I have had a chance to to the newest version of Mansfield Park (Masterpiece on PBS) twice this week. At first watch, I was a bit put off by it. It seemed that the story was just not done justice in its hour and a half time slot. The plot felt scattered and I was left trying to fill in some of the missing plot pieces. If I felt this confused and I know the story, those viewers that did not know the story must have been truly lost.
After watching it again this afternoon, this version left me with a better taste. It is a better version than the TV mini-series 1983 version. (Can anything be worse than Mrs. Bertram and Pug? There are such painful moments of complete silence in that version.) However, the 1999 Mansfield, while unfaithful to Austen's work, is the best version. It is entertaining and beautiful in its scenery. It combines some of Austen's life and the book and while this a bit silly, it is fun.
This new version makes me wonder if the screenwriter really read the book. There were bits left out and characters much changed. Henry and Mary Crawford were just as despicable as ever. They were a bit more presumptuous in their actions than I imagined. Billie Piper and Blake Ritson as Fanny and Edmond were reasonably good. They were good, and I think the fault lies in the writing not the acting. Was Fanny that playful in the book? (Although, one could argue that the 1999 version was similar.)
Overall, this version recieves 3 Bonnets. It is certainly a trip to Meryton, full of delight, but lacking in officers or those that make it memorable.
(As Masterpiece Classics continue on PBS, I will have to re-evaluate the Bonnets previously given in my rating system. It was pointed out to me that nothing but the '95 P&P could receive 5 Bonnets because of the Firth Factor. Also, some versions make others move in the Bonnet Continuum.)