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The Jewel in the Crown/Indian Summers
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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
Posts: 689


Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 12:32 am    Post subject: The Jewel in the Crown/Indian Summers  Reply with quote

The contrast between these two is interesting. Indian Summers is gorgeous to look at, quite well-acted and ultimately a bit too hard to believe, even if one doesn't mind Simla looking far too tropical (it was filmed in Penang, Malaysia).
Flash backwards 30 years for TJITC, which I had not seen and probably shouldn't be watching before I read the book. A jarring experience, sloppy directing, clumsy dialogue, delivered in too many cases in that stilted, stagy, old-fashioned way of British television, and far from the best of it. It was all I could do to keep watching.
However, having endured the first two hours, I think it might just grow into something worthwhile. Dusty and drab though it is, I think there might be a story worth enduring for. One can't really blame Susan Woolridge for not measuring up to the images of Jemima West and Amber Rose Revah lingering in the back of my mind from Indian Summers. She could take acting lessons from them, though. Or is it the director's fault? Did people really talk like that? God help us.

Tim Piggott-Smith is intolerable as the policeman, but then he is supposed to be. The most sympathetic and believable of the bunch is Art Malik as Kumar. He's actually in both productions!
Oh well, it might get better. Charles Dance, whom I admire, is due to appear at some point.

Indian Summers has some good stuff in it and some fine performances. Patrick Malahide, as the viceroy, for example, and Julie Walters, delightfully evil as the matron of the Royal Simla Club ('no dogs or Indians'). I understand it has been dropped for lousy ratings. Just as well; the spell was wearing off. I'll probably continue with TJITC, in spite of myself, and ruin the book.

Very Happy




Last edited by Joe McWilliams on Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 731



PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't watched 'The Jewel in the Crown' since it was first shown, so your comments rather burst the bubble of  many happy memories. I certainly do not recall being aware of the weaknesses that you mention, but perhaps we were a less critical audience back then. Time, in this case seems not to have been kind. Some of the actors you mention came to my attention for the first time as a result of this series, and I looked out for their appearances ever after. Wasn't Geraldine James in it, too? I think there was a very touching performance by Dame Peggy Ashcroft.

'Indian Summers' passed me by, so I cannot comment on the comparative merits. I wonder how it will look 30 years from now?

I have had Paul Scott's 'Raj Quartet', upon which TJITC was based, on my bookshelf for decades, but have never got around to reading it, mostly, I think because the TV images were to clearly fixed in my brain for me to be able to fully absorb the written word. Perhaps I should make the effort to read it at long last.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to burst your bubble, Chris. After two more episodes of 'The Jewel' last night, I am warming to it. Despite the crappy production values, I think it is going to end up being the better story.

The visual contrast could hardly be greater. Indian Summers is in super high-definition, which I am not used to at all. You find yourself contemplating the pores on a character's nose. It is rather distracting. The colours are dazzling, the pictures so sharp it is almost unbelievable. It takes some getting used to, but it is compelling.
In 'The Jewel,' the colours have that characteristic 'washed out' look that I associate with British TV. Another problem I had with it at first is a kind hastiness in some of the scenes, giving the impression the director was in a hurry to get on to something else.

Chris, I'm going to read The Raj Quartet regardless. Let's do it together and compare notes.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're on! Maybe as a quid pro quo, I will make an effort to watch 'Indian Summers'! It won't be a great sacrifice, really.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's get 'er done, as they say out here in cowboy country. Give me about a week, though, Chris, as I have a library book I have to finish first.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have found my copy, which is a good start, but I probably won't begin reading for a few days. In any case, it consists of four full length novels, so I envisage spreading it out over a month or two. I am four weeks away from my holiday, so will probably take this along to read while I am away, when I want a break from the Kindle. I am notoriously bad at posting comments, so I am really going to have to get my act together on this one!


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Sandraseahorse



Joined: 21 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm quite surprised by your views on "The Jewel In the Crown", Joe, as I enjoyed it when it was on originally and it received excellent reviews.  For ages afterwards it was cited as an example of television excellence.  

In contrast, "Indian Summers" (which I haven't seen), got mixed reviews and some critics saw it as a downmarket version of "The Jewel In the Crown."

I suppose styles in acting and directing change and what is regarded as cutting edge one decade looks hopelessly dated 2-3 decades later.


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It turns out I spoke too hastily about The Jewel in the Crown. Eight or 10 episodes in, I find myself altogether hooked, and have a hard time believing in my earlier reaction. There is a lot to like about this story, and I am looking forward to reading the books it is based on.
I still find some of the performances a bit hard to take, however. They come across as people reciting lines they've memorized, rather than seeming like real people in real conversations.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if that acting style was not to a certain extent intentional, Joe? Certainly, in some cases, I think the characters were very much 'playing a part', trying to live up to what they thought was expected of them as representatives of the British Empire.  Following your own heart was not much approved of.

Of course, you are watching it now, and I have only a distant (but very fond!) memory to rely upon, so I might react differently today. As Sandra says, styles change, and what seems natural in one era, can come across as intensely mannered at a later period. One only has to think of some of the famous films of the 40s and 50s to be aware of that.

I think I shall be ready to begin reading 'The Raj Quartet' tomorrow. If anyone else is in a position to join in, that would be wonderful, but I do not anticipate finishing it for several months, so there is plenty of time for others to join in!


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Joe McWilliams



Joined: 10 Feb 2012
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris, I'd be ready too, if I hadn't been spending so much time watching a certain 1980s TV drama. It has slowed down my reading of Strangers on a Bridge, but I should be ready to start Mr. Scott's magnum opus in a couple of days. Rain is putting out the forest fires, so there's less to do outdoors as well. Rolling Eyes



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