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New Book Adaptations for the Small Screen

By Bianca Smith • March 22, 2018

Television has grown up and is no longer something to be ashamed of. We're looking at you, Isaac Asimov. Production values and budgets have increased, and we're seeing book adaptations that rival their silver screen cousins. Think The Handmaid's Tale, which won eight Primetime Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe awards.

So today's post is all about television. We have two adaptations. One is filled with music and high school drama. The other is a BBC telemovie starring Benedict Cumberbatch; also filled with drama.

Drama High by Michael Sokolove

"Rise" is based on Drama High by Michael Sokolove, which is a true story of a high school in Levittown, Pennsylvania. The Harry S. Truman High School is in a blue-collar town, but because of its theater director, Lou Volpe has become a favorite testing ground for Broadway's new shows, really. While the book describes the on- and off-stage dramas (this is a high school), and while musical theater transforms the students, the town, and even Broadway, the television series adds the ear candy. The talented cast includes Auli'i Cravalho, who voiced and sang Moana, accompanied by actors whose resumes are short on screen but huge on stage.

Did Glee get a little too unrealistic for you? Watch "Rise" on NBC and read Drama High for the real story.

The Child in Time - Ian McEwan

The Child in Time opens with Stephen Lewis having a happy moment with his young daughter in the supermarket. It's all errands and laughs until little Kate is abducted. The television movie adaptation of Ian McEwan's award-winning novel comes to PBS this month.

The story continues with how Stephen and his wife Julie cope in the aftermath of Kate's abduction. It's the guilt and the anguish that's made worse by Stephen being a children's author and a member of a government childcare committee. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Stephen and Kelly Mcdonald, Julie, making a combination that brings forth all the emotions of the book.

"It's not just the situation but Cumberbatch's performance that makes it so agonising. Physically so. I felt the stress, the tightening and quickening. I felt sick. It's a brutal portrayal of panic and guilt, and then a world falling silently apart. Brilliant by Macdonald, too, of a mother's loss, possibly profounder still. And try as she might, she is unable not to blame him, even if she also still loves him," said Sam Wollaston, reviewer for PBS this month.

Perhaps have some chocolate on hand while watching.

Read more by Bianca Smith

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