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Mainstream - Masterpiece Theatre - My Family and Other Animals


Masterpiece Theatre - My Family and Other Animals
Eugene Simon, Imelda Staunton
Directed by Sheree Folkson
PBS 2005

My Family and Other Animals is the PBS Masterpiece Theatre DVD version of famed naturalist Gerald Durrell's biography about his pre-teen and pre-war years on the island of Corfu. This is of course a British production and features their usual tongue in cheek variety of humor more than flat out laughs. My Family and Other Animals, though not one of the best Masterpiece Theatre productions, is rather entertaining and fun to watch if a bit disorganized. It is also, strangely enough, the second made for TV adaptation of this Durrell biography as it was a short lived BBC series in 1987

If you are very familiar with the work of Gerald Durrell and the novels by Lawrence Durrell, you will probably enjoy the My Family and Other Animals DVD more than those who know little if nothing about the two brothers. I would not be surprised if this autobiographical tales contains a few in jokes about either brothers. As it is, there are a couple of scenes where Lawrence's guests seem to be a who's who of literature including -and I am guessing a bit-Henry Miller, Capote, and Anais Nin.

This Masterpiece Theatre adaptation is about as organized as the Durrell family seems to be: not at all. My Family and Other Animals is a series of linked events, often with a funny moment or two, linked together by Gerald's apprenticeship as a naturalist and his mother's constant denial of the events of the outside world. An interesting ongoing story at the beginning is the series of tutors hired to teach Gerald and how unsuccessful they are at tearing him away from learning on his own.

This production is as interested in the animal world Gerald explores and captures, populating his room with an ever growing menagerie, as it is in the human nature that rules Gerald's mum and his siblings, two brothers and a sister, who are as complicated creatures as the bugs and crawly things around them.

Young Eugene Simon is excellent, perhaps even stellar as young Gerald. A lot of this Masterpiece Theatre production rests on his shoulders and he does an excellent job of being a believable kid. Fans of Little Britain will recognize Imelda Staunton (Mrs. Mead) as Gerald's mother.

Masterpiece Theatre's My Family and Other Animals is not a classic but if you like the series, this show is pretty decent and rather entertaining but not brilliant nor fascinating

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