Saturday, October 20, 2018

The “White” Stuff

I hesitate to admit this, but between my various writing responsibilities of late and the fact that I have been nursing a deep chest cold for the last week, I’d quite forgotten that a new adaptation of Wilkie CollinsThe Woman in White will debut tomorrow night (Sunday) on PBS-TV at 10 p.m. EST/9 CST. This five-part mystery series, shown originally on BBC One in Great Britain last spring, is set to run on Sunday nights through November 18.

Thankfully, Criminal Element’s Joe Bendel did not experience a memory lapse similar to my own. He previews the show’s plot in a post published this morning:
Anne Catherick is the “Woman in White.” She is sickly and as pale as her preferred wardrobe. Catherick is also very much afraid she will be forcibly returned to the Bedlam-like asylum she has just escaped from. Fortunately, dashing painter and art teacher Walter Hartright helps her elude her pursuers. Subsequently, he is struck by her resemblance to one of his new students, Laura Fairlie.

Of course, Hartright falls for the pretty Fairlie rather than her plainer but more resourceful and independent half-sister, Marian Halcombe. Unfortunately, Fairlie was promised in marriage by her father to the financially strapped Sir Percival Glyde, Baronet, who is determined to complete the wedding bargain so he can take control of the orphaned heiress’s fortune (a princely twenty-thousand pounds).

This is where the skullduggery really comes into play. It quickly becomes apparent Glyde does not have her best interests at heart. He also has good reason to permanently silence the fugitive Catherick, because she and her estranged mother are the only ones who know his scandalous secret. Not even Glyde’s sinister co-conspirator, Count Fosco, knows what the cash-poor Baronet is so desperate to keep hidden, but the Sicilian exile has his own shadowy history to worry about.
The story is quite a bit more complicated than that, as I recall, even though it’s been decades since I last read Collins’ 1859 “sensation novel” on which this small-screen production is based. There’s plenty of legal intrigue and suspense—enough so, that even someone like me, who has watched previous televised versions (one from 1966, the other from 1997) will want to tune in for this new adaptation.

Click here to watch the trailer for The Woman in White.

POSTSCRIPT: At least for the time being, the two-hour, 1997 TV version of The Woman in White can be watched on YouTube.

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