Monday, November 18, 2019

Round Two: His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Idea of North” (B+)

I’m enjoying watching this show as I try to remember bits and pieces of what I know from the books, like that Lord Asriel is Lyra’s father, and blissfully ignoring other revelations until they’re made so that I’m in for some surprises. I did realize ahead of Lyra that the General Oblation Board could be abbreviated to Gobblers, something that only scratches the surface of what Mrs. Coulter is doing. There is a childlike sense of adventure here that’s captured most in Lyra’s behavior, and then an undercurrent of disturbing violence shown through Mrs. Coulter burning the abducted children’s letters and by the physical crushing of a daemon by an unfeeling Lord Boreal. We’re getting a few more hints of what’s going on, like Lord Boreal being able to cross into another world that looks a whole lot more like ours than the one Lyra lives in, and I presume that Lord Asriel’s absence in this hour won’t become a pattern, though he’s sure going to have some explaining to do when he next comes face-to-face with Lyra. I’m very happy to see Ruth Wilson in the role of Mrs. Coulter since it’s so different than the role she played on “The Affair,” and it’s continuously difficult to deduce where her allegiances actually lie. In the process on waiting for clarity on what exactly is at play in these two worlds, the visual effects, costumes, and production design are more than satisfactory. This feels like a very worthwhile and well-staged production, far better than the 2007 film version of “The Golden Compass.”

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