Review: Sanditon: S1 E01

I’m shocked to find out it is “Sand-eh-ton” and not “San-dish-ion” which is how i’ve been pronouncing it for years. No one ever corrected me. Kristin says I’m going to lose my status as a Jane Austen fan and be mocked mercilessly for this.

Please forgive me.

In E01, we meet Charlotte Heywood, eldest of 12, who lives with her family in a small estate. One day, while out shooting rabbits for fun or food, it’s never made clear, she and her brothers and sisters watch a runaway carriage lose a wheel and toss about Mr and Mrs Parker of Sanditon. After rescuing the Parkers, and introducing them to her family, it is decided that Charlotte, as a way of thanks, will travel to Sanditon with the Parkers for a visit.

(There is no way in hell this would happen in the 21sC.)

Mr Parker has huge plans to turn Sanditon from a small fishing village to a five star resort town to entice the ton from London to come visit.

We meet most of the main characters in the first episode. We have Charlotte, Lady Denham, Mr Parker’s benefactor, her ward Clara Brereton who becomes fast friends with Charlotte. Mr Parker’s two brothers, Arthur and Sidney, as well as their sister Diana. Of courses we have to have the villains, Sir Edward Denham, Lady Denham’s nephew, and Edward’s sister Esther.

Action ensues.

My second confession, other than mis-pronouncing the name, is that I have not read Sanditon the unfinished Austen book so I’m not up to speed on the plot so I have nothing to compare it to. I’m not terribly upset by this since it gives me leave to learn the plot as it unfolds rather than comparing it to the book.

But no matter. The set-up already has all the hallmarks of an Austen novel: innocent and often naive young  woman who struggles with romance with someone she’s not sure she quite likes as well the class distinctions that hangs over her. We know from the beginning, when Charlotte rightly points out to Sidney the capabilities of his brothers, that his dressing down is a matter of fliration. He’s been hurt you see, says Tom Parker, and hasn’t recovered from whatever it is.

The best heroes are always the brooding ones.

Sir Edward and Esther are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Was Edward flirting with Esther during that card game or was it another lady? Could Andrew Davies be so obtuse to throw in some incest? Either the lighting was poor or the actresses too similar in looks but we couldn’t quite figure out what’s going on.

I winced when Lady Denham said that Edward was a catch. He, to me, looks like a messy rake and not an attractive one at that. Lady Denham confides to Charlotte that he must marry a fortune, which Charlotte most certainly does not have. And impresses upon Charlotte to keep her crush on Sir Edward on the quiet side. Nuts to you Lady Denham! Charlotte, a keen observer we have learned, already knows that Sir Edward is a rogue and is not privy to his felicitations.

We’re also introduced to Miss Lambe with the fortune: £100,000 which in today’s market is worth $10M USD.

(Kristin and I were comparing Caroline Enys, from Poldark, fortune of £200,000 which makes her worth about $20M USD in today’s money. These women are not broke.)

The viewer is left to wonder, however, her connection to Sidney Parker is since there were some tense words at the ball. Is Sir Edward going to make a play to Miss Lambe or remain the rake that he already is? Are we ever going to learn what Sidney’s past is tainted with (a woman, it’s always a woman)? Will Lady Denham live forever? What was Clara ensuing when she mentioned to Charlotte (I think the viewer got it (Sir Edward was abusive towards her)) but will Charlotte understand what that means?

There isn’t an Andrew Davies production I haven’t liked so I’m sure I’ll adore this show. He’s left a lot open to speculation (see above) so it is with great curiosity to see how he approaches the open plot lines and I hope to dear god we were not seeing Sir Edward flirt with his sister!

Until next week!