The Booksnob’s Blog

Books… the best, worst, & weirdest…

Hamish Macbeth Series 3 on DVD

Hamish Mmacbeth
Our library service has only recently added the third DVD from this wonderfully black-humoured 1990s Scottish TV series to its collection. Sadly, only three series were made.

It stars Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) as the maverick Highland police constable who steadfastly resists any promotion that would take him away from his beloved Highland village of Lochdubh. There is derring-do and crime aplenty in Lochdubh, much of the crime minor, and Macbeth adroitly manages to keep the perpetrators out of jail, unless things get really ugly or they kill themselves in the meantime, both of which happen relatively frequently.

One of the best and most hilarious episodes of the third series is “The Lochdubh Assassin”, which has four spivved-up Glasgwegian hard men tracking down a young man on the run to his bolthole in Lochdubh. The locals outwit them at every turn until they are literally begging to be sent off to the jail in Inverness.

The cast of characters in Hamish Macbeth is fantastic, not the least of whom is Hamish’s adorable sidekick, Wee Jock the Highland Terrier, and from someone who does not love dogs at all, that is saying something. Several of the actors will also be recognised in that other extremely popular Highland TV series, Monarch of the Glen, which I also greatly enjoyed.

Wee Jock.jpg

Hamish Macbeth is loosely based on the characters from the “Death of a …” crime novels by M.C. Beaton, featuring the detective of the same name. Incidentally, all of the title covers for this series that are stocked in our library seem to feature chintzy English  houses with thatched roofs and cottage gardens, bearing very little resemblance to the houses of the Highlands. Oh well, never mind.

M.C. Beaton is also the author of the Agatha Raisin mysteries.

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December 7, 2007 Posted by | DVD, Fiction, TV Series | , , | Leave a comment

Jane Eyre (BBC)

The first instalment of a two-part BBC production of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre aired on the ABC last night. It’s always interesting seeing a new interpretation of a classic novel by a well-known author, and this one gets it mostly right. The sheer awfulness of Jane’s early life with her stone-cold aunt and mean cousins, and later at the dreadful Lowood School is evocatively portrayed.

Jane & Rochester Thornfield Hall, the home of her new master, Mr Rochester, is in a beautiful setting, although the house itself is portrayed as far gloomier than one imagines from the novel. One wonders how the producers will manage to make Ferndean Manor, Rochester’s later home, even more insalubrious than Thornfield.

Both lead actors are very well cast, although Toby Stephens as Rochester is perhaps more attractive than he ought to be. Miss Ingram, Rochester’s potential bride, is exactly as I imagine her, all fair English beauty and superficiality.

Some of the directorial tricks I found mildly irritating, such as Jane’s “I’ll never wash this hand again” antics after she shakes Rochester’s hand for the first time. Even if you haven’t already read the novel, it’s clear that she’s beginning to fall in love with him, so there’s really no need to be so obvious.

One also wonders why a completely new character has been inserted, in the form of the gypsy lady, with Rochester hiding behind a screen as he listens to her prophecies. In the novel, Rochester himself impersonates the fortune-teller, as a clever means of establishing certain information that he would have had difficulty in discovering otherwise. Never mind, it’s a movie, and I wait eagerly to see what Part II will bring, particularly what they will make of St John Rivers, Jane’s terrifyingly virtuous cousin.

November 21, 2007 Posted by | Fiction, TV Series | , , | Leave a comment