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A bold reinvention of Charles Dickens' timeless novels, Dickensian takes familiar characters on new journeys as their stories intersect in the same world. Discover the events that lead up to Miss Havisham's wedding day (Great Expectations), the true sacrifices made by a young Lady Dedlock (Bleak House), what happens to ruthless moneylender Jacob Marley (A Christmas Carol), and more! You don't need to know Dickens' novels to fall in love with these stories - packed with romance, scandal and intrigue, they deliver a ride of twists and turns to the final episode.
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"Dickensian" is a 20-episode British television series (30 minutes per episode) based on the characters of nineteenth century English writer Charles Dickens. These teleplays are not dramatizations of Dickens' stories; instead, they present us with backstories of characters from many of Dickens' novels, placing them all in the same London neighborhood at the same moment in time. Most of the characters seem to from the following works by Dickens: Great Expectations; A Christmas Carol; Bleak House; Oliver Twist; The Old Curiosity Shop; Our Mutual Friend. A few minor characters are drawn from other works. I was disappointed that Little Dorrit was not included. I am very impressed with the loving care that went into creating this series. Fortunately, I had recently re-read most of these novels. If you are a fan of Dickens, I think you will love this series.
While this series accurately pays homage to Dickens' characters, it failed to match the spell-binding plotting of Dickens. Also, if you remember the novels, then you will already know what is going to happen to most of the characters. For example, we all know what is going to happen to Miss Havisham and the future Lady Dedlock. If you have not read the novels, then you will probably be confused much of the time. Also, there is too much repetition in the series. For example, how many times can one enjoy a scene in which Mrs. Bumble is nagging Mr. Bumble with the same complaint?
... if it had better writers. Sadly they were not up to the task of writing what could have been a gem of a series. Instead:
- This program perpetuates the seemingly common misunderstanding of Dickens' work (and Victorian literature in general) that it's all bleak, all darkness and misery. Dickens (and other Victorian writers) often strove to balance the dark and evil with the good and funny. Yes, Dickens's writing was full of humor, yet this program has none (except a few very feeble attempts). If I were to change the setting to modern London and the characters' names, I'd swear I was watching East Enders, not Dickens. It's all dark and gloom, dark and gloom, over and over and over again.
- The writing here is so full of filler that we get the same story points made over and over and over again, ad nauseam. It's as though the writers had enough material for maybe eight or ten episodes but were told to stretch it out to twenty. I won't bother listing those here, as some reviewers on amazon.co.uk have done a good job of enumerating them.
- Unnecessary modernizations are added that do not improve or strengthen the original characters or stories, but weaken them.
- Continuity gaffes abound. For example, if Marley was still alive and dies on Christmas eve, the story time would be seven years before A Christmas Carol, yet Tiny Tim is about the same age as he would be seven years later, a pretty amazing feat of anti-aging.
- Despite Dickens' works brimming with good characters, I can't really see any except for Bucket and Venus. Maybe Mrs. Cratchet. But even Bob Cratchet is shown cooking the books to reduce his own loan terms. Come on! And on that point, would Scrooge really have kept Bob on upon learning of his shenanigans? I doubt it. I think Scrooge would have pressed for charges to be filed, unless he felt that Bob showed promise in being as cruel and heartless with money as he was, but then if that happened, we wouldn't have the story of A Christmas Carol.
Despite these and many other problems that would especially irk Dickens fans, I stayed with the story through nine episodes because for the most part the production was very good and the acting top notch. But the clincher for me came when Compeyson drowns Jip in the canal. I gave it one more episode in the hopes that this cruelty was somehow an illusion, but no more mention was made, so that's it, I'm done. I won't even put the set up for sale, because I don't want someone unfamiliar with Dickens to buy it and think that this kind of crap is what made Dickens great. It's not. It's just a soap opera with a Dickens coating to fool the audience. Very sad.
I should have waited until Britbox or Acorn carried it instead of buying the DVD. I recommend prospective viewers do the same, especially if you like the REAL Dickens.
Some of the characters are only peripheral to the story, but it's nice to see them nonetheless. You think you're going to get a story, but it's just a fragment that leaves you dangling. If you wanted more, that could be something, but instead I was like, "so what? Who cares? Why did you waste my time?"
The episodes are about a half hour each. That makes it easy to pop it in and leave. This is good because it's about all I can take at once.
Dickens was an expert at creating complex characters and weaving their storylines into other people's lives. This doesn't do that. It feels like someone who doesn't know women or people wrote this. They are all one note. The acting in some places is really off too. Not sure if it's the actors or the writing. I don't know any of the actors so it's hard to tell.
And this is played on a US DVD player (region 1)
All in all, it's a soap opera. Dickens may have written soap operas, but he did so in an "edge of your seat" fashion. This just felt like the same story kept playing over and over with no furthering of the story, no growth of the characters, and no entertainment value. This could have been improved by making it half the length.