Books · Witterings

Jackson Brodie – Imagination or Television

So what did we all make of the adaptation of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson? Did it live up to the book? My review can be found here. Should it have never been made?

There are probably more questions, but let us see where this post goes and develops.

as Lucius Malfoy

I have to be honest, I like the adaptation, it kept me interested, and suited the Sunday Night slot very well. The casting for Jackson Brodie (Jason Isaacs – that will be Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films for those who do not know) was probably after thinking about it, very good. Better to cast a relative unknown face of television in the role and hoping the story stands up on its own merits, than casting a well known (think Sir David Jason, Kevin Wheatley and the ilk) and hoping that draws the audience in. The casting of Natasha Little as Julia was clever, she really added something to the character. In fact all the female roles were well cast, especially the young girl who plays Marlee, Jackson’s daughter. I feel she shapes Jackson in many ways but also the child observations on what she sees “been to a convent, seen a fight” puts life into perspective. I hope that in the subsequent two programmes we see more of Marlee.

Jackson Brodie and his daughter Marlee

It stuck to the book honestly, the only major change being the location Cambridge suddenly becomes Edinburgh, although in the next programme which is based on One Good Turn, the book is set in Edinburgh. (I am currently reading it at the moment) Plus DI Louise Monroe does not feature in the book. And what is left in the Will was different, presumably to keep viewers tuning in.

There are some obvious characters taken out, and I can see why because they would have probably confused the plots more than necessary. If the programme had been longer than 2, 1 hour slots then maybe there would have been more scope, but no doubt it is a tricky job in adapting books for screen.

The Guardian described it as “Fun, fast and just a bit baffling, detective drama Case Histories is just right for Sunday night viewing” and “Case Histories is not too demanding, even if I’m not sure what exactly’s going on – to the right of Midsomer and Lewis, a little to the left of Wallander, on a low-to highbrow TV detective scale”. The BBC Points of View Messageboard seems to give it a thumbs up, and there are plenty of high praised comments about Phil Davis who plays Theo Wyre. Here certainly he brought the rather creepiness of a father and his overpowering love for his daughter very much to life. There are also plenty of ‘witty’ comments regarding accents but I will leave those unsaid as I lost the will to live after reading some of them.

Should it have been made? Well the age old questions is the book better than the film – to me the answer is always yes of course. One persons imagination is very different to the next, and a tv adaptation is all about one person or a collective of imaginations brought together to portray the book. This worked, other than the few changes it stuck faithfully to the book, yes there were bits added in for ‘tv’ no doubt, the pounding of the streets running (a tool for us to see him reflecting on all that had happened to him), the sexual scenes we were warned of at the beginning and the grainy flashbacks to his childhood.

Has anyone else seen it and made any sort of comparison with the book? Have I perhaps missed something? What I do know is I enjoyed it, and that it was a good adaptation of a book by an author who as I read more and more of her work, I enjoy it more and more. The character of Jackson Brodie, is flawed but not in the normal “detective” way that flaws are shown think loner in a rain-mac lives on convenience food, etc. This is a detective with a difference, a background which affects the current. A strong male character surrounded not just by his own flaws but those of the women he encounters.

It is difficult to conclude this post where we have two more stories to cover and probably lots more comparisons to make. I have already read the third story When Will There Be Good News?  but have just got into One Good Turn so I leave you now whilst I see if the next programme on Sunday BBC1 2100 lives up to the first.