I’ve always been a fan of John le Carre (whose real name is David Cornwell) novels. I like how sometimes in the spy stories there are no winners. I like the subtle shifts in them. I think he does wonders on the page. At times there are great movies from his work Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy comes to mind. Others are just okay Tailor of Panama (see Daniel Radcliffe before he was Harry). So I was ambivalent when I heard that Night Manager was coming to the small screen as a miniseries and updated to modern day.
But the cast gave me hope Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. Then it aired in the BBC and the UK went wild! There was praise and I was sad to see it aired while I was disconnected from TV in the move. BUT the good news was they marathoned it again after it received so many Emmy nominations. I recorded it and for three evenings Mike and I watched…
It was good, really good. We were drawn into the updated story that started with Arab Spring in Egypt. The emotions were still there Jonathon Pine still was a loyal Brit with love of life only a man that has seen the horrors of war possesses. His handler, Angela Burr, still had a strong sense of right and wrong even when that meant her own government was in the wrong. Richard Roper was still greedy as all hell nonchalant about killing other’s children but overly protective of his while demeaning the child to his face. It was there. The emotional costs just as suspenseful as the illegal arms deals and table turning to keep Pine undercover.
Some of the changes I didn’t approve of. The ending was more sure and less grey than the books. Somehow I like le Carre’s grey endings where you are left thinking about the book for days. Who was right, who was wrong, what’s the moral cost of using wrong to right? Those areas in the spy game where the end justifying the means comes into play. I love how he constructs situations where people like Pine and Burr have to pick the lesser of two evils neither being what they see as the right thing. That was there in small part, in mini-story arcs, but the end was robbed of that. Yet as I sighed at the end I knew it had to be this way for viewing audiences – grey doesn’t sell someone HAS to win. Yet I longed for the ending that made me ponder days later. One other thing bothered me – However honestly how long was Burr pregnant? The operation seemed to take months but she seemed to stay about 8 month along the whole time. **shrugs**
Despite those changes the show is epic. It’s shot like a movie with cinema feel. The characters are richly portrayed (oh and if you get the UK there’s Hiddlebum which was edited for us Americans because we can’t handle rosy man cheeks). The story is given time to grow and be told without dragging. It was well worth the nominations it got on both sides of the pond. There is talk of a Nightmanger 2 going to le Carre and getting a plot to carry forward but as much as I would watch that with this cast I find part of me hoping not. Sometimes it’s best to leave a great piece of work alone and let it stand for what it is.