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From left, Rosie Graham as Alison Heywood, Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood, and Crystal Clarke as Georgiana Lambe in Sanditon.James Pardon/Courtesy of PBS

Back in 2019, over in Britain, ITV unleashed an adaptation, done by veteran Andrew Davies, of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon. All heck broke loose. For some Austen fanatics, the Janeites, the result was more assault than adaptation. With oodles of story to fill out, Davies made it lavish, humane, funny and sexy as all get-out. It was the erotic charge seething in it that disturbed the Janeites. A second season was out of the question.

But a funny thing happened – a core group of adoring fans, “The Sanditon Sisters,” campaigned for more with great style and wit. I heard from them, since I’d loved the libidinous energy of it. The Sisters also drew the two main characters in the sand on a beach in England and circulated aerial photos of that. They won. The series was renewed for two seasons, mainly thanks to PBS.

Sanditon (Sunday, PBS, 9 p.m. on Masterpiece) now returns, but different. It is still about Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), who moves from the countryside to the seaside resort of Sanditon to, well, get a life. There, she meets many colourful characters including several handsome, brooding chaps, a West Indian heiress and Jane Austen’s first Black heroine, Georgiana Lambe (Crystal Clarke), and the gloriously eccentric Lady Denham (Anne Reid), who says things like, “He had the effrontery to handle my pineapple!”

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This season is somewhat less than the first but still charming. It is more steamy than outright sexy, the eroticism being far more subdued and the emphasis put on romance Austen-style. (This is largely thanks to PBS, which noted that the lubriciousness was even more outrageous to American viewers.) Charlotte is trying to recover from the loss of her love, Sidney Parker (Theo James, who left the show). But Charlotte and her sister Alison (Tessa Stephens) have plenty to occupy them. There are strapping soldiers everywhere in the town and, well, there is this awfully intriguing artist fella, Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos), who is no stuffed shirt.

It’s an interesting shift in tone. Whereas the first season injected eroticism into the gaps that Austen left in the story, here the script reaches for storylines and twists that are variations on what happens in the other Austen novels. It was a thrill to see swooning replaced by outright lust in an Austen adaptation, but here some viewers will find comfort in an Austen story that is made more progressive in tone rather than sensual in emphasis.

Also airing/streaming this weekend – Before We Die (Sunday, PBS, 10 p.m.) follows Sanditon and is also about keeping-with-tradition. A rather workmanlike British crime thriller, it is a remake of an original Swedish production but relocated from Stockholm to Bristol. It’s a stretch to anchor that distinctive noir quality in rainy England. Mind you, if you’re a fan of old-school British police procedurals featuring older actors with weather-beaten faces, full of lived-in feelings, it will hit all the notes.

Lesley Sharp as Hannah Laing in Before We Die.Sofie Gheysens/Courtesy of PBS

At its centre is 60-something Detective Hannah Laing (Lesley Sharp) at the end of her career, with her boss pushing her to take early retirement. She’s been having a long affair with a married colleague, Sean (Bill Ward), who is kidnapped and killed by a Croatian gang. He disappears while talking on the phone with her and she treads carefully to avoid revealing the relationship. Meanwhile, her son Christian (Patrick Gibson) is just out of prison and hates her. Why? She had him arrested for drug dealing and expected a suspended sentence but he was sent to jail. He’s connected to the ruthless Croatians, but it’s a while before she knows that. A slow-burner with few real surprises, the six-part series has a lot of very British gloominess.

An Audience with Adele (Sunday, NBC, CTV, 9 p.m.) is similar to her CBS special with Oprah Winfrey, but done in England at the London Palladium. It features performances from her latest album, plus chats with the audience and, like the CBS special, the audience has many invited celebrities, including Idris Elba, Emma Thompson and Hannah Waddingham.

Finally, take note of Adrienne (Sunday, HBO/Crave, 11 p.m.), a doc about Adrienne Shelly, the actor, writer and director who became a star in independent films, especially director Hal Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth (1989) and Trust (1990). She wrote and directed the movie Waitress (2007), which later became a hit Broadway show. She never lived to see its success, as she was murdered in an incident initially ruled a suicide. The doc is made by her husband, Andy Ostroy, and it is a glowing tribute, an act of grieving.

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