And by this I mean that Tom Ellis (aka, Tom Milligan, aka Martha's always-missing, and never-mentioned in Journey's End fiance) plays Claude to Billie Piper's Hero. (Yes, yes, I'm so clever, haha.)
This was actually really, really, REALLY good. My only complaint is that I felt that both love stories (Benedick/Beatrice and Hero/Claude) were rushed; I didn't buy/see where either couple actually fell in love enough to get to the point both did at the altar. This isn't to say that Billie and Ellis didn't have chemistry, because they did. And Damian Lewis and Sarah Parrish as Benedick and Beatrice had fine chemistry too. In fact, it was the talent of all four actors, as well as that chemistry, that made the story work. It was just that the actually falling in love part was pretty much glossed over. Ah well, for such an undertaking, that's a small price to pay, I suppose.
If you don't know, this project is a modernization of Shakespeare classics (I haven't watched the other two yet). In this one, the characters of "Much Ado About Nothing" are transported to modern-day Wessex and they all work in a television station. I've only read MAAN and seen the Branagh version once, but I did recognize who all of the characters were supposed to be (and not just by name). The script did a wonderful job of recreating these characters in a modern world. As well, there was plenty of bite and hilarious dialogue as befitting the take on this particular Shakespeare play.
All in all, excellently done, and I'd recommend anyone watch it.
Random thoughts ...
- Billie is just awesome; such a natural actress and light and frothy and beautiful and then capable of bringing on the major dramatic acting chops like nobody's business. And she cries so heartwrenchingly; I don't think I'm capable of watching her cry without tearing up myself. She's so, so good.
- Man, Damian Lewis looked SO much better after he calmed the hair and shaved the pirate facial hair. SO. MUCH. BETTER. And on a non-shallow note, he's really just a sensational actor. I'm so glad that I watch Life if for no other reason than it introduced me to this fine, fine (and I do mean "fine!") actor.
- I don't recall if Hero and Claudio got back together completely in the play, but I think they did. I'm glad that it was left ambiguous here to what degree Hero warmed back up to Claude because as yummy as Tom Ellis is, I was really, really pissed at how he verbally and physically (yes, physically) assaulted Hero, along with the humiliation he forced upon her.
- Speaking of though, yeah, Tom Ellis is really, really yummy. I remembered anew why I loved him so much, so quickly on Doctor Who and mourned never seeing him show up again.
- And one more ... honestly, I hate when it's commented that "so and so can have chemistry with a [fill in your inanimate object of choice]" because I think it generally undermines the other half of whom that actor generally works with. However, I have to say that in Billie Piper's case, I can't help it ... she can have chemistry with a [fill in your inanimate object of choice]. Seriously. Christopher Eccleston. Check. David Tennant. Check. Iddo Goldberg. Check. Callum Blue. Check. Now, Tom Ellis. Check. Damn!
- I mentioned, of course, that Tom Ellis was on Who; the other three were Sarah Parrish (Beatrice) (Racnoss queen in "The Runaway Bride" -- also, opposite Tennant in Blackpoool, which I know I have to watch). Derek Riddell as Don (the Don Juan character) played Sir Robert in Tooth and Claw, and he was wonderfully pathetic and skeevy here. Finally, my favorite supporting player in this was Nina Sosanya (who I recognized by voice first, actually) played Trish in Fear Her. Hah, it was practically a pre-Who reunion. Erm, if a reunion could take place before they worked on the same project.
- My favorite scene in terms of sheer laughter was definitely the one where Benedick is in the studio and "overhears" the conversation about Beatrice's love for him. I was laughing so hard; great, great scene.
Again, overall, really good. Watch it if you haven't.