Les Misérables (British TV series)

Les Misérables is a British television series based on the 1862 French historical novel of the same name by Victor Hugo. Adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by Tom Shankland, it stars Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins.

Les Misérables
Les Misérables 2018 miniseries title card.png
Based onLes Misérables
by Victor Hugo
Written byAndrew Davies
Directed byTom Shankland
Starring
ComposerJohn Murphy
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of series1
No. of episodes6 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
  • Andrew Davies
  • Faith Penhale
  • Bethan Jones
  • Mona Qureshi
  • Rebecca Eaton
  • Dominic West
  • David Oyelowo
ProducerChris Carey
Running time60 minutes
Production companies
DistributorBBC Studios
Release
Original networkBBC One
Picture format2:1 1080p
Audio formatStereo
Original release30 December 2018 (2018-12-30) –
3 February 2019 (2019-02-03)
External links
Website

The series was produced by the BBC with support from PBS member station WGBH Boston's Masterpiece series. BBC Studios handles the distribution for the series. It was broadcast in the United Kingdom between 30 December 2018 and 3 February 2019. In Canada, the series started broadcasting on 10 January 2021 on CBC and CBC Gem.[1]

CastEdit

EpisodesEdit

No.EpisodeDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUK viewers
(millions) [2]
1Episode 1Tom ShanklandAndrew Davies30 December 2018 (2018-12-30)5.95
Following the Battle of Waterloo, the robber Monsieur Thénardier is pursued as he tries to loot the possessions of fallen soldiers and inadvertently revives a wounded officer, Colonel Georges Pontmercy, as he loots his body. Meanwhile, the young Marius Pontmercy is raised by his conservative, monarchist grandfather Monsieur Gillenormand, who bars all contact. Serving a 19-year prison sentence for stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean endures hard labour and frequent abuse by the guards. A year passes and his term expires, but his earnings are embezzled by the legalistic commandant, Javert. After being released, Valjean is ostracized by much of society due to his criminal status. The kindly Bishop Myriel, however, takes pity on Valjean, freely giving him food and shelter.
2Episode 2Tom ShanklandAndrew Davies6 January 2019 (2019-01-06)N/A (<5.63)[a]

Despite being betrayed by Valjean, the bishop also saves him from the police after he steals a basket of silverware. Valjean then robs a coin from a boy named Petit Gervais. Experiencing remorse, he tries to return it but the boy has fled. Elsewhere, Fantine falls in love with a student. However, he abandons her to return to his family estate, leaving Fantine and their baby daughter Cosette.

Four years later, Valjean has become a wealthy factory owner and the Mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer, adopting the name Monsieur Madeleine. Seeking work, Fantine leaves Cosette in the care of the Thénardiers, who neglect her while increasingly extorting money. Fantine finds work at Valjean's factory but is fired by Valjean for concealing information about her illegitimate child. Valjean has his own issues too, as his new chief of police, Javert, suspects his true identity.
3Episode 3Tom ShanklandAndrew Davies13 January 2019 (2019-01-13)5.29
The young Pontmercy, who is growing unsure of his grandfather's ongoing contempt, reunites with his dying father at his deathbed. Meanwhile, the increasingly victimised Fantine sells her hair and front teeth and becomes a prostitute. After Fantine assaults an abusive passer by, Valjean saves her from Javert and takes her to the infirmary. Javert later apologises to him after receiving news that a man identified as Valjean is facing trial for robbing Petit Gervais. Valjean travels to Arras where he saves Champmathieu from being imprisoned for life by identifying himself as Valjean. Valjean is sent back to the prison hulk but not before spending time with a broken-hearted Fantine who dies as he promises to find her daughter.
4Episode 4Tom ShanklandAndrew Davies20 January 2019 (2019-01-20)5.34
Valjean escapes and, honouring his promise to Fantine, he buys Cosette's freedom for 1,500 Francs. Seeking more money, Thénardier pursues them but is disarmed by Valjean. Valjean and Cosette then travel to Paris where they start a new life and he becomes her father. Thénardier, however, reports the child as kidnapped, leading to Javert’s investigation. The Thénardiers' fortunes take a turn for the worse when Javert discovers they actually sold Cosette and he arranges for their creditors to repossess their hotel. In Paris, the busybody landlady reports Valjean to Javert. Following a near escape, Valjean and Cosette gain sanctuary in a convent. The mother superior, despite a no-man rule, then agrees to hide Valjean from Javert, hire him as their gardener, and to educate Cosette.
5Episode 5Tom ShanklandAndrew Davies27 January 2019 (2019-01-27)5.15
Time passes and Cosette is now a beautiful young woman. After leaving the convent, Valjean takes her to a nearby stately home. Meanwhile, Pontmercy, also grown up, learns the truth about his father and becomes estranged from his grandfather due to his anti-monarchist views. He moves into an apartment building and his neighbours are the Thénardiers, who live in poverty and try to scam him. Cosette becomes enamored with Pontmercy after encountering him in the Luxembourg Garden. Valjean, however, fears for her relationship with any young man. Thénardier also targets Valjean and seeks to assault him for money. Pontmercy overhears their plot and informs Javert in a bid to prevent the crime.
6Episode 6Tom ShanklandAndrew Davies3 February 2019 (2019-02-03)5.47

The Thénardiers and their accomplices lure Valjean into a trap but he is able to fight them off. Marius alerts the police, who arrest the Thénardiers and their accomplices. Valjean is wounded but escapes. Marius learns that Monsieur Thénardier was the man who saved his father at Waterloo, placing him in a dilemma.

Éponine and Azelma are released but Madame Thénardier is imprisoned. Cosette continues her secret relationship with Marius, who is besotted with her. Marius seeks his grandfather's approval for marrying Cosette but storms out after Monsieur Gillenormand makes disparaging remarks about his lover. Fearing for Cosette's safety, Valjean makes preparations to move to England. Monsieur Thénardier escapes and attempts to invade Valjean's house but is foiled by Éponine. Following the attempted home invasion, Valjean and Cosette move to another house. The Friends of the ABC launch a revolution: the June Rebellion of 1832 against the Orléanist monarchy, setting up street barricades. During the uprising, Javert is captured by the Republicans. Believing Cosette to be lost, a distraught Marius joins the Republican uprising and helps halt an offensive by government troops. Éponine sacrifices her life to save Marius and provides Cosette's letter. After discovering Cosette's secret relationship with Marius, Valjean resolves to confront him.

The French Army storms the barricades, killing many revolutionaries. Valjean confronts Javert but spares his life and allows him to escape. Knowing of Cosette's love for Marius, Valjean carries the wounded Marius through the sewers of Paris. Thénardier permits Valjean and Marius to exit the sewers in return for a fee. Valjean and the unconscious Marius are detained by Javert and his men. After returning Marius to his grandfather, Javert decides not to arrest Valjean. After proposing reforms to the treatment of prisoners, Javert throws himself into the Seine, unable to reconcile showing Valjean clemency and upholding the law. With the approval of Valjean and Gillernomand, Marius and Cosette marry. Right before their marriage, Valjean confesses to Marius that he was a thief in the past, and will disappear from their lives after the wedding. Marius doesn't realize that Valjean was the one who earlier saved his life. After coming back from their honeymoon, a vengeful Thénardier approaches Marius and Cosette, and threatens to tell everyone that Valjean had killed a young man in the sewers. However, Marius sees through his lies and finally realizes that Valjean saved his life during the uprising. He and Cosette find a dying Valjean in a rural hamlet where Cosette spends time with her adoptive father on his deathbed.

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

The Weinstein Company was initially set to co-produce the series and serve as its distributor in the U.S. and China. The studio was dropped, however, following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.[3] PBS member station WGBH Boston, through their television series Masterpiece, replaced The Weinstein Company as a co-producer of the series.[4]

FilmingEdit

Filming for the series began in February 2018 in Belgium and Northern France.[5]

ReleaseEdit

BBC Studios handles distribution for the series.[6] The drama, which consists of six episodes, premiered on 30 December 2018.[7] In New Zealand, the series was released on TVNZ 1 and its free streaming service TVNZ OnDemand.[8][9][10]

In the US, the series was aired on PBS, starting 21 April 2019, to end on 19 May 2019.[11]

ReceptionEdit

Les Misérables has received positive reviews from critics. The miniseries holds a 87% approval rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 7.53/10, based on 39 critic reviews. The site's consensus reads "Andrew Davies' deft adaptation of the oft-retold Victor Hugo classic affords viewers a newfound intimacy with these outcasts and revolutionaries, who are ably brought to life by a star-studded cast."[12]

Collins' performance as Fantine received praise from critics. Alexandra Pollard of The Independent praised her performance, writing "she plays the tragic Fantine with steeliness and grace", and described it as "magnificent."[13] West's performance as Valjean in the final episode also received critical praise. Gabriel Tate of The Telegraph praised his performance, writing "Dominic West steals the show in a stirring finale."[14]

The television mini-series on PBS was described as "an engrossing treat, featuring a vibrant cast and taking its time to unspool the melodrama and offer loving looks at 19th century France."[15] It "hews closely to the source material without skipping too much plot or character motivations", the source material being the 19th century novel by Victor Hugo.[15] The casting is commended, with many strong performances. The plot cannot carry all the detail of Hugo's novel of his characters in a tumultuous time in France, but "when all the cannons are fired and last stands are taken, the sacrifices given do not feel insignificant.". The story is told keeping "the narrative clear and allowing character-driven scenes to breathe."[15]

Allison Keene of Collider wrote, "Emotional, engrossing" with 5 stars.[16]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Not reported in the weekly top 15 programmes for four-screen viewer ratings.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.cbc.ca/mediacentre/program/les-miserables
  2. ^ "Four-screen dashboard". Broadcasters' Audience Research Board.
  3. ^ Otterson, Joe (9 January 2018). "David Oyelowo, Dominic West, Lily Collins to Star in BBC's 'Les Misérables' Miniseries". Variety.
  4. ^ Haring, Bruce (14 July 2018). "'Les Miserables' First Look Photos From Masterpiece PBS Adaptation Out". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  5. ^ Furness, Hannah (10 January 2018). "BBC unveils cast of new Les Miserables series with pledge to take classic back to its roots". The Daily Telegraph.
  6. ^ "BBC – BBC unveils brand new must-see dramas – Media Centre". BBC. Retrieved 9 August 2018.
  7. ^ Griffiths, Eleanor Bley (4 December 2018). "When is Les Misérables on TV? Who is in the cast? Why isn't it a musical?". Radio Times. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  8. ^ Langdon, Kate (21 April 2019). "Review: The new BBC Les Misérables is all class". The Spinoff. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Les Misérables". TVNZ OnDemand. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  10. ^ Sulcas, Roslyn (12 April 2019). "A New Version of 'Les Misérables' Has Less Singing, More Misery". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  11. ^ "Les Misérables: Schedule". PBS. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Les Misérables: Series 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  13. ^ Pollard, Alexandra (6 January 2019). "Les Misérables review, episode two: Lily Collins plays the tragic Fantine with steeliness and grace". The Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  14. ^ Tate, Gabriel (3 February 2019). "Les Miserables, episode 6 review – Dominic West steals the show in a stirring finale". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  15. ^ a b c Nguyen, Hanh (14 April 2019). "'Les Misérables' Review: PBS' Stirring Non-Musical Captures the Beauty and Anguish of This Unjust Life". Indie Wire. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
  16. ^ Keene, Allison (12 April 2019). "'Les Misérables' Review: A Gorgeous, Haunting, Blessedly Non-Musical Adaptation on PBS". Collider. Retrieved 21 January 2020.

External linksEdit

Novel by Victor Hugo, English translation: