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Reliving My Youth Through Masterpiece Theater & Matt Smith

June 11, 2011

Words by Me, Original Photo Source: Click for Full Size

I’m incredibly surprised this didn’t spawn more fan fiction than it did (maybe I need to look beyond YouTube for fan fiction?). The reason this post came about is the fact that roughly two weeks ago I watched this movie (I’ll tell you the name in a minute) and had an epic fan girl moment, or five. Than today I watched the sequel and have deemed today a good day to talk about what brought on my massive fan girl moments.

When I was a tween I read, a lot. I had a thing for historical fiction back then. My mother had always pushed and supported it for its educational benefits so it became a habit to look for it in my free time. One day I happened upon two novels in the teen section of the library, The Shadow in the North & The Tiger in the Well, books 2 & 3 of the Sally Lockhart trilogy by Philip Pullman of Golden Compass fame though I couldn’t get into that one at all. Perhaps I’ll try it again some time. The books looked wonderful, a Victorian mystery novel with a smart and assertive young heroine? Sign me up!

I found the first book, The Ruby in the Smoke, through interlibrary loan and loved it. Frankly I liked the whole trilogy but Ruby was my favorite though the ending of Tiger was pretty awesome. I’d forgotten about the trilogy up until a few weeks ago. I’m not sure why, a cursed ruby, a magician that’s the key witness to a murder, someone who’s been plotting to destroy your life and take away everything you love? How could I forget that? But I did.

Enter my new Doctor Who obsession. I was hitting up to look up the careers of some of my favorite actors from the show when I stumbled upon Billie Piper’s (Companion Rose Tyler) complete acting career. And what should I see? Masterpiece theater movies, specifically the Sally Lockhart Mysteries. Yes the first 2 books were turned into movies and are the reason for this post. Because not only was Billie Piper the titular star of the movies but current doctor Matt Smith was in it as well. (Devoted Who fans are now nodding their heads as everything makes sense now.) Rose & Doctor 11 have yet to appear together but I have hope. (Fun fact, he has however guest starred on her show Diary of A Call Girl.) So this movie was a double treat for me, Who & my early teen years wrapped up in two movies and lucky for me the movies were pretty awesome.

20110611-072141.jpg Photo Source: here

“…within the hour she was going to kill a man.” So said Matt Smith as Sally’s friend Jim Taylor in the opening voice over for The Ruby in the Smoke. And I was once again a younger version of myself trying to remember everything that had happened in the book. I could often remember bits and pieces before they happened but for the most part I was searching for the ruby right along with them. It was everything I remember loving about the book and even featured a great moment when everyone was talking over Jim who had something REALLY important to tell them. I mean, hello people the Doctor is talking! Listen up. Rose Tyler you should know better. Yeah I totally yelled that at my tv. I know no shame.

The Shadow in the North was not as good as Ruby though it was still pretty darn good. For one Jim wasn’t doing the voice over, heck no one did a voice over the second time around. And for another my memory wasn’t giving me anything to look forward to except this one bit with Sally & Frederick that’s a total spoiler alert. It still had the engaging and seeming complicated mystery to it but Ruby was still better in my opinion. However it still amazes me that they managed to keep so much of the plot in a basic hour and a half movie. Then again Pullman does like to ramble about things so I’m sure there was plenty to cut out that no one would notice.

Billie Piper made a great Sally incorporating some Rose like characteristics to help bring Sally to life. She looked gorgeous in Victorian dress with envy worthy hair and didn’t let anyone, especially the men push her around. This is part of what made the books so great. Matt Smith didn’t portray Jim like he does the Doctor but he was still playing a lovable character. Jim was one of my favorites because of his loyalty, boyish charms & good looks and his heroic efforts didn’t hurt either. I was rather sad over the fact that he & Sally never got together romantically in the books.

But the awesomeness doesn’t stop there folks. I searched around online to see if Tiger in the Well would eventually get transferred over to the small screen and I read that all 4 novels were originally planned to be adapted for tv but as of now the final 2 are on hold. Yes that’s right 4. Pullman wrote a companion novel to the trilogy featuring many of the Sally Lockhart characters called The Tin Princess that featured Jim Taylor rather heavily to make up for his limited appearance in Tiger no doubt. (Though his appearance packed quite the punch.) I’ve got a copy of Tin Princess on my dresserwaiting for me to read this very moment. I’m quite looking forward to reading it as it’s one of the best gifts the Internet has ever given me in a while.

So dear readers, what are your thoughts on the movie adaptions? Seen them, interested in seeing them? You certainly don’t have to read the books to enjoy them though I highly recommend that you do. And while we’re on the subject I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books as well. I know I didn’t talk about the plot much but only because I don’t want to accidentally spoil something. If you want to know more I recommend clicking here.

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