Beginning in January, PBS' "Masterpiece" series (formerly "Masterpiece Theatre"; the change was made based on market research) has presented adaptations of all the Jane Austen novels in one fell swoop, all of them new except "Emma" and "Pride and Prejudice." The series began with a scrumptious version of "Persuasion" (featuring one of television's all-time great screen kisses, between Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones), and has also thrown in for good measure a surprisingly effective biopic, "Miss Austen Regrets."
While the story line of "Sense and Sensibility" is intricate enough to make some careful record-keeping useful, and the various twists and turns of the plot absorbing enough, it is the rich dimensionality that Austen lavished on the sisters Dashwood (Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield), and their contrasting philosophies concerning romance, that makes any theatrical adaptation particularly rewarding for actors and audience alike.
"Sense and Sensibility" has not lacked for top-drawer treatment, of course, most notably Ang Lee's 1995 film starring Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. Yet somehow this predictably low-key one from the BBC and WGBH is almost its equal.
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