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Of adaptations…

June 9, 2011

Recently, whilst watching the Granada TV adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories, I happened across an online comment about the episode I had just watched (The Bruce Partington Plans): “Not as good as the book, but still worth watching.”

Firstly,  The Adventure of the Bruce Partington Plan” was not a book, but a part of a collection of short works released as “His Last Bow”.  A small point but, if someone’s going to get snotty, I’ll often resort to the standpoint of the pedant.

Secondly, did the author of said comment not realise that any kind of visual drama is going to vary to some degree from any original printed work from which it was adapted, given that there are certain dramatic conventions that an audience respond to that may not be within a printed story.  For many years, I have held that this was part of the reason that so little of Asimov’s work remains unfilmed.  A good ten pages of unbroken exposition may work well for the reader, but an audience…?  Maybe not.

A further thought occurred to me.  Why is there an air of smug superiority in the “Not as good as the book” part of the comment?

It seems to me that there’s a form of pseudo-intellectual hipster out there.  “Oooooh, look at me!  I’ve read the original text!”.  These must be the same people who demand unadulterated versions of Awful Austin, Boring Bronte, Dreary Dickens and Tiresome Trollope on our screens at regular intervals.

Note to those quasi-fecal pieces of effluvia:  You are not alone.  Remember that.  You are not the only person to have ever read the original text.  That alone should damage the bourgeois hipster’s ego and let the rest of us carry on unhindered in our enjoyment of adaptations that remain close to the original source, as opposed to those that butcher it, often by including a colossal douchenozzle like Will Smith or Jim Carrey in the cast.

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