Well, the verdict is in. I liked it. Some people didn't like it. But there it is, a ghost story for Christmas, helmed as per by Mark Gatiss, the Beeb's go-to guy for genre stuff with a touch of class. The I-hate-everything-Gatiss-does brigade has been out in force, denouncing his latest effort. But that's silly and futile, not least because if the internet had been around in the 70s Lawrence Gordon Clark would've got the same treatment.
Indeed, when I compare 'The Mezzotint' adaptation with some of the classic Ghost Stories for Christmas of the Clark era, I see some similarities. I rewatched 'The Treasure of Abbot Thomas' last night and was struck by how much extra material writer John Bowman had added. What's more, the ending - quite definitely not found in the original story - was somewhat similar to Gatiss' take on 'The Mezzotint'. Then there's the implicit sexual involvement of the squire and the witch in 'The Ash Tree'. If Gatiss had done that, I shudder to think what the online reaction might have been.
Anyway, the point is that I thought Rory Kinnear was a superb lead in this year's Christmas ghost story. I was struck by how much he has come to resemble his late father, an accomplished comic actor who could 'do straight' very well. Some have found fault with Gatiss 'tidying up' M.R. James' plot by having Gawdy still active and seeking to settle a final score. I didn't think it was heresy to give the tale an actual horror climax, because people expect it and it worked well.
The drama had its faults, but I won't dwell on them. While it's not quite in the same league as 'A Warning to the Curious', few things are. It looked good, it was well-paced, it was well cast (mostly) and it had the undeniable feel of M.R. James' world, albeit the starker post-WW1 era rather than that of cosy 1890s Chit-Chat storytelling.
Next year, 'Count Magnus'? Or will we, perchance, finally see some runes cast? One can but hope.