The 2015 television adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s 2004 book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is well dressed in 19th century English props, settings, and garbs; well lit in a spidery candlelight sort of way; and well performed by a stunning cast not limited to the leads Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan, with Paul Kaye, Marc Warren, and Alice Englert all bringing different moods to episode one. The genre is fantasy drama, but it is not without humor. Jonathan Strange recognizes his destiny without fleck of suspicion: “I met a man under a hedge who told me I was a magician.”
So far after one episode, I see nothing that makes the plot stand out against every other fantasy about magicians, except perhaps that neither Strange nor Norrell are likely heroes, but the writing is surprisingly decent and the quality (and budget) is so much higher than you see on television fantasies. This alone would make it well worth the watch if you weren’t already interested in the all-star cast. It’s the sort of thing you want to watch curled up on your couch late at night with all the lights down (it’s rather dark) with a storm clicking at your window.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is available on DVD and Blu-Ray, which comes with 20+ minutes of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and deleted scenes.
Teaser posts are reviews based on just the first episode.