I heard about the un-Austen-like ending before watching the program on Masterpiece Theatre. Truth be told, that intel is what delayed my watching of this series. Typically, I am a prompt and eager consumer of all things Jane Austen. This one? Skeptical.
Once I settled in and set my mind on a different kind of Austen, I enjoyed the show. Disclaimer: I have not read the unfinished original work of Sanditon, so I'm unable to comment on the casting choices, etc. However, I appreciated the characters as they were drawn in the series and the chemistry of Charlotte and Sidney—Perfect.
Here's the summary from PBS.org:
Jane Austen was chronically ill with a mysterious disease in early 1817, when she turned her thoughts to a happier subject. She started work on a witty and delightful novel set in a seaside town. She never finished it. Now, noted screenwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Les Misérables, Primetime Emmy® winner for Little Dorrit) picks up Austen’s plot and takes it in a glorious and satisfying direction, on Sanditon.
MASTERPIECE’s bold and lavish adaptation of Jane Austen’s final work stars Rose Williams (Curfew) as Austen’s lively but levelheaded heroine, Charlotte Heywood; Theo James (Divergent) as the humorous, charming (and slightly wild!) Sidney Parker; Anne Reid (Years and Years) as the forthright grande dame of Sanditon, Lady Denham; Kris Marshall (Love Actually) as Sanditon’s compulsively enterprising promoter, Tom Parker; and Crystal Clarke (Ordeal by Innocence) as the mysterious West Indian heiress, Miss Lambe.