The Finale of the story of the Eponymous Messrs Norrell and Strange was every bit the visual extravaganza we have come to expect from this Lavish BBC production. If it does not get nominated for a BAFTA I will swallow a rat. Yes that's right, swallow a Rat!
Was it a fairytale ending in the accepted sense of the word? Most assuredly not. I suspect left quite a few viewers with a real feeling of melancholy, But it was truly the most magical and entralling ending.The fates of many Characters were left in flux, but in the most gloriously inventive and brilliant ways that I suspect that if the book follows to the same conclusions, that I will be joing the myriad other readerss clamouring for another volume, however I cannot comment on that until I have finished the book myself!
The quality of this production has been utterly outstanding and the show stands head and shoulders above recent work by the Beeb on a Sunday Night. Everything from script to costuming was just a delight.
The two leads were magnificent and if we do not see Bertie Carvell in a million other BBC productions in the near future I will be writing to Points of View. His descent into madness and illness was all the more shocking because of his jolly devil may care attitude had been played so deftly before, the light and shade of this performance was one of the best I have seen for a very long time and from an actor that to be fair to him had not had masses of exposure before Strange. His utterly heartbreaking final two scenes were of a award winning quality alone. His chemistry with poor Arabella and Gilbert Norrell was so sweet and endearing that I actually did shed a few tears and they left me hoping awfully that even if we did not get to see it, that things might be made right, the flights of my fancy went into the stratosphere!
The work of Eddie Marsan in this is equally undisputable, his portrayal of the somewhat surly and capricious Norrell was so brilliantly nuanced, is he really as principled as he attested about respectable Magic? Was his shame the reason he left Jonathan to be exposed to such peril or is it a need to control all that he had been sole purveyor of that led ultimately to the prophesised fates of himself and Strange? It was hard to say because I so grew to love him again in the final episode that I almost forgave him everything, but only almost..
Special mention must go to the Norrell wig, which to be honest was a character in itself and its utterly dishevelled appearance in the closing half hour was some (perhaps unintentional) light relief as things got very very dark!!
Marc Warren's Gentleman, was just brilliantly malevolent and insidious right up until his ultimate demise and the fact that he was just so foist by his own petard was delicious despite the fact that he was one of my very favourite characters and whilst the actual result of the prophesy had been signposted quite heavily, when it came, it was still shocking to see it enfold in such a manner.
I was also gratified to see that Paul Kaye was able to make another zany appearance and the great viewing public given the privilege to see his less than honed torso once more after the rather final ( or so it had seemed) scenes of the penultimate episode.
The beauty of the show was you really cared about the characters, even the utterly repellant ones such as Mr Lascelles, whose comeuppance had us cheering in our Front rooms across the nation, our reaction to the conclusion of Mr Drawlight's story was much more muted and in fact made that of Lascelles even more satisfying.
We were also rewarded in our hopes that the taciturn, but very lovable John Childermass played by Enzo Cilenti with such conviction,would prove integral to the resolution of the piece and that the ever present and sweetly innocent Mr Honeyfoot and Mr Segundus would still be standing after the cataclysmic events that unfolded. I had personally enjoyed their orbits around the central action so immensely and the Walnut Blunderbuss was just so brilliantly used again that I laughed aloud like a loon.
I did feel so awfully sorry for poor Arabella and although I do think poor Sir Robert rather too strongly blamed for the actions set in motion by Norrell and the Gentlemen,perhaps because I am such a huge fan of Samuel West, being as I have actually met him, I was actually very glad that Lady Emma Pole was given the chance to escape the confines of her society marriage in order to go aid her loyal friend both in and outside the fairy realms.
Her suffering and that of Stephen Black was so much that their ultimate escapes were welcome even if that of the Nameless Slave meant that the ending of Jonathan and Mr Norrell left us literally gasping for more and feeling just a little sad that it is highly likely that there won't be!
Long Live The Raven King!