By now, J.K. Rowling has to be used to her work being staged onscreen, right? Let's hope so, since it's happening all over again. The author behind everyone's favorite boy wizard is getting a small screen adaptation of The Casual Vacancy , which was her first non-Harry Potter novel released in 2012, courtesy of HBO and BBC. Thankfully for Rowling, her miniseries seems to be getting just treatment, for the most part, as The Casual Vacancy works extremely well in miniseries form. In fact when I read this novel, it felt like a story that needed to be told in live action. Undoubtedly, as with any dramatization of a novel, there are details that need to be changed, and edits that need to be made. So how does The Casual Vacancy the miniseries differ from the book? There aren't too many major changes from novel to miniseries, but for those who read the book, some differences will be fairly easy to spot.
But hey, if the series is airing, that means Rowling must have approved it, which means the changes are fine with me. (For your reference, the miniseries will begin Wednesday on HBO at 8 p.m. ET. It stars Michael Gambon, Julia McKenzie, Rory Kinnear, and Abigail Lawrie.)
So, about those differences in part one...
One shift from the novel comes at the start of the miniseries involving the major debate in Pagford. In Rowling's book, the town is divided over whether or not the local government housing (or council estate in British terminology) should be part of Pagford or be pushed into the next town over, Yarvil, so that they would no longer have to be responsible for the drug addicts in the town.
The future of the local methadone clinic is also part of the debate. In the miniseries, the debate is slightly condensed to wanting to renovate a local community home, that houses the methadone clinic, into a spa or to keep allowing addicts to try and rehabilitate there. The idea remains the same, the concept is just made a little more clear and straightforward for the screen.
Another change involves making Simon Price the half brother of Barry Fairbrother. Not only does this allow the miniseries to give Simon a better reason for wanting to run in the election (this way he gets sympathy votes), it also allows Andrew to have an even more personal connection and reason for wanting to use the online forum and post as "The Ghost of Barry Fairbrother," as he was closer with his uncle Barry than ever could be with his abusive, jerk of a father.
The miniseries also ties more characters to relationships with Barry than they have in the novel such as Miles Mollison. Miles is the son of Howard, Barry's main opponents in Pagford's debate. In the novel, he works at a lawyer's office with a partner named Gavin, in the miniseries he works as Barry's partner. In fact, Gavin doesn't even appear in the miniseries.
Images: Steffan Hill (2)/HBO