Almost a month ago (my god, was it really so long ago, tempus fugit, etc.), Katy and I started watching the Hornblower
series. It tracks the exploits and career of its ridiculously-named hero. Horatio Hornblower (unlike his name) is insufferably great, but his unfathomable (ahahaha naval pun) emotional stupidity keeps that from being masturbatory. I've come to love this show.
Pellew enters into a select pantheon of irreproachably awesome older male characters, and is lovable in the same way the Brigadier from Doctor Who
is. Horatio's division of sailors (essentially Mathews and Styles, starring in a maritime Buddy Cop flick) is fantastic. Bush is growly and rude, which put me off at first because he's played by Paul McGann, and having only ever seen the man in Withnail and I
, the TVM, and Always Crashing in the Same Car
(in that order, I think), I didn't necessarily expect that characterization. It's not as jarring as finding out that Vernon Dursley is also Hector in my recording of "The History Boys," but it was still a little weird. In the end I came round, and loved the male regulars and a good portion of the extras (especially, it must be said, the eponymous Duchess). Even the more transitory male characters (Bracegirdle, Kennedy, Hobbs and Captain
Sawyer) are superbly realized and excellent. The show hangs together so well we were really surprised to see each episode is scripted by someone different--perhaps the coherency of the significantly adapted character-designs and the relatively uniform episode quality is due to really assiduous editing?
The close, self-concerned naval world they inhabit is well-drawn and absorbing. The details are uncompromisingly specialized and central to the plot without ever overwhelming the dramatic tension of the plot or the characterization. I, er, like the big, pretty ships as well. And there's a lot of them.
It's the sort of show you're going to adore or not be able to even see the point of. Sometimes slow-moving historical drama, in which whole episodes pass without a female character worth mentioning crossing the frame (when they do show up they're uniformly well-drawn, with one glaring exception--I'm looking at you, Frenchie LaCowEyes). I enjoy it as comfort-television, despite the explosions!1! It's good for sick days, rainy days, long days in bed or draped across the couch in cozy indolence. I know a lot of people come for the slash, but really, on the screen, I don't see it. Series!Hornblower
has some attractive men milling about, but is all about intense but entirely platonic relationships between men. Men and their boats. In fact these are the only things I ship.
...please stop pelting me with rotten fruit, I am not even sorry for that.
Here's the link to Episode 1, Part 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CPpTdZiR2Y&feature=PlayList&p=6908F02A023DC492&index=0
), in case you want in on this.
Last week we embarked on the novels. I've been Tragically Busy with work and aps, whereas she has at least two hours commuting/reading time a day, and thus she's a whole book ahead of me. I've finished Mr. Midshipman Hornblower
, though, and started on Lieutenant Horblower
is a bit like reading male Jane Eyre
on a boat. Horatio's point-of-view allows for access into adolescent plunges into despair, the disclosure of pervasive isolation in his new life. You couldn't have that same tangible vulnerability in his show!characterization, though show!Horatio is by no means two-dimensional. It's a medium difference, and there's an atmosphere invoked by the book that's more immersive than the show. The navalisms are harder-going--what you could glance over and move past in a long shot is now being described to you in terms of art, and you either grasp what you can from context or wiki every third word and end up with a working vocabulary of seamanship in the British navy during the period. I'm inclining towards the former, but feel bad about it, and may dedicate myself to the latter in Lt.
and see how it goes.
I miss the prominence of Pellew as Hornblower's mentor, as per the show. He's fine in Midshipman
, he's just not /proper/ Pellew. All the incidents that made it to the show are slightly altered here, but I prefer a book's ability to dwell, and so I'm irked at omissions in the show that are of course necessitated by the conditions of production. Also: "Frogs and Lobsters" is far better in the book--Lord Edrington gets to do a bit more, Viva La Revolution!Love Interest isn't around making Horatio OOC, and the Marquis de Clumsy Belligerence a la Draco Malfoy is at least 15% less eye-roll provoking. Horatio's displeasure is subtler and bleaker, and perhaps a bit better for it.
Apparently, from what Katy's told me, Bush is about to emerge as a completely different person than show!Bush, and eventually I will come 'round to that too.