I listened to all of Northern Lights from the His Dark Materials radio show at work today. (Did I mention how non-mentally taxing my work is right now?) To be honest, I don’t think it’s that great of an adaptation. I would’ve preferred more of a straight “books on tape” type of thing. It felt dumbed down. For instance, the narrator actually introduces himself as a “recording angel” at the beginning. What’s the point of that? The author is assuming I’m too dumb to accept an anonymous third-person narrator. Also, he spells out everything. The first five minutes are like, “Hi, I’m an angel and I’m in Oxford, which is one of many Oxfords in millions of parallel universes. In this universe, everybody’s souls are animals outside their bodies.” Again, no respect for the audience’s intelligence. Everybody who reads the story figures that stuff out eventually, and it’s a lot more fun to come to those realizations on your own. Like, at least twice people say, “Oh, Lyra’s going to save the world. She’s going to betray somebody, but she can’t know that she’s going to do it.” I’m like, why don’t you just ruin the ending while you’re at it! Jeez. I also felt like it didn’t really build up enough scariness or suspense. When I first read the book, I had nightmares about Mrs. Coulter and that damn monkey. But it feels like she’s barely even in the recording. There wasn’t a lot of menace there.

That said, there were some good things. I liked the little bits of music they used for scene changes and when Lyra read the alethiometer. The voice casting was very good, especially the armored bears. I’m interested to hear what they do with Will in the next installment…

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