Britain’s ITV1 revealed its 2-hour teledrama Frankenstein on October 24. The new version has an updated script by Jed Mercurio and stars Helen McCrory as Dr. Victoria Frankenstein. James Beach plays the vat-grown, stem-cell Monster that looks a bit like a bloodless ET. The makeup required 4 hours of work and CGI tweaking.
Critics were uniformly amused and distracted by another broadcast, on the same evening as Frankenstein, of a documentary about Michael Jackson. The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston opens with, “Two monsters today, man made, experiments gone wrong.” Wollaston’s opinion of Frankenstein is by far the most positive of all the reviews online, though he found Jackson to be “far scarier”.
John Wise in The People.co.uk says, “the story was too wrapped up in Dr Frankenstein's soap opera-esque personal tragedies (lost son, lost husband, lost the plot). Frankenstein is a fantasy and shouldn't be sold as anything else”. Wise adds that The Monster sounded “like an overexcited pig”. Aidan Smith in The Scotsman bounces back and forth between Frankenstein and “Whacko Jacko”, noting that The Monster lacked a proper nose and “looked like Munch’s The Scream with an overbite”. At least, I think that part was about Frankenstein.
There’s more meat in Merle Brown’s review, in The Herald. Brown notes “a spectacularly gruesome scene in which the monster managed to kill a screaming child when he was trying to muffle her cries. It was extremely graphic and perhaps not completely necessary.” In the final analysis, Brown judges the show silly and tedious.
Blogger Dan Owen pans it outright, pronouncing the new Frankenstein “dead on arrival — with no hope of resuscitation”. One quibble with Mr. Owen’s otherwise reasoned review: He dismisses Mary Shelley’s novel as “overrated Victorian fiction”. Opinion aside, Frankenstein was Regency era, predating the earliest Victorian era marker by at least 15 years.
Related links: The plot in detail on 24NewsCentral, “How Helen McCrory turned into Frankenstein” by Daphne Lockyer, Times Online, and “ITV gives Frankenstein a feminine makeover” by Gerald Gilbert, The Independent.
The new Frankenstein was simultaneously released as a “Director’s Cut” DVD and is available on Amazon.co.uk.