The Temptation to Skip Prince Caspian | Talking Beasts

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BBC’s Prince Caspian TV series (1989) may look very different from Walden Media’s movie (2008), but both adaptations wrestle with the same challenges. Listen to our analysis of Episode One.

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Glumpudle. Gymfan

29 Responses

  1. J says:

    Side note:
    BBC Caspian: about 13 played by a 13 year old.
    Walden Caspian: about 13 played by a 26-year-old.
    In terms of their respective presence & acting, I prefer Barnes’ Tirian-ish Caspian, despite that ridiculously steep age gap.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      I seriously hope in the Walden PC script they technically aged him up to like at least 17-18, no one could ever mistake him as younger than 20 lol

      I’m curious if Netflix will age up the characters or not (personally I don’t mind a few extra years for some of the characters, especially for the Horse and His Boy) the kids who played the Baudelaires were very close to their book ages when cast

    • coracle says:

      Caspian was played as the same as Peter – about 16-17.

  2. Col Klink says:

    You guys pretty much called it. I don’t want to say the BBC Prince Caspian is bad because they really did include a lot of memorable lines and ideas from the book. But they didn’t include the context to make those lines and ideas work as a story. I know that the BBC LWW has been criticized for being too slow paced. I pretty much agree with that criticism. And it’s also true that the Prince Caspian has been criticized for being too slow paced. (I’ve read it described as nothing but padding.) To a lesser extent, I can agree with that criticism too. So I can get behind tightening the story a bit. I don’t mind, for example, having the Pevensies figure out where they are and why things have changed so much earlier that in the book. (I probably would have had them figure it out a little bit slower than they did but anyway….)

    But there’s no sense of growing desperation for the Old Narnians, leading up to them blowing the horn, or for the Pevensies and Trumpkin to find Caspian. There’s also hardly any individual characterization. Like this podcast said, there aren’t any different perspectives from Edmund, Susan, Peter and Trumpkin about whether they should listen to Lucy. Which is too bad because I feel that the performances from the Pevensies’ actors were better than they were in LWW. You can tell they had more experience. I wish they had more to sink their dramatic teeth.

    You make an interesting point about how both this PC adaptation and the movie adaptation portray the Pevensies as talking about Narnia right before they’re drawn there. I understand why they do that but I prefer how in the Radio Theatre adaptation they’re just talking about dramatically irrelevant school stuff. It makes their being pulled into Narnia more of a surprise.

    I guess what bothers me about Caspian being older in the first part is that I feel like he should be able to pick up from Miraz’s tone that he’s angry. Even if he’s lived a sheltered life, Miraz’s voice makes it increasingly clear that Old Narnia is a dangerous subject. I guess it’s a minor point though.

    It’s interesting that both the BBC and the Walden Media Prince Caspian expanded Prunaprismia’s role. I don’t think either of them did it that well. In the miniseries, she’s introduced at the beginning like she’s going to be a major character and then she disappears for the rest of it. In the movie, she’s a background character at the beginning, then she has a big dramatic scene in the middle and then she’s a background character again for the rest (except for the end arguably.) I think if I were adapting the story, I’d just have her be an offscreen character except for maybe a scene of her giving birth.

    P.S.
    I love the line, “I’ve had so much care and attention, it feels like being in jail!” It doesn’t really fit with my idea of Caspian’s childhood but it’s a great line. LOL.

    P.P.S.
    It was nice to get to hear what Johnathan Paravel’s voice sounds like.

    • Larry W. says:

      I guess the BBC thought that Prince Caspian would be the least popular and interesting of the adaptations so they cut the story down to an hour. It really was too bad since the book is important enough to deserve two or three hours. They did get the age of Caspian right since he was supposed to be a boy rather than a young man. The Walden movie got this wrong completely with having an adult in the role. Prince Caspian is not my favorite of the Narnia books, but it shouldn’t be shortened too much or have adults in children’s roles. I think the Focus on the Family Radio Theater is certainly the best version for accuracy and faithfulness to the characters of the book. The creators of that program didn’t try to change the story too much.

      • Col Klink says:

        “I guess the BBC thought that Prince Caspian would be the least popular and interesting of the adaptations so they cut the story down to an hour. It really was too bad since the book is important enough to deserve two or three hours.”

        That’s what I think happened too.

        “They did get the age of Caspian right since he was supposed to be a boy rather than a young man. The Walden movie got this wrong completely with having an adult in the role.”

        The most specific thing the book says about Caspian’s age is that he was a year or two younger than Peter. Ben Barnes looks like a year older than William Mosley at most. (I wouldn’t surprised if they were the same honestly.) So do you think they should have recast Moseley and the other Pevensie actors? I don’t get why people have this super specific image of Caspian’s age but they don’t care much about the Pevensies ages, especially when they’re the more popular characters.

      • Larry W. says:

        William Mosley was really good as Peter and I think he was about the right age. Having Caspian look younger than Peter might have helped— at least he should have looked like a boy even if he was an older actor. I don’t think Ben Barnes was all that bad a choice, but the problem is that he was too old for the role. The BBC did better with Caspian as king in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. We didn’t get to know much of the boy prince in the first adaptation. So much time has passed since these programs were made and probably another production won’t be made for a long time since Netflix is apparently delaying their project.

      • J says:

        I agree. CASPIAN was way too old in the Walden film. (I remember being aghast when Barnes was cast. In the final film, he looked 23. Similar to LB’s King Tirian. No beard, but not a teen.) Ironically, I prefer his acting to BBC Caspian, who was an accurate age for Caspian. Neither was a true hit or miss though. They both worked fine. Hopefully the new Caspian will cast a kid under 18, so as to be a believable prince not ready to be crowned.

      • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

        Personally I think Ben Barnes’ Caspian looks much older than William Mosley’s Peter (to me Peter looks like he could pass as a junior/senior in high school but Caspian looks well into college)

        They did, however, act the same [rather annoying] age, which in my opinion:
        1. Made Peter seem too much like a regular teen. Even if we don’t take into consideration that he lived to be 27ish before getting snapped back to our world, he still seemed to act more mature and level headed in LWW movie (if a bit unconfident)
        2. Made Caspian look like he was some sort of man child. Teens acting like teens can be tiresome (and I say this as technically a teen), but adults acting like teens is just… ugh.

        Now, I never cared for this sort of power jousting Peter and Caspian had in the movie and I’m not sure if it has to do with Caspian getting aged up. However, with an older actor I’d want to see Caspian perhaps stirring trouble with Miraz and that was one of the main reasons Miraz tried to kill him. Miraz wasn’t a legit king really, the people generally didn’t like him, and now Caspian is old enough to take the the throne, especially if he gains the support from the other lords which he’s attempting to do perhaps? (or in Miraz’s mind, Caspian might even just cross off Miraz and claim the throne that way). Miraz’s kid (? does he have a name?) was just the tipping point.

        Incidentally, Tirian is one of my favorite characters and I believe is a good example of how strange it would be for an adult to receive help from children from another world, and how to act towards them (he’s like kinda mentor-ish but also doesn’t act superior to them or exclude them from planning but also isn’t thrilled with the idea of sending children to get killed at Stable Hill and so forth)

        This was longer than I thought

  3. The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

    “Prince Caspian is actually The Rose-Tree Dryad’s favorite book, so she’s probably squirming right now” — I totally made a face when you guys said it was your least favorite. 😛 #PrinceCaspianForever

  4. Carley says:

    I saw the BBC Prince Caspian before I ever read the book or watched the Walden Prince Caspian. I believe I was about eight years old. One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of this adaptation is the pacing. When I first watched it, I didn’t really enjoy it, just because I was really confused with what was going on. I watched a few minutes, but got tired of it quickly and didn’t finish it. I think it was probably a year or two later that I actually watched the whole thing.

    I like some things about BBC’s PC, like a younger Caspian as opposed to the older Caspian in the movie. But the BBC PC lacks emotion, which I think is mostly due to the fast pacing. And the fast pacing is due to the fact that they decided to fit everything into fewer episodes, which wasn’t the best idea. I think they just wanted to get PC over with as fast as possible. But, I have to admit, the PC book is not an easy book to adapt. Both adaptations work out the problems in different ways, and neither way is actually wrong. But, despite all the changes made, I prefer Walden Media’s Prince Caspian movie.

    • Col Klink says:

      I actually watched it before I read the book too. I could tell it was an interesting story but I couldn’t get into it. I think you and I can understand why that was now.

  5. Glenwit says:

    One thing I never understood about the BBC version is why on Earth Nikabrik was wearing a Viking helmet.
    Every other dwarf had one of those stocking caps, or didn’t wear a hat at all.
    Were the writers trying to spell it out for the audience that he was evil, or was it Leif Eriksson Day and the rest of the Old Narnians missed the memo?

    Oh, and Glenstorm neighed like an actual horse when he’s first introduced. Okay, then.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      I actually laughed reading this:D I haven’t seen the BBC adaptations but the images in my head now:):):)

      Was Nikabrik the only “black” dwarf shown onscreen, and the rest were “red” dwarfs like Trumpkin? Maybe it was purposeful to distinguish the cultures… although I’m guessing it was more of the “See he’s evil? You can tell because he has horns like the devil” lol

      As for Glenstorm… ugh that bothers me, Harry Potter movies did that too. Like even if centaurs weren’t characterized as more eloquent, wise, and mysterious than humans, they still wouldn’t neigh because gee, I don’t know, they wouldn’t have the right vocal chords?

    • Narnia Fangirl says:

      LOL now I can’t the image out of my mind. 😀

  6. Thanks Col Klink, you’ll have to submit your voice if you’re a Friend of Narniaweb. 🙂

    I think that if you were new to the Narnia stories, and BBC was your first introduction, you might feel a bit lost in BBC’s PC. Carley has said something like this about her experience and I’m not surprised. There is so much going on , as the podcasters said.

    On the other hand, for its merit, the castle roof scene might be the one thing holding it all together. It does have that sweet, innocent longing and hope, in the crisp Narnian night air.

    I am yet to watch the second episode, but will do so before the next TB episode. I am interested to see what they do with the whole celebration, but from memory Bacchus doesn’t turn up – looks like both adaptations didn’t know how to incorporate that into the climax.

    • Narnia Fangirl says:

      You’re right. In the Walden Media version, Bacchus and the Maenads weren’t included. Nor was Aslan’s party.

  7. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    Lovely having you back! One of the episodes in the coming line up isn’t about Narnia’s music by any chance, is it?

    Incidentally, in my experience yes someone 13 can definitely tell when the person they’re conversing with is agitated and the they should drop the subject. Maybe it would’ve been better to have Miraz fake interest, and, after Caspian spills the beans, go and banish the nurse.

    • Col Klink says:

      That’d make Miraz pretty different from how he is in the book. He’d come across as much trickier. But I think it could work really well. (And we know he must have been pretty tricky in the past to take over Narnia even if he doesn’t display this quality much in the story proper.) If or when someone makes a new Prince Caspian adaptation, I’d be interested in seeing the scene played the way you suggest.

  8. Matthew says:

    If Netflix goes the route of retelling the stories in episodic form, they had better not cram a whole book into two 30 minute episodes. I also cringe at the thought of 8-10 episodes per book, where a small amount of butter is spread over too much bread like in The Hobbit movies. If they did episodes, 6 sounds like the right length per book, but I know Netflix likes their 50 minute episodes.

  9. Geekicheep says:

    It’s funny the podcast is titled “the temptation to skip Prince Caspian”, because that got me thinking it was something totally different than what it was. I’m really glad it was a review of the BBC version (which was okay for those of us who know the books IMO). It had me thinking you were talking about Netflix. And Netflix, if you follow these podcasts, NO of course you shouldn’t skip Prince Caspian (lol). Seriously though, that thought inspired my blog post for this week, where I explain why it shouldn’t be skipped and how to do it right. So… thank you? 😀

  10. Courtenay says:

    Great new podcast, thanks guys!

    It’s years since I last watched the BBC version (I caught it when it was first shown on TV, soon after I first read the book as a 7-year-old!) and I’d forgotten that it’s only two episodes and it really does rush through the story far too fast. I totally agree, that’s its biggest shortcoming. The original book of Prince Caspian is actually the longest of all the Chronicles (going by the number of pages), so it’s quite strange that the BBC cut it down to the shortest of their four adaptations! It really deserves at least four episodes, if not six.

    I must admit I’m gobsmacked at the number of people who rate PC as their least favourite or one of their least favourites of the Narnia books… I don’t have a definite ranking for them, as there are too many things I love about each one of the books and I wouldn’t be without any of them, but PC would definitely have to be near or even at the top if I did rank them!! The insertion of Caspian’s story after several chapters of the Pevensies does make for awkward pacing, but I can’t see how else Lewis could have done it without spoiling the effect you mentioned in the podcast (which neither the BBC nor the Walden versions have) — the way the mystery builds up as the Pevensies realise that they’re back in Narnia but it’s centuries from when they were last there and everything has completely changed… but why??? And then they rescue Trumpkin and learn the whole backstory. Whereas if we’ve already been told about Caspian and his search for Old Narnia, then we know what’s happened and there’s no surprise at all.

    All in all, a great analysis and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the concluding part later this month! Well done and thank you.

    Now let’s all hope that Netflix, when they get to Prince Caspian, will finally do it justice!!!

  11. Courtenay says:

    And just for Gymfan (and everyone else who was cracking up at that reference to certain unfortunate costumes in the BBC LWW)… 😀

    https://i.imgur.com/Ih5w05t.jpg

  12. Cleander says:

    I don’t recall the Pevensie’s adjustment to going to England really being that big of a concern to me when I first read the book. (I was more just there for the atmosphere at the time.) However, it probably is something that needs to be addressed in an adaptation, if only to help build the characters more.
    I totally agree with your thoughts on Cornelius! I think the Walden version had more or less the right vision for how he should act; he just didn’t get anywhere enough screentime.
    I loved that they used a real castle for Miraz. It demonstrates why the Netflix series should consider filming at least some parts in Europe!

  13. Fireberry says:

    The main problem with Jack’s “Prince Caspian” is it feels like too much like “Lion Witch & Wardrobe” redux minus the charm. The only part I really love in this book is the Great Romp. But it remains a necessary book, to set up “Dawn Treader”

  14. Just Queen, not High Queen says:

    It’s funny how most of the discussion is about how this episode is so fast-paced, because when I saw this years ago, I thought that going back and forth between Caspian and the Pevensies made it feel sooo slow and generally awkward. It’s one of the only things I remember from this version and made me really appreciate how they started with Caspian in the Walden version.

  15. coracle says:

    Thinking about why Trufflehunter was cast as a female – it’s not a very good gender balance choice, given that Trufflehunter is the animal who takes care of Caspian and shows hospitality [just like a girl would eh?!]. Why wasn’t a Male chosen to do that? Oh, was it just because the dwarfs were going to fight and the badger wasn’t? No, this is not about gender balance.
    They could so easily have dubbed in any voice, no matter who was in the suit.
    At least Trufflehunter was played by someone the right size for a Talking Beast! (instead of being a giant waddling kiwifruit!)