The BBC’s adaptation of The Casual Vacancy came to a disappointing end this weekend, for fans of J.K. Rowling’s original novel. While it was previously revealed that the script had been changed to include a “redemptive” ending, even this warning (and the blessing of Rowling herself) wasn’t enough to ease viewer’s disappointment.
After the first episode of the three-part drama set the scene of idyllic Pagford and the town’s troubles, we followed our pick-and-mix of flawed characters and all their dirty secrets through the next two episodes. In the final episode, Wall and Mollison went head-to-head to fill the vacancy on the Parish Council, with enough drama, underhand tactics and skewed votes to rival any election. Yet, the village politics only form a backdrop to the far more engaging tales of junkies, secrets, love affairs, and teenage antics. Some of the most entertaining critics of the series have been drawing parallels with Hot Fuzz, albeit the cries for “the greater good” are delivered through slightly subtler means.
On Sunday night, The Casual Vacancy came to an abrupt close. What was once a shockingly harsh ending in the book became a sugar-coated promise of hope for the future. Charming – but not the essence of the original tale. The finale saw 4.6 million people tuning into BBC One, two million fewer than the opening episode. While it lost fans along the way, Rowling herself seems more than pleased with the adaptation and even admits she was crying her eyes out over the new ending.