“Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell” takes a six disc look at the restoration of magic in merrie olde England.
The story begins with Mr. Segundes attending a meeting of the Yorkshire magicians. They scoff at his desire to restore magic to a reputable place in England. In fact they don’t believe that there is the possibility of anyone performing the kind of magic that went out of style three hundred years before the story begins.
The group of magicians attends a demonstration in one of the local churches. Mr. Norrell is a bookish sort of magician who has been convinced that to restore magic to a respected place he must demonstrate something to the gathering. He uses the device of a metal bowl filled with water and a magic incantation.
At the church the stone figures come to life and scare the bejeesus out of the attendees.
As the story progresses, Jonathan Strange is set upon by his erstwhile love to get an occupation. By chance he receives two spells from an itinerant magician. He is able to make magic with one of them and decides to become a magician as his preferred occupation.
With one problem after another all compounded and related to a fairy that is intent on keeping magic where it has resided for the past three centuries Norrell and Strange find themselves caught up in a struggle to overcome the power of the fairy.
Strange is called upon to aid the army in its struggles on the Iberian Peninsula. He does so and the government is grateful as is one of the ministers whose wife was restored to life by Norrell.
As more complications pile upon the magicians they are forced to confront the fairy in his netherworld of endless dancing.
There is a price to pay for the confrontation and even though Strange regains his wife and the minister his wife, Strange and Norrell are doomed.
In the last scene Strange revisits his wife as a reflection in a fountain in Venice. She wants more, wants him to return to her, but alas he cannot.
The final scene has Norrell’s faithful companion, Childress, pontificating that Strange and Norrell have gone beyond the rain (one of Norrell’s magical devices).
The episodes will keep your interest as will the performances and sets, but by the time you get to disc number four you will probably wish that the BBC production was much, much shorter.”