is, however, about the TV adaptations of books that I’ve now already read or that I still want to read!

 

The Luminaries

I’ve watched The Luminaries this summer. Although I didn’t love it, since it has too few episodes to become familiar with the characters, it left me eager to read the book by Eleanor Catton, which I’m hoping to enjoy much more. It is set in New Zealand in the 19th century and focuses on Anna Wetherell and Emery Staines.

 

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Before reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, I watched the BBC adaptation in 2015. A year later, I decided to pick up the book, since the story had fascinated me. Set in the 19th century, it’s an alternate history and fantasy novel about the restoration of English magic. Two practical magicians, who have very distinctive personalities, are commissioned to help win the war against Napoleon. Continue reading

Favourite Book-To-TV Adaptations: Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes is an extremely popular British icon, so there are many film and TV adaptations of the works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve seen quite a few, but my favourite by far is the BBC television series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Although it isn’t set in the 19th century but in the present day, it follows the same premise: Sherlock is a private detective who solves crimes with the aid of his friend and flatmate doctor John Watson.

To be perfectly honest, I’m cheating a bit by choosing Sherlock as one of my favourite book-to-TV adaptations, because I’ve only read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. In fact, I’m not that familiar with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. I didn’t even start my reading by the first Sherlock Holmes book, only realising that afterwards. However, I loved the TV series, mainly the first two seasons, and from the stories I’ve read I think they did a fantastic job at bringing Sherlock to the 21st century.

Sherlock is magnificently portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. He is not a perfect hero, not being affable, nice or friendly. He is direct, sharp and highly intelligent. Solving crimes is more than a profession, it’s an addiction. Despite his arrogance, as time passes he becomes far more likeable and human. Continue reading

On Adaptations: Are the Books Always Better?

Whenever a new film or TV adaptation is announced, it isn’t difficult to find someone saying that the books are always better. That is a statement that I’ve never agreed with. The vast majority of the adaptations that I’ve watched, I enjoyed as much as the books. Some I even liked more than the books. Although it’s true that I believe that some adaptations may not do a book justice, this is far from the rule for me.

I really struggle to claim that a book is better than its adaptation, or vice versa, mainly because I would be comparing two completely different forms of entertainment, which require different ways of storytelling. What works fantastically on page may not work on screen. I tend to compare the enjoyment I had when reading the book or watching the film or TV adaptation instead of saying one is better than the other. The fact that I liked reading about a story more than watching it on screen doesn’t automatically make the adaptation a bad one.

However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad adaptations. If the adaptation completely misrepresents the feelings, the tone or the entire plot of the story to the point that it stops making sense, then it is not only a bad adaptation but also a bad film or TV show. I don’t expect all the plot points to be presented on screen in the exactly same way in which they were written. I don’t mind changes on adaptations at all, as long as they make sense in the context of the story being told, or they result in a more compelling story on screen. Continue reading