Unexpected is right...
Jerome R. Dodson | Melbourne, FL | 02/25/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Roald Dahl is a writer with few peers. His mastery of language, his incandescent imagination, his pacing and plotting--all come together in brilliant, entertaining stories. So, when I heard his tales had been adapted for television, I was delighted. When I saw the results, I was disappointed. The problems vary from episode to episode. In many cases, the writers chosen to adapt the stories seem to lack Dahl's perfect mix of sparkle and cynicism. In others, the actors are simply not up to challenge. Sometimes, both fail. In Dahl's hands, "Mr. Botibol's First Love" is a delicate, gentle and bittersweet tale of love and loss. By the time it reached the screen, neither the teleplay nor Jack Weston were able to convey the fragile, subtle emotions of Mr. Botibol. "Poison" can't begin to maintain the tension of Dahl's masterpiece: the teleplay simply drags. Elaine Stritch's performance in "My Lady Love, My Dove" is screechy; Joseph Cotton's work in "Depart in Peace" is pedestrian. In "Taste," Dahl's ending was terrifyingly ambiguous, almost certainly homicidal. The teleplay ends on a ludicrous note. I could multiply these criticisms several times over, but I think you have enough to go on. Further hampering the quality of the show is the fact that it is shot on video; the transfer to DVD is less than sterling, and many of the shows have a dingy visual quality that makes them feel soggy.
And yet, at times there are scripts and casts that can convey the Dahl magic. "Georgy Porgy" is a fascinating little gem, with a brilliant turn by Joan Collins in a double role and John Alderton's utterly convincing descent into madness. "The Man from the South" is a faithful, gripping reproduction of Dahl's story. "Mrs Bixby and the Colonel's Coat" maintains the giddy deception of the original.
Overall, a mixed bag, and worth the purchase price if you don't pay too much or expect too much.