Possibly my favourite thing about this miniseries is that it's an hour longer than the 1995 film and it can therefore include characters from the book that the 1995 film was forced to leave out. In this miniseries you get to see Brandon's ward Eliza Williams, John and Fanny Dashwood's son Henry, Sir John Middleton's wife and children, Mrs Ferrars, and Lucy Steele's sister Anne. Most of these characters didn't actually get to say or do all that much but it was still really nice to see them. We even get to see the duel scene between Willoughby and Brandon which is only briefly mentioned in Austen's book. You get to see Willoughby's "woe is me" speech to Elinor in this version too.
This miniseries has lots of other things going for it as well. It's beautifully-filmed and there are some stunning location shots of Devon. The music is lovely in places and there are some really nice costumes. I still prefer the 1995 film though because of the acting. That's not to say that the acting in this version is bad though. There are some great performances in this.
Other actors give great performances in this version as well. I loved Janet McTeer's Mrs Dashwood. She has a backbone and she's clearly a good mother who really loves her children even if she occasionally needs guidance from Elinor. McTeer is also closer to the book character's age than Gemma Jones from the 1995 film. I really enjoyed Mark Gatiss and Claire Skinner as John and Fanny Dashwood. I didn't find Mark Williams' Sir John Middleton as funny as Robert Hardy's from the 1995 film but he still did a really good job. Daisy Haggard is great fun as Anne Steele. She does an over-the-top West Country accent for comic effect and is pretty hilarious. The scene where she blurts out Lucy and Edward's secret engagement to Mrs Ferrars and Fanny Dashwood is the funniest scene in the whole miniseries. Jean Marsh is very stern and intimidating as Mrs Ferrars - I certainly wouldn't want her as my mother! Much to my surprise I thought David Morrissey as Colonel Brandon was pretty good too. Alan Rickman's shoes are big ones to fill but Morrissey makes the character his own and is really good. I still think Rickman is more attractive and acts the part better though.
Speaking of Mrs Jennings, I was disappointed with her portrayal in this miniseries too. Mrs Jennings is one of my favourite Austen characters. Linda Bassett's acting is by no means bad either but she was too quiet for my liking and her character didn't seem all that interesting. I much prefer the jolly, funny, over-the-top Mrs Jennings of the 1995 version! Anna Madely was disappointing too. She was alright as Lucy Steele but she just wasn't sly or bitchy enough. In all of her talks with Elinor, Lucy seems really sweet and sincere about her affection for Edward. If I hadn't already read the book I think I'd have felt sorry for her. Of course her real character is revealed at the end but this wasn't enough for me. I found the child actress who played Margaret a bit annoying as well and I really missed Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton as the Palmers. The Palmers don't get very much screentime in this version at all and they don't make an impression.
This version has other faults too. With some scenes in this miniseries it felt like Andrew Davies was simply ripping-off the 1995 film. For example: Margaret - who is quite a minor character in Austen's book - had an expanded role in the 1995 film. Margaret's role is also expanded in this miniseries. That wouldn't have bothered me if some of her scenes hadn't been such blatant copies of scenes from the 1995 film. Just like in the 1995 film, this miniseries has Margaret hiding at Norland and having a friendship with Edward. This version also has Brandon rescuing Marianne from the pouring rain and carrying her off to Cleveland, just like the 1995 film did. These are such obvious rip-offs that it was quite annoying!
Overall I did enjoy this miniseries despite its faults and I'm sure I'll be watching it again in the future, although I do prefer the book and the 1995 film overall. I recommend this version to Austen fans because it is excellent on the whole and is definitely worth watching.