Old favourites with a modern twist
The BBC’s adaptation of A Suitable Boy is both groundbreaking and familiar; Prodigal Son puts flesh on the bones of old cliches; the Muppets return to amuse and confuse in equal measure
an affectionate detente with The Quirky Drunks of Ireland (also the title of a coffee table book I’m working on). Luckily, contemporary British dramas set in the colonies tend to acknowledge that colonialism wasn’t simply about teaching peasants how to queue. And the Mira Nairdirected series is both groundbreaking as the first BBC drama to feature an almost exclusively Indian – as opposed to BritishIndian – cast and crew, and familiar as a tale of a posh family trying to arrange an advantageous marriage against a tumultuous historical backdrop. There are meddling mothers, dutiful daughters, villainous daughters-in-law, scandalous women, feckless sons and unsuitable but hunky suitors.
It’s deftly done. Seth wanted Davies for the project and Davies, in fairness, never resorts to clunky Julian Fellowes-like (“Fellowpian”) exposition. The speed at which the creators must rattle through the vast novel’s plotlines means character texture is lost but at least no one regurgitates Wikipedia entries. It would be impossible to fit everything into six episodes if they stopped every five minutes to address gaps in the British educational system. (British school history, from what I can tell, amounts to “druids made