Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vlog Adaptations of Classics

As you can probably tell from some of my posts this spring (1, 2, 3), I love the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.  I'm a huge Austen-ite.  I've read her books and seen the movie adaptations more times than is probably healthy.  I thought I knew the story of Pride and Prejudice, but The Lizzie Bennet Diaries took the story in a whole-new-while-still-true-to-the-book direction.  The writers brought a depth to Lydia's character that I didn't know was there.  It is a fantastic adaptation that totally deserves the Emmy it won, and I'm sad that it's over.  However, while LBD may have reached an end, it has inspired a bunch of new vlog adaptations of other classic novels.  I prove my English nerdiness by freaking out every time a new episode comes up in my subscription feed, which is pretty much every day considering how many adaptations I'm following.  Today I am sharing these adaptations with you.  

The Autobiography of Jane Eyre--episodes on Wednesdays and Saturdays

This is probably my favorite adaption.  The actress is Jane.  She totally channels Jane's contemplative seriousness without being gloomy about it.  This Wednesday's episode was the best so far.  Meanwhile, Rochester is a rude, inconsiderate, jerk.  This is more a problem with the source material than the adaptation.  Rochester is supposed to be that way, but it's more problematic in a modern setting than it was in the 1800s.  So far the writers have kept him true to character without making him too easy to hate.  However, I don't see how they're going to deal with some of the issues later in the book.  

For example:  Bertha.  Today's mental health care is words better than what was available in the 1800s.  Back then, it was merciful for Rochester to keep Bertha in his attic where she would be well cared for and comfortable rather than banishing her to an asylum where she would be, at best, horribly neglected.  But modern Rochester could easily find quality care for a crazy wife.  This makes me think that Bertha's not going to be crazy, but then what will the insurmountable Bertha problem be? 

An even bigger adaptation challenge is Jane's flight from Thornfeild.  People can't disappear anymore, not in our internet-saturated world.  But she has to do so without losing viewers.  Jane can't go internet silent, because viewers would get bored and we'd miss all the St. John story and we can't miss that.  If she changed to a new channel, she'd lose the viewers who would miss the memo and Rochester could still track her down.  I can't figure out how they're going to make this work, but I can't wait to see how they do it.

Nick Carroway Chronicles--episodes on Mondays 

I think The Great Gatsby is one of the classic novels that most naturally translates to vlog form since the book is basically Nick telling us what happens to other people.  He's a built in narrator.  Since there is only one episode per week, we're still at the very beginning of the story and have hardly seen Gatsby, but I'm liking it so far.  Also,I love Jordan.  She's hilarious.  I don't even know how to describe her.  She's not goofy, just funny.  This series deserves way more attention than it's gotten.  

Emma Approved--episodes on Mondays and Thursdays

This series comes from the same team that made The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Sanditon (Sanditon has its own post here).  Emma Approved just premiered on Monday, so it's way too early to judge whether this will be as good an adaptation as LBD, but so far it looks promising.  Emma's characterization is perfect.  She's confident to a fault.  She thinks she reads people better than she does.  She's self centered and falsely concerned about other people.  She's so Emma Woodhousey.  I was unduly excited about this when it premiered on Monday.  

Also, does anyone else think Alex Knightly is very Edward Denhem-like?  His voice and personality seem very similar.

The Emma Project--episodes on Tuesdays and Saturdays

I discovered this one just the other day.  It will be interesting to watch this series and Emma Approved at the same time.  They've done a good job of setting up the class distinction with the college seniority and Emma would totally be a psychology major.  I love that Robbie Martin is a farmer going to to community college; we totally get why Emma would think Harriet is above marrying someone like that as well as why Emma a jerk for thinking that.  And we've started seeing more of Emma influencing Harriet in her decisions.

However, The Emma Project doesn't have the same professional feeling that the other adaptations have.  I'm not talking about lighting and sound.  I can ignore that.  I mean that instead of coming across as Emma the character telling us about her life, it feels like an actress reciting memorized lines, so it doesn't feel as real.  They also seem to be rushing through the story rather than taking time to establish the characters.  I'm still interested in it, but it's not the best adaptation I've found.

Notes by Christine--episodes on Tuesdays and Fridays

I found Notes by Christine just today.  I like it so far, but I haven't had time to see how well I like it.  They're taking a risk by having episodes that are just Christine singing opera music.  It's true to character and the story of Phantom of the Opera (book not musical), but it doesn't move the plot forward at all.  So it'll be interesting to see whether or not Youtube audiences latch onto it.  Also, the opera ghost has his own channel where he, without showing his face, offers Christine private lessons.  So that's creepy.  It'll be interesting to see where they take this story.  They could really play up the creepy stalker aspect by making him an internet predator.  We'll see. 

Anyways, go check out these series for yourself and let me know what you think.    Also, are there more vlog adaptations of classic novels out there that I missed?  I must find them all!  


  1. I only found out about this after discovering the recent "The New adventures of Peter and Wendy" which is a unique and creative modern take on J.M.Barrie's Peter Pan. I'm addicted!

    1. I've seen a few of the Peter and Wendy videos. They look good. Green Gables Fables also started recently, and I really like it so far.



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