HERE BE SPOILERS! BEWARE!
So I didn’t end up doing one of these for episodes 3 and 4, despite my best intentions, but did take a few notes on them regardless. I have typed these up below and they aren’t nearly as detailed as they could be but *shrugs*. Here we go:
- Love the portrayal of Fagin (Anton Lesser) so far. It is calm and measured, as I would expect the character to be, and there is a nice edge to him also. You know you shouldn’t mess with Fagin.
- The steady development of Bill Sykes is welcome and I really want to see more of him with Nancy. Seeing her briefly in these two episodes was great and I really want to see more of her in the coming weeks, especially now she has spoken to Inspector Bucket. It adds a layer of intrigue to her character that she is willing to cooperate with the police while Fagin and Bill clearly aren’t. Also, as someone who hasn’t yet read Oliver Twist but has seen the musical, it would be interesting (to me at least) to see a young Nancy and Bill. More of them please.
- I still don’t like Inspector Bucket. He still comes across as awkward to me which is a shame considering he is the most on screen character given he is solving the murder.
- Both episodes 3 and 4 had brilliant climaxes. No complaints from me (apart from sheer hatred towards Frances Barbary! Just waiting for that to blow up!)
Now, onto Episode 5, which opens with a drunken Arthur Havisham stumbling away from Amelia’s party on what apparently is now New Year’s Eve. I don’t remember being told in episode 4 that it was…or maybe we were and I have promptly forgotten. Oops.
It feels worth mentioning at this point that I do so dislike Arthur Havisham, which I suppose is the sign of how well played the character is. I just cannot stand him at all. He is whiny, and has been from day one, and I just don’t like the way he treats Amelia. However, his development over the last few episodes seems to have been quite slow, he’s descending further into alcoholism, is still evil for the sake of evil/money and still has that haughty air about him. He has fallen on hard times and he doesn’t like it but I certainly want more.
And moments later I have MORE! For the last couple of episodes I have been picking up a vibe between Arthur and Compeyson and whoomp, there it is! And now I feel sorry for Arthur for having to hold onto this. I don’t know if this is a feature of the source text but it is definitely a development I can get on board with. It’s a well played scene, you can feel Arthur’s anguish and it goes some way to explaining the reasoning behind him not actually getting any of the fortune left behind by his father. Personally, I think the fact that he has a different mother who is not of noble birth was enough, but this adds a new dimension to his story. It makes me feel for for him.
A scene between Scrooge and Bucket is just torture for me when I’m not to keen on either portrayal. I mean, I say this about Bucket, but this could actually be an accurate portrayal of the character from Bleak House, I don’t know. All I know is that I find it a little bit bumbling and annoying. The way he stumbles over his words sometimes reminds me of Matt Smith’s Doctor Who. No, that isn’t a compliment. Though I must say, Scrooge is growing on me. I suppose there are only so many ways to play Scrooge and playing it like Alastair Sim is a compliment.
It needs to be said that the Bumbles need to be in this more. Every scene that they are in just lights me up and I think it’s mostly because of Caroline Quentin (Mrs Bumble.) Everything from the way she speaks her lines (those rolling ‘R’s, have mercy!) to the way she crinkles her nose at the Cratchit family is perfect. I hope that in future episodes we get more of them. There’s also a casual wonderment in the back of my mind of whether or not we will meet Oliver Twist at any point. I know that they have cast Artful Dodger, so I suppose we shall see as (I assume) they were about the same age(?)
I nearly thought we’d forgotten about Captain Hawdon missing out on his promotion. I suppose we now just play the waiting game until Frances is sussed out as the one who has caused it. The introduction of Sir Leicester Deadlock (Richard Cordery) is a spanner that is certain to liven up things for her and, as much as I don’t like her, I feel sorry for her with losing out to Honaria. Just in case the jealousy she holds towards her sister wasn’t enough, this will set it on fire. I don’t know Frances’ actual story within the Dickens-verse so I have no idea where this is going to go.
“I could drown in you, Amelia” It’s like a line out of a YA novel isn’t it. Compeyson is literally the bad boy pulled straight out of a YA novel. I hate him. I can see myself screaming at the TV in the coming weeks, begging Amelia not to trust him. YOUR FATE HAS ALREADY BEEN WRITTEN AMELIA HAVISHAM! *sad face*
The glances between Peter Cratchit and Nell before the wedding are just golden. They’ve had them in a couple of episodes now and they are the sweetest. The lingering looks, the yellow ribbon, it is just a nice side plot that the writers are continuing to great effect. Also, it’s worth mentioning, the side plot of John Bagnet (Oliver Coopersmith) marrying Martha Cratchit (Phoebe Dynevor) is one of my favourites in the series so far. It is a glimmer of hope and happiness that I have no doubt the writers will hurt us with a little way down the line. But for now it is a beacon of youthful hope.
The end of this episode is great. You can say what you like about this show, but they always end really strong and this was no exception.
Another strong episode for Dickensian, without a shadow of doubt. The character development is steady and, in spite of myself, I’m warming to Inspector Bucket (either because I have to suffer him for another 15 episodes anyway or because he’s getting better). I love the way these stories are being told, these origin stories of well known (to some at least, not me) Dickens characters. The only criticism of the show is that, perhaps, the writing is occasionally a bit awkward. The scene when Martha starts talking about her hands seems to come a little bit out of nowhere for me, almost like the writers were desperate to show a little father/daughter moment between Bob and Martha before having him arrested. For me, it was out of the blue.
Dickensian next airs on BBC One on Wednesday 6th January at 8:30pm & Thursday 7th January at 8pm
*whispers* We may actually have a schedule now! For two weeks on the bounce, Dickensian is airing on Wednesday and Thursday on BBC One. Our troubles may be over and this show might actually have a chance!