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Having worked in the cinema for most of my life, I tend to regard television - virtually all television - as shallow and second rate. But here is a totally magnificent adaptation of one of Dickens' more challenging novels.
As in most Dickens, here money - a surfeit and a lack of it - structures the complex comings and goings of a labyrinthine plot. The characters are fabulous and some of them - Skimpole and Mr Guppy, for example - may very well become well-known archetypes due to the popularity and power of this adaptation, in the same way that Micawber and Fagin are. The darkness of the sets makes for some wonderfully expressive design work, and the music is brilliantly chosen.
In fact it might be perfect...it's just that Anna Maxwell Martin as the central Esther Summerson is just a bit too simpering... But when you think how flaccid Charles Dance usually is, his Tulkinghorn is a truly creepy creation.... Plenty more to come, but to date (after four episodes), this looks to me better Dickens than anything outside Christine Edzard's 'Little Dorritt' and Lean's 'Great Expectations' - and it could even better them...
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