Les Mis: This most recent adaptation is stunningly beautiful to behold

Dominic West is impressive as Jean Valjean in a BBC-made miniseries of the classic tale Les Miserables.
Dominic West is impressive as Jean Valjean in a BBC-made miniseries of the classic tale Les Miserables.

LES MISERABLES

8.20pm, Saturday, ABC

If an author can create one work that lives on long after they've shuffled off this mortal coil then they've done alright.

Victor Hugo managed to do that twice - even if many remember his works rather than his name.

His pen gave birth to The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables. They're both books that almost everyone has heard of, even if they haven't read them.

Les Miserables has achieved lasting fame since Hugo wrote it way back in 1862. It spawned a famous musical, seven film adaptations and two miniseries.

The most recent of those is this 2018 six-episode version starring Dominic West (of Wire fame) as the protagnist Jean Valjean, who seeks to make a new life for himself after a 19-year stint in jail.

David Oyelowo (from the movie Selma) plays his nemesis in prison guard turned police officer Inspector Javert and Lily Collins (daughter of Phil Collins) is Fantine.

This most recent adaptation is stunningly beautiful to behold. The locations and sets are sumptuous and seem more like something you'd see in a movie rather than a miniseries.

The opening scenes showing the aftermath of the battle of Waterloo are amazing - and perhaps not really for the squeamish types.

West is spellbinding as the tortured Valjean, he exudes such fury and menace with just a glance, while Oyelowo plays Javert with the right mix of superiority and a hidden admiration for Valjean's strength.

Find out who goes the highest over the limit in the next episode of RBT.

Find out who goes the highest over the limit in the next episode of RBT.

RBT

8.30pm, Tuesday, Nine

A work colleague of mine once made a great observation about nature documentaries. He said no-one ever turns on the TV specifically because they want to watch one of them.

But if they're flicking through the channels and they stumble across the nature doco, then they'll stop and watch.

I reckon the same theory holds true for RBT. I've never said "hey, RBT is on. I've got to watch that." And yet I seem to have ended up watching quite a few episodes. Usually because I've been watching the show before it and just stayed around.

I don't quite know what it is that draws me in - maybe waiting to see just how high a reading someone can blow - but once I start watching an episode I tend to stay right to the end.

One of the families trying to escape from the aliens in another adaptation of War of the Worlds.

One of the families trying to escape from the aliens in another adaptation of War of the Worlds.

WAR OF THE WORLDS

8.30pm, Thursday, SBS

It's a bit of an odd coincidence that two separate production companies decided to make a miniseries of this HG Wells classic in the same year.

In 2019 there was a British version which was set in the same time period as Wells' novel.

Then there was this one, which is a more loose adaptation. It takes place in our world, and starts with the news that someone has responded to messages sent out from Earth looking for extraterrestrial life.

No prizes for guessing who that might have been.

In a bit of a disappointment, rather than seeing those walking tripod creatures we know so well that shoot heat rays, these aliens emit a magnetic frequency that screws with people's brains, causing them to die.

The survivors - who managed to be underground or protected in some other way - then band together to try and work out why these aliens want to kill humanity.

The show premieres with a double episode, of which I only watched the first. I found it all very slow going as a seemingly endless queue of characters were introduced.

Also, there were some scenes where characters were speaking entirely in French and the preview I watched had no subtitles. So hopefully that is fixed up by the time it goes to air.

REVIEWS: GLEN HUMPHRIES

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