Praise for Decline and Fall Series Spreads Beyond the UK

There are several articles coming in from outside the UK where the BBC’s TV adaptation of Waugh’s Decline and Fall premiered a few weeks ago. A French TV website (Telerama) includes the series in a collection of its reviews of recent UK TV productions:

… this adaptation of the work of Evelyn Waugh (1928), in three episodes, is absolutely delicious. There is Hergé in the “tintinque” peregrinations, obsolete and sparkling, of that innocent Pennyfeather, a witness undergoing a full blow of the decay of the manners of his time … Decline and Fall, with its fantastic gallery of characters, its varied humorous palette (grotesque gags, subtle jocularity, satirical dialogues) and its authentic grain of madness, accentuates the angles of a world that does not turn round. … Irresistible ! [Goggle Translate]

A San Antonio (Texas) based news website (MySanAntonio.com) reports on the series in anticipation of TV streaming for US audiences on Acorn TV starting on 15 May (“a subscriber site for British television … acorn.tv, offers a free trial and thereafter costs $4.99 a month”). The website is most interested in the role of Margot Beste-Chetwynde played by Eva Longoria, described as “San Antonio’s adopted A-Lister”:

If you’re wondering if Longoria speaks with a British accent here, the answer is no. As we soon learn, her character is American — from California, although her parents hail from Venezuela. Margot moved to Britain when she married a man from Winchester; she became a widow when her son was 9 ….The entire cast is superb …  Corpus Christi-born Longoria, in particular, is a kick in this departure from her norm, spouting some of the best lines. One of my favorites? When his new love insists that Paul not return to teaching in Wales, he ponders other professions. “Journalism?” he suggests. “No, no, no,” Margot responds, “we’ll find you a proper job.”

 In the novel Waugh described Margot as simply “South American” to link her with her family’s business, the Latin American Entertaniment Co.

Finally, in India, the news and entertainment website Scroll.in has posted a (mostly) favorable review of the series:

In adapting a comic novel for film or television, there is the danger that the wit on the page will come across as stilted or, worse, inappropriate on the screen. Gladly, the new BBC adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s 1928 novel Decline and Fall does not suffer this malaise. Over three episodes, director Guillen Morales, working with a screenplay by James Wood, transforms Waugh’s nifty saga into a curious mix of humour and caution.

…Decline and Fall fumbles somewhat [in Episode 3], as it tries to paint Pennyfeather as a tragic hero [after his trial and imprisonment] … Pennyfeather’s final rescue is midwifed by Dr Fagan. Meanwhile, the jaunty Margot makes an unfortunate exit. Is she villainous or vacuous? Waugh left that question unanswered, and the series sticks to this lack of resolution. For all its successes, Decline and Fall worked better in Waugh’s hands, who sprinkled what is essentially a morality tale with generous doses of irony. Adapted to the screen, the series switches rather abruptly from really good comedy to something far harder to place.

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