When a writer is looking for inspiration, they often look to works from the past. The issue is that some of these stories may contain characters or narratives that are archaic, outdated, or just plain offensive.
The new 4 part Masterpiece/PBS miniseries, Tom Jones, is based on the 1749 novel, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, by Henry Fielding. The title character, Tom Jones (Solly McLeod) was found as a newborn by Squire Allworthy (James Fleet). A widower without children, he raises Tom as if they were flesh and blood.
When we meet Tom at the age of twenty, he is like most of us at that age. He wants to do the right thing, but his efforts don’t always go as planned. He is also not anti-social when it comes to the opposite sex.
Nearby, Sophia Western (Sophie Wilde) is an heiress and the bi-racial granddaughter of a local landowner, Squire Western (Alun Armstrong). She is expected to walk in the footsteps of previous generations of women and “marry well”.
Their childhood friendship turns into adult affection and love. But he is considered unworthy of her. The only way to reach their happy ending is to fight for it.
I have to admit that I have never read the original text. This review is solely based on the television adaptation.
I enjoyed the first episode. The tale is compelling and the characters are fully drawn. I like that Sophia was reimagined as bi-racial. It highlights the issues that are still not fully dealt with. It also creates a bond between our young lovers while adding layers of conflict. Both are key to keeping the audience engaged and hanging on until the (hopeful) happy ending.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Tom Jones airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9pm.
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