Dickensian

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marsey
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Dickensian

Post by marsey »

What does everyone else think of this tv show? I was a little surprised to find that it runs over 20 episodes; I can't remember a serialised story with that number of instalments? Initial impressions are that it is a great idea; has no-one thought of creating a Dickensian London previously? I did think that it crammed too many characters and books into the opening few minutes (Bumble, Fagin, Bill, Marley, Scrooge etc) - it would have been nice for some of them to make surprise appearances in later episodes, but initial impressions are promising. Whether the series is as good at storytelling as Dickens himself remains to be seen; but nice to see the Beeb trying something a little different.

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John Williams
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Re: Dickensian

Post by John Williams »

The 2005 adaptation of Bleak House was 15 episodes (effectively 16 as the first was an hour long) so not far off the length of Dickensian.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Paul Hayes »

I'm quite enjoying it, although as a huge fan of A Christmas Carol it's difficult to reconcile the characters and situations from that book with their depictions here. For example, it's hard to imagine this version of Marley arranging "...a chance and hope of my procuring" for Scrooge, and while there's just *barely* enough wriggle room in the original book to allow for the idea that Marley was murdered, you have to be in a very generous mood!

But it is an interesting experiment.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

I like the fact that it replicates the general manner in which the original novels were issued-as 20 monthly partworks.
I've read most of the novels a few times,with the exception of A Tale of Two Cities.I haven't seen the show yet,but I would've thought that recognising many of the characters would be quite a challenge-though I suppose it isn't absolutely necessary?
Not sure how they'll manage characters who are best known as e.g. elderly when they were in the stories.I believe that Miss Haversham is recently-betrayed in this? Are they going to be 'types' rubbing up together? I'll have to give it a go.But yes,hell of a commitment by the producers to go for 20.

marsey
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Re: Dickensian

Post by marsey »

I think that a knowledge of Dickens is going to help, and the number of nods and winks to the original material are going to be dificult to recognise in full. A couple of things I've picked up from the first episode are Scrooge looking remarkably similar to Alistair Sim and Fagin saying to Nancy 'you'll be the death of me!". I'm sure there are lots of things I have missed, as I have watched only a handful of the tv adaptions of his stories, and forgotten the names/tales of many people in them.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by ian b »

marsey wrote:has no-one thought of creating a Dickensian London previously?
Not quite in the same league, but this uses the conceit of mixing Dickens' characters...

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/ ... index.html


"Too much, all at once" I'd say so far: I spent too much time working out which characters from which books were being shown to me during the first couple of episodes than paying attention to the new plotting, (which boil down to Marley's killer and the Haversham sibling's troubles), and while it all looks sumptuous I'm not sure there's enough going on to keep my interest.

The scheduling is odd too, four episodes in twenty-four hours or so, then a wait of five days for the fifth? And, anecdotally, outside of forum chat I don't know anybody who has watched, or is planning to watch, the series.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

I'm waiting for a post that says 'Spoiler Alert: Killing of Edwin Drood'.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Paul Hayes »

JWG wrote:I believe that Miss Haversham is recently-betrayed in this?
No, she hasn't even been betrayed yet - her father's just died, and she's inherited most of his estate, much to her brother's disgust, hence he and his friend are now working on the plot against her.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Paul Hayes »

marsey wrote:A couple of things I've picked up from the first episode are Scrooge looking remarkably similar to Alistair Sim...
You really think so? I can't say I can see that myself!

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Re: Dickensian

Post by Brian F »

The hand pumps in the pub looked very late 20th century shaped ceramic to me (thankfully no labels or transfers on them). I would have thought Dickensian pubs would have had wood or leather covered straight handles on them. I'll have to watch the first 2 episodes I recorded and eps 3/4 that I caught later (again), to decide if I want to see it all.

At present I can image Stephen Rea doing a Carter Brandon "Aye, well, MMM" at the state of this so far.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

This should at least answer all our questions about the outcome of a mud-wrestling match between Estella and the man who says "Esker"".

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Re: Dickensian

Post by ctraynor »

Not caught it yet. Sounds like a serious version of Stella Street. Still sounds better than the forthcoming War and Peace, though. That really does sound like it's been reduced to a cartoon.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Paul Hayes »

Of course, criticism of these things can sometimes veer dangerously close to that wonderful line in the first Bridget Jones book, where one of her colleagues says that people should only be allowed to watch the BBC Pride and Prejudice if they can prove that they've read the book!

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Re: Dickensian

Post by ctraynor »

Paul Hayes wrote:Of course, criticism of these things can sometimes veer dangerously close to that wonderful line in the first Bridget Jones book, where one of her colleagues says that people should only be allowed to watch the BBC Pride and Prejudice if they can prove that they've read the book!

Top fellow. You've actually read the Bridget Jones book.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

Paul Hayes wrote:Of course, criticism of these things can sometimes veer dangerously close to that wonderful line in the first Bridget Jones book, where one of her colleagues says that people should only be allowed to watch the BBC Pride and Prejudice if they can prove that they've read the book!
"Bridget Jones"? What's Bridget Jones?

Yes,I've read the books-but I'd be hard-pressed to give any of the plots.In truth,I get almost as much fun,with Shakespeare and Dickens,reading the notes.It seems to me that this show would benefit from the sorts of annotations provided (by fans?) for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books.The commentaries should be good...

marsey
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Re: Dickensian

Post by marsey »

JWG wrote:
Paul Hayes wrote:Of course, criticism of these things can sometimes veer dangerously close to that wonderful line in the first Bridget Jones book, where one of her colleagues says that people should only be allowed to watch the BBC Pride and Prejudice if they can prove that they've read the book!
"Bridget Jones"? What's Bridget Jones?

Yes,I've read the books-but I'd be hard-pressed to give any of the plots.In truth,I get almost as much fun,with Shakespeare and Dickens,reading the notes.It seems to me that this show would benefit from the sorts of annotations provided (by fans?) for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books.The commentaries should be good...

Yes, I agree. A commentary detailing characters, sub-plots and other things would be most helpful.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by ian b »

A regular slot in the schedule would help!

1+2 - Saturday
3+4 - Sunday
5 - Friday
6 - Wednesday
7 - Thursday
8 - Wednesday
9 - Thursday
10 - Thursday
11 - Friday

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

Well,I've watched it and I'm not impressed.
It's just as though they had a basic plot and inserted Dickens' characters as 'types'-whores,moneylenders,heavies-where necessary.I was hoping for more back-story fiendishly involving previously characters whose lives had not hitherto intersected,and/or an alternate time-line along the lines of Wolves of Willobughy Place.I like the John Dickson Carr-ish discussion of the new Detective division.Reminded me of the discussions in City of Vice about the introduction of a policeforce.
My enjoyment of the show went down with every episode I saw.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by Simon36 »

I really want to like this but I couldn't keep up with who everyone was. They needed clearer introductions. I kept feeling like I needed to have read all the books first and was expected to recognise everyone on sight. I'll stick with it though but need to watch the first few episodes again first. But I agree about the scheduling. I fear it's been so confusing as to lose a lot of people and for A 30 part series this could be disastrous.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

It can get confusing if you do know the books.When the mentioned the 'Three Cripples' pub,I was looking forward to a link with Our Mutual Friend,and bodies dragged out of the Thames.I was confusing it with The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters,which is from OMF.

I've been trying to place the Cormorant,or whatever it is we see in silhouette in the opening credits.It's not the raven from Barnaby Rudge-a book I suspect won't get much of a look-in since it's set in the 18th century,and I can't think of many other likely birds.

Shall we start a campaign to resume calling an umbrella a gamp? It's now or never,and the weather's right.

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Nice in-joke in #5 with Mrs Bumble likening her husband to a pig....
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Ian Wegg
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Ian Wegg »

JWG wrote:When the mentioned the 'Three Cripples' pub,I was looking forward to a link with Our Mutual Friend,and bodies dragged out of the Thames.I was confusing it with The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters,which is from OMF.
Mr. Venus and Silas Wegg are both from Our Mutual Friend.

Interestingly (well for me anyway), in this "realisation" Wegg has been made the licencee of "The Three Cripples" which is, I've learnt, the inn frequented by Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist. I'm not a great reader of Dickens, do any of the other characters in this programme change role or cross story to that extent? It seems to me that all the others are much as they are in the original books, but in OMF Silas Wegg is a street trader and part-time blackmailer, never anything like a pub landlord as far as I recall.
JWG wrote: Shall we start a campaign to resume calling an umbrella a gamp? It's now or never,and the weather's right.
I'm all for that. My mother has always referred to an umbrella as a "gump" and I tend to do the same. I'm not sure if this is a local variation or just peculiar to my family!

Wegg (no relation).

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

My mother has always referred to an umbrella as a "gump" and I tend to do the same. I'm not sure if this is a local variation or just peculiar to my family!

Wegg (no relation).

The usage became quite widespread following Dickens' introduction of the character,so it looks as though your area/family are holdouts.

I often find it difficult to believe that even the streets of Victorian London were quite so bustling.When the cameras were off,were ballad-sellers a-warbling,knife-grinder a-grinding,night-soil shifters a-shifting ALL the time? I always figure that none of this was happening until a moment before when someone said "Action".I mean,how long can the Pocket Hercules hold the Infant Phenomenon above his head without dropping her? And can we find out the hard way?
Having said which,some sort of dramatisation of Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor would be interesting.

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

JWG wrote:Having said which,some sort of dramatisation of Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor would be interesting.
I take it you've seen the Jonathan Miller Timewatch episode?
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

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Ian Wegg
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Ian Wegg »

marsey wrote:...I was a little surprised to find that it runs over 20 episodes;...
I am still enjoying this but I've been finding the slow plot development a bit frustrating. Friday's (Tony Jordan penned) programme moved the story on well, but prior to that there have been a few episodes that seemed to be just treading water.

It really does feel somewhat padded out. I notice there are a number of writers (of varying experience) contributing single episodes.

~iw

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Nick Cooper 625
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Nick Cooper 625 »

Ian Wegg wrote:
marsey wrote:...I was a little surprised to find that it runs over 20 episodes;...
I am still enjoying this but I've been finding the slow plot development a bit frustrating. Friday's (Tony Jordan penned) programme moved the story on well, but prior to that there have been a few episodes that seemed to be just treading water.

It really does feel somewhat padded out. I notice there are a number of writers (of varying experience) contributing single episodes.
I did remark to Mrs 625 on Friday, that lovely as it is, the plot-line with Mr & Mrs Bumble does stand apart from the main narrative - i.e. Marley's murder - and the same can be said of the Haveshams.

I have to say, though, that Ned Dennehy as Scrooge has to be the best performance of the charcater ever, as he really comes across as a loathesome and dispicable piece of shit, which is certainly heightened by the actor not being particularly old. Past portrayals of him as a crotchety old man tend to soften him too much, as we expect the elderly to be grumpy and miserly. It would be wonderful if this could be spun off to a proper adaptation of A Christmas Carol, as it would really emphasise the enormity of Scrooge's redemption.
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." [Wells]

marsey
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Re: Dickensian

Post by marsey »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
Ian Wegg wrote:
marsey wrote:...I was a little surprised to find that it runs over 20 episodes;...
I am still enjoying this but I've been finding the slow plot development a bit frustrating. Friday's (Tony Jordan penned) programme moved the story on well, but prior to that there have been a few episodes that seemed to be just treading water.

It really does feel somewhat padded out. I notice there are a number of writers (of varying experience) contributing single episodes.
I did remark to Mrs 625 on Friday, that lovely as it is, the plot-line with Mr & Mrs Bumble does stand apart from the main narrative - i.e. Marley's murder - and the same can be said of the Haveshams.

I have to say, though, that Ned Dennehy as Scrooge has to be the best performance of the charcater ever, as he really comes across as a loathesome and dispicable piece of shit, which is certainly heightened by the actor not being particularly old. Past portrayals of him as a crotchety old man tend to soften him too much, as we expect the elderly to be grumpy and miserly. It would be wonderful if this could be spun off to a proper adaptation of A Christmas Carol, as it would really emphasise the enormity of Scrooge's redemption.
I agree that the Scrooge depicted in Dickensian is very well done. He isn't particularly bad or evil , just business-like without compassion - which in some ways is worse. But then again, how many money-lenders are loved when lending but villified when it comes to paying back what is owed?

I'm really loving the series, as it feels like a genuine Dicken's novel with lots of colourful characters and twisting plots. It's also great to see how some of the characters develop into what we see in Dicken's novels. I have to say that this is one of the best tv series the BBC have made in quite some time, and the actors seem to be enjoying their parts.

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Re: Dickensian

Post by JWG »

Nick Cooper 625 wrote:
JWG wrote:Having said which,some sort of dramatisation of Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor would be interesting.
I take it you've seen the Jonathan Miller Timewatch episode?

No,I haven't,Nick,but thank you for mentioning it.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: Dickensian

Post by Paul Hayes »

I'd drifted away from this, but rejoined for the last episode - I liked the little set-ups for what's to come in the original novels, and you'd have hoped for and expected from it really.

Is Leonardo Dickens, who played Oliver Twist, a descendant or coincidence?

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Re: Dickensian

Post by Mark »

It's got the chop ( I thought I'd break it to you gently).

Ratings started off well, but fell away, it would seem.
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