Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Program Review: Welcome to Sanditon

(Image from Pemberley Digital)

Well it's time for me to turn in my Man Card--again.  

I guess I get sentimental this time of year, especially now that Christmas is less than half-a-day away.

Anyway, today's "Man Card violation" is my review of Pemberley Digital's (PD)second YouTube series Welcome to Sanditon.  

This program is a spin-off of the award-winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

Most TV spin-offs don't measure up to the quality of the parent program and unfortunately, Welcome to Sanditon falls into a similar internet category.

But it was a valiant attempt.

Part of the problem was the source material, which was based on the unfinished novel Sanditon by--who else?--Jane Austen.  

The second problem was, the producers attempted to get the fans involved directly which resulted in some mediocre-at-best videos.  

In PD's re-imagining of Sandition, William Darcy's sister Gigi, played by actress Allison Paige, strikes out on her own to set up their company's multi-platform communication program Domino, in the town of Sandition, CA.  There, she encounters conniving Mayor Tom Parker (Joel Bryant), along with rival siblings and competing gym-owners Letitia and Beau Griffiths (Vanessa Chester and Vaughn Wilkinson, respectively).  

However, Gigi manages to help love bloom--thanks to Domino--between Clara Breton (Lenne Klingaman) owner of the ice cream parlor "Sanditon Scoops" and the mayor's bumbling, but likable assistant, Edward Denham (Kyle Walters). 

The subplot in all this revolves around the Domino program itself, which is suspected of becoming self-aware in a "romantic Skynet" sort of way.  

And here's where the fan videos come in:  

During the show's production, fans submitted videos of themselves posing as Sanditon residents, discussing their mysterious dealings with Domino.  It was a good attempt at involving the fans, but fell short of the quality mark and really didn't add much, if anything, to the plot.  Based on the comments of YouTube viewers, the fan videos were the least favorite part of the show.

All that being said, I liked Welcome to Sanditon and enjoyed watching it, giving the show a 3 out of 5 star rating.  The love story between Clara and Ed is cute. The first ice-breaker between the two occurs when he's locked in her store watching The Day of the Triffids mini-series (1981).  

Hey, any program that references The Day of the Triffids can't be all that un-manly, can it?

(Image:  Manly picture of Triffid-infested London)  

And for those of us you with a sweet tooth, Clara concocts some killer ice-cream recipes, such as:  

Trick-or-Treat Ice Cream (Episode 2)
Chocolate Peanut Banana Juice (Episode 6)
Breakfast Sundae (Episode 10) 
Brownie Sandwich (Episode 14)
Chocolate Dipped Cone with Raspberry Sorbet (Episode 18) 
and my favorite--Nutella Waffles for Two (Episode 22)

As I mentioned in my Lizzie Bennet review, I don't intend to pick-up a Jane Austen novel.  I'm much more interested in the Napoleonic Wars than the trials and tribulations of England's landed gentry during the Regency Era.

Nor do I recall ever watching a Jane Austen-based movie or TV program.  However, I think these re-imagined versions are well-suited for the "small screen" because they are so personal--and yes--romantic.

So grab your box of tissues, your ice-cream scooper, skip the fan videos and enjoy Welcome to Sanditon


Episodes can be seen on the Pemberley Digital website, YouTube or on Facebook

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