The final part of Emma was screened last night, and I still have very mixed feelings about this adaptation. Once again there were too many opportunities missed to use Austen's original dialogue. Jane Fairfax (Laura Pyper) threatened to steal a show - she came across as a much more likeable character than Emma, which wasn't Austen's intention. Jonny Lee Miller's Mr Knightley did a lot to reconcile me to it, although I still feel an older actor would have been better suited to Austen's original conception. Tamsin Greig's Miss Bates still had too little to say but this must be the fault of the scriptwriter, and without the Bates monologues Emma's treatment of her does not make sense.
Some key parts of the story were either junked altogether or touched on so lightly that they only made sense if you already knew the book.
I felt Romola Garai worked hard on making Emma a more sympathetic character in this last episode. You could see her growing as a person. But still - and again my feeling this is more owing to the script rather than Ms Garai - she really does come across as a person, as Austen said, who 'no-one but herself would much like'. The male members of the Wilkes household in particular found her deeply irritating and unsympathetic. There was a cheer when Mr Knightley took Emma to a clifftop in the closing scenes - would Emma be pushed over the edge to her doom as soon as the camera cut away?
I have been watching the 1995 version of 'Pride and Prejudice' again recently and this classic adaptation still wears well. I fear I won't be able to say the same for this pale imitation of one of my favourite Austen novels, despite the sterling efforts of the cast.