Masterpiece’s Les Misérables

Masterpiece, a division of PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), brings television dramas to American audiences.

Their programming includes contemporary works and even adaptations of literature’s classics. Some of their popular programs include Sherlock, Bleak House, and Downton Abbey.

Tonight WDSE-WRPT is hosting an advanced screening of Masterpiece’s Les Misérables first episode. It’s being held on a large screen of a local arts building. This six episode miniseries airs on PBS beginning April 14, so this is truly an advanced viewing.

For anyone who needs a refresher on ‘Les Mis’, this next bit is for you’

Les Misérables takes place after the French Revolution ends. Les Mis is the story of Jean Valjean, a peasant who was jailed for stealing bread. He attempts to get out a few times and had years added to his sentence. After spending close to two decades imprisoned, Jean Valjean is released. Jean Valjean is constantly on the move, meets many unique individuals, and always seems to run into trouble despite trying to better his outlook. How does this all play out? You’ll have to see for yourself!

Now, here’s what I thought of episode one. This may contain spoilers!

*Note: at this viewing there was a wide range of ages and backgrounds of both men and women. Everyone was very excited to see this episode.

This first episode is nothing short of a work of art. It’s beautifully written and crafted. The costumes are gorgeous and period appropriate. The actors looked the part! It’s music enhanced the mood without being overwhelming. Sets were well chosen and it was visually stunning. A lot of natural scenery was used to add a sense of enormity and scope to the story which gave a great sense of wonder and perspective.

It starts off after the last battle of the French Revolution at Waterloo. The scene was large in scope and gave a good visual representation of just how many people were killed. It was impressive to see the scale of destruction and gave a clear message of the revolution’s debilitating effect on the county.

This episode clearly sets up three characters to focus on for the duration. It explains their background, attitudes, personalities, and begins to show the transitions into the next ‘chapter’ of you will of this epic saga. You can’t help but feeling like you’re sharing in their stories. It’s an unspoken emotional aspect that can be explained in a ‘less is more’ fashion. The set, score, costumes, and sheer talent of its actors all compliment each other.

By the end of the episode, I was hooked. I cannot wait until the next episode! To be this excited for more after ONE episode, it has to be good! I would definitely recommend seeing this version.

3 thoughts on “Masterpiece’s Les Misérables

  1. I have been waiting to watch this since it was launched in the UK. I had a hard time waiting till it aired in the US. I am a massive fan of Les Mis- a love which began with the musical movie. I have a lot of knowledge of Les Mis.

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    1. I hope the rest is as good as the first episode!! 35 minutes until episode 2! I’ve had such a hard time finding a version that’s close to the book and understandable! I do like the musical with Hugh Jackman, but when it came out it confused me at the time why such a serious story would be a musical! Lol! I’ve actually picked up the book again and am determined to finish it this time!! It’s a good show of it encourages people to read the book!!

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      1. I was also confused the first time I watched the film- not in the same way you were. As in- “why would a musical be a tragedy”. I came in blind to the fact that Les Mis was a tragedy. When I figured it out- I was shocked-as a result, I did not know how to respond to the rest of the film. I really did not know if I liked Les Mis. Despite not knowing if I was a fan of Les Mis, I still started researching the musical.

        I had to give a film a 2nd chance before really knowing if I was a fan of the musical.

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