“Sanditon” (shown here) will rise from the dead … again.
It’s a tale that vanished with Jane Austen’s death in 1817. It returned – more than two centuries later – with a lush PBS mini-series … then was abruptly canceled after its first season. Now, more than a year later, comes the surprising news that second and third seasons will eventually be produced.
Such turnarounds are fairly rare, but do happen. Recently, two shows canceled by ABC (“Last Man Standing” and “Kids Say the Darndest Things”) were picked up by Fox and CBS, respectively. Netflix has given some shows a new life … and a coalition of CBS and Pop gave “One Day at a Time” an extra seaason (shortened by COVID) when Netflix dropped it.
Still, “Sanditon” has been unique, because of the strong viewer responses and the chaos it left its characters in:
When Austen died at 41, she had outlined some colorful characters, but barely started the plot. Others have taken cracks at completing it, but this time that went to Andrew Davies, now 84, who has written many of the top British shows that go to “Masterpiece” in the U.S.
The result was lushly crafted and, by Austen standards, quite sexual. Charlotte (Rose Williams, shown here) – smart, sweet, impoverished and very Austen-ish – was stunned by the people she met in a seaside town. Tom Parker was an over-optimistic entrepreneur … his brother Sidney was handsome and distant … Miss Georgia Lambe was rich and overprotected … Lady Denham was super-rich and dying. Potential heirs, via her two late husbands, included sweet and impoverished Clara, plus Esther and Sir Edward, a sister and brother apparently with an incestuous romance.
All of that peaked in the season-finale, which saw a fire raging and lives ruined. Then word came that the British producers weren’t financing a second season.
(That happens sometimes in England. “World on Fire” has had a long pause after its first season, but is planning a second. Also, British shows sometimes lack long-term commitments and see stars depart, including Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” and Rege-Jean Page of “Bridgerton.”)
That seemed to be the end of “Sanditon.” But now – 15 months after that fiery finale on “Masterpiece”– comes word of a second and third season, with the Britbox streaming service as a new player. In England, this will air first as a “Britbox original,” then reach broadcast via ITS.
Williams will be back to star, PBS said, with others pending. Davies will do some of the writing, but Jason Young, who wrote four of the eight first-season scripts, will be the lead writer and executive producer.