I don't remember this well enough to rate it.
The Ruby in the Smoke, on BBC One (UK)
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streaming sites: BritBox
This aired in the U.K. in 2006, and the U.S. in 2007. It's based on a novel by Philip Pullman, whose His Dark Materials novels I quite liked, though I'm afraid I haven't read any of his other books, which include a series about a young woman named Sally Lockhart, of which this adaptation is the first. (God I hope that sentence made some kind of sense.) Um, anyway, I mainly wanted to see it because the main character- Sally Lockhart- was played by Billie Piper. I'm afraid for some time the plot seemed to me a bit incoherent, disjointed... perhaps that's because I wasn't feeling well when I watched it, and was having trouble concentrating on anything. Or perhaps not. In any event, eventually I more or less got the hang of what was going on and it seemed... a bit more cohesive, though I still didn't quite follow everything. I didn't really mind too much if it made a great deal of sense or not. It was okay, anyway. I take it the other books in the series will also be adapted, and I may check them out when they are, as well. Or not, we'll see...
Anyway, it's set in 1872 London. Sally, whose real name is Veronica, though her father called her Sally, as apparently does everyone else except her aunt... well... well, she's living with her aunt since her father died. He drowned on a schooner called the Lavinia. He was co-owner of a shipping firm that was doing business in Singapore. But Sally receives a message that doesn't make much sense, yet somehow it sets her on a path of mystery and discovery about all sorts of things I shouldn't have thought would be connected, but somehow they were. Even if I never did become clear on how, precisely. I dunno. Anyway, it seems her father, Captain Lockhart, had been murdered. And there was this ruby that I guess he wanted her to have. And there was a whole backstory about it, and an Indian maharaja who I guess once owned it, and stuff. And there was some other guy named Major Marchbanks who had been... I dunno. I didn't follow it, but lots of stuff about the past... and um, I dunno.
My review sucks, you really should check some of the links I provided. I suppose I should do so to help guide me, but I'm lazy. Moving along, however... there was this evil old woman named Mrs Holland, who had a lovely young maid named Adelaide, who was scared of her employer, who was always mad at her- and pretty much everyone else, and who had apparently killed her previous maid, which she often threatened to do to Adelaide, as well. And Mrs Holland had her own claim on the ruby, which is explained toward the end of the story. Meanwhile, she'll be constantly trying to get it, and she and this thug who worked for her did all sorts of bad things to all sorts of people. Including an opium addict named Matthew Bedwell, who had worked for Sally's father and knew a bit of truth about what really happened to him.
Anyway, Sally eventually leaves her nasty aunt's home and moves in with a couple of new friends, a photographic artiste named Fred Garland, and his sister Rosa (Hayley Atwell). They'll both help Sally in her investigations or whatever, and she also gets help from Matthew's twin brother Nicholas, and Adelaide, and Jim Taylor (Matt Smith), who works for Captain Lockhart's shipping firm. Speaking of which, the firm, Lockhart and Selby, also had um... well, Selby had his own interests, which I think were not the same as Sally's. Maybe he wanted the ruby. Maybe he worked for Mrs Holland. I dunno, I never had any clear grasp of what he was doing in the movie or if he was important in any way at all, really. But I guess he was a bad guy.
Well, aside from the search for the ruby and all the trouble with Mrs Holland, there were also all sorts of murky things about the past, and about opium, and a Chinese triad, and a bit of British history, and um, something spoilery about Sally herself which I won't reveal, and... probably some other stuff. As mysteries go, I'm not sure how much I thought of this, because it seemed... I never really saw quite how one thing led to another, everything just sort of... happened. It hardly seemed like there was any sort of true investigating going on, though I get the impression Sally is supposed to become a detective or something, after this. Anyway... yeah, lots of stuff I didn't understand, including how Mrs Holland and her henchman, whose name escapes me, could get away with all sorts of murder and so forth and never have any trouble with the law... I don't think there were ever any authorities involved in any aspect of the story at all, in fact.... But whatever. It was still okay to watch. I hope if I do watch any sequels, I can follow them better than this. Maybe if I'm in better health than I felt for this installment. (Reading this a few years after writing it, I can't even follow my own review.)