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Posted on Monday 22 February 2016 at 9:28 am

Night Manager Episode 1

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I have an online meeting at 10:30. It is required for my funding this year and I hate it. 10:30 is the worst possible time for me. I usually write best in the mornings, say 9:30 to lunch. If I start at 9:30, I'll barely get going before the 10:30 meeting interrupts but then it isn't over until basically lunch time. So on days when we have these stupid meetings, which are a waste of time as they just feel like babysitting with all of us on the money promising that we really are working on our dissertations, I get no real writing done. I'll spend the afternoon organizing stuff for tomorrow morning's writing and fixing previously written stuff, which is what I usually do in the afternoons anyway, so the entire day isn't wasted, just the new writing part which is really the most important part. *sigh*

On the plus side, I think we're only doing 3 of these meetings this semester, which is less than last, so yay! On the other plus side, I have about an hour to kill this morning in which I can write a post squeeing about The Night Manager!

For anyone who doesn't know, this is an adaptation of a John le Carre spy novel from the early 1990s and stars Tom Hiddleston (our spy hero), Hugh Laurie (our bad guy), and Olivia Colman (our spy hero's puppet master and red tape cutter). It's going to be 6 parts airing on BBC starting last night. It will officially come to America in April, I think.

When I first heard they were doing the adaptation, I mentioned it on Facebook and a friend of mine whose opinion on these matters should be given a great deal of weight, commented that Night Manager was a phenomenal novel up there with le Carre's best. Based on that, I had to read the book and my friend was not kidding. It is absolutely amazing and I've been excitedly awaiting the adaptation ever since. The first episode last night did not disappoint at all. It was definitely a first episode of a long miniseries with the few slow moments and rough patches as all the players are introduced and put into position. It was a very good first episode, I just anticipate later episodes being better. In particular, I'm looking forward to the increased interaction between Hiddleston and Laurie, the moments when Laurie's character's charming facade drops completely, and an increased role for Olivia Colman whose character in the book was a man, a change which won't matter for the plot but might for characterization and which makes my feminist soul very happy.

I've been reading a few articles on the adaptation process and especially on the changes they've made to update the early 1990s to today. The novel begins in the mid East, then includes a few short digressions and a long one to Canada, before settling in for the most important action in Latin America and the drug wars there. The TV series started in the same place so very little has changed for the first episode. The only real difference thus far (aside from the gender swap) is that our spy hero's military background is serving in the mid East rather than Ireland. I know that later it is going to change a lot more with the Canada section completely gone and all the action returned to the mid East rather than Latin American drug wars. I fully expect the changes to work well for updating the story but not change the important themes and character interactions at all.

There have been a couple of articles about this whole adapting and updating process that are fantastic, unsurprisingly given their authors. First, John le Carre wrote an article for the Guardian about his thoughts on his work being adapted generally and on the changes here specifically. He seems pleased with the changes (almost as excited as me about Colman rather than a man) so that's always promising. Second, Tom Hiddleston wrote for RadioTimes with his thoughts on updating spying from Cold War to drug wars to today and how privacy and secrecy have and haven't changed. Both articles are fascinating takes on the creative processes involved here but I think should be interesting even if you aren't interested specifically in this adaptation. Plus, they are articles by le Carre and Hiddleston not interviews with them so the chance to see the creative and intellectual process of two people who appear to be both very smart and very good at what they do, which is always cool in my book.


chemina42 at 12:16 am on 23 February 2016 (UTC) (Link)
Now I'm slightly disappointed to read that there was Canadian content in the original book that won't be in the mini-series, but I guess that just means I need to get on reading the book STAT!

I too was excited to hear that they are changing a male character into a female one. I think Olivia Colman is nailing it so far and I can't wait to see more of what she's going to bring to the table.

I liked how they pulled the story forward to the Arab Spring in the Middle East, I thought that was a very good starting point.

Hugh Laurie read the book at the time and loved it and he has said he desperately wanted to play Jonathan Pine. I'm already getting flashbacks to his book The Gun Seller. What I see visually as the backdrop for this series is a lot like what I imagined as I read The Gun Seller. I wonder if he was inspired more directly from reading The Night Manager to write The Gun Seller. He has said that the main character from The Gun Seller, Thomas Lang, is a hero version of himself. I would love to see Tom Hiddleston play Thomas Lang!

Hugh is going to be awesome as the worst man in the world though, HEEE!!!

*goes to read the articles posted*
bratty_jedi at 1:15 am on 23 February 2016 (UTC) (Link)
The Canada section in the novel is cool for getting to know Pine's character more intimately, but it isn't really central to the larger plot and has no place for Colman or Laurie's characters. It's months of Pine hiding out to establish his underground backstory that he'll use to infiltrate Roper's organization. It works well in the novel when you're more in Pine's head, but I can definitely see why it was cut for the TV series.
Wine gums, envy, pieces of rainbow
qwentoozla at 5:43 am on 23 February 2016 (UTC) (Link)
I just watched the first episode and thought it was fantastic! So well done, lots of great scenes. I'm really looking forward to more interaction between Pine and Roper too--I was just waiting for them to meet the whole time. It will be great to see more of Hugh Laurie... he already had a kind of hidden evilness going on, but I want to see more! I'm so glad they changed the spy handler's role to a woman because I LOVE Olivia Colman and am always happy to see her in anything.

It's interesting to hear about the adaptation! I was wondering how they had updated it. It makes sense that they would eliminate the Canada and South America portions, as the Middle East conflict feels a lot more current. Thanks for linking to the articles, it was great to see what John le Carre and Tom Hiddleston had to say about it. Le Carre's thoughts about adaptation were very interesting.

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