First things first, I must say that I have not read the book which was the inspiration for this Tv show, and hence I am not going to comment overly on the plot, as it is my perception that it is mostly based on the novel, so therefore the plot can be considered predominantly out of the control of the show itself, consequently it would be unfair to judge the show on the plot. However, I wholly enjoyed the story itself and found it very engaging, so hope to pick up the book sometime.
After watching the first episode it was my concern that I had signed myself up for something that would not be worth watching, because, not knowing the book, I was unsure as to the type of magic that I would be seeing. However, further on into the series I was completely blown away by the magic used.
The team who did the CGI for this show deserve a pat on the back, I felt it was used in consideration and completely believable – a particular favourite of mine being the instance in which Mr Strange uses the sand to dislodge the ship. The CGI was incredible and helped my experience be more immersive than it already was.
Naturally, any experience is helped with the assistance of great music, and the atmosphere created by the music was of an exceptional standard particularly the eerie atmosphere of whenever The Gentleman was present, and when magic was being performed was truly splendid.
I am disappointed that I cannot find it anywhere to buy, though I’m sure eventually I will be able to.
And the makeup and the costumes required to create such an outside world to ours, and to portray such a tormented soul on the faces of those who cannot have seen such horrors in real life, was a spectacle to behold and hope never to have the misfortune to look such a way.
But now onto the acting:
- I have seen Marc Warren (The Gentleman) in little else, a single Doctor Who episode, but no more. I cannot judge how this performance compared with his others, but it was breath taking to see how precise all of his movements were, and often so sudden as to retain the unpredictability of his incredibly lethal character.
- Alice Englert, who played Lady Pole, I have previously watched in Beautiful Creatures, and it occurs to me that she is very good at playing tormented characters. The haggard look upon her face as she screamed and writhed in agony was painful, so much so that you could not believe that she would continue to live to see the next episode, and yet somehow she did.
- Enzo Cilenti is the sort of actor whose face seems so familiar, yet I could not place in what I had previously seen him, but his performance made me long to see more of Childermass with his suitably mysterious nature in such a way that one felt surely only a madman would dare to hurt his character. A spooky performance.
These are the few that I felt I needed to single out but Eddie Marsan’s performance as Norrell took me on such a rollercoaster of feelings towards him, unsure whether to love him, hate him or pity him, and Bertie Carvel (who played Strange) had such a performance I was once more stuck between fear and awe. These two played off each other very well and there was a certain dynamic between them which made one feel that you had to pick a side, but you weren’t sure which to choose.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching this series, a wonderful blend of magic and history.
5 out of 5 stars – Steadily building to a dramatic flourish at its end.