Crusoe was an ambitious series. At times it had great action. It had solid casting and wonderful scenery. However, what often trips series like this with potential is the writing. In Crusoe’s case is was consistency in writing. If you look at a ratings chart for the series you will see that it corresponds to the episode writing quality. The first few episodes were well paced and interesting. After that there was a boring stretch where it was just “off”. The show never fully recovered.
Crusoe had the feel of one of those syndicated weekend shows that were so popular in the 90’s and at the turn of the millennium. An A-list cast however does not mix well with mediocrity. So as the plot began to get lost in the fog, I started to care less and less for the characters. Crusoe always seemed to be getting the shaft on the home front. On the marooned front it became a little like Gilligan’s Island or Star Trek Voyager. Rescue and home are tantalizingly close time and again only to be snatched away.
Philip Winchester did a decent job as Robinson. He was solid and believable in the action. Veteran Sam Neill was good at a suspicious and creepy part as usual. The episodes with Mia Maestro were the best IMO. She has a great look, good screen presence, and solid action moves. You wanted Crusoe to end up with her and not the less appealing, fragile and weak-willed wife back home. But alas, that was not the case.
Actually, Crusoe does not end up with either girl. They women team up and solve the problems on the home front while Crusoe deals with Sam Neill on the island. That is where the climax of the series leaves you. Crusoe still stranded and the missus and kids at home. Free but separated by thousands of miles.
However I give the producers credit for Crusoe’s final lines where he expresses his faith and hope that God has a plan for all the twists in his life. Not quite as courageous was being hit over the head during many an episode with ethnic prejudice. It is too easy, too much like picking the lowest hanging fruit to compare noble Crusoe to snooty Englishmen of the era.
The turn of the 19th century was a very different era. It sometimes bugs me when we place today’s values on historical characters who lived in totally different political and cultural times. Were the snooty Englishmen jerks? Certainly. Was there a more clever way of displaying this then just having them snidely call Friday a savage? Certainly.
Crusoe started out as a series, and as the ratings dropped it was made into an “Action Packed 13-part Miniseries!” In the end I can only recommend a few of the episodes (mostly the ones with Mía Maestro), but I give props to the producers for trying something different.