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"Have His Carcase" -- BBC adaptation
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
kestrell and I watched the BBC TV adaptation of "Have His Carcase" recently. Well, we watched the first half together, and then I skimmed through the second half. I guess that's the meat of the review right there. But more details may prove useful.

Turns out that there were two sets of BBC TV adaptations of Wimsey. Five books were done from 1972-1975, featuring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter (including the "Five Red Herrings" that Kes and I liked so much better than the book). An additional three were done in 1987, with Edward Petheridge as Peter. "Have His Carcase" is from this run. Interestingly, none of the 70s ones feature Harriet Vane, whereas all three of the '87 stories do.

The Good:
* Harriet Vane, as played by Harriet Walter, seemed spot-on to me.
* Most of the dialogue being verbatim from the book.
* Fun, quirky character actors to play the fun, quirky bit parts.
* Good period sets and scenic locales.
* Harriet Vane whacking Henry Weldon in the head with a ping-pong paddle.

The Bad:
* Bunter being extremely tall, conventionally handsome, and far too young to have been a sergeant back in the War.
* Extremely compressed beach scene, losing much of the charm of the text.
* Slow pacing, including overlong shots of travel and scenery, and multiple lengthy flashbacks and lingering shots to make sure you See The Clue.

The Ugly:
* Lord Peter's characterization. Blame to be divided at least between the actor and director, possibly others as well. No chemistry to speak of between him and Harriet. Worse, Petheridge doesn't seem to understand the nature of Peter's performativity. Sayers' (and Carmichael's) Peter frequently plays the part of a babbling twit, as a deliberate tool, usually intended to get people to underestimate him. Petheridge's Peter seems perpetually put out that people take him for a babbling twit, while he is actually being Serious. This attitude is especially fatal to the scenes where he is discussing his feelings for Harriet. Admittedly those scenes do *get* Serious in the book, but they have a much richer and more nuanced emotional tone. In the TV version, it starts Serious, drops to bathetic, then ends on a note where Peter looks like a thoroughly unsympathetic stalker.

I'll grant that the Peter-Harriet relationship is a very complex one, and not one that most actors (or directors) could trivially handle. But I'm certain that better results can be achieved than were in this production. An open opportunity for someone to tackle in the future...
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I remember feeling, back when the Petheridge adaptations came out, that Petheridge looked more like Peter is described, but his acting was played way down; Carmichael, in contrast, while he didn't particularly look like Peter, acted more like him. Which is more important? You and I may each feel the acting, but other people may have other priorities.

* Harriet Vane, as played by Harriet Walter, seemed spot-on to me.
Here I beg to differ - my Harriet is more muscular and her hair is straighter, and a claret-colored frock suits her better - but I totally agree she was a better fit than this Bunter.

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